Cape Cod House Plans for 1950s America

01
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Cape Cods in Suburbia

Levittown Cape Cod Houses in the 1950s
Cape Cod houses lined streets and cul-de-sacs in Levittown, New York. Circa 1950s. Photo ©Hulton Archive / Getty Images. Select the photo for a larger view.

As men and women returned to the USA from WWII, real estate developers were eager to sell dreams of home ownership. Advertising flyers romanticized family life in planned communities such as the Levittown subdivisions in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Suburban tract houses were built quickly using pre-cut lumber and standardized floor plans.

A favored housing type of the 1950s was one that originated in Colonial New England. Developers seized on the historic Cape Cod house style and promoted it as an all-American ideal. Within a decade, these compact, efficient homes could be found in nearly every part of the USA.

Of course, the Cape Cod homes of the 1950s were not replicas of historic Cape Cods. Builders borrowed features of the Colonial style and added mid-twentieth century modernizations. In this gallery you'll find a sampling of 1950s-era Cape Cods sold in communities across North America. Each plan offers a different version of the Colonial idea.

As you browse these pages, take yourself back to the 1950s when GIs returned from WWII ready to marry, start a family, and build a new, two-bedroom home in the suburbs. Does the floor plan seem practical? Are the illustrations inviting? Do any of these plans remind you of the home where you grew up?

Tell us about your 1950s home

 

Cape Cod Floor Plans From the 1950s

  • The Cranberry
  • The Hearth
  • The Full Pleasure
  • The Tradition
  • The Jewel

Also see:
Neocolonial Homes for 1950s-1960s America >>>
Ranch House Plans for 1950s America >>>
Minimal Traditional House Plans for 1940s-1950s America >>>
Guide to Mid-Century Homes, 1930 - 1965 >>>

Learn more about where in America these styles may be found >>

02
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Cape Cod Style One-and-a-Half Story Floor Plan

1950s floor plan and rendering of Cape Cod house called Cranberry
This 1950s house plan was dubbed the Cranberry. Photo © Buyenlarge/Getty Images. Select the image to view full size in a new window

The "Cranberry"

The name of this house plan, "Cranberry," describes the intent of the designers—the cranberry is found throughout the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts. The house plan's living area, or floor space, is 1,064 square feet.

Why is this a Cape Cod design?

  • Rectangular shape, with added porch
  • Center chimney, similar to the "Hearth" plan
  • Front door placed at the center
  • Steep pitch to roof
  • Side gables
  • Shutters
  • Eight-over-eight multi-paned, double-hung windows
  • Center-hall floor plan

One-and-a-Half Stories:

Some would call this a two story house, because of the second floor bedroom area. However, the designers call this a "one and a half story home." Why? When second floor interior rooms are box-like, an attic creates the square shape. When second floor ceilings take the sloped shape of the roof, the story is often considered "half." The slant of the roof becomes part of the upstairs ceilings. The ceiling height for both the first and second floors is 7 ½ feet. On the second floor, this height must be at the roof peak, the highest point of a very steeply pitched roof.

An Unseen Rear Dormer?

Notice the upstairs storage in the home's front, spatially equivalent to the closets and bathroom in the back. The upstairs rear windows, which provide "cross ventilation," would have to be small, narrow basement-type windows through the sloping roof, unless dormers were part of the design. Dormers are often built to create additional space and are sometimes added after a small house is built. This plan, however, may have an unseen rear dormer to accommodate the rear windows—not to mention for the comfort of guests to the second floor rear bathroom! Other house plans in this series, such as "Jewel," show a rear dormer more clearly on the floor plan, although not in its illustration.

Marketing this House Plan:

The interior sketches of the kitchen, utility, and dining areas seem to have no basis in reality when compared with the floor plans. What is called the "Acme of Convenience" and inviting areas of "Work-saving Informality" appear to be pure marketing.

See Cape Cods in Suburbia for an introduction to these mid-century home designs.

03
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Two Bedroom Brick Cape Cod Bungalow Home Plan

1950s floor plan and rendering of Cape Cod house called Hearth
The Hearth combines Cape Cod architecture with other styles. Photo © Buyenlarge/Getty Images. Select the image to view full size in a new window.

The "Hearth"

The name of this house plan, "Hearth," describes what is being sold—warmth, family, and tradition.

Why is this a Cape Cod home?

  • Rectangular shape, incorporating a porch
  • Center chimney, similar to the "Cranberry" plan
  • Front door placed at the center
  • Steep pitch to roof
  • Side gables
  • Shutters
  • Eight-over-eight multi-paned, double-hung window

What are the modern modifications?

  • Larger, more modern picture window, with traditional multiple panes
  • Painted brick construction
  • A multi-level roof, with an overhang similar to a Western Bungalow
  • Simple ornamentation of a built-in flower box, described as "an important feature of the exterior"
  • Elevated roof design, in the style of an American bungalow, allowing for second-floor expansion

Marketing this House Plan:

Described as "basically a Cape Cod home," this 936 square foot house was marketed to the expanding family. Designers included an elevated roof section, disappearing attic stairs, and the possibility that "attic rooms can be charming at small expense."

