8 Modern Cape Cod House Updates

Pinterest Hidden Image

Over the years, we’ve had quite a few clients reach out to us looking to visualize modern Cape Cod house updates for their exteriors. Some want to make minor refinements, while others are interested in massive changes. Either way, we figured it’d be fun to round up a handful of them and show off what our designers can do with Capes.

Whether you have a Cape Cod, a Tudor, or a Spanish-style home, our exterior design team is ready to help you visualize updates. Our experts are well-versed in the best ways to improve curb appeal while honoring a building’s inherent architecture. We’re also happy to help you do something unexpected with your façade. Learn more about our virtual design services.

Before and after of a Cape Cod style home given a modern exterior update

About Cape Cod Style Homes

Cape Cod houses are a beloved American staple. They’re named after the hook-shaped peninsula in Massachusetts, where they were originally built by Puritan settlers. For many, this architectural style is reminiscent of New England, though Cape Cod homes (also known as ‘Capes’) have made their way across the country.

Capes are characterized by a handful of architectural traits:

  • A steep roof with side gables
  • A chimney either in the center or on the side of a home
  • A central entry and general symmetry
  • A small roof overhang
  • Clapboard or shake siding, often with contrasting trim
  • Dormers

Some of the above hallmarks have been modified over time. For example, many historical Cape Cod homes did not have dormers originally as they were mostly single-story structures. The presence of dormers doesn’t necessarily signify that the home is a newer build, however, as the second level may have been added on. Furthermore, an asymmetrical façade doesn’t mean that a home isn’t a Cape; rather, the asymmetry could be due to a main level addition. Or it could represent an architectural choice, particularly for homes built in the 1940s and 1950s.

Virtual exterior design of a Dutch colonial home with noticeable window trim updates

Cape Cod vs. Bungalow vs. Dutch Colonial

Officially a type of Colonial home, Cape Cod style houses display noticeable differences from others built in the same era.

Bungalows and Cape Cod homes are often confused for one another. Both often feature dormers and sloped roofs. Notably, bungalows do not tend to have the prominent chimneys that set Capes apart, and they may not have chimney at all. Moreover, bungalows were often built with front porches. Cape Cods, on the other hand, didn’t tend to have porches. (Though, as you’ll see below, a front porch or portico addition does work well on this style of home!)

Next, Dutch Colonial houses were often built around the same time as Capes, and in similar parts of the country. As Bob Vila’s site points out, there’s an easy way to tell these two home styles apart:

The roof says it all when it comes to Cape Cod and Dutch Colonial houses. The Cape Cod house has a gabled roof, which means the roof has two sloping sides that meet at a ridge. In the case of the Dutch Colonial house, the roof has a gambrel roof: There are two sides and each side has two slopes. The first slope is shallow and the second is steep. While the Cape Cod roof is triangular, the Dutch gambrel roof is bell-shaped.

The home pictured above this section is, therefore, a Dutch Colonial.

Read on to see some gorgeous Cape Cod before and after visualizations!

Before and after of a modern Cape Cod house with new white siding

#1 // Multidimensional Off-White

We freshened up this classic Cape Cod house with all new building materials. James Hardie siding in a warm off-white (White Bungalow, part of their Dream Collection) updates the cladding, while Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster outlines the trim, columns on the front porch addition, and the chimney’s brick. Gorgeous stone veneer on the porch skirting provides dimension. Lastly, wood accents coordinate with the new roof color for visual balance.

#2 // Cape Cod, LA-Style

This modern Cape Cod house is actually in the LA area, proving that the architectural style has made its way from coast to coast in the States. Our designers extended the roofline to create a covered front porch that modernizes the home’s look while remaining true to its geometry. Note how the gable over the front door matches the look of the dormers! We rendered the main-level brick in Sherwin Williams’ Iron Ore, which creates a nice contrast against City Loft on the siding of the dormers. Finally, this minimal landscape and plentiful hardscaping combination makes sense for this front yard’s climate and slope.

Before and after of a Cape Cod home with some modern updates

#3 // New Siding, Remove the Shutters

This historic home in New York showcases some hallmarks of the Cape Cod style. However, we think there may have been some additions over the years. We brought in some modern touches with new James Hardie siding in Arctic White. Note the vertical panel orientation beneath the new porch overhang, an intentional choice by our designers for added dimension. A near black roof and stone veneer siding on the lower level and central chimney complete the facelift.

Before and after of a Cape Cod style home that visualizes some carport ideas

#4 // Dark and Dramatic

For a dramatic modern update, we helped visualize this traditional home in a monochromatic color scheme. Iron Ore on the cladding with Sherwin Williams’ Tricorn Black on the trim is dark and moody. Rich wood on the portico addition and in the carport as well as copper gutters keep the curb appeal warm and inviting.

Before and after visualization of a modern Cape Cod house exterior with natural red brick and painted siding

#5 // Off-Center Entry

As with any home style, some Capes display interpretations of the traditional layout. This home, built in the early 1950s, has an off-center front door. Our designers highlighted this feature with an updated front porch awning that extends to the left. Plus, this asymmetry allows for a beautiful bay window to the right. The bay window and dormer are surrounded by siding painted in Sherwin Williams’ Urbane Bronze for a more modern look.

Before and after of a Cape Cod style home featuring painted brick

#6 // New Porch and Paint

We love the new color palette of this Cape Cod style home, with all paint colors by Benjamin Moore: Revere Pewter on the brick and dormers, Rockport Gray on the shutters, and White Dove on the trim and new front porch columns. It’s warm, welcoming, and earthy.

#7 // Renovation Complete in Pennsylvania

One of our clients, Marybeth Lavery, completed the updates to turn her brick&batten design into a reality. Read the whole story of how she worked with us and brought her modern Cape Cod house to life in this case study.

The actual after of Marybeth Lavery's home in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Before and after of a Cape Cod style home with an updated porch and new siding

#8 // Updating a Traditional, Grand Cape Cod Home

New shingle siding in Rockport Gray and updated horizontal lap siding in Benjamin Moore’s Seapearl gives this grand Cape an inviting new color palette. Our designers suggested a darker roofing material for contrast. Updated porch columns and fresh hardscaping bring a touch more modernity. Gorgeous!

Virtual rendering of a modern Cape Cod home with a portico

A Modern Cape Cod House = An Updated Classic

Whether your Cape Cod house is in need of entirely new cladding, or you just want to spruce it up a bit, our designers would love to help you envision its potential. And your virtual exterior design also comes with a clickable resource list, giving you everything you need to bring the picture to life. Get started today!