Before you reinvent your 1960s-built home, consider these challenges. First thing: What to do with a split-level?
Split-level and split-entry homes were common during the 1960s. But they’re not popular with today’s homeowners because they often feel dark and chopped-up, compared to houses currently being built. “Splits need the most help,” said architect Jeremiah Battles of Acacia Architects (www.acaciaarchitects.com) and co-author of “Split Visions: A Planbook of Remodeling Ideas for Split-Level and Split-Entry Houses.” The book grew out of a blog, he said, and was written to help owners of splits envision ways to update their homes, rather than move. “Our goal was to keep people in the community,” he said. “The biggest thing that bothered people about splits is the small front entry. In Minnesota, people need a mudroom. There’s no place to sit down and take shoes off.” Moving the stairs usually isn’t practical, he said. For many homeowners, the solution is a front-entry expansion. Download a copy of “Split Visions.”
New lighting is one of the most dramatic ways to update an older house. “Today’s focus on lighting is completely different,” said Bjorn Freudenthal, vice president of marketing and sales for Ispiri (www.ispiri.com). Rooms in the ’60s typically had one overhead light fixture. “Now we have task lighting, ambient lighting and pendant lights,” all of which can be combined to create a modern look.
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If you want to open up a ’60s floor plan, but want to keep some of the original elements, know that those spaces need to work together. “Midcentury homes lend themselves to doing interesting things, but they have a distinct architecture, too, and you have to be sensitive to that,” said Bob Boyer, owner/president of Boyer Building Corp. (www.boyerbuilding.com).
“You don’t want it to feel like a 2013 kitchen plunked into a 1960s home,” said Becca Hall, interior designer with Ispiri. “You can bring in updated colors, but stick with the original character of wood species and door style. Paint and tile can be a little more contemporary.”