WoodCentral's Book Reviews

by Jane Gitlin

Taunton Press: 2003
Hardback, 218 pp., $29.95
ISBN 1-56158-436-3

     A second title in Taunton's "Updating Classic America" series, Capes is a beautifully photographed volume of architectural revovations in this classic style.
     In several dozen examples, Gitlin displays before and after photos and floor plans for remodels, additions and new construction in primarily eastern U.S. locations, where the Cape Cod home grew to be the standard. Cape style includes a steeply pitched roof over what is generally a boxy, story and a half dwelling. Roof overhangs and trim are minimal, but dormers are common, and interior spaces often share a centralized chimney. Standard features include clapboard or shingle siding, shuttered windows, attics with sloping ceilings and storage built into kneewalls. Front or back porches are often missing, but many homes have added them on.
     Since the 1930s, when indoor plumbing changed the interiror of the boxy, six-room Cape, the style has grown and evolved with modern conveniences. For many Cape owners, the goal in remodeling is to transform the house without making obvious on the outside what is being renovated on the inside.
     Dim, small kitchens are shown opened up to reflect a modern lifestyle. Multiple dormers allow more headroom on a second floor, and ceilings may be cut away to open up a living space for more light on the first floor.
     What makes this series of books so valuable is the full coverage of "before and after" renovations. The author finishes off with historical information, a reference list of books and magazines, featured architects and a full index. A beautifully done book.

. . . Barb Siddiqui