The White House - Shoot my House - Yserfontein
The White House – A gorgeous example of Cape Cod architecture.

We provide locations for film and stills shoots, and as such need to emulate many of the styles that are popular overseas or at least find essential elements of them within the houses that we represent in order to sell the style. A thorough understanding of the defining element of a style is therefore crucial. In this blog we deconstruct CAPE COD.

A quintessentially American style, developed by early English settlers in the 1600s. Partially inspired by the simple, thatched cottages common in Britain, the settlers adapted the style to keep out the harsh New England winter. These houses are essentially beach houses designed for the harsh New England climate.

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Originally quite simple and inexpensive starter homes, elements of the style have been copied to create more modern CAPE COD homes that are anything but inexpensive in areas such as Marthas Vineyard and The Hamptons and of course right here in Cape Town and surrounds.

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Key defining elements are:
  • A large central chimney located directly behind the front door.
  • Steep roof. Cape Cods have steep roofs to quickly shed rain and snow.
  • Windows and dormers. A full Cape has two windows on each side of the door, and often has a dormer on each side of the chimney to open up the attic.
  • Captain’s stairway. was accessed by a narrow stair, or ‘captain’s stairway,’ which has incredibly steep risers and shallow treads to minimize the use of the first-floor space.
  • Shingle siding. Weathered gray shingles (what we call clapperboard) are one of the most recognizable elements of a classic Cape Cod, but newer homes are built of brick, stucco and stone.

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This example of Cape Cod architecture was immortalised by the hit movie SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE, home of the playwright played by Diane Keaton, and is probably the example of CAPE COD that most of us think of when bringing the style to mind.

Cape Cod interiors have modernised enormously since the first homes were created in the 17th century – creating large open plan living areas and morphing into 2 and 3 storey homes with a much larger footprint. The classic Beach element of what we think of as essential Cape Cod remains and is beautifully illustrated in the following examples.

The components are:

  • The use of white or off white for interiors and cabinetry – creating a fresh and beach cottage type style.
  • Classic lines in kitchen, bedroom and living rooms furnishings with soft elements which create a coziness against the harsh winter environment
  • wrap around porches with day bed.
  • wooden shutters
  • wooden flooring
  • central fireplaces
  • wooden staircases
  • French doors
  • Use of blue as an accent colour to reinforce the beach theme. Often Duck egg and french blue in soft furnishings and even cabinetry.
  • use of stripes, delicate florals or nautical designs on upholstery.
  • Overstuffed sofas, loveseats and chairs and painted wicker and slip-covered furniture enhances the casual, laid-back vibe of a coastal, Cape Cod cottage.
  • Wood furniture painted in bright pastel colors or white or stained with a natural finish gives the home a welcoming feel. Early American furniture styles, such as ladder-back dining chairs with rush seats, Windsor chairs, farmhouse and trestle dining tables, and step-back cupboards, give the home a traditional look.
  • Traditional lantern lighting – wall, hanging, table or outdoor.

Thanks to :
Liz Gray – Cape Cod Architecture
Julia of Hooked on Houses
Twineinteriors.blogspot
Lacy Morris of ElleDecor