Cape Cod Style Homes For Sale June 14, 2024
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What is a Cape Cod House? A Comprehensive Guide

Cape Cod houses have long been celebrated for their simplicity, charm, and functionality. Originating in New England in the 17th century, these homes were designed to withstand the harsh coastal weather of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Today, they remain a popular architectural style across the United States. In this guide, we'll explore the history, characteristics, and modern adaptations of Cape Cod houses, providing you with everything you need to know about this timeless home design.

A Cape Cod house is a low, broad, single or double-story frame building characterized by a moderately steep-pitched gabled roof, a large central chimney, and minimal ornamentation. Originating in 17th-century New England, this simple and symmetrical design was crafted from local materials to endure the stormy Cape Cod weather. Key features include a central front door flanked by multi paned windows, and the space above the first floor often served as an unfinished attic, sometimes with windows on the gable ends.

The Cape Cod style saw a resurgence in the 1930s to 1950s, adapting to modern needs with Colonial Revival touches. It continues to be a staple of New England homebuilding.

Cape Cod style houses in Chicago bring a touch of New England charm to the Midwest. These homes typically feature the classic elements of the Cape Cod design: a low, broad frame, a steeply pitched gabled roof, a large central chimney, and minimal ornamentation.

In Chicago, Cape Cod houses for Sale often incorporate the following characteristics:

  1. Symmetrical Facade: A central front door flanked by multipaned windows, maintaining the traditional look.

  2. Dormer Windows: Many Cape Cod homes in Chicago include dormer windows to increase living space in the upper story and allow more natural light.

  3. Brick Construction: Unlike the wood-frame constructions typical of New England, many Chicago Cape Cod homes are built with brick, providing durability against the city's weather.

  4. Unfinished Attic Space: The space above the first floor is often left as an attic, sometimes converted into additional bedrooms or storage.

  5. Colonial Revival Details: These homes may feature shutters, decorative door surrounds, and other Colonial Revival elements that became popular in the mid-20th century.

Chicago's Cape Cod homes are found in various neighborhoods, offering a cozy and historic housing option that contrasts with the city's more modern architectural styles.

Cape Cod Style Floor Plan

History of Cape Cod Houses

Cape Cod houses were first constructed by Puritan settlers in New England during the late 1600s. Inspired by the simple, half-timbered cottages of England, these homes were built with local materials like oak, pine, and cedar to endure the stormy weather of Cape Cod. The design features a steep gabled roof to prevent snow accumulation, a central chimney for efficient heating, and minimal ornamentation to reduce construction costs and maintenance​.

Key Features of Cape Cod Houses

Exterior Design

  1. Symmetrical Facade: A hallmark of Cape Cod houses is their symmetrical appearance, often with a centered front door flanked by multi-paned windows.

  2. Steep Roofs: The steeply pitched roofs help shed snow and rain, a practical feature for harsh New England winters.

  3. Cedar Shingles: Traditionally, the exteriors are clad in unpainted cedar shingles that weather to a rustic gray, blending with the natural surroundings​.

Interior Layout

  1. Central Chimney: The large central chimney serves multiple fireplaces, heating the entire house efficiently.

  2. Simple Floor Plan: The original layout typically includes a central hall with rooms branching off, including a kitchen, living area, and small bedrooms upstairs.

  3. Low Ceilings: Low ceilings are common, designed to conserve heat and maintain a cozy atmosphere​

Types of Cape Cod Houses

Cape Cod houses come in several variations, each defined by the number of windows and the placement of the front door:

  1. Half Cape: Features a door on one side with two windows on the other.

  2. Three-Quarter Cape: Includes a door with two windows on one side and one on the other.

  3. Full Cape: Symmetrical with a centered door and two windows on each side​.

Modern Adaptations

Over the years, Cape Cod houses have evolved to meet modern needs. Homeowners often add dormers to increase living space and light, and expand the structure with additional wings or second stories.

Decorating a Cape Cod House

  1. Traditional Accents: Embrace colonial elements like wooden beams, antique furniture, and lantern-style lighting to enhance the historical feel.

  2. Neutral Colors: Stick to a simple color palette with whites, grays, and blues to keep the classic look fresh and airy.

  3. Outdoor Spaces: Create inviting outdoor areas with patios and gardens that complement the home’s quaint, cozy vibe​.


Cape Cod houses represent a blend of historical significance and enduring architectural style. Whether you're considering purchasing one or simply fascinated by their design, understanding their origins, features, and modern adaptations can deepen your appreciation for these charming homes. Their simplicity, functionality, and adaptability continue to make Cape Cod houses a beloved choice for homeowners across the country.


What are the main characteristics of a Cape Cod house?

  • Cape Cod houses feature a steep gabled roof, symmetrical facade, central chimney, and minimal ornamentation.

Why were Cape Cod houses originally built?

  • They were designed by early settlers to withstand the harsh weather conditions of New England, using local materials and practical design elements.

Can Cape Cod houses be modernized?

  • Yes, many homeowners add dormers, expand the living space, and update interiors to blend traditional charm with modern amenities.

Where are Cape Cod houses most commonly found?

  • While they originated in New England, Cape Cod houses can be found across the United States, especially in areas with a similar climate.

Where Can I search Cape Cod Style homes for sale in Chicago?

Hausmarkt offers the best real estate website search for buyers looking for chicago homes for sale, including Cape cod style homes for Sale.

What interior decor works best with Cape Cod houses?

  • Traditional accents, neutral color palettes, and elements that emphasize the home's historical character are ideal for Cape Cod interiors.

Contact a Chicago Real Estate Agent Specializing in Cape Cod Style Homes

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