Cape Cod Bedroom Decorating Ideas

Give your bedroom a taste of the coast

Casual blue and white Cape Cod Bedroom.
Blue and white is the typical Cape Cod palette. Photo from A Brighter Place Blog

Airy, comfortable and relaxed, the Cape Cod style brings a touch of the ocean to your bedroom even if you are completely landlocked. A decorating style that originated in colonial New England, the traditional Cape Cod house is boxy in shape, with a very steep, pitched roof and symmetrical windows on either side of the brightly colored front door.

Colors of the Coast

Like the ocean waves, blue and white are the primary colors of the Cape Cod style, with touches of red, black and yellow to spark up interest.

But don’t feel limited to these colors only. Green and pink in soft shades reminiscent of ocean-worn glass also work well with this look.

Whether you prefer brighter shades or softer pastels on your walls, white trim is the hallmark of the Cape. Go further with white wainscoting and white crown molding against a sky blue wall, or keep it soft with a mint green, soft yellow or even a rosy pink, like a soft sunset.

Wooden floors are the standard; either brown wood for a neutral touch, or painted floorboards if you want a little more color. Painting the floor white looks very clean, but you can also add excitement by painting the floor a darker shade of the wall color. This also helps make a small bedroom look a little larger.

Add warmth to your wood floors with an area rug. Nautical themes like anchors, seabirds or sailboats are a natural in a Cape Cod room, or stick with neutral or solid-color rugs.

Cheerful but unfussy is the key for Cape décor.

Wooden blinds over the windows give privacy and darkness for sleeping, and reflect the traditional Cape Cod home. If you prefer curtains, choose a white, sheer design over a roll-up blind for privacy.

Style an Ocean Bed

The bed is the focal point of any bedroom.

It’s also where you spend a third of your life, so make it as welcoming and comfortable as possible. In keeping with the relaxed, slightly worn look of the Cape Cod style, choose bedding that has history (or at least appears to). Antique or well-loved quilts are an excellent choice for the bed in summer; during the winter, switch to a warmer down comforter in a duvet cover. Stick with clean, simple designs in primary colors for the most authentic look. Traditional quilt designs are always appropriate, or up the nautical flair with anchors, boat flags, or sailboat motifs. Just remember not to go overboard with ocean or nautical motifs -- more than a touch can induce style-overload seasickness.

Buy the best-quality sheets you can afford, in crisp white to contrast with the quilt colors. Set off the bedding with a pair of shams that complement - but don’t match - the quilt, and finish it off with a toss pillow or two in blue, green or red.

Furniture with Casual Appeal

Similar to cottage or country styles, furniture in the Cape Cod bedroom should look well-loved and used.

Choose bedroom furniture with simple lines but solid shapes, and lightly distressed finishes.

A traditional four-poster bed or brass design with tall headboard will solidify your bed as the star of the room. An antique trunk is the perfect footboard, bringing to mind long-ago voyages on steamships and giving you a place to store extra linens or winter clothes. Flank your bed with two small mismatched tables instead of traditional nightstands.

A distressed, wooden dresser with a simple framed mirror over the top is the casual Cape Cod solution for storing clothes, while a rustic armoire is perfect for hiding away the television or other clutter when not in use.

One corner of your room should be a reading or relaxing nook, with a comfortable, upholstered armchair, a reading lamp and a magazine rack nearby. Striped or floral fabric on the chair are appealing without being overly obtrusive, and a throw blanket tossed over the back of the chair makes it even more homey.

Coastal Accessories Add the Final Touch

As the final touches for your bedroom, accessories should be meaningful but minimal. Cape Cod is an uncluttered, open style, so avoid a fussy, overcrowded appearance. Choose a few of the following to give nautical style to your bedroom:

  • One or two model sailboats
  • An anchor or other boat accessory mounted on the wall
  • Lamps or wall sconces in brass with neutral lampshades
  • Seashells, starfish or other sea life collectibles
  • Artwork with ocean scenes

The Cape Cod style is welcoming and tranquil, perfect for a restful bedroom that will send you into sleep feeling peaceful and at ease. Like beloved childhood memories of trips to the ocean, your Cape Cod room should bring to mind sun, sand and a simple life on the water.