Remember that dated house plans may not meet current building code specifications. For more information, see Ralph Liebing's guest article Tips to Building Your New Home.

See Cape Cods in Suburbia for an introduction to these mid-century home designs.

04
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Floor Plan for a Small Cape Cod Home

1950s floor plan and rendering of Cape Cod house called Full Pleasure
Dormers and a side chimney are modifications of the traditional Cape Cod. Photo © Buyenlarge/Getty Images. Select the image to view full size in a new window.

"Full Pleasure"

Described as "Early American" with "many Cape Cod characteristics," this mid-century design would appeal to the modern family of modest means, with a car and a growing family. Note that the chimney pictured in the illustration seems to have no associated fireplace in the floor plan.

Why is this a Cape Cod style?

  • Rectangular shape, with a garage addition
  • Steep pitch to roof
  • Side gables
  • Front door placed at the center
  • Shutters
  • Eight-over-eight multi-paned, double-hung windows
  • Shingle or shake exterior siding
  • Center hall floor plan

What are the modern modifications?

  • Front dormers for attic expansion, similar to the "Tradition" plan
  • Attached garage

Marketing this House Plan:

A 240 square foot attached garage must be the "Full Pleasure" of this small, 810 square foot home.

See Cape Cods in Suburbia for an introduction to these mid-century home designs.

05
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Southern Colonial Cape Cod Floor Plan

1950s floor plan and rendering of Cape Cod house called Tradition
1950s floor plan and rendering of Cape Cod house called Tradition. Photo © Buyenlarge/Getty Images. Select the image to view full size in a new window.

The "Tradition"

The two-floor Tradition house plan has many characteristics of Cape Cod architecture and also bears similarities to Colonial homes from the American South.

Why is this a Cape Cod house?

  • Rectangular shape
  • Steep pitch to roof
  • Side gables
  • Front door placed at the center
  • Center hall floor plan

What are the modern modifications?

  • Front dormers, similar to the "Full Pleasure" plan
  • Larger, more modern picture window, but with traditional multiple panes
  • Brick construction
  • An imposing chimney and fireplace integrated into an exterior wall of a living room that "extends from the front to the rear"
  • Ornamentation in brick and scalloping above the front door

Marketing this House Plan:

One reader comments:

"This floor plan is similar to one of my childhood homes of the 1950s. My brother, sister, and I had the two upstairs bedrooms. My parents' bedroom would be what they are calling the dining room, which included a bathroom. The laundry room area was our dining room, and the kitchen had a small eating area, with space for a washer/dryer near the back door. The two front windows were bay windows. We'd put our Christmas tree in the front corner every year. I'm sold on the tradition of this house plan!"

See Cape Cods in Suburbia for an introduction to these mid-century home designs.

06
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Modernizing the Cape Cod House Plan

1950s floor plan and rendering of Cape Cod house called Jewel
A variety of window types and exterior sidings updates a traditional Cape Cod design. Photo © Buyenlarge/Getty Images. Select the image to view full size in a new window.

The "Jewel"

"Jewel" is described as having "many unusual features." This 1,399 sq. ft. "four room Colonial home," reminds us that the 1950s modern Cape Cod is really of Colonial origin.

Why is this a Cape Cod style?

  • Recangular shape
  • Steep pitch to roof
  • Side gables
  • Shutters, although on the front door and not on the windows
  • Center hall floor plan

What are the modern modifications?

  • Front door placed slightly off-center, compared with a more traditional design such as the "Cranberry"
  • Larger, more modern picture window, with glass block trim
  • A variety of window styles, including large panes and small, and an oval window with pie-shaped panes
  • Chimney and fireplace on an exterior wall of a living area that "extends from the front to the rear"
  • Siding that includes stone, shingles, and vertical panels
  • Front terrace
  • Roof overhang, more in style with bungalow architecture
  • Rear stairway
  • Rear dormer, assumed but not depicted

Marketing this House Plan:

The modern family wanted room to expand. Designers enticed new home buyers with the dream that "two bedrooms and a bath may be added later on the second floor." Modern building materials, such as glass block trim, appealed to the new generation, while traditional Cape Cod design kept a tie with the past. The idea of a "den" living area, with "full book shelves at either side of the natural fireplace," understated prosperity.

See Cape Cods in Suburbia for an introduction to these mid-century home designs.

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Craven, Jackie. "Cape Cod House Plans for 1950s America." ThoughtCo, Aug. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/cape-cod-house-plans-177537. Craven, Jackie. (2016, August 9). Cape Cod House Plans for 1950s America. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/cape-cod-house-plans-177537 Craven, Jackie. "Cape Cod House Plans for 1950s America." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/cape-cod-house-plans-177537 (accessed November 23, 2017).