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Cape Cod-style house.

What Is A Cape Cod Home?

Cathie Ericson3-Minute Read
January 29, 2020

When you picture different styles of homes, one that likely immediately comes to mind is the Cape Cod-style home. Its name alone evokes sandy, wind-swept beaches, with the windows of a Cape Cod home welcoming its family in.

Cape Cods can be easily recognized by their steeper gabled roofs and smaller box-like shape, says Jonathan Faccone, managing member and founder of Halo Homebuyers L.L.C, a New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania real estate development and investment company.

If you’re considering buying a house, you’ll want to keep these charmers on your list. Let’s find out more about them.

What Is A Cape Cod House Floor Plan?

Her first home was a red Cape Cod, says Kathie Chrisicos of Boston-based Chrisicos Interiors. Like many homebuyers, she was drawn to the look and style of “the Cape, as they're casually and affectionately referred to,” she says.

A Cape Cod is a rectangular-shaped two-story home with a symmetrical floor plan and a center entry hallway. Here’s how she describes the quintessential Cape Cod floor plan:

  • The ground floor consists of four major rooms on the first floor, with a bathroom.
  • The living room is usually on one side of the entrance, and the dining room on the other, with the kitchen at the back.
  • An extra room in the rear provides flexible space and can be used as a family room or an additional bedroom.
  • The second floor of a Cape can have between two and four bedrooms, depending on the size of the house, and usually one to two bathrooms.

Of course, there are variations, but when you picture a Cape Cod-style house, the descriptor above is what you’re seeing in your mind’s eye.

Are Cape Cod Houses Popular?

In a word: yes. There are many characteristics that make them particularly appealing, Chrisicos notes, from their charming scale to the cozy rooms. They are very attractive from the front, with a steep gabled roof line that usually boasts dormers. Most commonly there are two in the front of the house, one for both front bedrooms. Often the rear of the house has two dormers, as well.

While they sound grand indeed, Chrisicos says they actually make a great starter home because they have ample room for expansion, allowing additions off the sides or the rear. “With advice from a structural engineer, an owner can remove walls if desired for a more modern, flexible floor plan,” she says.

Other engaging characteristics include a side wall fireplace that offers a cozy element in the living room, and the opportunity to watch the world go by or curl up with a good book in a window seat area in front of the dormers.

“A Cape Cod home has greater design elasticity than most homes, whether the homeowner seeks a simple floor plan or an expanded design that is open or has additions,” Chrisicos says.

How Many Stories Does A Cape Cod House Have?

While there are some “starter” Cape Cods that just have one floor, your typical Cape will have two stories, Chrisicos says. The second floor is accessed by a center stairway with an upper hallway. The stairway is usually close to the entrance and there is often no separate foyer.

“However, at one time, most of these houses were built with an incomplete second floor to be completed later, making it a great and affordable starter home for many folks,” adds Chrisicos.

Where Are Cape Cod Houses Located?

While you can find this coveted housing style throughout the country, the Cape Cod-style home did indeed originate in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, as a sturdy, simple home that helped the colonists weather the cold winters they encountered. In fact, the features of its style that we find so unique also served practical purposes: For example, those gabled roofs were designed to shed snow; the typical low ceilings of the original Cape Cod-style home helped conserve heat; and those picturesque shutters guarded against sharp winds.

Of course, most of today’s models are upgraded from those simple structures today, and we owe the modern look to Boston architect Royal Barry Willis, who elevated the artistry of the typical Cape Cod-style home with his renditions that he popularized during the 1930s to 1950s.

In New Jersey, there are many developments that contain only Cape Cod-style homes, saysFaccone. “In these prime locations, Cape Cod houses are very much in demand because of their affordability, as they can be an entry-level home to many higher-end communities,” he says.

While some people prefer different styles of homes, such as rooms all on one level, it’s hard to argue with this assessment: “First-time homeowners are typically drawn to these styles because of their charm and character,” Faccone says. “Capes win the prize for one of the more charming styles.”

Whether you’re looking for a Cape Cod house – or any style that strikes your fancy – why not get started on the first step today? Start looking at homes in your area on Rocket HomesSM today .

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    Cathie Ericson

    Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, small business, education, retail/ecommerce and other topics for a host of brands and websites. Her work has been featured on major media websites, including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Business Insider, The Oregonian, Industry Dive, Boston Globe, CNBC, MSN.com, Realtor.com and Yahoo Finance, among many others. Find her @CathieEricson.com.