13 Split-Level House Exterior Ideas

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Split level houses have been around since the 1950s. The structure and layout of these homes is both aesthetically appealing and highly functional for many homeowners. In most cases, when you walk into a split level, you will see a set of stairs that leads to a lower level along with a separate set that goes upstairs. The staggered format of these houses typically includes a main level with a kitchen, living room, and bathroom, an upstairs with bedrooms, and a finished basement. But what about the exterior? You can’t always identify a split level house from the outside. Side split style homes allow you to see all levels of the home face on. If your split level is a back-split, that means you can only see one level from the front and have to look at the home from the side to see the other levels.

Whatever style split level you have, our designers have unique ideas to help you accentuate what makes your home unique!

Are you stuck trying to think of new ways to freshen up your home’s exterior? Our virtual design services were created for homeowners like you. Our designers will collaborate with you to understand your design goals in order to develop a rendering like those featured below.

before-and-after of a two-tone split level home

#1 // Use Colors and Textures to Accentuate the Different Levels

It’s not always easy to notice a split level just from looking at the exterior. In the before photo shown above, the brick spread across the entire exterior of the home. Our designers created layers to the exterior by incorporating different textures and colors. The contrasting middle section of the home, with the upper level rendered in a different color, draws the eye in. The right side has wooden accents that provide more differentiation and make the entry easier to notice from the curb.

before-and-after of a traditional split level with greige siding and red brick

#2 // Red Brick and Siding Combination

We love the way a traditional split level house looks with the combination of red brick and siding. The before-and-after shown above demonstrates how subtle updates can refresh a home just as well as a major redesign. The home already had a great color-blocked look — it just needed some new colors.

Before and after of a traditional split level home with shutters painted in Secret and trim in Seapearl.

#3 // Think of Your Garage as a Design Element

Many traditional split level houses feature a level of the home that hangs above the garage. For split levels with this layout, consider thinking of your garage door as a design element. With the home shown above, our designers suggested black paint for the garage door. With light colors used across the exterior of the home, the black paint and black light fixtures on each side of the garage door draw attention to the entire garage area. Plus, they coordinate with the new front door.

modern split level home with wooden accents and glass paneled garage door

#4 // Modern Style Split-Level

We love the way a modern design style looks on a split level house. The dark gray James Hardie Hardie® Plank lap siding and Aspyre Reveal® Panel System siding above coupled with the wooden accents gives off a bold, sleek look that highlights the split level structure.

coastal split level home with paneled windows

#5 // Be Intentional with Windows

This coastal split level house and its white exterior gives off a fresh aura. Incorporating paneled windows on each of the different levels accentuates the home’s unique structure. Mixing up the sizing of the windows draws in even more layering to make the exterior interesting and appealing.

Before and after of a mid-century modern split level home with an extended slanted front porch awning, painted in Seapearl

#6 // Retro Vibes

This split level house gave off a retro vibe that reminds us of one of the most well known split levels of all time: the Brady Bunch house. It was time to modernize it. Fresh siding and new modern garage doors take up a lot of real estate on this façade. Perhaps our favorite part of this new exterior is the addition of a front porch overhang, to allow for less-weather-restricted outdoor living. The new full-length windows and modern-but-retro lighting and front door top things off. It’s now a more dynamic exterior design.

traditional split level home with wood paneling accents

#7 // Accent with Wood Paneling

One of the best ways to highlight the dimension of a split level house is to include accents on the different levels. The Woodtone paneling accents on this home provide visual interest, symmetry, and layers to the exterior design. 

multi-floor split level home with dark siding and wooden accents

#8 // Staggered and Stacked

If you have a split level home with multiple sets of stairs and staggered floors inside, we recommend resonating that look on the exterior for a dynamic aesthetic. The levels of this home are stacked in a way that adds contrast and dimension from the layout alone. We also love how our designers used natural wood around the entryway to create a focal point.

modern split level home with an upper-level balcony

#9 // Color-blocking + Upper Level Balcony

One of the best parts about the exterior of a split level house is the built-in dimension. Unlike traditional craftsman-style or ranch homes, split levels feature a staggered appearance. This is something we highlighted on the home above using color-blocking. Plus, adding a balcony to the second level of this home adds both visual interest and functional living space to the upper potion of the home.

modern white split level home with sliding doors on an upper level balcony

#10 // Choose the Right Accents

This midcentury modern split level house is fresh and sleek. Choosing interesting accents for your split level is a great way to compliment its unique structure. This home features a variety, from light fixtures and planters to sliding doors and a glass-paneled garage door. The dimensional ledgestone near the entryway serves as the perfect complement to the walkway, especially with the subtle addition of the house number and light fixture.

large split level home with tall porch columns

#11 // Accentuate the Entry

The modern split level house above demonstrates just how impactful it can be to highlight the entry on a split level home. The large rounded stone columns and awning create an important focal point on this home’s wide exterior.

modern split level home with a layered walkway

#12 // Layered Walkway

Never forget that your walkway can be an important exterior design opportunity. This modern transitional split level house features a walkway that mimics the structure of the home. The walkway’s staggered layout allows for dimension starting right at the curb.

traditional split level home with dark siding and three garage doors

#13 // Multiple Garage Doors

Split level houses have at least three levels, so why not three garage doors, too? It’s common for the exterior design of split level homes to incorporate the garage doors directly into the structure of the home, and this one kicks it up a notch with an extra door. A new modern color palette and modern garage doors to match help this home’s curb appeal feel more cohesive.

traditional split level home with gray siding and cultured stone

Embrace the Split Level

While some see split levels as challenging for exterior design, we prefer to embrace the look. Whether you want to follow a more traditional style or a modern design, incorporate unique accents, or cultivate a layered look, we hope the ideas above have inspired you to celebrate your split level.

Split level homes offer a functional interior layout. Don’t miss out on opportunities to make the exterior just as appealing. Get started with our virtual exterior design process today!