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The Cape Cod cottage style traces its roots back to colonial New England with the oldest styles coming from the Cape Cod region, from which the style is named. It is the quintessential style of the American cottage. The floorplan layout is practical and functional and due to the quaint size of many of these original homes, they provide a warm and cozy atmosphere. The exterior is characterized by its low, broad profile, and generally consists of one story to a story and a half with steeply pitched roofs with at least one and sometimes up to four gables in total. The gables are typically symmetrically positioned on the roof to offer an exterior symmetry to the building. The style saw a resurgence in the 1900s with examples all along the eastern seaboard, the Midwest and even the Westcoast. Beach life can play a prominent role in the décor style. These homes tend to be decorated with soft pastel neutral colors, often with sandy beach and water tones, although modern versions may have some bold solid color elements which are inviting of the outdoors.
Coastal-style color schemes are light and airy, like the beach on a warm sunny day. Crisp, white walls bring to mind fluffy clouds against a dazzling blue sky. Warm neutral tones of beige and tan resemble sandy beaches and mix well with the warm grey hues of bleached driftwood. Cool tones of blue and green are inspired by sea and sky and contrast beautifully with warmer hues of yellow and coral. For upholstery and fabrics, think stripes, delicate florals or nautical designs. Primitive, quilted fabrics with appliques or embroidering add a cozy, rustic feel. You can always include natural textures such as vintage linen, burlap or grasscloth to play up the coastal -style.
Rustic, handmade wood furniture fits nicely in a Cape Cod-style home. Wood furniture painted in bright pastel colors or white or stained with a natural finish gives the home a welcoming feel. Early American furniture styles, such as ladder-back dining chairs with rush seats, Windsor chairs, farmhouse and trestle dining tables, will give the home a traditional look. Overstuffed sofas, loveseats, and chairs, as well as, painted wicker and slip-covered furniture help to enhance the casual, laid-back vibe of a coastal, Cape Cod cottage.
Traditional lantern-style lighting is commonly seen with Cape Cod homes, as this was the type of lighting used in colonial New England. Lantern lighting comes in many styles, whether it’s wall lanterns, hanging lanterns, table lanterns or outdoor lampposts. Copper or brass lanterns or oil lamps can be used for a charming, rustic look. Decorative wall torches or sconces add warmth to any Cape Cod home.
Any nautical or ocean-themed decor will fit nicely in a Cape Cod home. Seashells, starfish, and driftwood can be used to make interesting, natural displays. Antique or vintage boat and ship parts or replicas of old anchors, bells, navigation wheels, portholes, and propellers work as accessories. However, you should balance themed decor with other types of accessories to avoid a gaudy or tacky appearance. Cover windows with simple sheer curtains to allow plenty of natural light in. Colored glass bottles will add sparkle and shine. Add interest to walls with framed artwork and wall shelves displaying collectibles, old books or vintage knickknacks. Include plenty of throw pillows with different patterns and designs on sofas, chairs, window seats or nooks, for a soft, comfortable look.
It’s perfectly natural to decorate a home for Stylish Cottage Living in a way that is consistent with its architectural style and location. Keep in mind though there are no set rules when it comes to decorating, and what really makes a house a home is the family and friends that gather there!