split level kitchen remodel

Split Level Kitchen Remodel

Take Debbie and Peter Geiger, for example. The couple says affordability was one of the main draws of their 1958 split-level home in Massapequa, on New York’s Long Island. But the home, which they owned for more than a decade before relocating a year ago, also offered a spacious feel, with a cathedral ceiling in the living room and a den and bath on the mid-level. “It was known as a ‘Cadillac split,’” says Debbie.
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Split Level Kitchen Remodel

Split-levels looked more substantial yet their quasi-stacked designs were still compact and could be affordably built on smaller lots. Their tri-level layout contained a lower-level family room and garage, mid-level entry and public rooms, and upper-level bedrooms and bathrooms.
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Split Level Kitchen Remodel

The split-level design is believed to have derived from the ranch, which, in turn, was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s low-profile, horizontal Prairie homes and no-frills Usonian houses. The split levels divided public and private spaces through short half levels.
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Split Level Kitchen Remodel

These days, when so many people choose to transform or tear down postwar houses, the owners of this split-level in Chevy Chase, Maryland, bucked the trend. After almost 25 years in residence, they knew their kitchen had to be updated, but they wanted it to integrate well with the rest of the house. They found a kindred spirit in architect Dean Brenneman of Washington, D.C., who respected their wish and told them he’d make it look “as if it were done by the original architect — on his best day and with a good budget.” He would not, he said, create a space that would look like an afterthought. The homeowners, both doctors, had longed to modernize the kitchen for years. But, like many busy couples juggling career and family responsibilities, they didn’t get around to realizing the project until their children moved out. “It makes sense,” says This Old House host Steve Thomas. “Raising kids is such a full-time job that most people can’t imagine going through a six-month renovation — especially one that puts the heart of the house out of commission. But empty-nesters often start entertaining more, and this couple felt they were at a point where they could tolerate the upheaval.”
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Split Level Kitchen Remodel

The design is no longer considered modern, but it is still practical for many of today’s buyers. Here’s a look at how the split-level came to be, and why it still deserves respect.
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Split Level Kitchen Remodel

Other owners cite the casual, open layout as the biggest perk. Despite some initial reservations about the style, Brenda Nixon says she has grown to love her 1970s four-level split near Columbus, Ohio.
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Split Level Kitchen Remodel

When marketing the home, Pecorin says it’s smart to emphasize the split’s open floor plan, which many younger home owners like because it’s great for entertaining. The Lower level can be easily fixed up as a as an in-law suite or teenage hang-out, says West.
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Split Level Kitchen Remodel

