Cape Cod Home Designs – Can Contemporary be Casual?

August 20, 2023

With any architectural project, there’s a delicate dance/balance between the past and the present, tradition and innovation; for us, New Englanders and Bostonians, nowhere is this nuanced interplay more evident than within the homes on the Cape and Islands.

While modernist/minimalist urban design has evolved with cutting-edge technology and ever-changing tastes, Cape Cod-style homes remain both an inspiration and a challenge for architects and homeowners; this leaves some to wonder, can contemporary design schemes adopt the laid-back and casual-quaint attitude that the Cape so effortlessly exudes? 

cape cod-style homes

Cape Cod Home Designs – Origins of the Style

The cornerstones of Cape Cod architecture, built out of necessity, were designed to endure the rigors of the coastal environment – winters, hurricanes, and all. Old Cape homes have a special place in our hearts centuries later, reflecting an attitude/history of resilience, resourcefulness, and an earnest connection to nature. 

The Cape’s architectural identity is a testament to the resourceful spirit of its earliest settlers, who, in the 17th century, constructed simple, unpretentious homes to withstand the coastal elements. The instantly recognizable steep-pitched roofs, weathered shingles, and front porches have evolved into proud icons of Northeast coastal living. While it cannot be said that the Cape and Islands residents still face the same challenges as those original settlers did, they appreciate maintaining the values and attitudes that have defined the region for generations. 

Striking Balance

Today, the challenge for Boston architectural firms working on the Cape and Islands is to capture the spirit of classic Cape Cod home design while accounting for contemporary trends and lifestyle conveniences, albeit without losing the character of the Cape; this is easier said than done. 

Great examples of contemporary design used in modern coastal architecture will honor the charm of the Cape by maintaining the classic shingle-style facades, Gambrel and Dutch Colonial roofs, outdoor work/living areas, and perhaps most importantly, they’ll never work against the backdrop of the shoreline. When done successfully, the exterior design of modern Cape homes will not detract from or try to dominate the surrounding environment but nest within it, at peace with an understated contentedness. 

So, can contemporary be casual on the Cape? It can be when the right team is tasked with the job. The top Architects in Boston with Cape Cod home design experience can weave the old and new to create projects that honor the Cape and help push tradition forward.  

Please reach out to discuss your next project on the Cape and Islands.