Updating a split level

Simplicity and sustainability are ideas we like a lot. It’s just a different kind of old-school cool (now that the ’70s were 40 years ago).Buying a house we can afford that works for the life we really live (as opposed to one we might dream about) seems like a different kind of cool. Maybe our community isn’t full of great stuff and interesting people. We’ve got sidewalks and streetlights and just as many big trees as any established city neighborhood. While corner lots always tend to have more space, those aren’t the only ones with some breathing room.Then it all started happening: A story about their home appeared in the December 2010 issue of the magazine.Soon after, Liess was selected to participate in the D. Design House, where she debuted her own line of fabrics.Dickson made a point to retain the character, charm and efficiency of a split-level floor plan.“The original kitchen didn’t feel very usable to us. In addition to opening up the entire first floor, Richard suggested adding recessed lighting and a neutral gray color palette.Alice remembers the first time she saw her new home in Princeton, NJ. Yet, the classic 1960s-style split-level was gloomy and dated. “We loved the wooded property, the neighborhood, the walking distance to school,” she says.

Plastic laminate made to resemble Delft tile had been grafted onto the cabinetry in a misguided attempt to bring color and pattern into the room.

The layout was awkward as well: Two doors opened into the space and a third led outdoors, turning the room into a thoroughfare, so that everyone passing through would bump into the cook.

The wife, who loves to cook, had a very clear wish list.

We’re thinking the rage for mid-century modern has just about run its course, and something else will have to take its place. While we loved the idea of a small, vintage house in a great neighborhood full of old trees and great restaurants and independent bookstores and one-of-a-kind shops, we knew that just wouldn’t work for the lives we’re really living.

If it’s hard for you to imagine the big 70s split-level having the same kind of appeal, we get that. We’ve got two adults and a revolving door of three getting-bigger kids (with other parents who live about 60 miles apart from each other).