Opening up stairs in split entry

tradewind_64April 30, 2008

I own a 1971 split entry (bi-level, split foyer). Everyone's favorite, right? *Tongue planted FIRMLY in cheek* It's a bit bigger than many foyers of this house style in that it has a closet; you can actually stand in the foyer, put your coat away and take off your shoes without getting hit by the opening front door. But just barely.

Anyway, I am thinking of opening up the stairs so that you can see through to the basement level. It's a walkout, so this would add much-needed light and openness to the space, from both the entry AND the basement. The only thing I am concerned about is noise.

Does anyone have open stairs between their upper and lower levels? If so, how is the noise level...if someone is watching TV below, can people in the upstairs room above it talk comfortably?

I wish I had some pictures of the space right now, but it's all swaddled in plastic from the new sheetrocking and ceiling scraping I have had done. But I bet many of you know what a split entry foyer is like, so it hopefully it will be easy to imagine an open stairway (half flight of stairs up and half flight down.

Any anecdotes/advice/thoughts very appreciated by me :-)


Here is a link that might be useful: Not my house but same architectural style

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We don't have a split entry, but have a 1 1/2 story which has a similar entry. We have lived here 25 years and raised 3 kids, and I don't ever remember the open staircases being a problem. But, of course, our levels are full staircases, yours are probably shorter.

We just did a kitchen remodel and took down most of the wall between the kitchen and living room and moved the dining table into the living room area, which was really sort dead space. Now with our new big island with seating, we haven't used the table at all. Here's a picture that might help. I love openeness and think you would be pleased with the results. No one hardly ever uses my front entry. So the small size of it is o.k.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 1:26PM
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How interesting your post is, nancyjn, because we are actually ALSO considering taking down the wall between the living room and kitchen and having the space be one open area. I hate to say "great room" because that makes me think of some manor house that can seat 100 people for dinner.

I very much enjoy fewer rooms and bigger spaces, and have been working towards that slowly, so I appreciate your thoughts!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 1:44PM
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Our house that we just moved from was a 1970's split foyer. It was open from the front door to family room downstairs (other houses in our neighborhood that were the same floorplan were closed in along that area, so I can understand your situation pretty clearly).

Anyway, we loved it! Yes, you could hear the tv, but no more of a bother than if the tv were on the same floor, but in a different room. The houses that had that area closed in always felt, well, closed in and smaller than our house.

One of our neighbors removed a wall from between the kitchen and dining room. It really turned out nice.

Make sure there are no pipes, etc hiding before you get too carried away.

I think you will like an open stairway! :)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 2:02PM
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wearybuilder, thank you for your post and rec. I feel as you do about the houses of this style feeling closed in. I live in a suburb that was mostly created in the late 60's and early 70's so there are many, many split entries. Even though I realize they are not very desired, the fact is that they exist in an EXCELLENT school district and often on yummy lots.

When building, in the case of my style, they crammed 5 bedrooms and 2.5 baths to make the house SOUND big, but the bedrooms are really small and the bathrooms were so tiny they were barely functional.

We have already combined a miniscule full bath, a teensy master powder room and small walk-in closet to make one large main bathroom. With a window! What is it about these houses that the bathrooms don't get windows??

The little "nursery" next to the master is now our closet. Effectively, we turned the three bedroom 1.5 bath upstairs into a 2 bedroom 1 bath, but it is so_much_better. Downstairs, the two bedrooms on the "garden" level, we are making sure they get more closet space and more windows.

In the end, it will be a "smaller" house but I think it will feel and flow much better. Now if we can just find a way to make the outside more attractive :-)

Can't wait to open up the stairs!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 2:28PM
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I'm not exactly sure what you mean about opening up the stairs. Probably because open stairs in a split foyer is what I grew up with, so hard to imagine it not being that way. Our top floor living area had banister all the way around the foyer area, so you could look down to the lower level from any position (and throw laundry down, shout wake-up calls to your brothers, drop things off accidentally, etc.)

Also, people coming into the house can be greeted from a variety of locations.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 9:12PM
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Sammi, I probably should have made sure to take pics before I posted. I looked online but didn't find a pic that was similar. Darn.

Your house sounds fun! My lower stairs are actually completely enclosed, there is even a door at the bottom of the lower stairs to get into the basement level. It definately feels cramped and closed off. I think an open stair would make it feel more like a living area than a descent into the basement.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 9:46PM
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