10 Ways to Modernize Your Split Level Home

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?

This 70’s style room features bold colors, such as
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. 

Before this room was a modern-style fusion, it was
Before this room was a modern-style fusion, it was rather drab and plain. Courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com 

A little remodel gave this living room a ton of ch
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

5. Knock Down a Few Walls

Some older homes feel “choppy” and disconnected due to excess walls. Though load-bearing walls can’t be removed, you can still pursue these split-level home renovations:

  • Open up the kitchen. Whether your kitchen is next to the dining room or the living room, you can create a roomy, social space by knocking out part of the kitchen walls. Go for a new kitchen island in the middle or a half wall with built-in storage. Bonus: Here’s how to keep your kitchen storage areas organized.
  • Shuffle doorways. Think about how you can move doorways to connect different rooms. For example, the hallway bathroom could become a master bathroom. An isolated linen closet can become a walk-in closet for an adjacent bedroom. Need a local pro who specializes in door services? You got it.


5. A Rooftop Deck for a Contemporary Split-Level House

an ordinary-looking contemporary split-level house
an ordinary-looking contemporary split-level house. image © grouparch.com

Do you have a split-level house located in a crowded area? Do you want to expand it to gain more space, but you can’t because of the location?

If you are facing such a problem right now, you do not need to give up. There is one more solution available. It is to add the extra space that you need vertically.

Take a look at this picture of a contemporary split-level house. It looks ordinary and even a bit messy because of the bad-maintained front landscape.

Another thing that you can notice from this picture is that the location of the house seems to be in a rather crowded area. It makes home expansion quite impossible to do.

the house gains a second story and a rooftop deck
the house gains a second story and a rooftop deck after a major remodeling. image © grouparch.com

This next picture shows the exact same house after undergoing a major remodeling. It is clear that it looks different here. Although so, that is not the main thing we want to share with you in this case.

If you cannot make the place more spacious because no more lot is available, you should consider the vertical expansion as an option. It is the more important thing that we want you to know from the pictures.

As you can see, after the remodeling project, the contemporary house seems to gain more space on the right side. Besides, there is also a new rooftop deck that the family can use as an alternative living to enjoy the view of the surroundings.

With an outdoor area like this, you can even hold a gathering event or even a mini party more conveniently. At certain seasons, you can use the space for cooking barbeque while enjoying the beautiful weather. This way, it will never be a problem anymore, even if you do not have any backyard.

8. Bonus Inspirations for Your Split-Level House

Ideas to Use Empty Space near the Short Stairs Sets

One element that commonly exists in many split-level houses is the sets of short stairs that usually consist of five up to six steps in each of the stairways. In most cases, there is also a small empty space left in each level that the stairs reach.

Instead of leaving the space unused, you should add a function to it. Thankfully, there are quite a lot of inspirations available.

a small leveled area near the stair used as a comp
a small leveled area near the stair used as a computer room. image © grouparch.com

For example, you can use the space as a small computer room or a home office, as shown in the picture. The location of this place is in between two stairways that connect a living room in the lower level and a rooftop deck at the upper level.

Another good inspiration that we can find from this picture is that there is a quite large glass window in the design. Something like this is beneficial not only for making the interior looks brighter but also to create a more spacious illusion to the area.

a common room near a short stairway. image ©
a common room near a short stairway. image © myverticalconstruction.com

Another example is the common room. It can fit in the small space between stairways quite easily.

A room like this is functional in so many ways. You can add a minimalist table set in there to create the possibility for you to use the place for a discussion or an alternative dining spot in the house. You can also hang a TV on the wall to increase the fun value.

A Deck or a Patio to add Extra Living Space in the Exterior of a Split-Level House

Another problem that most people with split-level houses often face is the difficulty in adding extra exterior living space. The reason is none other but the uneven land leveling.

In this case, building deck can be the best solution that you should consider.

deck to add extra living area in split-house exter
deck to add extra living area in split-house exterior area. image © salaarc.com

As an example, please take a look at the design of this boxy split-level house. You can see that the ground is uneven and has different levels. However, the designer succeeded in making it looks beautiful in the outside and convenience in the inside.

In the back exterior, there is an addition of a mid-century deck. It provides extra living space for the house that also has quite high flexibility.

You can add a set of furniture in a deck like this to create an outdoor living room. You can also add a set of dining table and a BBQ for an alternative dining spot where you can enjoy your meals while feeling the outdoor atmosphere and enjoying the view.

Tack on a Dormer for Additional Upstairs Space

For homeowners looking to add a little space to their split-level home without going through a major renovation, a dormer addition is a great way to increase the amount of usable space in your upstairs story.

Roof dormers add visual interest to boring split-level designs, boosting their curb appeal and adding more room to your home at the same time.

These are a few of the other benefits of adding a roof dormer to your split-level

  • Improved ventilation: One of the drawbacks to a two-story house is that the top floor of the house can get hot and stuffy, especially in older homes with dated HVAC systems.
  • Increased natural lighting: Dormer windows are a good option for adding a reading nook with a great view to your second story.
  • An additional exit: A dormer window on the second floor is useful for adding an additional exit in case of a fire, burglary, or other emergency where you’ll need to climb out the window to escape. Keep a rope or chain ladder near the dormer window so that people have a safe way down.

A roof dormer is a less expensive remodeling project than many others you might take on, and you can get a lot of benefits from adding one to your split-level home’s design.

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2. Add Trim Outside; Adjust It Inside

Efficiency was the name of the game when your house was built, which is why the exterior and interior may both be lacking modern trim. The following split-level renovations will work for most homes in this style:

  • Exterior: Add corner boards. On inside and outside corners, adding corner-board trim can modernize a split-level home at an affordable cost. For all types of trim work, you can’t go wrong with Mr. Handyman’s® help – just check if they’re available in your area.
  • Exterior: Add trim under the soffit. The soffit is the roof overhang on your home. When you add trim underneath and paint it a color that contrasts with your siding, it has a bold highlighting effect.
  • Exterior: Frame the double front windows. If you have double front windows that feel small and far apart, frame them both in, which will visually tie them together. You could even create a decorative accent panel between the windows that matches the trim or provides an unexpected pop of color.
  • Interior: Improve molding and trim. Many split-levels, especially those from the ’60s and ’70s, have simple molding and trim inside, often dark-painted or stained wood. Painting trim a lighter color is a great way to modernize. Remove trim in some areas, like around doorways, for a starker look. If you have retro wood paneling, consider painting it too with these methods.

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