Cape Cod Decorating Ideas For The Living Room

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The Cape Cod theme brings the casual elegance of New England beach towns to any room of the house. One of the most common areas to decorate in this style is the living room. Perfect for colonial, farmhouse, and of course, Cape Cod styled homes, this theme combines the rugged nature of the sea with the relaxed sophistication of a quiet, East coast beach home.

Cape Cod Colors

Cape Cod living rooms should primarily be decorated with three main colors: blue, white and brown.

  • Sticking with neutral browns and whites will make any blue accessories, furniture or art you incorporate into the living room pop with color, creating a fun, eye catching design.
  • Typically, walls are painted bright white, creating a clean canvas for artwork and collectibles to show.
  • Use blues in throw pillows, cushions, blankets and wall décor. A deep royal blue is the most common shade for Cape Cod themes.

Cape Cod Themes

Cape Cod design is heavily influenced by the sea, boats and the classic elegance of East coast beach towns. Incorporate these influences into your decorations.

  • Select a few stylish pieces to represent a nautical theme in your living room. Try throw pillows with a starfish design, small replica boat collectibles, or a small boat rope coiled up inside of a decorative metal bowl.
  • Keep it clean. Though many Cape Cod homes have artwork, collectibles and replica boat models, they are not cluttered. Let the plain white walls be your guide to keeping a fresh open space, and avoid using too many decorations on tables, walls or furniture (yes, you can have too many cute throw pillows).
  • Use woods in furniture, flooring and decorations to incorporate the elegance of rich wood paneling on boats, yacht clubs and beach homes.
  • Hang paintings of boats, the sea and other traditional Cape Cod scenes above couches, chairs and fireplaces. By using a weathered wood frame, you can incorporate nautical and classic east coast themes in one piece.
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Cape Cod Furniture

Stick to the dominant characteristics of the Cape Cod theme, even when purchasing furniture. A few key pieces can go a long way.

  • Large white or blue couches are a Cape Cod standard. Decorate with pillows in the opposite color.
  • Wicker furniture can be found in nearly every Cape Cod home and makes a great addition to this living room style. Purchase a wicker chair in classic white, or paint it a bright royal blue to make a stylish statement next to white and wood furniture.
  • Nautical chests are a great option for coffee tables. Depending on your budget, find a simple wooden trunk or an authentic travel chest complete with metal detailing to use in place of a traditional table. To dress up less expensive models, paint them white or blue, then distress with sand paper to create a weathered, beach-worn look.
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Cape Cod Accessories

Cape Cod living room accessories are simple, clean and relatively easy to find or make.

  • Think boats. Display small replica boats on tables, shelves and mantels to play up the nautical theme. Depending on the size and quality, at least one small collectible boat can be bought on nearly any budget.
  • Use unfinished wood for frames, side tables and chairs. Reminiscent of classic New England homes and boats, the exposed wood will further the nautical theme.
  • Lanterns are a great way to add functional lighting while keeping with Cape Cod style. Use with regular or flameless candles to add a traditional touch to side tables, window sills and mantels.
  • Old glass bottles, starfish and seashells also make perfect accessories for the Cape Cod living room. Line the bottles in a window sill to catch light, or collect starfish and seashells in a decorative bowl on the coffee table or a side table.

New England evokes images of sophistication and relaxation, as should your living room. Take advantage of the Cape Cod style's mixture of comfort and class, and create a space for family and friends to relax in east coast style. Mix woods, whites, blues and browns for the perfect Cape Cod color scheme. Add decorations like boats, shells and nautical pictures to complete the look. Keep it simple, clean and relaxed, and your living room can become a Cape Cod escape.

For more Cape Cod design ideas, see:

Last Updated: April 3, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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