You may not know what a split-level house is, but if your family grew up within one of the many suburbs that developed in the 50s, you have seen it. A classic split-level. You’ve probably never seen one in person. Thanks to The Brady Bunch, one of the most iconic sitcoms in TV history, you can now see one on TV.
Split-level houses, inspired by the pre-war suburban open-concept ranch homes, were designed to provide ample living space for suburbanites. They were an affordable and spacious option for families. They are still attractive to families of all sizes and to people who want undefined, separate living areas that can be tailored to their particular life/work requirements.
What is a Split-Level House?
Unlike other house styles such as Cape Cod, colonial or craftsman, Split-level homes deliver exactly what they promised: a house with staggered floors. These houses are made up of three or more levels connected by short flight stairs.
What makes a house split-level?
Split-level homes can spread out over a lot of land and not be restricted to a specific footprint. This makes it an easy style for architects to use. There are no strict rules about where rooms should go or how they can be laid out. Split-level homes can share many common characteristics.
- Multiple levels
- Facade with an asymmetrical design
- Low-pitched roofs
- Wide overhanging eaves
- Double hung windows
- Large picture window
- Patio with sliding glass doors
- Attached garages
- Natural building materials such as brick and wood can be used
- Large, open-concept living spaces
- Short staircases
- Multiple storage and attic spaces
- Basements finished
- Laundry room
- Minimal ornamentation
History of Split-Level Homes
Split-level homes were popular in the 1950s American suburbs. They quickly became very popular for their “modern”, aesthetic. The split-level house is basically a reinterpretation of ranch-style homes that were built in the 1930s. These houses featured large patio doors and open floor plans. Easy indoor/outdoor living.
Split-level homes’ were a better choice than single-story ranch homes. They offer more space, making them great for families. These houses are affordable because they can fit more square feet of living space on a smaller lot due to their staggered design.
Types of split-level houses
The front door of a standard split-level home opens onto a ground level entryway. This leads to the middle level which includes the living room, kitchen, and dining room. This entry area is accessed via two short staircases. One leads to the upstairs level, which contains the bedrooms and bathrooms. The other leads down to the finished basement, which can be used for multiple purposes such as a home office or gym, den, playroom, or even a home office. The basement level of a standard split usually connects to an attached garage.
Side-split is the most popular type of split-level home. This design allows all levels to be visible from the front. The house is divided into two halves, with the levels between them being strewn across each side. The kitchen and main living areas are located on one level. On the other side, there are two levels that connect to the main level via short half-flights. Bedrooms and bathrooms can be found on the upper floor. The basement has a finished garage.
Split the Back
The layout of a back-split ranch looks almost identical to that of a side-split, but it has been rotated 90 degrees. A back-split-level house will look like a ranch-style home from the curb. If you walk around the sides or back, the two other levels will become visible.
A stacked split-level house has at least four floors. Think of it as a side split with a second story above the living room. The main staircase connects the various levels of these houses with short sets or steps.