Cape Cod Style Bathroom Ideas

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The traditional Cape Cod bathroom design has roots that trace back as far as some of America's first settlers in New England. This historical and American tradition has been an appealing home addition since architect Royal Barry Wills opened his office in Boston in 1925. Royal Barry Wills's contribution to modern residential design was based upon the early New England fishermen's homes built by colonial settlers.

Cape Cod Design Elements

When designing or considering a Cape Cod bathroom, keep in mind south facing windows give more light and heat. Another insulation factor and a Cape Cod design element is the addition of wainscoting.

  • The invention of wainscoting, a signature Cape Cod home design, is a purposeful wall element for moisture protection in a room, especially a bathroom. For more bathroom wall options, see Bathroom Remodeling: Wall Materials & Options.
  • Wainscoting not only acts as design decor , but its insulation can protect any room. It adds a classic appeal and lift to any bathroom especially when finished with a baseboard.
  • Traditional white is a Cape Cod design for a bathroom, although accent colors can be used on baseboards. Wainscoting is the quintessential design element in creating a Cape Cod bathroom.
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In addition, shutters are another common element in Cape Cod design, which are more of an aesthetic addition than traditional  protection against wind and cold. Note that homes with dormer windows offer some restrictions for window shutters.

Other bathroom design elements to consider for the Cape Cod look include crown molding, baseboards, door framing, window frames and windowsills. A traditional Cape Cod bathroom is dominated by the color white-a simple but clean color-for tiling and wall paint. However, wall colors, wallpaper and other decorative design elements, such as boarders, are a homeowner and dweller's preference.

Cape Cod Colors

In keeping with tradition, accent colors such as blue, beige and red have been included in a Cape Cod bathroom design to evoke a sense of the ocean and the sunset. These colors can be added through a number of decor elements such as:

  • Towels
  • Mats
  • Switch plates
  • Light fixtures
  • Wall decorations
  • Candles
  • Containers
  • Bath salts
  • Soaps

cape cod bathroom ideas cape cod bathroom ideas cape cod bathroom ideas


Cape Cod Bathroom Appliances & Lighting

Lighting fixtures have several opportunities in a Cape Cod bath. These include overhead lights as well as sconce lighting on either side of a mirror, above a vanity or pedestal sink. Framed mirrors are also a traditional look but small bathrooms can benefit from a mounted medicine chest mirror or vanity unit. In addition, a Cape Cod bathroom can also be constructed with a stall shower or shower and bathtub.

When deciding upon tubs, showers and sinks, a Cape Cod bathroom can be made traditional with a single standing claw-foot tub and pedestal sink. Keep in mind fixtures such as showerheads, faucets and towel racks should be simple and stainless steel. Tradition would dictate white tubs, showers, sinks and toilets. Also, a backsplash for a vanity can be white tile, but blue or light green would work well also. 

Depending upon the size of the bathroom, several elements can be included to make a Cape Cod bathroom a modern, luxurious escape. Adding a ceiling fan to eliminate moisture, shelving for organization and a linen closet for all towels and bath necessities will present form and function to your bathroom. A Cape Cod bathroom can include a linen closet with shutter doors to match the window treatments. Try repurposing shutters throughout the bathroom for a chic, cohesive look. 

Cape Cod Flooring

A traditional element to the early designs of a Cape Cod bathrooms was to use pine and oak hardwoods for flooring. Today, faux wood or tile is a more popular choice, as it withstands water and humidity much better than wood. Look into laminate flooring designed to mimic the look of wood if you had your heart set on it. 

Even though early ideas of Cape Cod bathrooms were small, today a bathroom can be any size and express all the luxuries of modern living in a clean, simple style.

Last Updated: April 10, 2012
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About Sabina Dana Plasse Sabina Dana Plasse holds a bachelor's degree in history from Bucknell University, a master's in liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University and a master's in film and video from American University. She is an award-winning writer and editor living in Sun Valley, Idaho. Besides writing on fine arts, lifestyle, home and garden, entertainment, philanthropy and business, she enjoys teaching film and writing screenplays. Sabina has served as the arts and events editor and living writer for the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper, a twice weekly national award-winning newspaper serving Idaho's Wood River Valley. Sabina adores mountain town living where she is an active snowboarding, skier, mountain biker, hiker, supporter of the arts and an avid seeker of practical living ideas.  

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