Split Level Entryway Remodel Before & After

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Today I’m sharing a before-and-after of the best split level entryway remodel, and how you can easily modernize your split level. This staircase remodel is a simple project that you can accomplish in about 3 hours, depending on how long it takes you to demo the existing half wall.

These split level entry remodel ideas will not only update a staircase but also add value to your home.

One of our biggest issues in the split foyer was the dark and dingy looking entryway.

Let’s take a look at how we remodeled the entryway by increasing the width and height of the front door, opening up the stair half wall and installing new rails and balusters.

open split level stairway with black metal balusters, blue walls, vaulted ceiling
LOVE our new split level entryway remodel

Modern Split Level Entryway

A traditional split level house is distinct, marked by the main entrance and front door leading to a set of stairs, often leaving homeowners wondering about the best ways to utilize the space effectively.

A modern split level entry typically consists of a wall railing and simple black iron balusters. Black iron balusters are inexpensive and can be purchased on Amazon with next day delivery.

black balusters split level entry remodel
black balusters and shoes are a great way to update an outdated staircase

We used these black balusters and they added the modern look we were going after.

We opted to add the baluster shoe at the bottom of the baluster but you can eliminate the shoe for an even sleeker modern look.

One of the most effective ways to enhance the look of your split-level entryway is by remodeling the front door entrance to utilize the power of natural light.

Incorporating more natural light at the front of the house can significantly improve the aesthetic appeal of your split-level entryway.

How to Modernize a Split Level Entryway

Step 1: Open up split stairway by removing half wall

Below is the outdated 1970s split-level house living space showing the staircase wall before we started remodeling.

1970's split level entryway, living room and hallway
split level entryway with 1/2 wall

The half wall behind the couch is typical of an older home split level house.

1970s split level entryway
split level entryway remodel before we removed the 1/2 wall

As you can see below, we removed the ceiling creating a vaulted ceiling with shiplap planks, new windows were installed, the floors were sanded and refinished and a fresh coat of paint was added to the walls and trim.

A fresh coat of paint on the remaining foyer wall and throughout the home can modernize the overall look, making your split-level home a perfect blend of traditional and contemporary.

open entryway staircase split level house
split level entryway remodel ideas – open up the wall

Can you remove a half wall in a split level?

A split level staircase remodel typically will involve removing the half wall between the entry and living room area if you are looking to achieve an open concept feel.

Thankfully there were not electrical outlets on that wall so it was just a matter of removing the sheetrock and 2×4’s.

Split level entry remodel ideas that involve removing a half wall is a fairly simple process (although a little messy) and if you need to relocate electrical wires then you will need to consult with an electrician.

Step 2: Drill holes for balusters and staircase rail

Jim measured and drilled holes approximately every 4″ for the balusters on both the handrail and floor.

Here are the drill holes on the wood handrail.

wood handrail with 4" drill holes for balusters

Here are the drill holes on the floor.

wood handrail with 4" drill holes for balusters
adding new stair balusters – split level entryway remodel ideas

Split Level Entry Railing Ideas

Step 3: Cut balusters to 36″ and add staircase handrail

We used the chop saw to cut these black metal balusters to 36″ each.

There are several split level railing ideas on Google but to keep costs down, we opted for hollow black balusters that give the modern high end look on a budget.

cutting metal baluster with chop saw

If you are using baluster shoes on the top and bottom of the baluster, be sure to add those before placing the baluster into the handrail and bottom floor drill hole.

black metal baluster and black shoe
Easy split level entryway remodel ideas consist of new modern stair balusters

Step 4: Apply Adhesive to stair railing holes

We applied Loctite adhesive to the floor and handrail drill holes to keep the staircase balusters in place.

caulking on stairway baluster installation

Step 5: Install Balusters between rail and floor

We then added the metal black balusters to the floor holes and added the handrail to the top of the balusters.

This is definitely a two person job as getting the handrail to sit steady on top of the balusters while inserting into the drill holes is tedious!

split level entryway remodel with new handrail and black modern balusters

Be sure to wipe any excess adhesive that may spill out around the balusters.

split level entryway remodel with new handrail and black modern balusters
Simple split level entryway remodel idea

Our staircase remodel in this home was a game changer and makes a huge difference!

As you can see, we slide the baluster shoes to the bottom and top of the balusters. The shoes will hide any imperfections around the drill holes which is nice!

Shop Our Stair Rail Products

  1. We used this square oak handrail. Be sure to pick the right size! We purchased an 8′ handrail and cut to size.
  2. The modern style black metal balusters can be found here.
  3. The balusters shoes can be found here. 
  4. If you prefer a traditional style wooden oak handrail can be found here
  5. Lantern style pendant

Split Entry Remodel Before and After

The new split foyer entry leading to the lower level or basement level and up to the main level are now modern and inviting.

open stairway split level entryway remodel
Game changing split level entryway remodel ideas

What is the wall paint and trim paint color called?

  • Behr Platinum (walls)
  • Behr Bright White (trim and baseboards)
open split level stairway with black metal balusters, blue walls, vaulted ceiling
split level entryway remodel ideas – create a new focal point with a front door

Remember the before picture where Jim was sitting on the floor in this same spot and the front door was tiny?

