How to Remodel a Bi-Level House
A bi-level home requires a remodel to improve its box-like shape and certain interior features. Also called a tri-level house, this home typically has a lower level that is half-way between the ceiling and floor of the upper level of the house. Usually there are two sets of stairs. One set of stairs leads up to bedroom areas from the main living level. Another set of stairs goes down to a basement with a large family room. It's difficult to expand floor space for a master suite or expand a kitchen, for example, without building an addition.
Measure the floor space of both levels, plus basement space. Transfer dimensions to graph paper for your design work. Draw each wall facade and a bird's eye view of the total layout. Create an addition on the front or back to visually enhance the overall house shape. Add a glass room for the home's entrance on the front, for example. Design an addition on the back of the house for a master suite.
Figure out ways to add light and roominess. Change the size and placement of windows, if needed, to give the house a more contemporary look. Switch low-level windows often used on the basement area of a bi-level home to bigger windows. Create a more balanced look on the front facade by designing this new window space on graph paper. Add a couple of skylights in the upper level bedrooms for more natural light as well. Install a wall of glass blocks at the end of a hallway near bedrooms on the upper level. Plan to take down a wall between the living room and kitchen.
Plan all construction materials to make the home more contemporary. Get rid of the plain siding, wrought iron railings and aluminum doors typically used on older split-level structures. Renovate the exterior by combining a variety of materials, such as siding, brick, stucco and stone. Select high-quality exterior doors, porch railings and guttering. Install French doors next to a deck outside the kitchen, which will make the limited space of a bi-level kitchen seem bigger.
Incorporate contemporary architectural designs into the remodel. Vault the ceilings of the master bedroom to give the bi-level house a cutting-edge look. Upgrade bath and kitchen fixtures for a high-end look. Use light colors for appliances and cabinetry to reflect more light. Take out any dark woods or outdated wallpaper as well. Install crown molding in the living room and bedrooms for a well-crafted design.
Hire a contractor to build on a room addition and make structural changes. Renovate the upper level first, so that construction dust and debris will not move into living areas later. Save the basement level bonus room or any basement makeover projects for last. Remodel the space to include clean lines and excellent storage space, so that floor space is open and airy throughout. Create closets with many shelves in the basement area, so that the whole home stays clutter free.
Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.
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