Try These 8 Cape Cod Interior Design Tips When Staging Your Home

Christina Caron


With its sandy beaches, quaint villages, and historic lighthouses, Cape Cod is the epitome of luxurious living.

However, the most significant appeal of this Edenic peninsula is its distinctive architecture, dating back to Colonial times. Indeed, the houses erected on this coastal stretch reflect a culture long passed.

Notably, the exteriors of Cape Cod-style houses are deceptively simple and free from embellishments. Simplicity is a characteristic feature of Cape Cod charm.

The interiors, of course, are a different story altogether.

The interior designs of Cape Cod houses are based on coastal themes, evoking tranquility, splendor, and bliss. But how do you evoke such sentiments through interior design? Honestly, it’s easier than it sounds, and these eight Cape Cod interior design tips will nudge you in the right direction.

But first, let’s briefly dive into the history of the renowned Cape Cod-style houses.

The history of Cape Cod homes

The Cape Cod-style house is arguably one of America's most popular and recognizable architectural designs. The characteristics of a traditional Cape Cod house are: 
  • A symmetrical and rectangular design
  • A low, single-story frame, sometimes with an additional half-story
  • Steep-pitched gabled roofs
  • A large central chimney
  • Posts and beams
  • Little ornamentations and embellishments on the exterior
  • Low ceilings
  • Symmetrical layout with a center hall
  • Bedrooms in dormers 
  • Ample, open-concept living space
Surprisingly, the term “Cape Cod house” was actually in use as far back as the 1800s. It refers to houses built by Puritan colonists from Europe who settled in Native lands (now known as New England) in the 17th century. For this reason, traditional Cape Cod houses are reminiscent of English cottage-style architecture.

The settlers adopted this housing style to the weather of New England, which is cold and prone to heavy rainfall and snowfall. This explains the steep roofs, large chimneys, and multi-paned windows.

But while this earlier style caught on like wildfire, many of the modern Cape Cod houses you see today are a product of a revival project conducted in the 20th century. The credit goes to the renowned architect Royal Barry Wills, who reimagined the colonial Cape Cod houses and presented them as a contemporary choice of housing.

The dominant characteristics of these Revival Cape Cod houses were reticence, the modesty of scale, and conventional proportions, much like the exteriors of a traditional Cape Cod house. However, the interior was adapted into a more modern design.

If you want to retire in beautiful Cape Cod and enjoy its peaceful lifestyle, contact The Caron Group today.

Eight interior design tips for a perfect Cape Cod home

Here are some tips to bring the quintessential Cape Cod aesthetic when staging homes.

1. Use a pastel color palette

The color palette of any home defines its personality. You need to choose a color palette that complements the natural elements.

Typically, Cape Cod homes feature a soft pastel color palette with stark accents along the baseboards. These soft hues are in perfect harmony with the serene ambiance of the oceanside.

In contrast, think about tropical towns that feature bright and eccentric colors to complement the vivid scenery surrounding them. Bright yellows, pinks, reds, and greens are compatible with the colorful flora of these regions. However, these colors might clash with an oceanic backdrop.

Furthermore, bright colors are often a very personal choice for homeowners. If you use bright colors while staging a home, you might hinder the buyer’s ability to actually picture themselves living there.

Of course, this is not to say that you can’t employ any bright colors at all. Instead, bright colors can and should be used through furnishing or wall accents but shouldn’t dominate the general color palette.

2. Use coastal colors

In a similar vein, you can also stick with a coastal color theme to really accentuate the seaside atmosphere that defines the Cape Cod aesthetic.

According to color psychology, blue colors are associated with tranquility and calmness. They create an atmosphere of comfort and peace, which is perfectly in theme with coastal living.

While soft pastels complement the surroundings, using blue tones will render your home an extension of the outside environment. In other words, your Cape Cod house won’t simply be on the coast but rather a part of it. This is a good strategy for staging as it emphasizes the oceanside appeal of Cape Cod houses.

Furthermore, blue hues pair well with virtually any color. While white accents are most popular, you can experiment with a vibrant orange, red, pink, or green — the possibilities are truly endless.

