Originating from the quaint beach cottages that were designed in the mid 1800’s along the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, known as Cape Cod, Cape Cod style and design has become one of the most well-known in design history.
Even though the area it originated from is one of the biggest barrier islands in the world, shielding much of the Massachusetts coastline from North Atlantic storm waves, it is still deemed a rather small section of land to have had such a large influence on the field of decorating and design. The ever popular locations of Martha’s Vineyard, just south of Cape Cod, and Nantucket, farther south, have fueled the popularity of the the “Capes” indigenous sense.
White clap board, pitched roofs, soft pastels and an understated feel of elegance are all subtle elements of Cape Cod design. It was one of the first schools of thought to use old “unfinished” antiques, in fresh clean settings. The stark contrast gave rise to the theory of “focus” between the unfinished and the clean new elements in a room. It’s quite common to see beautiful Egyptian cotton linens being used on old iron beds that are rusty with chipped paint. The popular term, “Shabby Chic” was coined with just such designing in mind.
Using architectural elements from the past in conjunction with fresh clean items from today, when used effectively can offer the most calming and relaxing forms of design you’ll ever experience. There is a warmth and character that is inherit in Cape Cod design that isn’t found in most other interior design.
Pastels, floral prints and elegant white lace are all mainstays of true Cape Cod design, as are white distressed tables, chairs, cupboards and antique iron beds. There is a certain “romanticism” in Cape Cod design that no other school of design engenders. Victorian as always felt to be decadent and over designed, the “look at me” school of thought……… Craftsman tends more toward the utilitarian and cold unadorned………Deco/Modern leaves little room for romance and femininity and is usually considered all “business”. When you hear the term “quaint” or “cozy”, Craftsman, Deco, Modern and even Victorian are not what come to mind. Hansel & Gretel did not live in a monolithic Deco home.
When thinking colors for your Cape Cod interior think several hues of green and white, using white as the dominant color, for example on walls and large pieces of furniture. The greens should be used for smaller elements such as window treatments and accessories. If green isn’t you’re favorite……try a soft washed out yellow or even a wash out shade of “barn red”.
When putting your thoughts into Cape Cod mode……. think oceans and beaches with sand and shells. All of which are elements used quite often as accent pieces in the overall theme.
Aged wicker is a very well-liked style of furniture used in this form of decorating. Be sure and accent whatever old wicker you might use with fresh pillows of muted pastels.
You’ll be surprised how many things you’ll be able to find at yard sales and swap meets that you may never have considered to be accent pieces. Rattan and wicker baskets areexceptional for holding magazines or even wood by the fire place. Keep an eye out for “needle point” samplers that can either be framed or used as decorative hand towels in the restroom.
One of the more exceptional treatments I’ve seen used in a rather large Cape Cod cottage, was an “Old Town” wooden canoe from 1910, that the owner had cleaned up and then mounted on the ceiling above the dinning room table. The inside of these old canoes are beautiful wooden strips that were highly lacquered. After the canoe was secured above the long dinning room table, the owner had old white glass globe lights, that had come out of a school house, mounted on the inside of the canoe and descended down a little below the bottom of the canoe. It was a excellent look. The canoe was a washed out green canvas and had a definite old aged look to it. Then when setting at the table and looking up into the canoe, you were taken aback by the intricacy of the honey colored wooden interior. When asked where the idea for such a unique treatment over a dinning room table originated, the owner said it was easy……..”the two things I used, were two things I really liked and wanted to be able toappreciate on a daily basis”. The canoe had been stored in his garage for years after being found at a yard sale. The lights had come out of an old school house that had been demolished and they had also been relegated to a life in the garage along side the canoe, until his epiphany brought the two together.
Cape Cod design can be given it’s own unique character by thinking “outside the box”. By mixing items of the beach theme
with antiques, you can create unique uses for items that otherwise may not have considered.
I hope you’ve found this blog informative . I invite you to revisit my website
to answer any and all questions you might have about antique iron beds.
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