Remodeling Split Level Homes
If you’re looking for split level home remodel ideas, there are plenty of ways to update and modernize this unique style of home. With most being built in the 1950s, this home style has a distinct look that is not for everyone.
But have no fear. Even though these homes are old, they have a lot of potential! Once you update a few key components of a split-level home, you, too, will see how functional they can be.
One popular approach is to open the interior by removing walls and creating a more open floor plan. Another option is to add to the home, creating additional living space or a three-season porch suite.
Other ideas include updating the exterior with Hardie Board siding with shake single or board and batten accents. Add a front door overhang with a standing seam room.
Modernizing the garage door and light fixtures is another way to bring a split level into this century. With the right home renovations, split-level homes can be given new life and transformed into stylish, modern homes.
Disclaimer: Please remember that I am a DIY enthusiast, not a professional. This article is for general information use and is not a substitute for professional advice. Before taking any actions, consult a professional! Additionally, this may contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using my link. All opinions and recommendations are my own. I truly appreciate you taking my suggestions and using my links. Thank you for being so supportive!
Split Level Home Remodels
So, you want to remodel your split-level home? Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to modernize these homes and all its different levels!
Since these homes are known to lack character, consider adding unique design elements throughout the home, such as built-in shelving, updated trim or a reading nook, to make the most of the space.
Creativity and a whole lot of DIY projects can transform your split-level home into a stylish and more modern living space.
Main Level Split Level Home Updates
Consider opening up the space for the main level to create an open floor plan for plenty of natural light. The wall that separates the kitchen from the rest of the home is where you should focus your attention.
Either remove the wall completely (if not load bearing) or create a cut-out picture window for better sight lines.
In the living room, since this is the first space your guests enter upon arriving at your home, focus on creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
Adding a fireplace or accent wall using wood moldings and paint along the largest wall in the room is one way.
Lower-Level Split Level Home Remodel Ideas
Upon going down the half staircase, you enter the lower level of a split-level home. It’s slightly different from a finished basement since it’s usually still at ground level, like the first floor. Still, the benefit is these rooms stay dry and generally don’t have that typical basement smell.
This lower level space can be transformed into a home office, family room, workout room, playroom, etc. The nice thing about it is the added living area that can transition in function as your family grows.
Painting the walls a light color is one of the best ways to maximize the natural light that comes in through the basement level small windows.
Remember the hidden storage spaces under the stairs and the areas under the main living room. If it’s not already done, dry walling and insulating this space creates a very large crawl space that can fulfill all your storage needs.
Lastly, the half bath has plenty of space to also second as your laundry room. Update this space with modern design elements like black fixtures, a tile floor, and floating shelving to make this room more functional and attractive.
Updating Split-Level Houses Exterior
When thinking about how to make the exterior of your split-level home look better, start by focusing on the following key design details.
To make a statement, starting with the front door. Painting your door can go a long way, and I love drastic mood colors like black or navy.
Upgrading your garage door can also make a big difference in curb appeal. Whatever you decide for your front door, match your garage door to this.
Adding a front porch or updating the existing one can create a welcoming entrance. And updating the landscaping with flowers and modern-day bushes will drastically improve your curb appeal.
How to Make a Split Level House Look Better
When planning your split-level reno, you should prioritize what gets done first. I get it, you want it all done yesterday, but patience is essential with DIY projects.
Make a list; write down your ideas, hopes, and dreams. Then put these in order of what needs to be done, followed by what you want to be done, and what can wait.
If nothing is broken and all your wants are cosmetic, then put at the top of the list the things you dislike the most about your home.
When remodeling my 60s cape house, this was removing the gross shag orange carpet and painting the obnoxious red wall in my entry.
The 90s blue bathroom didn’t bother me much, so that was one of the last projects I tackled. Although the bathroom drove my family nuts, it was tolerable and at least functional. We’re all different in what makes us crazy!
Here are common diy projects that split-level homeowners have on their want-to-update wish list:
- Add visual interest by updating the interior front entrance
- Modernize the stair railings
- Create a more open-concept kitchen/living/dining room
- Update bathrooms by changing flooring, vanity, lighting, and fixtures
- Put an addition on the back of the house for added square footage
- Paint the bedrooms to create a cozier, more relaxing space
Interior Front Entrance Updates
The front entrance of a split-level home is unique since immediately upon entering the house, you find yourself in the living room. There is very little space between the entrance and the rest of the home. This spot is also unique because often, there is very little closet space by the front of the house.
You can do a few things to give this a more defined feel. First, adding built-in storage is key to keeping this spot looking neat and tidy.
One way to help define and make your split-level entry more functional is by adding decorative baskets or a small cabinet to keep things like hats, gloves, shoes, etc. These will hide all the stuff while keeping it close to the door so it’s available when needed.
