Inspiring Before and After: Open Concept Cape Cod House Remodeling Ideas

cape cod house remodeled to open concept layout

Cape Cod House Remodeling Ideas: Open Concept Interior Design Ideas with Before and After Pictures

If you have a Cape Cod-style home and want an open floor layout and need inspiration and ideas on how to accomplish this, you’re in the right place. I’m sharing room by room a before-and-after remodeling in the hopes of giving you the vision and encouragement you may need to tackle this type of fixer-upper.

red cape cod style home with white trim

Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.


Layout Changes for an Open Floor Plan

cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

I completely fell in love with this 1950s cape cod-style house and was shocked when I was the only offer! My realtor, on the other hand, was not shocked, and if you look at these before and after pictures, you’ll start to understand why.

Taking on a Cape Cod house remodel takes vision. These houses are unique in their design because of the smaller room sizes, centralized staircases, and angled second-floor ceilings.

Luckily, this Cape Cod already had a full dormer addition off the back, so that saved me mega bucks. This left me with the task of remodeling and updating the first floor. 

before cape cod house remodel
living room after cape cod remodel

The first order of business was to remove all the wonky walls. My cape has been added on to a few times, so when you walked into the front door, instead of the stairs being there, you walked into a foyer area, which led to three options: door one, the converted garage to the living room, door two, the dining room, and door three, the formal living room.

The walls were all load-bearing, so headers were a must. My budget did not allow for burying these into the ceiling, so two posts remained for support. 

remodeling a cape cod open layout removing a load bearing wall
open concept cape cod remodel

Flooring is a major consideration when opening a floor plan and removing walls. In my case, I wanted everything to flow and look like one big ol’ room, so we went right over the slate and used engineered wood flooring throughout.

Which will probably make some people cringe, but that’s the beauty of being the owner. I get to decide what works best for me! Before, there were several small, dark rooms, and after, there was one large, light-filled space.

open concept layout of a remodeled cape cod

Kitchen

Taking this small, dark, outdated kitchen was surprisingly easy. With its fairly standard layout and small size, I could make drastic changes just by removing a few walls (ha, JUST!) and updating the outdated cabinets, along with a few other finishing touches.

Here is a glimpse of what things looked like before and after:

before cape cod kitchen remodel
cape cod kitchen remodel after

Luckily, I had my dad, who does this for a living, to help me navigate (aka do) this entire process. I learned so much about how to do things in order and how to set a realistic budget and timeline to minimize the amount of time I was without a functioning kitchen. 

Cabinets

The original cabinets were in excellent condition and solid wood—something that simply doesn’t exist in new homes! I was able to paint the kitchen cabinets white, which provided a drastic update. 

Don’t be intimidated about taking on this project! Especially for your older home like my 50’s cape with real wood cabinets. Here are several posts to help you successfully tackle your kitchen cabinets:

Countertops

Finding budget-friendly options took some research, but I eventually landed on a butcher block for the island and laminate for the rest of the kitchen. Yep, you read that right! Laminate counters have come a long way over the last few years, and honestly, I love the designs and finishes so much more than other more expensive counters like granite and even some of the quartz options. 

Backsplash

My trick to making a basic subway tile backsplash look expensive is to go up to the ceiling. It adds beautiful texture to the room, draws the eye upward, creating the illusion of taller ceilings, and gives your kitchen less builder-grade and a more custom feel!

Running the tile to the ceiling only costs a few bucks more, making this a huge return on investment for money spent and achieving a luxury look.

butcher block kitchen island countertop with floating shelves

Upper Floating Shelves

Despite all the neigh-sayers, I went with floating shelves instead of upper cabinets and have zero regrets! But proceed with caution; this is not functional for everyone!!

  • Find out the pros and cons of floating shelves
  • Determining floating shelf layout, height, and spacing
  • Installing floating shelves (drilling through tile without cracking it!!)
  • Decorating floating shelves for function and style

Kitchen Remodel Regrets

Despite all the planning and overthinking, things still go wrong. Having gone through this complete kitchen remodel, there are four things I would do differently. Don’t make the same kitchen remodel mistakes as I did! 

