How to Update an Existing Cape Cod House


Timothy Dwight of Yale University is responsible for giving Cape Cod-style houses their names. In 1800, Dwight traveled through New England, pronouncing houses with a high, steep roof, dormers, shutters, a height of one or one and a half stories and a massive chimney to be of the Cape Cod style. This type of house is distinctive and simple and strongly evocative of the houses that the first settlers built. If you long to modernize the exterior of your Cape Cod house, strategic changes can help you do so.

Things You'll Need

  • Siding
  • Windows
  • Deck or porch
  • Second level
  • Landscaping
  • Install colored siding. Many Cape Cod houses are the traditional white or gray; siding will not only give your house texture, it can give it a splash of color as well.

  • Enlarge the windows of your Cape Cod house. Such houses were traditionally very modest, with small windows to keep the house warm in winter. Large picture or bay windows will instantly modernize the exterior.

  • Build an attached porch or deck. These houses almost never had attached outdoor spaces for relaxing, and creating such a space would not only make the house more contemporary, but give you the luxury of outdoor entertaining.

  • Add a second level to the home. If you're open to making major renovations, consider adding a second level to give the house some height and provide you with more living space. Plus, it will allow you to add windows to the second level, such as dormer windows, breaking up the monotony of the slanted roof.

  • Create a bold landscape. Planting bushy shrubs, vivid flower beds, a winding path and large trees around the house can make it seem modern.

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