3. Decorate with nautical accessories

Nautical accessories refer to any decoration or trinket that is reminiscent of the sea. This includes seashells, ships-in-a-bottle, miniature anchors, navigation wheels, starfish — basically, anything that you would see along the cape.

As the proverb dictates, the devil lies in the details. When it comes to staging your Cape Cod home, nautical accessories can be very effective. They bring elements from the surrounding cape into your house, echoing the charm of the coast and beyond.

4. Use rustic or wicker furniture

If you want to showcase the interior living spaces, simplistic furniture is the best way to go. Blocky, heavyset furnishings are more appropriate for urban living — in luxury apartments or mansions. However, this type of furniture fully clashes with seaside life, which is supposed to be reminiscent of nature.

As such, you should stick with something that is a little more modest, such as wicker furniture. Wicker furniture is made from pliable twigs, woven to create items such as baskets, chairs, and bookshelves, thereby instilling a more “beachy” appeal.

If you want to add a little more flair, you could also use rustic, clean-lined, and handmade wood furniture. This is characteristic of the traditional early American-style furniture from the 17th century when colonizers settled in the New World. By using such furniture, you’ll essentially recreate the interior design of the original Cape Cod houses from the Colonial period.

What better way to showcase a Cape Cod house than by alluding to its rich history?

5. Mix and match

If a specific type of furnishing is too limiting for you, you can always mix and match.

In fact, marrying different styles and aesthetics will bring a more homely appeal to your Cape Cod house. Full furniture sets belong in furniture showrooms; in reality, people accumulate different furniture styles over time, leading to varied yet cohesive furnishing.

For example, you could pair a wicker couch with a rustic table. Or, you could use a statement piece (whether modern or Victorian) and surround it with more simple furniture.

6. Make it cozy

When they were originally erected in the 17th century, the primary purpose of Cape Cod houses was sheltering against the winter. As such, Cape Cod cottages are renowned for their laid-back, cozy ambiance. The interior décor doesn’t need to exude opulence and luxury. Instead, it needs to be welcoming, intimate, and modest.

So, what’s the best way to make a home feel more home-like? Here are some tips:
  • Don’t use furniture sets; instead, use an amalgamation of different styles of furniture
  • Add throw blankets and cushions in the living room
  • Accentuate the fireplaces
  • Make use of plants and floral decorations
  • Lay down a plush rug

7. Keep it roomy and spacious

Open-concept living space is a defining feature of the traditional Cape Cod house. Minimal walls and conjoined living spaces create a more spacious, open, and roomy feel.

As such, try to keep the interior as open as possible so that people can see a true Cape Cod house in all its glory. While staging, keep the following tips in mind to maximize spaciousness:
  • Remove all clutter and don’t use too much furniture
  • Layer lighting by going dark to light vertically: for example, try a navy rug, blue linens, and sky blue curtains
  • Use mirrors to reflect more light and project it across the room
  • Use muted colors

8. Pay attention to the foyer

The foyer is the first thing people see when they enter the house. Although Cape Cod houses don’t have impressively large foyers, you will still need to make a good first impression.

Typically, the foyer will have a statement lighting piece, such as a chandelier or an antique lamp. Make sure that the lighting in the foyer is bright, and replace any dim bulbs.

As far as the colors go, throw in a few specks of color from the house’s color palette, much like a sneak peek into what’s to come. Similarly, you can use other dominant elements from your décor in the foyer to tie everything together.


Cape Cod houses are modest, elegant, and unornamented from the exterior. The interior, however, is where you can really let your creative juices flow.

Keep in mind, though, that effective staging requires you to let the quintessential Cape Cod features shine through. This means staging a cozy, welcoming, open, and homely environment where people can actually see themselves living.

If you’re ready to stage your Cape Cod home and want to work with an experienced realtor, reach out to The Caron Group, which can meet all your needs.


We take pride in raising the bar when it comes to showcasing the unparalleled lifestyle and exceptional real estate on Cape Cod. We are committed in achieving a new level of personalized service for a vast range of clients, from first-time homebuyers to seasoned sellers to investment seekers.

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