How To Modernize a Split Level Home Exterior

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A split level house remodel, specifically the exterior, is one of the best investments you can make. Today I’m sharing our plan on how to modernize a split-level home exterior with white board and batten siding, black windows and enlarging the front door opening.

Modernizing a split level home exterior can be achieved in 4 simple steps and black windows are a key component.

Whether you are remodeling a split level (or bi-level exterior), ranch or any exterior, these exterior ideas that I am going to share can be used on any style home. 

Split Level Exterior Remodel

Split level house Foxboro Ma brown siding
split level house exterior before we remodeled

The picture above shows the cute split level house with the old white windows and old siding. Wait until you see the exterior siding featuring white board and batten!

Split level house plans are fairly typical with closed off rooms and a cookie cutter layout. We decided to change the inside floor plan a bit and remove walls and ceilings to create an open concept.

FAQs How to Modernize Split Level Exterior

Split-level homes from the early 1960s and 1970s will typically have an outdated layout featuring small boxy rooms along with older exterior wood siding.

A more modern approach in today’s standards would be removing some of the interior walls in the home to create a more open feel. See how we removed the kitchen and dining room wall as well as the ceiling in this home.

Updating your home exterior with siding, windows, doors and a new roof adds tremendous value to any home. An updated modern split level exterior before is typically drastic as the home designs from the 1960’s and 1970’s was very bland and the idea of adding board and batten siding with black windows back then was unheard of!

Split-Level House Exterior Ideas

#1 Update Windows

The first step to making this a modern split level house was to address the exterior siding and windows.

Exterior siding, windows, doors and a roofing material are the key components to to updating a 1960s or 1970’s home.

brown split level home with no windows
increasing the size of the windows in a split level house

The existing windows were drafty and very inefficient.

The house was built in the late 1960’s and I’m not sure if they had ever been replaced. 

split level house window opening made larger to fit new window
the larger window openings make a split level house look so much better

There are a significant amount of split level renovations and remodels going on right now in our area and many seem to be jumping on the white exterior with black windows trend. Updated split level homes are on the rise!

Tips & Tricks

Once the windows were removed, Jim and his crew enlarged the window openings with a sawzall to increase the height to accommodate the new black windows.  

The correct nails for installing a window will depend on your vinyl frame size. 

installing black windows with 1 1/2 inch nails
split level house black modern windows

We used 1 1/2 inch framing nails.

black weatherstrip window tape along black window

The new window frames were all lined with black weather tape to help keep moisture out.

The black window and door tape is so sticky!

Do Black Windows Cost More?

We decided to go with Simonton vinyl black windows and each window was about $125 more than a typical standard white window.

The overall cost increase was about $1000 so in the end, that’s not a lot considering the modern farmhouse look we are going for. 

We have also used the (affiliate link) Jeldwen black windows as well but they are more expensive than the Simonton. Depending on your budget, both are great options. 

brown split level home with no windows
boost curb appeal at a split level house with larger windows

Jim was very diligent about making sure each window was level before completely nailing it to the window frame. 

front bay black window being installed split level house
split level house window installation

During the 1960s and 1970s, the windows were much smaller so if enlarging the window size fits in your budget, do it!

checking black window is level on brown siding

There was a bit of extra work due to enlarging the existing window opening but in the end, the larger sized windows will add a lot of curb appeal and architectural interest to the front of the house. 

split level house exterior with black windows

You can see above the black windows are installed and the front door opening as also been cut out to fit the new front door.

#2 Update Front Door

One of the biggest focal points of any home is the front door. We enlarged the front door width and height to accomodate a larger front door with a transom and sidelights.

standard size front door opening of a split level house
split level house new front door is wider and taller

Be sure to learn more about increasing the width and height of your front door and see how we completely changed the front door size.

We picked the Masonite Heritage Craftsman Series with sidelights and a 12″ inch transom.

Masonite Heritage Craftsman front door with sidelights and transom

The new larger front door allows so much more natural light into the home!

#3 Update Siding & Roofing

Here is our modern split level exterior with the new white board and batten siding and black windows.

We installed James Hardi board and batten spacing the batten pieces 12″ apart. Learn more about the siding by clicking this post, split level exterior makeover before and after.

