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Nov 25, 2020
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6 Split Level Home Remodel Ideas

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If you’re thinking about buying a home, one option you might consider is the split level home. Despite the fact that they’re from the midcentury, there’s actually a lot of advantages to owning one.

The big numero uno is that they’re fairly cheap. See, split level houses were big in the 1950’s and 60’s, but nowadays there’s a lot less demand for them. Plus, there’s plenty of them around because of a big building boom in the 1970’s.

There’s also the matter of sectioning. With tons of rooms all divided by levels, every room has its own purpose. That also means that there are a lot more quiet areas in the house. Think about it- if the kitchen is all the way upstairs, that means you won’t be able to hear the blender whirring when you’re in the middle of your favorite show in the basement. Or, you won’t hear the TV blaring when you’re doing work in your home office on the house’s other side.

But, the catch is that split level homes often feel out-of-date. After all, they are from the 70’s- their aesthetics aren’t exactly up to par with the style of modern homes. Never fear, though- that’s where remodeling comes in!

While some rooms are gonna be hard to move around, split level homes have lots of potential when it comes to knocking down walls, putting in windows, and things of that nature. So, if you’re thinking about revamping a split level home, here are some split level remodel ideas to make your split level feel more comfy.

Go Full Retro

Having a carpet from the 70’s isn’t that nice, and oftentimes means the room can feel pretty grimy. But, how ‘bout a carpet that’s in the 70’s style?


A split-level, 70's style remodel with bright orange paint and throwpillows
This 70’s style room features bold colors, such as orange and yellow, to make the room pop. Courtesy of Pinterest.

With a new, retro coat of paint, you can make a split level home feel brand new! Or, if you prefer retro with a modern touch, you could try an approach like the one below. While the room includes 70’s and 80’s-style touches, the blush pink paint gives the room a much more modern vibe. 

A before picture of a split level living room with a brick wall and a leather couch
Before this room was a modern-style fusion, it was rather drab and plain. Courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com 

An after photo of the same living room, now with blush-painted bricks and a white, plush sofa
A little remodel gave this living room a ton of character! While the furniture and rug are in the 70’s/80’s style, the paint color and detailing gives the room a more modern feel. Courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com

Try a Modern Revamp

If embracing the retro isn’t your thing, you could always give the house a modern revamp instead! Just because the house is from the 70’s doesn’t mean it has to feel like it, after all. 

Here are some things you might want to consider remodeling if you’re thinking of going modern.

Fix Up the Siding

A split level home exterior with a new coat of paint and new, horizontal wooden panels
Renovators were able to give this split level from the 1970’s some renewed curb appeal via fresh paint, added windows, and new wooden siding. Courtesy of Board & Vellum.

 A lot of times, split level homes will have horizontal siding rather than vertical siding. In order to update the exterior of your home, you may want to opt in for vertical siding, narrow lap siding, or architectural panels. 

Invest in a Paint Job

A before photo of a brown split level, and on the right, an after photo of the same split level with a new coat of blue paint and added columns
This split level was modernized by updating the windows, adding a column section to the entryway, and giving the house a new, brighter coat of paint. Courtesy of Pinterest.

Nothing screams out-of-date like an old coat of paint- especially because the house colors that were popular in the mid-1900’s aren’t exactly trendy today. If your house is looking a little drab, try repainting! Saturated colors will make your home feel more modern, as will jewel tones. Plus, while you’re at it, you may want to repaint the interiors as well.

Redo Your Entryway

An after photo of a split level entryway with a mirror, chandelier, and new white paint
Sometimes, all a split level entryway needs to feel modern is a fresh coat of paint. However, if you’re short on space, you could try a more extreme makeover by changing the door, or even changing the door’s location. Courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com

Out of all the cons homeowners have reported about their split level homes, one of the biggest was that their entryway was too small. So, if you’re remodeling your home, why not put the entryway on your list as well? Some tactics include installing a glass front door for extra light, adding a small porch, and building storage into the foyer wall. Or, if you’re not attached to the front door’s location, you could always move it and replace the current one with a window!

