Home » DIY Home Remodeling + Tutorials » Split Level Entry Remodel Before & After

Split Level Entry Remodel Before & After

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure here.

Today I’m sharing a before-and-after of the best split level entry remodel, and how you can easily modernize your split level. This is a fairly 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 stairway but also add value to your home.

Modern Split Level Entryway

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.

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.

open split level stairway with black metal balusters, blue walls, vaulted ceiling

Why should you remodel an outdated entryway?

  • add value to your home
  • visually appear larger and more inviting
  • one of the easier remodeling ideas to modernize an 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Below is the outdated 1970s split-level house interior showing the staircase wall before we started remodeling. To see this entire split level before we started demo, click through this post cute split level house remodel project to take a full home tour.

1970's split level entryway, living room and hallway

The half wall behind the couch is typical of a split level house.

1970s split level entryway

Can you remove a half wall in a split level?

Yes, thankfully there was 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.

open entryway staircase split level house

As you can see above, 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.

What is the wall paint color called?

  • Behr Platinum (walls)
  • Behr Bright White (trim and baseboards)

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

Here are the drill holes on the floor.

wood handrail with 4

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

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

Split Level Entry Railing Ideas

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

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

caulking on stairway baluster installation

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

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!

Split entry remodel before and after

  1. The open staircase entryway is absolutely beautiful and cost under $200. 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

Pretty big change from the original entryway right? The split level entryway stairs now leading to the front door are fresh and modern!

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

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! Doesn’t it look amazing? Click through this post, how to increase the width of a front entrance to see how we did it!

open split level stairway with black metal balusters, blue walls, vaulted ceiling

Split level entryway remodel ideas

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. 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 accomodate 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

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 we removed the half wall and the kitchen wall.

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

If you want to learn more about how we removed the kitchen wall and opened up the ceiling check out these posts below by clicking the title of the blog posts below:

Cute Split Level Remodel before tour, opening up a kitchen wall, installing a load bearing beam, kitchen remodelinstalling shiplap ceiling, split level exterior remodel

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 stairway 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. If you you would like to see all the remodeling projects in this home, take a look at our dedicated split level house remodel page.

About The Author

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  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 🙂