Kitchen Design Ideas for Split-Level Homes in the Bay Area

The Bay Area is filled with split-level houses, a style that was prominent in the 1960s to the 1980s. While split-level homes were all the rage in those decades, many people find their layouts to not be very functional today. The good news is that there are many ways to update a kitchen in a split-level home, and we can certainly help with that.

Many split-level homes in the bay area have kitchen layouts that are not functional or attractive. Here are some ways to update them:

  • Knock down a wall to create a better flow from the kitchen to other rooms
  • Add an island for functionality between spaces
  • Replace a full wall with a half wall to open the area while keeping rooms visually separate

Regardless of what your split-level kitchen looks like now, we are willing and able to give you the expertise and guidance that you need. We service the entire bay area and provide top-notch service so you get the kitchen of your dreams. 

Split-Level Kitchen Design & Remodeling

There is nothing wrong with liking a split-level home if that is the style you prefer. Many people, however, dislike the way rooms can feel very separate and closed off from each other. The main critiques of kitchens in split-level homes are:

  • Disconnection between the kitchen and other rooms, especially for entertaining
  • Lack of light in the area
  • Feeling of the room being smaller than it is

Split-level homes usually have kitchens that are distinctively separate from other rooms. This can be appealing for some purposes, but it can also make it difficult for entertaining. The walls that usually enclose the kitchen can make it difficult for the space to appear light or open, making the space feel even smaller.

Some of the most common goals for redesigning a kitchen in a split-level home include:

  • Create more space: Whether a design literally opens up more kitchen space or merely creates the illusion of more space, this is a common goal.
  • Reduce disconnect with other rooms: Many split-level houses have kitchens that are adjacent to the dining room, living room, or even both. A very enclosed kitchen makes the room feel very separate from other parts of the house.
  • Increase functionality: For people who frequently entertain, one goal is often to make it easier to entertain while still being in the kitchen. Opening up the space allows for more movement and flexibility while entertaining. 

Things to Consider Before Remodeling

It can be overwhelming to figure out how you want your kitchen to be redesigned. That is what we are here to help you with. We know what factors to consider before the remodel starts, what designs are good for certain needs, and how to install the best products.

We can work with you to figure out what kitchen design will work best for your split-level home, and we can help you determine what factors are most important to you. Generally, there are a number of factors that you should consider before you start any remodeling.

Current Kitchen Layout: What Works? What Does Not Work?

A kitchen remodel does not have to completely gut the entire room if there are things that you like. For instance, you may really enjoy the placement of your appliances on a certain wall. It is perfectly okay to keep the appliances in the same area while redoing other parts of the kitchen.

It can be helpful to write notes to yourself as you go through your daily life in your kitchen:

  • Keep notes of the things you find yourself appreciating in your current kitchen
  • Also keep notes of the aspects that are inconvenient, nonfunctional, or unappealing

You may also find that you do actually want to completely start over with your kitchen. We can help with that too! Our ultimate goal is to provide you with the knowledge and experience to make your kitchen be what you want.


Remodeling Budget

Costs are naturally a major consideration to spend time on. You cannot execute a design if you cannot afford its components. If you are limited in your budget, you should first focus on the things you want to change the most.

For instance, if the biggest issue you have with your kitchen’s design is how cramped and separated it feels from other parts of your house, the best use of your money may be to knock down a wall rather than replacing all your counters and appliances.

Instead of installing all new cabinetry, you might simply refinish or repaint what you currently have for an updated look that allows you to use your money on the things you really want to change. 

You might not have any idea how much your desired changes will cost, but we can easily solve that problem for you. Our experts can give you a free estimate to help you anticipate how much your planned remodel would be. 


What Is Your Ideal Kitchen?

As you start to plan a kitchen remodel, think about what features you really want your kitchen to have. Spend some time looking at examples of kitchens in other split-level houses for inspiration and to help you determine what you want to avoid.

Many examples exist online, in books or magazines, or even in the homes of friends or family. It can be very helpful to see designs in action when you are figuring out what your ideal kitchen would look like.

We can also help provide you with inspiration for your ideal kitchen:

  • We can show you some of our prior remodels to give you a feel for what changes could happen.
  • We can work to create a design that is specifically tailored to your home and your needs.

Kitchen Design Ideas in Split-Level Homes

Once you have considered what aspects of your kitchen you want to eliminate, you can begin the process of figuring out how you want your new kitchen to be designed. 

Split-level houses frequently have kitchens adjacent to dining rooms and/or living rooms, but there may be a wall separating the spaces. This makes entertaining difficult as anyone in the kitchen is cut off from anyone in the living room or dining room.


Design Idea: Remove a Dividing Wall

One of the most effective ways to modernize and open up a split-level kitchen is to remove any walls that divide the kitchen from other spaces. We can help you determine if the wall or walls you wish to remove are weight-bearing. 

Benefits of removing a wall include:

  • More natural flow: The kitchen will flow more naturally together with other rooms, allowing for a better sense of continuity.
  • Brightened space: When you remove a wall, the kitchen should seem much brighter as more light can enter the area from other rooms in the home.
  • More space: Removing a wall also gives you more room in the kitchen, which is especially helpful if your kitchen is cramped.

A design that involves removing a wall does not mean that you have to do away with the wall completely. Instead, you could:

  • Reduce the size of the wall to open the space without losing the distinction between rooms.
  • Construct a half wall that allows you to see into other rooms without creating too much open space.
  • Replace part of a wall with a window or glass panel to allow more light to come through without tearing down the whole wall, making this a good option if the wall is weight-bearing.