Another idea is to add a narrow bench with hooks and a mirror above it and baskets below it. This idea is functional yet decorative and will help define the area immediately inside your front door. This gives the illusion and function of a mudroom without taking up much space.
Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from two-story homes and incorporate elements that make your split-level feel more spacious and modern.
Updating a Split Level Stair Railings
Your split-level house has one set of stairs that leads up to the upper level bedrooms and one set that leads down to the basement or lower level. Replacing the outdated railing with a modern design gives your home a fresh look and feel.
Consider using glass or horizontal black metal rods for a sleek and contemporary look. Then, remove that gross outdated carpet and refinish or replace the wood treads for a more traditional feel. Painting the rise white and keeping the tread wood is a nice modern farmhouse touch. You could also add lighting to the stairs for a dramatic effect.
Create an Open Concept Living Space
We no longer live as we did in the earlier generations, where we have to worry about heat costs that every room is sealed off from the other. These days we want our main-level living spaces to be open, and all flow together.
Split Level Living Room Updates
One living room update for a split level home is to create this modern-day open concept living by removing some walls.
And in a split-level home, you want to remove the wall between the living room area and the dining area and kitchen space.
This will instantly give your main living level a modern-day open-concept look. It will also feel larger and have better flow.
Depending on if this is a load bearing wall and your level of DIY skills, you may or may not need professional help with this project. But the money you invest in this is well worth it!
Split Level Kitchen Updates
A kitchen remodel may sound scary and extensive, but adding a kitchen island is one way to modernize your kitchen without gutting the whole thing.
For better or worse, we have more informal than formal meals these days. So, having an island makes your home more accurately reflect how our families function today. An island provides more counter space for meal prep and is great for entertaining.
Now that the main living area is all one space, you’ll want to update the flooring and wall colors so every room matches. Doing so seals the deal as far as cohesive looks go. It also makes the space look and feel larger when there is one type of flooring material and one (ideally lighter) wall color.
Odds are your split level home does not have a master bathroom, and honestly, I don’t mind sharing because it means one less toilet to clean. You can still make this space feel like a master suite with some budget-friendly cosmetic updates.
Changing flooring, adding a new vanity, lighting, and bathroom fixtures are the surfaces I would focus on. Overall, the layout is good and doesn’t need changing. Focusing on these finishes will drastically impact the look of your bathroom and give it a more modern look.
Painting is another easy way to transform your bathroom. If you’re working with a small bathroom, use a lighter color to make the space feel larger. And if you want to add some color, do it with an accent wall or by adding a pop of color to your decor and towels.
Split Level House Addition Ideas
Putting an addition on any home is an investment. But if you have the funds or take the time to save up for this, the investment is well worth it!
The most common place to add an addition to a split-level home is off the back of the house from the dining area.
This is the perfect spot for a sliding glass door to take you to your new space. Additionally, glass doors are a great way to bring in natural light and create a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living. You can create a breakfast nook, family room, playroom, or screened-in porch.
Your master bedroom should be a place to escape the chaos of the family. Creating a cozy retreat is as simple as a fresh coat of paint, seating, and decor.
I love monochromatic neutrals, but going with something a little deeper and definitely not stark or bright in the bedroom is the way to go. Having a cozy chair is also a must. This is where you can take five minutes and sit back to relax. Keep a blanket and book close by.
For bedroom decor, less is more. Again, the theme is cozy and relaxing. You don’t need lots of things to look at or distract you. Just a few simple pieces of artwork and a mirror are all you need to complete your bedroom update.
Split Level Home Characteristics: The Cons
A few common issues with a split-level style home may be preventing you from even considering buying this style.
But in a market like this, you’ll have to be super open-minded if you want a house. Don’t leave an opportunity on the table! Although distinct, a split level home has a lot of potential inside and out.
The exterior is the first issue – it looks funny how the top of the house overshadows the lower portion.
The next issue you’ll run into is the awkward half-stairs you can take to the right to go up or left to go down. Going up leads you to the bedrooms, which is not the problem. But going down leads you into the half basement area with insufficient space to make it useful since it also has a door that takes you out to the garage.
The third split-level home design flaw is how one wall closes the kitchen from the living space. One wall prevents you from watching the kids while you cook dinner and blocks your view of who’s coming in the front door.
You asked for split level home remodel ideas, and I gave you some really great ones that will update your space. Some ideas cost more than others, but your whole house will be done before you know it if you just focus on one area of your home at a time. Remember, start with what bothers you the most. And after each project is done, you’ll fall deeper in love with your home.
I’d love to see how you used these ideas in your home; tag me in a photo on Instagram @tantrumsandtools, and I’ll share your results in my stories!
>> P.S. Remodeling a house? Start right here, right now!
>> P.S.S. Do you love diy, decor and home projects? This one is for you!