Design Tips For A Two Story Cape Cod Home Remodel

Cape Cod Home Renovation Tips

Designing and Remodeling A Cape Cod Style Home

This simple home style was born in colonial New England and is known for its low, broad profile. They are generally a story and a half tall with a steeply pitched roof and end gables. The earliest forms were built to stand up to the stormy New England coastal weather and had little exterior ornamentation. 

The style regained popularity during the colonial revival period in the first half of the 20th century, with a little more Georgian inspired ornamentation, thanks to the practicality of the design.

While the oldest examples can be found along the New England coast (especially on Cape Cod, for which it's named), today, you can find examples of Cape Cod style homes throughout the country, including here in the Madison, Wisconsin area.

The Challenges of the Cape Cod Home

The Cape Cod home style is charming with their large central chimneys and weathered wood shingles offering homeowners plenty of charm. A Cape Codder is the quintessential American cottage style. They tend to be efficient, and the simple symmetrical exterior is perfect for curb appeal updates like shutters, pedestrian paths, and colorful window boxes. While their rooms tend to be small, with low ceilings, uneven floors, a kitchen that looks like something right out of the fifties, a well-preserved Cape can be remodeled to fit a modern lifestyle.

If you love the charm of your Cape Cod home, but it needs some TLC to bring it up to today's standards, here are some ideas and design tips to help you update it, without losing the classic Cape character you love.

Exterior Updates To Consider

This faux-Cape Cod had gabled dormers on it, but was transformed to a Country Ranch thanks to an extensive front porch addition.

Part of the charm of the Cape Cod home lies in its symmetry and simple design. One exterior upgrade that can work to enhance your home's look, symmetry, and add valuable floor space in the attic are double gabled dormers. These can punctuate the steep roofline and when placed on either side of the front entry, can draw the eye to the center of the home. As an added bonus, not only do dormers up your Cape's curb appeal, they can create extra space in the attic, helping convert an unused attic into potentially livable space.

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To enhance the symmetry, consider adding sconces and planters on either side of entries. Creating a pilaster surrounding the front door is a typical decorative highlight. Add a brightly painted front door to draw the eye and complete the look.

Another design idea that can dress up your home's aesthetic, as well as let in additional natural light is to install front entry sidelights. To further dress up your home and add curb appeal, shutters and window boxes can enhance the look, and add visual interest.

Finally, adding a wide front porch can help make your home larger by extending the living space outdoors.

Interior Updates To Your Cape Cod Home

This Cape Cod, also featured in the header photo, was remodeled for ADA-Accessibility including a ramped back porch entrance, revised kitchen layout, and barrier-free shower.

While making exterior improvements can increase your homes curb appeal, there are some significant improvements you can make inside that will improve the functionality of your home. Symmetry extends to the inside of most Cape Cod style homes. Typically, you enter into a center hall, and it opens to equal space on either side. Colonial Capes feature a central chimney that is often linked to a fireplace in every room. Cape Cod colonial revivals often have a fireplace on one side, in the living room.

If you're opening the space to create a more open concept, this fireplace can anchor the living space and help define the “room.” In today's more informal lifestyle, open concept floor plans are a trend that is continuing to grow. Opening the kitchen into the living space is a great way to improve the flow of your Cape Cod home. The open concept floor plan gives you a chance to spend more time with the family. They can be sitting a few feet away in the attached family room while you're preparing dinner in the kitchen. It's also perfect if you love to entertain.

After the kitchen, the second most requested improvement for Cape Cod owners is the addition of a mudroom off of the kitchen. It's a great transitional space from outdoors to indoors, especially in inclement weather and is the perfect upgrade if you have kids.

Many homeowners who love their Cape Cod home, but still want or need more livable space opt to add an addition. If you're considering an addition, most architects and builders will look to the rear or side of the home. One of the most charming elements of a Cape is the front facade. Preserving the original architecture is always a good practice, regardless of style, but when it comes to the Cape charm, it's pretty much standard practice to maintain the original facade.

Finally, changing the doors in your home may seem like an insignificant choice, but it's a great way to add authentic character. Colonial Cape Cod style homes often had solid wood doors in the interior. While this might seem like a small change, it can go a long way toward giving your Cape the right look for the style.

When remodeling a classic home, like a Cape Cod home, it's often best to keep the original character as much as possible. That's why it's important to work with a skilled design-build firm who understands the nature of your home's particular style. A professional will be able to offer suggestions that will improve the look and functionality of your space while keeping the original character that probably influenced your decision to buy your home in the first place.

If you live in the Madison, Wisconsin area and you're considering a remodel on your Cape Cod home, call the experts at Degnan Design-Build-Remodel at (608) 846-5963 and arrange a free consultation. We can help you transform your Cape into the perfect environment for a modern lifestyle while retaining its timeless style. 

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