How to Create a Cape Cod Style Kitchen

Evelyn Long

Feb 18, 2023


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You may recognize Cap Cod as being the coastal gem on the southern Massachusetts coast, where visitors flock during the summer for its sandy beaches and quaint, postcard-worthy villages.

If you’ve ever visited “the Cape,” as locals call it, it’s no wonder you might feel inspired by the bright, shingle-lined cottage homes — perhaps so much that you’d like to tie the look into your kitchen design. 

A Cape Cod-style kitchen is classic and welcoming, incorporating natural woods, light, and bright color schemes and subtle nautical elements. Overall, the space should ooze comfort — somewhere that makes guests feel at home as soon as they enter.

Suppose you’ve been planning a kitchen remodel or are interested in updating your kitchen’s design. Recreating the Cape Cod style may be your best choice — but how do you make your kitchen look and feel like your favorite seaside cottages? You can effortlessly work these traditional Cape Cod-style elements into your design plans. 

1. Color Scheme

Color is essential to capturing your kitchen’s quaint, nautical Cape Cod aesthetic, and your color palette should include light yellows ,muted blues, and greens. 

In fact, color psychology suggests that blues evoke a serene, calming feeling — perhaps a nice touch for an island in an all-white kitchen. On the other hand, too much yellow may lead to eyestrain and vision loss, despite being an energetic, mood-boosting hue. 

Rather than creating a yellow focal point, perhaps add yellow detailing, such as in pots and pans, gold hardware or a vase full of sunflowers on the counter. 

Capturing the coastal interior design also typically comprises tans and creamy neutrals, which allows you to subtly pay homage to the nautical theme without overdoing the look. 

Otherwise, provide contrast to lighter cabinetry and paint colors by featuring dark hardwood floors and kitchen furniture. 

2. Wooden Features

Another common element of Cape Cod bungalows is wooden features, such as beams or beadboards. 

In the kitchen, adding a wood beam can help ground the space and imbue warmth. Of course, solid beams are expensive and labor-intensive. A more affordable option would be to install a faux beam.

According to HomeAdvisor, a faux beam ranges from $875 to $6,800, depending on the materials, size, and labor fees. Fortunately, you probably won’t require as large of a beam for your kitchen as you would a living room, which may help cut costs.

Additionally, a white-painted beadboard halfway up the wall or even as the backsplash may be another way to add architectural interest and wood character to your Cape Cod-style kitchen. Beadboards are traditionally a part of Craftsman woodwork, simplifying the ornate Victorian design. 

3. Tile and Wallpaper

If a beadboard backsplash isn’t the look you’re going for, opting for a clean, white tile or even a muted turquoise subway tile looks beautiful in a Cape Cod-style kitchen. 

Nautical-tone tile allows seaside-dwellers and beach lovers to be reminded of pristine ocean waves as they make their coffee every morning.

Perhaps also consider adding wallpaper to the back of glass window cabinets to adhere to Cape Cod’s historical roots. For instance, a simple crustacean or Seahaven toile pattern will blend beautifully into the background.

4. Upholstery and Textiles

Textiles can turn your Cape Cod-style kitchen from drab to fab. Does your kitchen have an eating nook? If so, look for comfortable seat cushions with a nautical pattern or color palette.

Upholstery and napkins may be a great way to tie in more of your color scheme. Perhaps you decide to go with blue and white striped seat cushions, throw pillows, or solid yellow napkins for your place setting. 

Regardless, ensure your seat cushion and pillow covers are removable so you can wash them easily. You never know if someone might spill something on them, or if they may require a spin in the washing machine to keep them looking fresh. 

5. Bright Lighting

Keep your Cape Cod-style kitchen light and bright. Look for simple glass pendant lights to hang over the island and avoid obstructing natural light from windows.

If you must cover a sliding back door or a window over the sink, go with sheer curtains instead of panels. Sheers still allow privacy and just enough light to shine through without making the space feel dark and dreary. 

As for pendants or a chandelier over the kitchen table, you might choose something that has brushed brass, gold, or even matte black if you’re trying to create more contrast.

Create a Cozy Cape Cod Style Kitchen

Your Cape Cod-style kitchen should produce a cozy atmosphere whether you’re making dinner for the family, hosting brunch, or relaxing at the end of the day with a glass of wine. If you love the cottages in Cape Cod, it may be the right design to recreate in your kitchen.

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