Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Split Level Living Area - Before and After

Eating nook, complete with built in storage in the banquette
As you've probably guessed, I've saved the best for last.  The main living area of this house is almost unrecognizable from our starting point. So much has changed!  Gone are the low ceilings, cramped rooms and a center fireplace that took up way too much space in a small house!

Best of all, my clients got a living area that is customized to their needs.  We thought through every element of how the kitchen needed to work for them, including built in trash/recycle storage, an appliance garage and pantry space.  They wanted a mud bench with storage for all the winter gear we need in Maine.  And they didn't want a formal dining space - just casual eating areas, that included a view of the beautiful gardens they curate in the yard.

The kitchen has lots of storage and the island provides a great spot for family members and guests to gather.  It also has a drawer microwave, keeping it out of view and off the countertop! 

Don't you love this kitchen? 
Here was the original kitchen 

How did we do all this?  There were two major changes - first, we removed the big central fireplace.  It made the existing kitchen really tiny and took up a disproportionate amount of space in a small house.  See how it opens up the kitchen to the rest of the living space?

Second, we expanded the room by 5 feet.  Now, that might not sounds like a lot of space.  But it was the maximum we could do with the zoning regulations and it made a huge difference to the room.  It allowed us to install a sliding glass door out to the garden and a fireplace, complete with built ins.  See how much different it is?

The gas fireplace is such a cozy feature!  They chose the beachglass option - with lots of glass and driftwood.  Pretty cool for a beach house!  The built ins are simple and we topped them off with reclaimed beams from another house in the neighborhood - now that's a great sustainability option!!! And the warm wood with the old saw marks is so inviting!

But that's not all.  We added a mud bench with storage bins to hold all their winter/summer stuff.  In Maine we all have a lot of winter outerwear, but when you live close to the beach you also have towels, flip flops and beach bags that need a place to land when you come home.

And I can't stop sharing this stairwell - these balusters are such a wow feature!  

This stairwell extends all the way to the top floor and that dramatic space is a game changer on this split level.  The owners can't wait to hang a lot of artwork on the big, tall wall!

This may be my favorite viewpoint in the new house, because it really didn't exist before we started!  The closed off attic access and small footprint of the house was totally different from today. 

So I'll ask the question we started with on this project.  Do you still hate a split level?  Or do you think they can be reimagined into a modern home for today's lifestyle?

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  1. What a transformation! As far as multi story houses go, I think the split level is a good use of space. You’ve proven that!
    Did you use the same color on cabinets and walls?

    1. Thanks! The cabinets and wall paint aren’t an exact match - we used Ben Moore Simply White which has a bit more of a gray tone to tie to the countertops and furnishings.

  2. What a beautiful home! Your open staircase is the inspiration I need to open up mine. Can you advise a good contractor?

    1. I wish I could recommend someone - but everyone is booked up well into next year!

  3. A split entry has never been my favorite house, but this one could be!!! Your open staircase is inspiration to open up my dining room wall and expose the staircase with a wonderful banister. Can you recommend your contractor?

    1. Could you please tell me where did you get those balusters (company, product name). Thank you!

    2. I found them on Etsy!! I think the company name was Bull Dog Stair Parts (or something like that). They were. very reasonably priced and had great delivery. And they look fantastic!!

  4. Absolutely beautiful! I love splits even more now! You truly have "the touch".

    The first split I ever lived in has to be when I was a child and I believe it was built around 1960. For the staircase(s) they used open wood steps and wrought iron railings, pretty much a 50's 60's look. When the builder built our split in 1986, he did it all in wood, banister, spindles, etc. I so wish I had requested the wood and wrought iron look, so classic.


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