How To Decorate for the Cape Cod Home

A style that originated in 17th century New England, Cape homes are characterized with a high ceiling, one and one half stories, a steeply-pitched roof with end gables. Most of the Cape Cod style houses have shingles worn with weather, dormers, and shutters. While a Cape cod styled home can be interpreted through various means, the overall theme should involve pastel colors, a predominantly white background, country design fabrics, nautical themes, and simple furnishings. The Cape Cod style is a minimalist look that focuses on simplicity and a rustic feel.

  • Think of changes you can accomplish in your home’s exterior. You can set up historically accurate clapboard shutters on the outside of your windows. You can also install smaller white shutters in your window interiors, or lace curtains, to add to the old world charm.
  • You can install a nautical-inspired mailbox and house sign. In the olden days, the house’s names were inscribed on wooden signs that reflected the homeowner’s hobbies or profession. The house sign can also be a play on words. For example, if your theme involves nautical elements, you can name your house “Seaduction.” Or if it’s made of stone, how about “Stone Harbor?” This will involve some woodworking, especially if you want your sign to be shaped differently, such as a boat, whale, or a nice looking banner.
  • Choose a color scheme that reflects elements of nature, like the sea, ocean and air. Some paint companies even put together “Cape Cod” collections that involve these different colors. You can whitewash interior shutters and wood trim. You can choose lighter colored wood for your furniture pieces. Keep the color scheme light and pastel, with a few touches of green and dark red.
  • Keep interior woods bare, but you can place area rugs in high-traffic places.
  • Use fabrics on and decors that look worn. These are often called “distressed.” You need not worry about matching each and every piece of furniture, as you can mix and match. What works well is an overall color scheme. So even if your fabrics are mixed, as long as they are color coordinated, you will be fine.
  • Most Cape Cod style fabrics will involve cream or off-white linen slipcovers and floral designed fabrics. You can also include nautical-inspired fabrics, as well. These can reflect colors of the sand, sea and scenes from the Cape, which include dunes, seagulls and rocks.
  • Add flowers and shrubbery to your landscape. Not all flowers will work in just about any soil, but those found in the soil types on the Cape will grow. You can use wild roses, hydrangea, wild strawberries and Morning Glory. Try to keep the landscaping simple and nature-oriented. Focus on a clean and simple look for your house.
  • You can add exterior accessories to further highlight your Cape Cod look. Add rockers and wooden chairs rather than wicker. Use wreaths and simple window accents to complete the Cape Cod look.
  • Cranberries are among the crops harvested around the Cape, so you will not go wrong with paintings, etchings and other works of art involving cranberries.


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