Design Idea: Repurpose a Dividing Wall

If you do not want to knock down any walls or cannot because of costs or load bearing, you might be able to repurpose the wall to connect your kitchen with other areas of the house. A common option is to install a fireplace on one side of the wall. 

Having a fireplace on a wall that divides the kitchen and living room can bring the rooms into better unity. This is especially true if you can install a floor to ceiling wall with a fireplace that is visible on both sides. That way, you can bring the two spaces together with a common feature.

For a fireplace wall, you might opt to take down part of a dividing wall so that only one section remains for the fireplace. 

Other ways to repurpose a dividing wall could be:

  • Create a mini bar or high-top seating area.
  • Install cabinetry to create additional storage space.
  • Create arches or other openings within the wall to allow for better flow between rooms. 


Design Idea: Open Doorways

When you want to retain some of the division between your kitchen and other rooms in your split-level home, one option is to keep wide, open doorways in the walls. This allows for a feeling of less separation between rooms.

With open doorways, sound can travel from room to room easier, which can help you feel like the rooms are more connected. You can also see parts of the other rooms with less obstruction, so there is more visual openness as well. 

Aim to keep the doorways free of actual doors, which can restrict the flow from room to room. If you do want doors, opt for designs that are mostly glass panes so you can still see into the other spaces. 


Design Idea: Kitchen Island as Divider

One of the most functional pieces to add to a kitchen is an island. This is true for split-level homes and single-level homes alike because you get added working space that can serve multiple purposes.

The type of kitchen island you use can achieve different results:

  • If you tear down a wall entirely, you can install a larger island as the focus of your kitchen. This allows for better flow into another room without losing precious counter space.
  • You can also build an island into two different levels so that you have counter space in the kitchen side and high-top seating on the other side. This is a great way to connect the kitchen with the eating area.

Regardless of how big your island is, an easy way to connect the kitchen to other rooms in the house is to make the island multifunctional. It can serve as a more subtle divider between rooms than a wall can. 

For instance, one side of your island might have storage for your nicer dishes that you use in the adjacent living room. This allows easy access and draws the rooms together. The other side of the island could have cabinets for your normal kitchen goods.


Design Idea: Flooring as a Divider

For a subtle way to show what part of the house is the kitchen and what part is another room, such as the dining room or living room, you can use flooring options for different areas. By having one type of flooring or carpet in one room, there is a subtle line of division that appears on the floor.

This division is not as obvious as a wall or island, but it can make a visual difference that shows where the rooms change. Carpet is generally not a good idea for a kitchen, but you could start carpeting just outside your kitchen to connect the space to the living room.

The same effect can be achieved through two different types of flooring or even the use of an area rug. These are subtle ways of defining the spaces without confining them or making the spaces feel smaller. 


Design Idea: Avoid Dark Colors

When your goal is to make your kitchen seem bigger and less constricted, you should avoid painting the walls dark colors. Many kitchens in split-level houses already lack a lot of natural light and adding dark colors can just make the space feel even smaller and confined.

Instead, opt for light colors, such as white or other cool-toned neutrals. These colors brighten the space, making it seem larger.

You can brighten the kitchen to make it seem larger by using light colors to:

  • Paint the walls: This has the biggest impact on the overall feel of the kitchen’s size because the walls take up so much space.
  • Install flooring: Using a light color for flooring helps reinforce the openness that you are trying to achieve. 
  • Update cabinetry: White cabinets or light-colored backsplashes can help brighten the room as well, especially if there is some contrast between the two.

Lighter colors also help to brighten the room because they appear to be clean. Light countertops have a modern look that is a desired upgrade from the often-drab colors of split-level kitchens. 


Where to Start

Even if you have some ideas of how you want to redesign the kitchen in your split-level house, you may not know how to make them into your reality. There are many split-level houses in the Bay Area, and we can help you change your space for the better.


Request an Estimate and a Consultation

We offer free estimates and consultations to help you on your path to remodeling your kitchen. Our experts will work with you to design the kitchen’s layout, select appliances, and make design choices of any size.

We want you to get the best out of your kitchen remodel by staying within your budget but still meeting all of your goals. We work with your personal needs and wants to design the perfect kitchen.


Keep Finding Inspiration

Whether you look for inspiration through looking at some of our past remodels or on other platforms, make sure to take time to do this research. It is a lot easier to take aspects of a design rather than creating one from scratch, although we can also do that if wanted.

You might even consider creating a folder, whether online or on paper, that compiles some of your favorite design ideas. You can then use that folder to help show our consultants what kind of look you are seeking.


Split Level Kitchen Remodeling in the Bay Area

While the specific design needs and ideas will vary from person to person and home to home, there are a few common ideas to keep in mind for a kitchen in a split-level home. Often the biggest goal is to create more openness and better flow between rooms.

Removing or reducing dividing walls is a very common and effective way of both creating a more open feel and fostering increased flow to other rooms. Similar effects can be achieved by the use of kitchen islands or even different types of flooring.

Maximize the illusion of more space in your kitchen by avoiding dark colors that visually close the room up. Stick to light, cool-toned colors to brighten the space, leading to a kitchen that appears much more spacious. 

Whatever your needs and wants are, we are experienced experts in remodeling throughout the Bay Area. We can help you achieve your dream kitchen and give you the quality knowledge to make educated choices when you design your kitchen in your split-level home. 


Get in touch with us! Let’s design your new dream kitchen together.


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