Learn how to pick out windows for a Cape Cod home

Window selections are key to maintaining the character of a classic Cape Cod house. Learn how to pick out windows for a Cape Cod home, from new builds to renovations.
A two-story home with brown shingles, a porch with white columns, and white windows.
Whether you’re building a new Cape Cod-style home or renovating a historic property, making the right window selections is crucial to capturing the beauty and preserving the function of this classic architectural style. 

What is a Cape Cod house?

The Cape Cod-style home originated in New England, and some of its trademark features — steeply pitched roofs with side gables, multi-paned windows with shutters, and large central chimneys — were designed to withstand the region’s harsh, stormy climate. Cape Cods are now a popular choice nationwide, featuring an appealing blend of historical charm and design flexibility to fit today’s needs.   

Cape Cod houses range from simple and modest to the more stylized Cape Cod Revivals. Traditional exterior paint colors include neutral shades (white, cream, gray, or black) and earth tones (brick red or forest green). Cape Cod homes also tend to use hardy materials such as shingle siding, wood flooring, and brick chimneys. 

What type of windows match a Cape Cod?

Double-hung windows with colonial grilles, often with shutters, are the quintessential windows for a Cape Cod home, though casement windows are also used. The grilles are a nod to the Cape Cod’s history when multiple panes of glass were combined into larger windows due to glass limitations of the time. 

  • Proportion: The windows are typically vertical in proportion and symmetrically balanced on either side of the front facade. Single-opening accent windows do not always follow this rule.
  • Grille patterns: Grilles are used to emulate the historic 6’’ by 8’’ multi-pane look, but may go up to 8’’ wide by 10’’ high. Rectangular, vertically oriented panes are preferred, but a square appearance is also fine. Horizontally oriented panes are not recommended. For windows of different sizes within the same home, grille spacing is most authentic if it is the same for each window. A-Series windows feature architectural authentic sash and grille details, with an option to specify custom grille patterns to create a match with historical applications.
  • Color and finishes: For window exteriors and trim, white is the most common and historically authentic color for Cape Cods. However, colors such as cream, dove gray, and forest green can also be used. Window interiors can be a wood species like pine, stained (cinnamon or honey are recommended), or painted (white, traditionally). Shutters tend to be darker colors such as black or dark green.
  • Accent windows: The recommended accent windows for a Cape Cod home include transom windows above doors, sidelights alongside doors, and small windows in gable corners, known as “prayer windows.”  

What are windows built into a roof called? 

Roofed structures that extend beyond the roof and include a window are called dormers. These are a common feature of Cape Cod homes and can infuse character into new builds or create more useable space in a Cape Cod renovation. Learn more about picking the perfect dormer window

What type of doors match a Cape Cod?

The most common Cape Cod style entry doors have colonial grilles. More elaborate homes may feature a double door at the main entry. Dutch doors may also be used for main entry or patio doors.

How to pick out a front door for a Cape Cod

Historically, most Cape Cod doors and door frames were painted white, which remains the most common. Other colors are used on occasion. The recommendations for windows (exterior, trim, and interior finishes) also apply to doors. 

How to pick out a patio door for a Cape Cod

Although outdoor porches and patios are not common in historic examples of Cape Cod-style homes, they can be incorporated into contemporary Cape Cod-style designs with the help of hinged or gliding patio doors that resemble French patio doors. You can achieve this look with our 200 Series and 400 Series product lines, but for the most architectural authenticity, look to our A-Series product line.

With these tips, we hope you’re well on your way to creating the beautiful Cape Cod home you envision! 

Style options

More on this home style

Pattern books from the Andersen Style Library present quintessential details of the most popular American architectural styles, with an emphasis on window and door design. The result of years of research, they exist to make it easier to create homes with architectural authenticity.