Cohen agrees that remodeling can make a big impact, but he warns against changing a split-level so much that it no longer resembles its original persona. “We don’t recommend turning them into English cottages, French chateaux, or anything they’re not,” he says.
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“The split originally was a way to build on a sloping site, but the interior visual connections it created were so popular it became a part of a new style,” says architect Stuart Cohen of Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects in Evanston, Ill., and co-author of Great Houses of Chicago: 1871-1921 (Acanthus Press, 2008).
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As houses grew grander in the 1980s, 1990s, and beyond, the modest split, often with 8-foot-high ceilings and small closets, lost cachet. Today, it’s a design rarely requested by home owners, says Cohen.
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Pecorin, who has lived in two split levels, says she doesn’t think the style was ever considered trendy. So if buyers are looking for a state-of-the art home with lots of architectural character, they may have to skip the splits.
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Yet, for all of the drawbacks, split-levels can sell well if they’re listed at the right price and shown in the right condition. As with any home, you can get the best response from buyers if sellers update appliances, wiring, plumbing, and paint, says West.
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Split-levels make great candidates for remodeling, too. If buyers are interested in revamping their home, Pecorin suggests adding a gracious entry with columns and peaked roof over the front door.
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A business trip to San Francisco and a visit to that city’s Museum of Modern Art inspired the homeowners to go with crisp stainless steel and a black-and-blond color scheme for the room. Glossy black granite countertops and wall ovens with black glass doors stand out in sharp contrast to the red birch cabinets. To unify the various zones within the space, Brenneman covered the floor with 12-inch-square terra-cotta tiles. Architect Brenneman prefers custom over semi-custom cabinets. “When you’re renovating a house, the walls are never smooth and the floors are never level,” he explains. “You’ve got to make prefabricated components fit, which involves extra labor. We’ve found that semi-custom is really no cheaper.” Because she is short and didn’t want to have to haul out a step stool to reach the top shelves, the wife requested that the wall cabinets be hung at a lower than normal height. To meet the couple’s culinary needs, Brenneman chose professional-quality appliances clad in stainless steel, including a pair of warming drawers installed under the cooktop. Nearby are a pair of stacking wall ovens and a microwave, plus a garage for small appliances. Finishing Touches Upgrading the lighting from the old rectangular fluorescent fixture “was tricky,’ recalls Brenneman. “Because we left the original ceiling alone and this part of the house is only one story, we couldn’t rewire easily.” His solution: monopoint fixtures installed on mounting plates, plus task lighting beneath the wall cabinets. Today the kitchen blends seamlessly with the rest of the house — as the wife hoped it would. “We had 24 people over last Thanksgiving,” she says, “and the kitchen made it easy.”
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Photo by Timothy Bell The island sink supplements the main sink (in background) when the couple entertains. A business trip to San Francisco and a visit to that city’s Museum of Modern Art inspired the homeowners to go with crisp stainless steel and a black-and-blond color scheme for the room. Glossy black granite countertops and wall ovens with black glass doors stand out in sharp contrast to the red birch cabinets. To unify the various zones within the space, Brenneman covered the floor with 12-inch-square terra-cotta tiles. Architect Brenneman prefers custom over semi-custom cabinets. “When you’re renovating a house, the walls are never smooth and the floors are never level,” he explains. “You’ve got to make prefabricated components fit, which involves extra labor. We’ve found that semi-custom is really no cheaper.” Because she is short and didn’t want to have to haul out a step stool to reach the top shelves, the wife requested that the wall cabinets be hung at a lower than normal height. To meet the couple’s culinary needs, Brenneman chose professional-quality appliances clad in stainless steel, including a pair of warming drawers installed under the cooktop. Nearby are a pair of stacking wall ovens and a microwave, plus a garage for small appliances. Finishing Touches Upgrading the lighting from the old rectangular fluorescent fixture “was tricky,’ recalls Brenneman. “Because we left the original ceiling alone and this part of the house is only one story, we couldn’t rewire easily.” His solution: monopoint fixtures installed on mounting plates, plus task lighting beneath the wall cabinets. Today the kitchen blends seamlessly with the rest of the house — as the wife hoped it would. “We had 24 people over last Thanksgiving,” she says, “and the kitchen made it easy.”
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“I never thought I’d live in one, and I didn’t like them, but now we’ve had this house for eight years, and I really like how compact it is,” Nixon says. Upper-level bedrooms and bathrooms and lower-level family room and garage are just short flights away.
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The lower level of most splits was usually built partly or fully above ground to take advantage of natural light. Variations emerged, with a basement sometimes included on an even lower level and an attic above bedrooms, says broker Elsie Pecorin, GRI, with Weichert Capital Properties & Estates in Greenwich, Conn.
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christinem added this to kitchen michelDecember 15, 2013Cherry cabinets from Dura Supreme, quartz countertops from Caesar Stone and strand bamboo floors from Teragren. Dual fuel range, exhaust hood, microwave convection oven and counter depth trio refrigerator by Kitchen Aid. Dishwasher by Bosch. Silgranite sink by Blanco.
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Cherry cabinets from Dura Supreme, quartz countertops from Caesar Stone and strand bamboo floors from Teragren. Dual fuel range, exhaust hood, microwave convection oven and counter depth trio refrigerator by Kitchen Aid. Dishwasher by Bosch. Silgranite sink by Blanco.

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