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It’s everything you need to complete your project on time and on budget.

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Bathroom

A complete remodel of these bathrooms was outside the budget, but a makeover certainly was! These quick updates gave me a lot of bang for my buck, especially when I scored this gorgeous patterned floor tile for SEVEN DOLLARS! Yes, the entire floor.

  • Start here to learn about the right way to demo a bathroom (like shutting off the water before starting)

Here is my primary bathroom, which I did in a modern farmhouse style:

black and white modern farmhouse small bathroom makeover
black and white modern farmhouse small bathroom makeover

The kids’ bath had this funky blue linoleum floor that was so old that it came back in style! It was also in immaculate condition, so there was no point in removing it. I chose a blue and gold theme for these reasons and loved how it turned out. 

Small bathroom design

Living Room

When I bought this house, one feature I loved was the two separate living rooms. As a mom of young boys who loooove to make a mess, including tearing apart the couch daily to make a fort, having a second living room where I could come and sit down to relax without first putting everything back together was amazing!

alabaster white living room walls with vintage modern farmhouse decor

This space was slightly separate from the open-concept main living area, which was another benefit because it was much quieter. It was also the perfect room to try a bunch of different DIY projects.

Entry

This space was added before I moved in, and I do NOT recommend doing this style of addition. It’s wonky. Although it does add square footage and light, it’s not a super useful space. 

Here is what this front addition looks like from the inside. On the left is the front door and to the right is, I don’t even know what to call it, wide hallway/sitting area?

cape cod front addition interior

I did my best to maximize what was already in place by removing one of the built-in benches and replacing it with a cozy recliner and side table. I added decorative farmhouse X doors to the other bench area and some comfy pillows. 

remodeling a cape cod open layout removing a load bearing wall
after remodel cape cod interior front addition

Other quick fixes to this space were painting over the red and going with the same color (Alabaster) as the rest of the first floor. I also painted the inside of the door black to provide some contrast and character. 

To update the lighting, I painted the outdated ceiling fan with black spray paint and installed a more modern chandelier over the door.

front door painted black

Laundry room/Mudroom

One layout flaw of a Cape Cod home is the lack of a mudroom space, and my 1950s Cape was no different! This is a bit tricky to visualize and pretty unique to my remodel, but since the original layout had you enter into a narrow hallway and climb three stairs to get into the main living space, we changed the stairs to outside in the garage, and so when you entered, everything inside was at one level. 

tongue and groove panel
remodeling a cape cod layout

We then borrowed space from the original walkway, living room, and storage closets and turned it into a laundry-mud room combo.

remodeling a cape cod layout changes to add a mudroom
framed mudroom walls
after remodel mud room addition

The functionality of this layout change was a complete game-changer! I highly recommend having a washer and dryer near your entry – it’s so helpful in the winter for drying the kid’s winter gear, which, as you know, happens every night for months.

The upper cabinets provided plenty of space for kitchen overflow. The DIY shiplap countertop added extra character and warmth to this space. Opposite the washer and dryer was a painted old church pew and many hooks. 

laundry room addition washed and dryer
mudroom with painted church pew and hooks

The only change I would make is to flip-flop the washer/dryer and bench. Since I did not put a door in the mudroom into the living room space (for heat purposes), I hated always looking at the rat’s nests of things hanging on the hooks. I had nicely decorated the area above the washer and dryer, which would have been a much more pleasant view.

Master Bedroom

How to arrange bedroom furniture // Tantrums and Tools

If you’re curious about a bedroom layout in a cape with a full dormer, check these out! 

My bedroom didn’t need remodeling; it just needed a little love. I spent $200 to makeover my bedroom, which entailed removing wallpaper, painting the walls, hanging curtains, and a few area rugs. 

I tried several layouts, all of which had their pros and cons due to the sloped ceilings. I love this current layout because it gave me the added dressing area and cozy chair nook in the tallest part of the room.