We ripped out that old door, increased the width and installed a larger front door with sidelights and a transom!

Click through this post, how to increase the width of a front entrance to see how we did it!

Why should you remodel an outdated entryway?

  • easy way to add value to your home
  • visually appear larger and more inviting
  • one of the easier remodeling ideas to modernize an entryway
open split level stairway with black metal balusters, blue walls, vaulted ceiling

Split level entryway remodel ideas

  • Install hardwood floors and stairs to replace carpeting.
  • Add a skylight to the entryway for natural light.
  • Replace existing door with an entry door with sidelights to create an open feel and new focal point.
  • Paint the walls in a bright, inviting color to give the entryway a modern look .
  • Hang art, new foyer light fixture or other decor on the walls to add a unique touch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are split-level homes outdated?

Typically a split level home that was built in the 1960s or 1970s will come with an outdated design and floor plan. The small boxy rooms with the kitchen at the top of the entry stairs is outdated but thankfully, there are solutions for updating a split level by removing walls and opening up the boxy rooms.

How do you update a split-level entry?

1. A staircase remodel is one of the easiest projects to update a split. Updating a split level entry is as easy as removing the half wall that separates the living room and stairs leading down to the front door. Replacing the 1/2 wall with modern rails will help open up the entryway and feel less boxy.
2. Increase the front entrance door opening to accommodate a wider door with skylights (see how we increased our front door width here.)

open split level stairway with black metal balusters, blue walls, vaulted ceiling
What a huge difference seeing the kitchen island and open split foyer

Here is another look at the split level entryway wall before.

dated 1970's living room, entry way, kitchen with walls

Here is the split living room and entryway after the kitchen remodel where we removed the load bearing wall between the kitchen and living room and the half wall at the foyer.

split level entryway and kitchen open concept with metal balusters and oak handrail

If you are looking for more stair makeover ideas, be sure to visit this post,

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

So what do you think about our open stairway split level entryway? Are you inspired to start a 1970s split level remodel? An entryway makeover is a great place to start!

We didn’t add square footage to this house but it’s amazing how opening up walls and a staircase makes the living area feel bigger.

If you are looking for more stair remodel ideas (many ranch style homes have basement stairs on the upper level), click through this post how to update a basement staircase with new handrail and black iron balusters.

One thing to note, we decided to the leave the existing iron railing on the other side of the staircase wall that we removed and painted it black.

The existing metal handrail coordinated nicely with the new stairway balusters and was in good shape.

I personally love the open concept staircase look in this 1970s split level and the overall open kitchen and living room with vaulted ceiling in the upper level is a drastic improvement from the original split level floor plan.

How to Remodel a Split Level Entryway

Bring your outdated split level entryway into the 21st century with this contemporary step-by-step entryway remodel. By removing the half wall and installing a modern railing, you'll open up your entryway to make it much more inviting.
Print Instructions
open split level stairway with black metal balusters, blue walls, vaulted ceiling


  • 1 Reciprocating saw
  • 1 Hammer or mallet
  • 1 1 inch paddle drill bit

Supply List

Instructions : Step by Step

Remove the half wall

  • Check for electricity first. If you have any outlets, hire an electrician to safely relocate the wiring.
  • Remove the dry wall and 2x4s with your power tools.

Add holes for staircase balusters and handrail

  • Use a drill with a spade bit to create holes 4 inches apart on the floor and in the base of your new handrail.

Cut custom balusters to height

  • Using your circular saw, cut your metal balusters to 3 feet tall (36 inches).
  • If using baluster shoes, add them before installing.

Install balusters and handrail

  • Fill the drilled holes and tops of the balusters with Loctite adhesive. Position the balusters into the holes and secure the handrail on top of the balusters.
  • Remove any excess adhesive. Allow the glue to dry overnight before using.


How can I update an outdated split level entry way?
Once you remove the half wall, your main floor will be much more inviting and welcoming. I recommend replacing the half wall with a custom metal hand railing. You can also:
  • Paint the walls a bright, light color
  • Install a pendant light
  • Remove old carpet and install new vinyl plank flooring
  • Replace the smaller front door with a larger one
Cost: 850.00

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. Cheryl Johnson says:

    Great remodel!! What color paint is the wall and trim, looks so bright and clean! Thank you… 🙂

    1. Hi, thank you! The wall color is Platinum and trim is bright white by Behr

  2. Looks awesome! Definitely open up the space!

  3. Would love to see a blog post on how you decorated your split level foyer entryway! We have the exact same entry way set up and I’ve been struggling on functional aspects while still looking nice. Google and current searches aren’t giving me much!

  4. Kristin salazar says:

    It looks so good!!!! I love how bright and open it is. MY best friend in elementary had this exact layout, so popular back then 🙂

  5. Love this design! Could you tell me the size of your trim that was used around your windows along with your baseboards and doors. Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for posing this! We remodeled our split level home using your idea. We love our new entry and open floorplan. We also added a large family room and deck off of the back. We changed the roof peak and added a front door peak. Love it!

    1. wow that’s so cool!!! I would love to see some pictures if you want to email me at jessica (at) fourgenerationsoneroof (dot) com

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