In the 1970s, split-level homes were the grooviest pads on the block. By the mid-70s, 12% of new homes in the United States were split-levels (21% in the Midwest), but today, they make up less than 1% of new homes. Their heyday has passed. Split-levels are not only unpopular, they’re actively avoided. Modern homebuyers comment on the retro, 70s feel of split-level homes as well as their awkward and cluttered layouts. Although they were once loved for their low price, the fact that they didn’t need an excavated basement, and staggered floors that allow for lots of privacy, homeowners today tend to find them outdated and dark. Luckily, there are many remodeling ideas for split-level houses that allow homeowners to open up the space and remove that outdated ambience.
Let’s start with the first thing you see upon arriving at a house: the curb appeal. Common complaints regarding split-level homes include big and distracting garage doors, an unattractive sea of siding, and awkward gaps between windows. One of the best ways to improve a split-level’s curb appeal is to emphasize the entrance. If you add a porch, portico, canopy, or enclosed foyer to the house, it will draw the eye away from the garage and it could also add functionality to the home (a foyer could be a great place for extra storage, a porch gives you the option for benches and flower pots, etc). You could also change the facade treatment or add dormer windows to the roof to add some visual interest.
Split-level homes often wedge rooms into small spaces, and most of the time, this is a fact that you’ll just have to accept. Unless you want to gut the house completely, you’re stuck with the basic layout. However, you do have a few options. You could remove any unneeded walls or add an addition onto the house. Families love to entertain in their kitchen nowadays, so an open kitchen that makes use of an addition to the rear of the house is a perfect idea. You could fill the space with more storage, an island, or a breakfast patio. And if you’re planning an addition, consider adding two levels. While you’re expanding the kitchen, you could also make a more spacious master suite upstairs.
Finally, because these homes often lack light, an easy update is to add windows. Use large windows and think about installing them on both sides of a corner, allowing for a lot of extra light. You could also install a patio with glass or screen walls, allowing light to enter the back of the house through the patio.
Instead of searching for a new home or continuing to mope around your current home, use our remodeling ideas for split-level homes to update your house and make it more functional and beautiful. You might come to love your quirky split-level home.