The Cape Cod look is really having a moment in the spotlight, trending as the next seaside aesthetic to embrace. Serene, oh so stylish, with a traditional edge that still manages to feel contemporary and cool, this modern interior design is inspired by the homes on the peninsula off the coast of Massachusetts and one that I want to try out in my own home (even though I'm miles away from the seaside).
‘Modern coastal is all about mimicking what is happening outside in nature,’ says Brad Ramsey of Brad Ramsey Interiors. ‘It's definitely not stereotypical modern that sounds like it would be sleek and cold. While we maintain clean modern lines in the furniture, we evoke the feeling of sun, sand, water, and driftwood.'
But Cape Cod has defining characteristics that make it distinctly different from the 'Coastal Grandmother' look or even Hamptons style. Here are the key elements for how to achieve it.
What is the Cape Cod look and why is it trending?
Last summer was all about the 'Coastal Grandmother' trend that saw our social media platforms flooded with ideas for how to live your life as if you were the protagonist of a Nancy Meyers' film. Creating this sophisticated, beachy look was about embracing it in every aspect of your life, from fashion to interiors.
As the trend for 'Coastal Grandmother' subsides, we're searching for something a little more refined in our homes. Enter the Cape Cod aesthetic, the mood that conjures up a very specific image of windswept beaches dotted with lighthouses, and a seaside color palette that is anything but twee.
It's perfect for now as we seek out a style that makes our home feel calming and tranquil. It's a great style for those who love the Scandinavian vibe but want to mix it with a California beachy cool look, and for minimalists, this all-white scheme comes to life with a touch of the seaside color palette.
What are the main pillars of the Cape Cod aesthetic?
So what exactly is it? 'When I went to Cape Cod it reminded me very much of the Hamptons style decor. This (above) is a lovely example of the aesthetic that feels quite contemporary,' says Livingetc global editor-in-chief, Pip Rich. 'It's designed so that you can flow seamlessly from beach to home and back with the feeling that your zen is uninterrupted,' adds Brad Ramsey.
It's certainly all about the beach, but there are more distinctive pillars that give it that particular edge. It all comes down to these three main elements of the look.
1. The color palette
Firstly, a neutral color palette is crucial to the perfect Cape Cod aesthetic. 'Think soft white oak tones,' says Brad Ramsey of Brad Ramsey Interiors. Think bright white, off-whites and creams as a scheme typical of the area. Mix with that accents of muted blue and aqua. 'Nothing too bold though,' says Brad. 'This would overpower the other elements.'
For Kristina Phillips of Kritstina Phillips Interior Design, it's about 'navy and sky blues,' she says.
For Indiana-based designer, Amanda Lantaz, the Cape Cod look grants you a little scope for more color, pattern, and creativity than other seaside aesthetics. 'It seems that blue is an absolute must when it comes to the color palette, but I’m really loving the idea of using more goldens, honey, and yellows too as well as greens.'
It's not just about paint either, and color is often introduced through decor. Think porcelains and ceramic vases in blue and white with chinoiserie detailing for a look typical of the Cape Cod area, or bunches of bright blue hydrangeas. 'When it’s a secondary residence, it’s easier to get clients to take a risk with fabrics, patterns and colors. I love using lightweight linens and chintz, lots of stripes of all different scales, and big bold patterns with fun wallcoverings.'
2. Use texture that is inspired by a seaside location
'It's also about the connection to the outside,' says Kristina. This doesn't mean that ships in a bottle and old framed maps should be on your interiors shopping list, rather keep it subtle, sophisticated, with nods to the beachy location.
'A Cape Cod-styled room could include grassclothed wallcovering, brass light fixtures, and beachy elements to bring a sense of warmth and connection to outside,' says Kristina.
Material and texture is the best way to embrace your location. 'Use materials like wood, wicker, rattan, jute rugs, and sisal for flooring and furniture,' says Kristina. 'This aesthetic is about creating a comfortable and welcoming space that embraces seaside charm and relaxed ambiance.'
3. Create a space for entertaining
Finally, the exterior of Cape Cod homes are as distinctive as the interiors, and the architecture of the destination is typically cottage-style with gables, shutters and a steeply pitched roof that stops snow building up in the long and cold winters. The area is heavily populated with summer homes, so the interiors are bright, open, airy, with a big focus on entertaining. 'To me, it’s all about creating a casual elegance where all guests feel at home,' says Amanda.
'I find that my clients host guests much more in their summer homes than in their primary residences. So having functionality set for this type of use is key.
'For summer/second residences I often get involved in a total turn-key experience where I’m provided everything from the furnishings to the shampoo in the showers! It’s a really fun process to procure everything for these holiday homes.'
Focusing on this element that is so at the core of Cape Cod homes is something you too can do at home. It might be as simple as rearranging furniture so that a living room feels more open. It could be about accessorizing your seating area with coffee tables and side tables to accommodate evening drinks.
3 buys to get the Cape Cod look at home
Material: Teak with glass top
I love the natural feel of this teak-based coffee table. With the intricacies of the table visible through the glass, you can admire the twists and turve of the wood from every angle.
Material: 100 percent polyester
This shade of blue is perfect for channeling that Cape Cod look. Place in a reading nook for a cozy corner and enjoy lounging with the swivel function.
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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