New exterior paint or vinyl siding will modernize and update any home. Be sure to coordinate trim, windows and exterior colors with your front door color.

We are planning to do the same siding at the “ranch house” remodel but with white windows.

split level house with white board and batten siding black windows and brown front door
gorgeous modern split level house

In addition to new siding and roofing,

Sure, Jessica! Here’s a bullet-style summary for modernizing a split-level home’s exterior with a focus on combining various materials:

Additional Exterior Ideas

If horizontal or vertical board and batten isn’t your thing, consider materials such as stone or cedar clapboard.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Combine cedar clapboard, stone, architectural panels, and stucco to add depth and interest.
  • Use contrasting materials to create a modern look with texture and dimension
  • Swap horizontal siding with vertical lapboard for a fresh appearance.
  • Consider using thinner siding made from architectural panels to add dimension
  • Add modern touches by incorporating materials like corrugated metal, rusted metal, or colorful metal art.
  • Update window frames, shutters, and add decorative art pieces for a contemporary edge

This approach not only modernizes the exterior but also enhances the property’s curb appeal and distinctiveness in the neighborhood.

1970 Split Level Exterior Remodel

Lets recap the ways to modernize the exterior of a split-level.

How Can I Make My Split Level Exterior Look Better?

  1. Enlarge window openings to fit taller and wider windows
  2. Replace old siding with modern vinyl siding
  3. Enlarge the front entrance (click through this post, how to enlarge your front entryway)
  4. Install a craftsman style or full view front door with sidelights and transom
  5. Replace roof
  6. Add a front porch or portico over the front door

Split Level Exterior Before & After

Our split level exterior makeover featuring a black and white color scheme helped us achieve the modern farmhouse design.

Here is the split house before we removed the old siding.

brown 1970 split level home with white door

The Modern Split-level with black windows, a larger front door, white siding and new roof is absolutely beautiful!

white board and batten split level with black windows
split level house with modern siding looks amazing!

Click through this post, “best split level exterior remodel before and after” to see the final reveal plus the 2 car “barn style” garage that Jim built on the property. 

split level house with white board and batten siding black windows and brown front door
Love this split level house and 2 car barn style garage

Looking to see all of the home remodeling projects we did in this split level home? See them in order below.

Split Level Home Renovation Series

Meet Jessica

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.


  1. Jane M Leydon says:

    I cannot wait for the final results. It is looking great!

  2. Gonna be beautiful! I love the black windows. Canโ€™t wait to see the final results!

  3. I’m curious will you be adding a front porch onto your home. We have a split level and I want to add a porch, but hard to find pictures so maybe it’s hard to add one?

    1. Hi, no we won’t be adding a front porch – just a small overhang over the front door.

    2. We added a front portico to our split-entry last year. We ended up bumping out the entryway 3ft so we could also add a small closet just inside the front door. In conjunction with removing the closet at the top of the stairs, it has transformed both the look outside and inside the home.

      1. It’s amazing what a front portico adds for curb appeal right? You must love the change in your home!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Judy Brown says:

        can you send me pics? if love to do something similar to our split level. thanks, Judy Brown, Colorado

  4. Can you please share a link to a picture of the completed project? I think you mentioned adding white board and batten siding. I canโ€™t seem to find link. Thanks!

    1. Beth Prokopf says:

      Beautiful as always!

  5. Looks fantastic! I was looking for pics on Pinterest to update our split level exterior with some type of awning or portico. I discovered your blog. Your front portico is spot on what I want. We have white one split level as well, built in early 90s. Big bays on both sides on uppers, lowers and sides is really the only thing different! Anyway just here to give a shout out for a classy job on your remodel, you nailed it!

  6. Love the designs. My wife and I were thinking of doing something similar with our home. Do you have a list of cost breakdowns or overall cost? We are trying to figure out our budget for our project.

  7. Can you share the overall cost to do just the house portion of the exterior remodel?

  8. where I live that style of house is slit foyer and split level is a different style. Nice changes

  9. sorry meant split foyer but couldn’t edit

  10. Hi, What size windows (height & width) did you install? Thank you looks amazing

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