Cape Cod House


It’s not surprising to think of Cape Cod homes and immediately picture quaint New England towns dating back to the Colonial era. The style, after all, is named after Cape Cod, Massachusetts—one of the first areas settled by the English in the 1600s. Yet despite its name, this architectural style is not just found on the East Coast. It shouldn’t be relegated to the past, either.

Over the past few centuries, much has changed about the Cape Cod. It evolved from the small, two-room floor plan it was initially known for, grew in size, and was adapted to fit modern families. Yet despite all the updates, one thing has remained steady: Americans continue to love Cape Cod architecture for its clean simplicity and inherent, cozy charm.

At Smith Brothers, we love this traditional New England style, and think it can be perfectly adapted for custom homes in California, too. Want to know more? Here are three of the Cape Cod home’s main elements, and why we love them.


Cape Cod homes are well known for their symmetry—both exterior and interior.

Traditionally, the façade featured a central door and chimney with one window on either side. More recently, with larger homes, this means at least two windows on other side—if not more—as well as series of symmetrical windows at a second story, if the home has one.

However, the symmetry doesn’t always need to be this rigid. For example, in the Colonial period, the central chimney was necessary to provide heat to the small cluster of rooms surrounding it. Because of modern heating technology, though, newer Cape Cod homes frequently place the chimney on the side.

Really, what’s most important in the Cape Cod design is a sense of simplicity and harmony, including a smooth flow between rooms, without unnecessary decorative clutter. This sense of clean symmetry is a main facet of the Cape Cod’s charm.


Initially, the steep gabled roof—which has two slanted sides that come together to form a triangle—was a practical decision for homebuilders: it helped to prevent the buildup of snow and ice during the harsh East Coast winters of yore. Now, it remains one of the Cape Cod’s most defining characteristics.

Additionally, the roof will often include gabled dormers (or, protruding windows with their own gabled roofs). This element helps open up tight spaces, whether that be a second story or an attic, and let in light—not to mention that it adds major curb appeal, especially when coupled with quaint cottage shutters down below.


Like the other elements mentioned, shingle siding also dates back to the colonial need to protect against the harsh climate.

But these days, it emphasizes the Cape Cod’s classic aesthetic, and is another visually pleasing feature of the style. In most cases, shingle siding is low maintenance, too.

Interestingly enough, some people claim that what really makes Cape Cod architecture special is the sea-weathered effect on the exposed shingles—the particular salty look that appears from prolonged exposure to the Atlantic Ocean. But we think exposure to the Pacific would work just as well!

And if you’re not right on the coast, never fear: pre-stained shingles can still evoke the same effect, and painted shingles look magnificent, too.

Cape Cod architecture has truly stood the test of time, and has a wealth of American history built right into its frame. In addition, it proves that elegance and comfort can come in any size. Whether you’re interested in a larger, two story Cape Cod or a simpler, single-story style, what matters most is your purpose, intention, and making sure your dream home becomes reality.

To get started on your custom home building project, Call Smith Brothers today!

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