Cape Cod style homes are houses that originated in colonial America and later became recognized as a specific class of homes that are defined by certain architectural elements. The English colonists first constructed these homes, which were inspired by the half-timbered houses of England. They first surfaced in the late 17th century and were modified to suit the stormy weather of the New England coasts.
The early Cape Cod style houses were simple one-story homes, but eventually evolved into one-and-a-half stories. With wide clapboard siding and wooden shutters that could be closed against a storm, these homes had a central chimney protruding from a steep-pitched roof. Many had dormers, multi-paned windows, and a symmetrical appearance with the door centered in the front.
Though this style eventually gave way to larger, Georgian Colonial and Federal style homes, followed by the Victorian, the early and mid 1900s ushered in a renewed interest in several Colonial Revival style homes, including the Cape Cod. It became especially popular beginning in the 1930s and were built in newly developed suburban areas across America throughout the 1950s.
20th century Cape Cod style homes are primarily one and one-half stories and still feature their characteristic symmetrical appearance. Many have other features characteristic of early colonial Cape Cods, but the chimneys on revival homes are generally offset to one end of the house. With the exception of shutters, which are now only for decoration, the style has very little exterior ornamentation. Inside, architectural elements commonly found in a Cape Cod include arched doorways and hardwood floors. Many 20th century Cape Cod homes were built with basements in areas where construction allowed it.
Because these small homes were inexpensive to build, the housing boom in the late 1940s and early 1950s resulted in the construction of many Cape Cod style homes in neighborhoods throughout the country — especially in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. After the boom and throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as many families became two-vehicle families, detached garages were commonly built on lots where Cape Cods sit. Though many homes are relatively small by design, they remain a desired style of home in the real estate market today, with finished basements, detached garages, finished half-stories, and dormer windows being popular features.