|Background: What, How & Why of Split-level, Bi-level and Raised Ranch Homes
A Fresh Approach
Split-Level or 3-Level Primer
Bi-Level or 2-Level Primer
Raised Ranch Primer
Interior Design Approaches
Exterior Design Ideas
Additions and Subtraction
Sources for Traditional Materials
5 Quick Ways to Differentiate Your Home
Remodeling the Split Level Kitchen
Celebrating the Versatility and Value of Bi-Level, Split-Level and Raised Ranch Homes
From the beloved three and four level splits of the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, to the enormous factory bi-level homes of today, divided entry homes are found in virtually every corner of the globe.
Whether it's a sprawling California-style split or a frumpy raised ranch on a narrow lot, divided entry homes just don't get a lot of respect...until you open your eyes to the unlimited possibilities and potential they provide.
Bi-levels, raised ranches, even 60 year old splits can adapt to virtually any type of home style that suits you, your lifestyle, and your dreams. Want the traditional feel of a colonial? The formality and trappings of a Victorian? How about a rustic Adirondack Lodge? Your home can be transformed into any of these...or any other style you desire.
We use the words "Split Level" as a convenient way to cover all these types of homes. While split level is a specific type, it is a generally accepted term and certainly more appealling than "divided entry." So to avoid confusion, following are the specific types of home designs that are considered "splits" for the purposes of this website...
Two sets of short stairs, two levels. Entry between floors. The front door opens to a landing. One short flight of stairs leads up to the top floor; another short flight of stairs leads down. The top floor tends to be full height ceilings with living areas: LR, DR, K and BRs. Lower floor often has lower ceilings and is partially below ground.
One full flight of stairs, two levels. Entry at lower floor. The front door opens directly into ground floor. A full flight of stairs, usually near the front door, leads up to the living level. Top floor tends to be full height ceilings with LR, DR, K and BRs. Lower floor often has lower ceilings. Although door is at or nearly at grade, sometimes the back and/or a side of the house is partially below ground. Many have the appearance of a ranch house that has been stretched upward and had the door lowered. Arguably the most challenging from a redesign/decorating standpoint.
Two or three sets of short stairs, three or four levels. Entry between floors. The front door opens in a foyer or entry area located in a wing off the main house. From the entry, a short flight of stairs leads up to the top floor and another short flight leads down. Usually resembles a three-level or "true" split-level (see below) from the exterior, but is actually a bi-level with an entry wing. In most cases this entry area is part of a garage wing. In others, the entry area might be a separate living room wing, although this kind of makes it a true split -- but it's all semantics and doesn't really matter.
Two or three sets of short stairs, three or four levels. Entry on a middle floor between two floors. The front door opens directly into what is usually the formal living area. This mid-level floor houses LR, DR, K, and has a short flight of stairs leading up to bedrooms, and another short flight of stairs leading down to informal living areas and garage. All true splits have at least three levels; many have a fourth level or cellar below the formal living room/entry level.
Split-Level/Lower Entry Same as above except entry is on informal/garage level. Short flight goes up to formal living area; from there another short flight goes up to bedroom area. Like standard splits, Lower Entry Splits have at least three levels; many have a fourth level or cellar below the formal living level.