Color ideas for your Cape Cod Style Home.

Gray Cape Cod Style home

We paint about 600 homes in our area each year, and about 20% of them are Cape Cod-style homes. Here’s some history and our experience painting Cape Cod homes on the South Shore and Plymouth areas.

These popular homes have a small footprint and are often surprisingly larger inside than they look like they are from the curb. The modern Capes you see in most South Shore, Plymouth and Boston-area towns are direct descendants of the architecture brought over by the British when they made the journey to our “New World.”

Exterior painting of Cape Cod Homes around Boston:

Colors Schemes for your Cape Cod Exterior:

Exterior colors of Cape Cod homes are usually steeped in tradition, but our designer can work with you to combine traditional colors with something unique and personal.

Exterior Trim for your Cape Cod Home:

Historically, the trim of Cape Cod homes was painted white, in true Puritan tradition. Today, light and white are our most popular trim colors for Cape Cods, but we’ve also painted the trim the same color as the body of the home, which looks fantastic – think deep burgundy clapboards with the same color trim and you get the idea.

Shingles on your Cape:

Traditionally the cedar shingles on Capes were left to naturally weather and gray. Leaving shingles to weather on their own, without protection, shortens their life. Today, we can achieve that same “weathered Nantucket Gray” look on your shingles using products that not only beautify them, but help protect your shingles and prolong their life.

In fact, we can even apply a solid stain to your shingles that will help keep them looking newer.  Applying a solid stain in the same general color as new shingles is protective and beautifying.

Gray shingled cape cod home
You don’t need to live by the ocean to get the fabulous gray shingles this Cape-style home has!

Clapboard and shingle color schemes for Cape Cod Homes

If your Cape Cod home has clapboards on the front, very traditional colors include the pigments that were limited to the Federal and Georgian Colonial periods: ochre, brown, reddish-brown, and finally blue and green.

Siding Painting Project
Choosing an unexpected color for this Cape Cod home’s clapboards looks great in Tinkertown, a Duxbury neighborhood.

Capes built in the 20th century include siding that’s also white, beige, blue-grey, and red. A drive through the Tinkertown part of Duxbury reveals Cape Cod homes of many unique colors, including a Turquoise home we painted in 2020 that looks incredible (see photo to the right).

For traditionalists, Architect Royal Barry Wills, famous for the Capes he built on the South Shore and Plymouth area, considered a very conservative color palette “just right” for traditional Cape Cod-style homes.

Gray shingles with colors for cape cod homes
Once you’ve decided on your main colors, you can add personality by painting your front door something bold.

Dormers are a practical way to expand the living space of a second or third floor of a home and are a mainstay of Cape Cods. Traditionally on the exterior, the dormers of a Cape Cod home are covered in cedar shingles or clapboard.

Exterior Accent colors for your Cape:

White cape cod style home with reddish shutters
Accent colors are added above dormers and the entry to add some personality to this traditional Cape Cod home in Weymouth.

Many of our customers wanting something unique yet traditional will choose to add an accent color that’s different from the trim and main body color to paint on doors, shutters and dormer trim. Our designer can help you place the paint colors on your Cape Cod home to look “just right.”  She’ll even provide a color rendering of your home’s exterior so you can “try on” various paint colors on your Cape Cod house before we ever pick up a brush.

Most modern Cape Cods feature shutters that are strictly decorative. Some Cape Cod purists opt for real working shutters that can be opened and closed.

Garages were added in the early 20th century to some Cape Cod-style homes. Garages faced front on Capes, so neighbors would know that the homeowners owned a car!  Today we tend to paint the garage either the same color as the trim or the same color as the body of the home.

Window trim and sash colors for your Cape Cod home – light or dark?

Yellow house with dark green window grids
The bottle green window grids add flair to this yellow home in Duxbury.

Exterior window colors for Cape Cod Homes: Most of the time, the window trim and sash (the movable part of the window) are painted white or light. Since about 2010, we’ve seen a trend in the Boston area to paint the window sash with darker colors like bottle green, burgundy, and black. A darker sash gives the home a very traditional but updated look.

Traditional Cape Cods feature double-hung windows with grids. If older windows have been replaced with modern windows, the grids in the windows are usually faux. Traditional window grids existed because large panes of glass used to be expensive, and it was less expensive to piece together smaller glass panes in a grid. It’s ironic that now that even though large panes of glass are affordable, we’re still placing grids in the windows, which somewhat block the view outside.

Interior painting considerations of Cape Cod Homes:

Traditional Cape Cod interior configurations featured tightly organized separate rooms with a kitchen toward the back of the house for fire safety reasons. In these nicely delineated rooms, the wall colors you choose can be separate and distinctive. In more modern Cape Cods with open floor plans, it’s important that wall colors “flow together” since walls can be seen from multiple rooms. Our designer is an expert in whole-house color palettes, and a free in-home consultation is included in every home we paint.

Staircase and hallway
This Cohasset home features blue wainscot – an unexpected but traditional infusion of color!

Interior trim in Cape Cod homes is traditionally natural wood or white. Shiplap and wainscot, also traditionally white, is a place to unexpectedly infuse some color to update your interior.

Commercial buildings in our area are built using a traditional Cape Cod home style!

Brown dental office building
Duxbury Dental’s building is an example of a commercial space designed after a Cape Cod-style home.

Fast facts about Cape Cod Style Homes:

-Cape Cods normally have a square or rectangular footprint.

-Early Capes feature one story with another half-story under the roofline. More modern Capes feature a full story as a second floor.

-Roofs usually feature a steep side gable roof, sometimes made of wood cedar shingles with a narrow roof overhang.

-Older Cape Cods feature center chimneys that allowed for a fireplace in each first-floor room. Newer Cape Cods, with the introduction of modern heating, have chimneys on the side of the home.

-Most Capes feature cedar shingle siding – usually on 3-4 sides of the home.

-If clapboards are used, they are often on the front of the home only (cedar shingles on the other three sides).

-The Cape Cod-style features a center front door with two windows on each side of the door.

-Most Cape Cods are very modest and feature minimal embellishment.

-Over the years, homeowners have added onto their Capes and designed new ones with modern amenities in mind, and many houses in the Cape Cod style have been combined with characteristics of ranches, Tudors, and Craftsmen bungalows.



You also might like:

Three colorful historic homes
Choosing historic colors for your home!





Some photos of our recent painting projects

Working with our free, in-home designer to choose exterior and interior colors

Color renderings – a free service we offer at every quote.