Split-level homes are unique in architectural style inside and out. First brought to the forefront of the real estate scene in the United States and Canada in the 1950s, split-level homes are variants of ranch-style homes and share common features. However, split-level homes differ because they tend to have three or four stories connected with short, half stairways. They also have dominating characteristics that include:
- Low-sloped roofing
- Large living areas
- Sunken rooms
- Integrated garages
- Multiple attics
- Natural materials for Interiors and exteriors
Keeping these concepts in mind, there are a few unique factors to consider when decorating one of these spacious yet interconnected homes. Be on top of the latest trends that still reflect the communal vibe of the era by learning about these split-level home decor and design tips.
Open Floor Plans That Lessen the Need For Walls
Following the inspiration of open-concept floor plans, split-level homes tend to lend themselves to an open-air concept to maximize square footage. The absence or removal of interior walls streamlines the flow between rooms both spatially and visually. Most floors are divided by short half staircases with partial wall dividers, and additional square footage can become a reality without making a larger footprint on the land.
The interiors of a split-level home often have a breezy and spacious feel with gathering rooms and private nooks or cubbies that offer greater levels of quiet and solitude. Split-level homes also tend to have large windows that open up to let breezes flow throughout the house while allowing for an abundance of natural lighting. Take advantage of the light to curb electricity expenses, and the placement of some sun-loving foliage can further brighten up any room.
Take Some Retro Inspiration
Split-level homes were prevalent in the 50s, 60s, and 70s when suburban communities began expanding with affordable housing options. These multiple-storied homes were ideal for sloping land plots standard in new developments. While many invest in this type of home with an eye towards modern decor principles, quite a few opt to embrace the retro feel of the era that split-level homes once favoured.
It's possible to retain a modern feel with retro and vintage home decor. Small walls and storage cubbies in hallways that might be perceived as design flaws can be played up with pops of colour or nostalgic mid-century prints. Not ready to commit to a retro style? Use decorative items, such as throw pillows, shag blankets, high-piled colourful rugs, and classic vintage glass and plastic pieces.
Decorate Your Staircases for Extra Personality
When it comes to interior design, split-level homes offer a unique challenge. Because of their staggered construction, these homes typically have more stairs than a standard two-storey home. While this can be practical, it can also be a bit mundane. One way to add personality to a split-level home is to focus on the stairs.
By adding a colorful runner, changing the style of the banisters, or adding a new coat of paint, homeowners can give their staircases a real sense of style. You can also choose to decorate with small potted plants or other ornaments—just make sure they aren't put in places where they can obstruct movement or get in the way. With a little creativity, homeowners can turn their stairs into a real focal point.
Pay Attention to the Foyer
The layout of a split-level home often features a two-storey section connected to a lower-level section resulting in a tall foyer section. One of the mainstays of this area is a hanging light as a statement piece. Large light fixtures instantly make a room feel larger and taller. Consider installing a classic chandelier or bold pendant to create a bright first impression.
A foyer is also suitable for decorative wall pieces that provide space-saving storage. There are often one or even two closets within the foyer for hanging coats and tucking away shoes and extra last-minute gear. Make use of empty wall and floor space with clever additions such as:
- Mounted wall hooks
- A small chair or storage bench
- Floating shelves
- Narrow shoe storage rack
- Stylish, long rug
These are space-saving installations that can also serve double duty without taking up floor space. In situations where dual doors open into a wide entryway, one can accent the area with shelves or bookcases to showcase interesting keepsakes, books, or other decorative items.
Have Fun With the Stairs
Split-level homes live up to their name in that they are architecturally split into various levels by half-flights of stairs connecting multiple floors throughout the house. These are incorporated not only to connect levels but can also be prevalent in foyers and sunken living rooms, leading to hidden storage spaces between them.
Updating the railings of the short, staggered stairways is an excellent way to add beauty to the home and can continue the visuals of an open-air concept design. In place of solid half-walls along the staircase, install a decorative wrought-iron trellis facade with wooden railings to reflect personal style.
Stairs leading to sunken rooms that lack doors are typically wide and low. Those who love hardwood floors can modernize the look of a split-level home with small installations in these areas. Another way to maximize storage is to transition a few treads into roll-out drawers with a DIY stair-step-to-drawer project.
Capture the Coziness & Modern Style of Split-Level Homes
The unique qualities of split-level properties are abundant, and the floor plan throughout leaves plenty of opportunities for artistic expression through creative decor. By maximizing the open-concept layout that affords plenty of privacy while encouraging 'togetherness,' these homes are excellent for anyone with a large household, roommate situations, or investors looking for a short-term rental property.