Split-level homes can be difficult to remodel, but this style of architecture was very popular in mid-century America and makes for a great design if you are interested in adding an addition to the home. Since this style of home was popular for decades here in The Bay Area there are many older homes out there with a split-level plan due for some serious remodels to update them for the 21st century.
Below you’ll find a list of some of the best home addition ideas to put a fresh spin on your split-level home. Whether you’re looking for a major renovation or you just want a smaller project to update your home’s look, you’re sure to find something worth adding to your floor plan.
Add a Front Portico to Split-Levels for Entry Flair
One of the biggest challenges of remodeling a split-level home is that many split-level architecture plans have a weak entryway design. With cheap metal railings and bare concrete steps, a lot of the front door spaces in split-level designs aren’t much to look at.
A front portico is a roofed overhanging structure that is installed over your front porch and supported by columns on either side of the entryway. A portico is a great way to provide some shade and protection from the weather on your front porch. Here are some of the benefits of having a portico:
- Insulation: Some of the heating and air conditioning in your home is lost around the thresholds of the house, which ultimately increases the cost of your utilities. Protecting your entryway with a portico helps keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, reducing the amount of energy lost at the threshold.
- Architectural interest: Porticos date back to ancient Greece, and the columns in portico designs help give houses a timeless neo-Classical look. It’s also easy to design porticos to match a wide range of different architectural styles.
- Protection from weather: A portico helps protect guests waiting on the doorstep for someone to let them in, but it’s also good protection for your entryway itself. Without direct exposure to weather like snow and rain, the paint and hardware around your entryway will last a lot longer before it needs replacement.
- Support for lighting: Lack of lighting can make any home look uninviting. Portico columns provide the perfect place to install additional lighting such as string lights or fairy lights to help give your entryway a more cozy look.
If the façade of your split-level home looks outdated and flat, adding a portico is a great way to update the appearance of your house without doing a bunch of costly renovations on the interior.
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.
Build a Sunroom on Your Split-Level Home
When it comes to additions on a split-level, building out rather than up can come with some architectural challenges. Adding a room to either side of the home can make the entire design look unbalanced.
One way to avoid this problem is to add a room on the front or rear of the home. Sunrooms are an indoor/outdoor room that act as the perfect liminal space between your yard and your home entrance.
These are some of the advantages of adding a sunroom onto your split-level:
- Gardening: A temperature-controlled sunroom is the perfect place to keep delicate citrus trees and other tropical plants from taking frost damage during the winter. If you use the right materials, you can even convert part of your sunroom into a conservatory or greenhouse for your houseplants.
- Insect control: A screened-in sunroom is a good way for people who live in buggier parts of the world to sit outside comfortably without being mugged by mosquitoes, gnats, midges, biting flies, and other flying pests. This protection also helps control insect-borne disease in areas where malaria and Zika virus are prevalent.
- Temperature control: A major deterrent to houseguests sitting outdoors is getting too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. A sunroom allows you to add temperature control features like dehumidifiers, air conditioning units, heaters, ceiling fans, and other devices to help you keep the room snug all year long.
- Shade: Trying to entertain guests outdoors can be miserable if you don’t have much shade to cool things off. Despite the name, a sunroom also offers a place to get out of the direct sun when you’re hosting people outside.
Sunrooms are a wonderful addition to any home since they help homeowners take advantage of their outdoor facilities. They can also be added onto the home without too much disruption to the comings and goings of the people who live there.
Open Up the Floor Plan in a Split-Level Home
A tricky home addition to pull off in a split-level home that can make a huge difference on how functional the home is on the inside is to open up the floor plan by knocking down walls and creating larger shared communal areas inside the home. This is one of the few home additions which actually involves subtracting elements from your home instead.
Changing your split-level to an open floor plan is not a simple undertaking. Here are just a few of the things you need to consider if you’re thinking about adding an open floor plan to your split-level design:
- Cost: Knocking out walls and other major structural renovations can cost significantly more than smaller add-ons. However, the cost of opening up your floor plan can still be cheaper than trying to add a new room to the home.
- Disruption: A downside of turning your split-level home into an open floor plan is that the resulting demolition, construction, and clean-up usually end up obstructing major pathways in the home. Unlike a roof dormer or a sunroom, which are confined to one area, going with an open floor plan may involve remodeling several areas of your home.
- Support: When you’re trying to open up your floor plan, it’s important to look at the architecture of your home and get a contractor to determine which walls are supporting walls in the structure. These walls can’t be knocked down in renovation without damaging the home’s structural integrity unless support pillars are installed in their place.
Even though opening up your floor plan doesn’t involve adding a new room to the home, it can make the whole house feel bigger by improving sightlines in the home’s interior design and opening up space that otherwise would be obstructed by unnecessary walls.
Update Your Split-Level’s Walkway for an Instant Facelift
If you don’t have the budget to take on a serious renovation like adding on a room to your home or opening up your floor plan, you can still maximize your split-level home’s curb appeal by focusing your remodeling budget on the front of the home.
A design problem that takes away from good looks and the functional design of split-level homes is their front walkways. Often requiring stairs, many of these original walkways from the 1960s and 1970s are dated, ugly, and relatively unsafe.
These are a few ways you can update your split-level’s walkway to reflect a more modern style:
- Update your front porch stairs. Natural elements like stone and wood can help give your walkway a contemporary vibe. Wide flagstone steps are easier to navigate than the cheap concrete stoops that accompany many mid-century split-levels. Improving railings can help increase safety in split-level homes, too.
- Spruce up your landscaping. While adding beautiful plants and features in your front yard doesn’t add any space to your house, they do add a ton of curb appeal to your front walkway. Many split-level homes are on small property lots that emphasize interior space over exterior space. Improving your landscaping can help balance things out.
- Add some solar lighting up the front walk. Solar lights have become increasingly affordable over the past few years. Lining your driveway and front walkway with solar lights adds instant luxury to the look of your home without requiring a huge financial commitment in renovations.
Sometimes adding on to your home isn’t about increasing the amount of space you have available. Sometimes home additions are about maximizing the functionality and beauty of the space you already have.
Install Skylights for Increased Natural Light
A design flaw that exists in many split-level homes is that they don’t include windows at either end of the house’s layout. This can lead to some split-level homes having an interior design that is hampered by a lack of natural light.
This issue can be fixed in part by increasing the amount of artificial lighting in the home and sticking to light-colored designs that create the optical illusion of a larger space. However, lack of natural light indoors can make it difficult to maintain houseplants or do any kind of serious artwork like painting.
A smart way to increase the amount of natural light in a split-level home without having to place large windows like bay windows or dormers is to add in some skylights. While they don’t add physical space to a split-level, the natural light let in by skylights can make the home feel more spacious and airy.
It’s important to have skylights installed by a professional contractor. The positioning of skylights in the roof causes them to run the risk of leaking and causing water damage to your home, so be sure to have them put in by someone who knows how to seal them properly.
Adding to a Split-Level Can Improve Its Design
An addition to your split-level home can be a costly endeavor to take on, and some of them can take several weeks to complete too. However, there are many remodeling projects you can take on for a split-level home that will have a major positive impact on the home’s curb appeal and its functionality, too.
About Element Home Remodeling
Element Home Remodeling is a home remodeling contractor in Mountain View, Ca. We specialize in home additions for split level homes and have a reputation for quality work and great customer service. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.