Updating a split level home

America saw how a split-level house worked well for Mike and Carol Brady’s large blended family with six children, and housekeeper Alice.The exterior of the Brady’s home was modeled on one built in 1959 by Luther and Louise Carson in San Fernando Valley, Calif., according to David Brady’s Web site. Then you go up a few stairs where there’s a master bedroom and….oops…the hell happened to the other bedrooms? Ok, there’s a cozy kitchen and nice sized living room. So, for my virtual daydream, I went on a(n internet) quest to find decent splanch renovations. As if the cookie cutter exterior isn’t fugly enough, the interior layout is useless. I want to take the ugliest house and see what I can do with it.

The square footage of the lower floor is usually less than the main floor due to a drive-under garage and utilities.

The design of a split-level, with a lower level for the garage, the middle level off to the side as a main living area and the top level over the garage serving as bedrooms, also means the yards are typically sloped, at least in the front and the middle level rests on the ground, which must slope down to accommodate driveway access into the garage.

Trees planted behind your home can help keep the dimensions looking even when viewed from the street. This also provides a shady area in your backyard to use as an oasis with a mulched garden path ending at a comfortable bench under the tree.

Balance these triangle designs by placing a focal point near the outside edge of the middle section of the house near the street.

The focal point can be a small tree, an island of shrubs and flowers or a container garden. The middle section of the house tends to look like it's floating off on its own, but you can help ground it with bushes and trellises.

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