If your home was built in the 1960’s or 70’s, then you may have a split level or bi-level home. This design was very popular during this time period and poses unique challenges during renovations. More often than not, the kitchen is on the upper level of the split, with a short staircase leading down to a living area. These two spaces are often separated by a wall, effectively cutting off the kitchen and dashing its entertaining potential. We’ve outlined split level kitchen design ideas to help you make the most out of your kitchen.
Opening up a Kitchen in a Split Level House
Convert Existing Wall into a Half Wall
One of the split level kitchen design ideas is to vastly improve the flow and functionality of a kitchen in a split level house is to convert any existing wall between your kitchen and living area into a half wall. There are a few design possibilities for you to choose from depending on how you would like your home to function.
Putting in a half wall improves sight lines between the kitchen and living area, but maintains safety for more extreme height differences as well. You can include built-ins in the remaining wall space for additional storage or displaying your home goods and accessories.
Another Option is to Opt for a Glass Barrier
If you desire maximum sight lines and crave a modern feel, opt for glass barriers instead of a traditional half wall. This sleek look is not only ultra-modern, it also brightens up your room as light is not being blocked by a solid wall. This will also contribute to a more open concept feel.
Another Option is to Install a Railing
If you dislike the glass look but still want to allow more light in, you can install a railing instead. The spacing between the spindles will allow light to flow through while still providing a protective structure.
Split Level Kitchen Island
For the kitchen itself, one excellent design option is to install a kitchen island facing your living area. With your wall cut in half, having an island oriented toward the living area allows you to make the most of your kitchen’s entertaining potential. You will be able to prepare and cook meals without feeling cut off from your family or guests. A kitchen island is one of the best split level kitchen design ideas that can also do double duty as a prep space and additional seating with the inclusion of some bar stools.
Bring in the Light
Another drawback to homes built in the 60’s and 70’s is their natural light can sometimes be lacking. Taking down walls will obviously help; however, you can do more to brighten the space. If your kitchen window is tiny, consider upgrading to a larger window to revitalize up the kitchen.
Similarly, if you have a door in your kitchen leading outside, consider installing a door with glass panes or go all out and get French doors. Even if you upgrade your appliances, countertops, and flooring, a kitchen with limited natural light will feel cramped and gloomy.
Install Additional Lighting Fixtures
If you can’t improve the natural light situation in your kitchen, install additional light fixtures. You will want general lighting for the entire space as well as task lighting. If your island is illuminated by a grand light fixture, but your oven and counters are left in the shadows, your kitchen will look dim and murky. Consider installing under-cabinet lighting to provide shadow-free workspaces.
By taking down the walls, installing an entertainment-worthy kitchen island, and improving the light situation, you can bring your dated and dark kitchen up to date and modify it to meet your design needs. Even though kitchens in a split level house come with their own distinctive challenges, smart design choices can help you overcome them.