This Is the Best Color to Paint a Split-Level House, According to a Real Estate Agent

published Apr 6, 2022
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Look, I’m no fortune teller. I thought the series “Bridgerton” would fail. I never saw Bennifer 2.0 coming. In 2020, I scheduled a mere 14 days for the pandemic to come and go. Don’t get me started on how boring I thought this year’s Oscars would be! Even though my predictions are usually off the mark, I’ve had a hunch for a while about an up and coming trend I firmly believe will be huge for Millennial and Gen-Z house hunters: split-level homes.

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with split-level homes. As more of these multi-layered beauties hit the market, I have a feeling younger buyers will be snatching up these mid-century style gems for their first homes. One of their most appealing factors is their history as an iconic structure of the ‘60s and ‘70s. But any 30-something who’s woken up with a massive hangover after consuming just one (one!) glass of wine the night before will tell you: aging ain’t always pretty.

One way to preserve the charm of split-level houses while adapting them to a modern market is through color. Whether adding a fresh coat of exterior paint or installing new siding, adjusting a split-level home’s exterior color adds a pop of sophistication to the retro look. I spoke with Chicago-based Realtor Amy Wu, who has plenty of experience negotiating this type of home, about the best color to update the split-level.

According to Wu, “neutral tones are still very trendy. Think grays, off whites, ivories, etc.” (This goes for the interior and the exterior!) Among the split-level homes that Wu typically sees, siding is incredibly common as an exterior fixture. 

“Siding can either be neutral, or if it’s dark, there should be some elements of a lighter/white color (usually on the trim and shutters) to balance the appearance,” Wu says. It’s critical to strike this balance when updating a split-level so that the exterior appears intentional. 

Some of these homes can have a real time capsule sense about them, and sellers need to be sure the first look doesn’t turn off buyers. “There are a fair amount of split-level homes in the Chicagoland suburbs,” Wu explains. “The ones that sell the fastest and easiest are certainly the ones that are move-in ready and updated.” 

The devil really is lurking in the details, and in the case of the split-level house, the tricky devils are the soffits and fascia. (I know what you’re thinking: the what and the what?) The soffit and fascia help frame where the siding meets the home’s roof. 

“Since we are discussing split-level homes, many of these were built years ago where it was common for the soffits and fascia to be wooden,” Wu says. “However, wood can rot and attract bugs. Therefore, it’s much better to hire a roofing or remodeling company to install quality material (such as vinyl) to preserve the soffits/fascia and enhance the appearance.” 

There’s really nothing cute about bugs (except for the hummingbird moth, my personal favorite insect!) But it’s very cute — and sophisticated, modern, brilliant, savvy even — to consider the soffits and fascia along with a split-level’s trim to achieve a crisp and cohesive update. With these tricks, you can take your split-level from “That ‘70s Show” to That House Everyone Wants to Own!