Knock Down the Walls

A split level home with a wall knocked down so that the dining room opens up into the living room
This homeowner was able to open up some walls and turn an outdated, formal family room into a dining room connected to an open kitchen. Plus, it’s now open and connected to the family room (which is where the formal family room used to be). Courtesy of evolutionofstyleblog.com

One of the key features of split level homes is that there’s a lot of walls. However, if you’d prefer to commit to the open concept, you can rip out some of those walls to make the place feel more connected. Plus, it's an easy way to give more space to a room like a kitchen which can’t be relocated due to the house’s design.

The Conversation Pit

A split level home with a conversation pit below the dining room, in which people can be cozy and relax
Many split level homes feature a kitchen or dining room that overlooks a living room. So why not turn your living room into something worth looking at? A conversation pit adds an element of coziness to a split level home, and it’s a great spot to entertain guests for after-dinner drinks as well. Courtesy of modestmansion.com

If you’ve got a split level home and you haven’t made yourself a conversation pit yet, what are you playing at?? If you’re unaware, a conversation pit is basically a fancy name for a living room (and is sometimes also called a sunken living room). But, because the split level house has certain rooms looking over others, the living room feels more like a pit!

Conversation pits used to be out of style, but they’ve recently come back into fashion. So, in order to make yourself the perfect modern conversation pit, you’re going to need a couple of essentials. 

1. Plenty of Pillows

A grey and blue split level living room, featuring a velvety grey couch with plenty of blue pillows
The plush, velvet couch, combined with plenty of blue pillows gives this room a very cozy feel. Courtesy of houzz.com

A big part of the conversation pit’s appeal is its coziness. And what could be cozier than comfortable seating? Pillows will help your space feel more inviting, and it’ll also upgrade your seating game ten-fold. 

2. A Good Aesthetic

A split level living room with a good aesthetic using blue and white, and an orangey accent color
Part of what makes a conversation pit, or any living room, feel inviting is its look. If you like the way a room looks, you’re more likely to spend time in it, and therefore more likely to feel comfortable in it. Courtesy of Modsy.

While aesthetic choices and tastes may vary, the best kinds of conversation pits are the ones that look put-together. So, if you’re putting together a pit, think about what colors you’re using. 

Take the living room above, for example. The use of different colored and textured pillows ties the room together with the rug. While they don’t match the color exactly, they work because they follow the same color scheme. 

In fact, that’s one common misconception about aesthetics. Pieces don’t have to match in order to feel coherent- in fact, the truth is almost the opposite. Different pieces that look more distinct, but continue on a similar theme, are actually more aesthetically pleasing than keeping everything the exact same shade and color.

3. Distinction From Other Areas of the House

A split level living room with bright pink pillows, making the space distinctive from the nude-toned room behind it
Split level homes have lots of rooms, each with a distinct purpose. So, instead of making each room blend with all the other rooms, let each room stand out! It’s a fun way to explore the personalities of different rooms, and further define the distinction between the rooms’ purposes. Courtesy of atomic-ranch.com

If the advantage of a split level home is that it has rooms with distinct purposes, it would follow that the best aesthetic choices would be to make those distinctions clear visually. Here, we see a conversation pit with more lively colors, while the music area has more muted color. This sets the two rooms apart to the eye, and makes the conversation pit feel more like its own area.

Other Considerations

It’s important to note that a split level home may not be for everyone, and that’s ok! If you’re looking for a house with a lot of storage, a split level house isn’t going to be your best fit. Yes, you could always invest in a storage upgrade, put in more shelves, etc., but split level homes are notoriously short on storage. If you’re thinking about moving into a split level, you should definitely keep the question of storage in mind when weighing the pros and cons.

Additionally, split levels have a lot of stairs. This makes them great for getting your steps in, but of course it also means the house won’t be the best in terms of accessibility. If you’ve got beloved grandparents living with you or other family members who are disabled, a split level is likely not your best option.

But, if you’re not worried about those things, then a split level home may be the right fit! After all, the thought of a low-cost house with distinctive rooms and low noise levels is pretty exciting. And a conversation pit? They’re like a pillow fort for grown-ups!

In the case that you choose a split level home, we hope you enjoy the design process, and that you take full advantage of the opportunity to customize each space.

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