Click for easy and affordable bedroom makeover ideas // Tantrums and Tools
How to decorate a bedroom on a budget // Tantrums and Tools
Easy budget bedroom makeover ideas // Tantrums and Tools

Decor

Of course, a little decor always helps to cozy things up! But after all that remodeling, there was little money left. That makes shopping secondhand so great; it doesn’t cost much money to decorate with thrifted decor! 

If you’re need to thrifting and don’t know what to look for, start here:

About My Old Cape Cod Style House

In 2020, the peak (or so we thought at the time) of the COVID housing market, I bought this absolutely adorable Cape Cod-style home for myself and two boys. Fairly freshly divorced, this was where, now, as a family of three, I could build the life I knew we all deserved. 

cape cod house remodel kitchen

The condition of the home was immaculate. The type of old person who keeps everything neat once lived here. The insides of the kitchen cabinets were as fresh as the day they were installed. 

Sounds dreamy, right? But not entirely. Because there was one problem, an orange one to be exact.

The interior of this house was not only outdated; it was like someone puked orange crush for days. 

Wall to wall orange shag carpet. Floor to ceiling orange paneling. Orange trim stretching as far as you could see.

orange shag carpet
original hardwood floors under carpet

Need I say more? I think you understand the issue with the interior of this home!

Ok, so I know I said there was one problem, but maybe there was a second. Money. 

Divorce is expensive, buying a house is expensive, raising two boys is expensive. 

I don’t tell you this for pity. Instead, I tell you this so that you can understand what brought me to tackle DIY head-on, even though the closest I had gotten to a home renovation project was during my latest Pinning session. 

I figured it out and poured my soul into sharing every detail with you so that you can completely makeover your home without needing a design degree, worrying about making a mistake or relying on someone else to do it for you. 

Open Concept Layout Changes Before and After Pictures

These home renovations will turn your outdated house into the home of your dreams by arming you with a boatload of budget-savvy ideas, newfound DIY confidence, and the best advice on how to do things the right way (the first time). 

Kitchen

cape kitchen before remodel
cape cod house remodel kitchen
white kitchen island with light rattan bar stools
butcher block kitchen island countertop with floating shelves
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod kitchen remodel after
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

Open Concept Livingroom

cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
open concept kitchen into living room cape cod layout
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
living room after cape cod remodel
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod house remodeled to open concept layout
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

Font Addition Entry Sitting Area

cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
after remodel cape cod interior front addition
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

Open Concept Dining Room

after cape cod interior layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

Back Half of the First Floor

cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

Living Room

cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

Mudroom Laundry Room Combo

cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes
cape cod remodel open concept layout changes

Red Cape Room By Room House Tour

Why is this called the “red cape”? Partly because it is red but mostly because I sold it a few years after remodeling this home. I then purchased a smaller Cape Cod-style home called Little Cape. 

So, to prevent any confusion between my two homes (because they both happen to be a cape-cod style), one is referred to by its color and the other by its size. Why I sold it is an entirely different story you can read about here!

Let these incredible before and after’s inspire your Cape-Cod home remodel:

Each post is packed with project ideas, how to tutorials, and of course sources so you can spend less time figuring out how to do it, and more time admiring your completed DIY projects.

Oh, and one last thing before you go down a rabbit hole of every project you will do in your home. 

I want you to know you don’t have to tackle these things alone. Join the Sisterhood of incredible women who love DIY. Ask honest questions and build friendships through our passion for projects.

Little Cape Cod House Whole Home Remodel

Remodeling an old house on a budget // Home Exterior
1950’s Cape

Once you’ve toured this house, a good next step is to get more inspiration from my Little Cape! Although smaller, the projects involved in renovating this Cape-style home were far more extensive.

Like down to the studs, completely changing the layout, re-wiring all the electrical and plumbing, and more! Don’t miss the exciting renovation journey – more cape cod home renovation inspiration is waiting in here!


Hey Friend!

project planner pack

Every successful DIY project starts with a plan. That’s why I created the Project Planner Pack.

It’s everything you need to complete your project on time and on budget.

Unleash your creativity with a click, download your Planner Pack and start your DIY journey today!


furniture flipping // diy projects // home renovations // modern farmhouse decorating ideas

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