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Cape Cod Homes: from Puritans to Seattleites

Posted by Johnine Larsen on August 14, 2019
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Popular with the Puritans, and popular again with WWII vets, Cape Cod houses (like this one) have established themselves as charming and practical homes filled with nostalgia and personality. From 17th-century Cape Cod, Massachusetts to today’s Seattle, Washington, these homes have grown from cramped, practical refuges to American icons. But from then to now—even over a three-and-a-half-century timeline—anyone can identify a Cape Cod.


Tell-tale signs of a Cape Cod house

  • 1 or 1.5 stories
  • Wood siding (often shingle or shiplap siding)
  • Symmetrical exterior and interior layout
  • Centered front entry
  • Steep roofs with side gables (meaning the triangle parts of the roof are on the sides of the house)
  • Centralized chimney
  • Open-concept living space
  • Clean lines, little aesthetic detailing



These homes originated with New England colonists. The half-timber cottages of the their English homeland served as the architectural starting point. The symmetrical layout centered around a large, open living space (back then, they called that space a “hall”). These houses were low and broad with flat-front facades—you’ll see similar features in the colonial homes built farther south, as well.

But from there on, the design was pragmatic. New England winters dropped to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, snow piled up several feet high, and harsh winds battered the landscape. A giant chimney that connected several rooms spread warmth throughout the house, and low ceilings conserved heat. A steep roof kept snow from building up and collapsing the ceiling. Shutters kept out the fierce wind. Decoration didn’t matter as much in Puritan New England as did survival and setting up civilization, so homes lacked ornamentation, and the space above the first floor was often left unfinished. Building materials came from the local area: oak or pine framing, covered in cedar shingles or clapboard.

These homes didn’t become known as “Cape Cod houses” until the early 1800s, when the Reverend Timothy Dwight IV, President of Yale University, visited Cape Cod and gave them the moniker that has since stuck.


Today’s Cape Cod Homes

Cape Cod homes were eclipsed by Victorian homes styles, but they came back in vogue in the 1920s and 1930s during a Colonial Revival period. The revivals, though, looked a bit different. Free of the practical demands of early New England, these contemporary versions were larger, the second story under the eaves was finished (usually bedrooms), and dormers were added. More ornamentation appeared, like exterior trim, and the shutters became decorative.

These revived homes spread across the country. They boomed after World War II, since the simple layout made them ideal starter homes for returning soldiers. Although not nearly as austere as tradition Cape Cod homes, the new ones were still a manageable size, efficient to heat, and easy to expand with additions down the road as a family grew larger. Put a white picket fence in front of a Cade Code home, and you have a movie-worthy picture of the American Dream.


If you want a tour, we just put this charming Cape Cod on the market. Email info@realestategals.com to find out about our next open house!

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    linda wright
    linda wright
    00:45 04 Dec 19
    I have bought and sold many homes in my forty plus years of being a Seattleite and I couldn't be more pleased with the way Johnine Larsen and her team handled the sale of my previous home. I moved into my new place and they took it from there. Contacted the right people to do the minor repairs at a reasonable cost, staged the home, and had professional photos done within a few weeks. The sale went smoothly as well. I am so thankful that I found her.
    Paddy Lazar
    Paddy Lazar
    23:42 03 Dec 19
    I was lucky enough to work with Johnine and her very competent team to sell my home. I have to tell you how easy the entire process was. On her wise suggestion I had my home inspected, as there actually were a number of maintenance items that came up in that inspection and she even arranged to have all of the repairs completed in a very short time. The only thing I had to do was to let the repair folks in. Then, to my surprise, Johnine , had all the windows and the whole house cleaned before listing it. She then had the house beautifully staged and had the yard cleaned up with even a little landscaping thrown in. The house sold within the week for OVER full price! Everyone I dealt with was always kind, helpful and professional, their communication was exemplary all through the process. I’ve decided to rent for a while but you can be assured that it will be Johnine and her team that I will go back to when ready to purchase a new house. I have sung her praises to all that I know.
    soumak ghosh
    soumak ghosh
    00:00 14 Nov 19
    They were representing the seller and I was the buyer. Very limited communication from the agents. Waited days for a response for any email/text. Would eventually get a response after multiple follow ups. Almost cost us the deal. [Update] I have seen all the text/conversations of my agent with your agency. Regarding the oil tank decommissioning, according to the contract, the tank was to be decommissioned 5 days before closing. When asked about so 5 days before closing ( which I have seen the text/email conversations of), you gave my agent very little to no information about it and even said it was on schedule. It was only after my agent called the oil decommissioning company that we got know that it was not even scheduled to decommission it 2 day before closing. Any buyer who was not as intent on buying the property could have walked away due to breach of contract. We got the final documentation 2 hours before the end of closing. It was only after I wrote the review that your agents became responsive. P.S. If you find my review unjust I’m sure it would be overshadowed by stellar reviews from future customers.
    Sarah Donaldson
    Sarah Donaldson
    18:44 18 Jul 19
    Darcie was such a joy to work with. She felt like family during the sale of our house and the search for our new home. We may have found our forever home, but if we ever need a Realtor in future, Darcie from Real Estate Gals will be our first call.
    Brian Heagler
    Brian Heagler
    16:55 02 Jun 19
    I have worked with Johnine and her team for 19 years and have always received personal, knowledgeable and professional service and attention! There is never and pressure and they will guide you away from a property when appropriate, which is always appreciated when a market is hot and the tendency is to move quickly. I trust them and have never been let down!
    Anne Slater
    Anne Slater
    18:03 25 May 19
    Johnine Larsen is fabulous! She listened and came up with ways we could get what we wanted in a house and stay within our limited budget. When we found the house we wanted, she moved super fast to get the house inspected and implemented creative ideas to make our offer appealing. And out of 13 offers, we were selected and got our house. I recommend her to anyone buying a home.
    Amy Burdick
    Amy Burdick
    19:13 24 May 19
    Real Estate Gals made sure we found our perfect house! Then, when we were up against other bidders, Johnine worked tirelessly to ensure we were tops! Her extensive real estate experience combined with exceptional character and integrity provided peace of mind throughout the process. She also made sure we received the right value as a seller and got the transaction done quickly and efficiently. Simply stated: there is nobody better to help you find your dream home.
    Bill Hollman
    Bill Hollman
    22:21 19 May 19
    I'd give Real Estate Gals 6 stars if I could. We have used them multiple times, both in selling and buying homes in Seattle and the surrounding area. I can't say enough about the professionalism, knowledge, and patience they bring to the task of buying a new home, or selling your current residence. And they know the Seattle area so well, they'll offer valuable insights into the pros and cons of any location you may be to considering. Look no further, call Johnine at Real Estate Gals. You will be glad you did!
    Beth Guerra
    Beth Guerra
    01:14 18 May 19
    Johnine was a breath of fresh air in the real estate market. She listened intently to our wishes and goals, and was tireless in her search for our perfect house. She is well versed in both Seattle and the surrounding areas. She made sure all the details were taken care of after the inspection, and made the closing process seamless. She even gifted us with a housewarming present. Nearly 7 years later, we still receive holiday cards and well wishes. I highly recommend Real Estate Gals and will look no further in the future.
    Aidan Key
    Aidan Key
    15:44 17 May 19
    Johnine and the Real Estate Gals brilliantly took us through the home buying process two different times. Their willingness to educate (I was new), hear our home hopes, and support us through the process are a few of the reasons that I highly recommend this team. Speaking of a team, I love their collaborative business model - it meant that we--the home buyers--always had a returned phone call and an ability to look at a house on OUR schedule. Truly felt like they place the customer first!
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