How to Decorate a 1980’S Split Level Home

Are you wondering how to decorate a 1980’s split level home? These unique homes have their own distinct charm and architecture, but they also present some challenges when it comes to decorating. From the multi-level layout to the retro design elements, there are various factors to consider when updating the interior of a 1980’s split level home.

The 1980’s was a time of bold colors, geometric patterns, and unique architectural features, which can make decorating a split level home from this era both exciting and daunting. This article will provide you with valuable tips and ideas for incorporating nostalgic design elements while modernizing the space for a fresh and updated look.

Whether you’re looking to embrace the retro vibes or bring a more contemporary feel to your 1980’s split level home, this article will offer guidance on color palettes that complement the era, updating flooring and wall treatments, selecting furniture and arranging it for maximum impact, maximizing natural light, enhancing outdoor living areas, and more.

So let’s dive in and explore how to bring out the best in your 1980’s split level home through thoughtful and creative decor choices.

Embracing Retro

The 1980’s was an era known for its bold and vibrant design elements, and when it comes to decorating a split level home from that time period, embracing retro is key. Here are some tips for incorporating 1980’s design elements and nostalgia into the decor:

  • Utilize bold colors: Embrace the vibrant color palettes of the 1980’s by incorporating bold hues such as electric blue, hot pink, and neon green. Consider using these colors for accent walls, furniture, or decor accessories to add a pop of retro flair to your space.
  • Incorporate geometric patterns: Geometric shapes and patterns were prevalent in 1980’s design, so consider adding throw pillows, rugs, or wallpaper with geometric prints to evoke a sense of nostalgia while adding visual interest to your home.
  • Integrate retro furniture pieces: Look for vintage 1980’s furniture items such as rounded sofas, mirrored coffee tables, and chrome accents to bring a touch of authentic retro style into your split level home.

In addition to incorporating specific design elements from the era, adding nostalgic touches can also help infuse the space with a sense of 1980’s charm. Consider displaying vintage vinyl records or cassette tapes as decorative art pieces, hanging up retro posters or artwork from the era, and including memorabilia from the time period as conversation-starting decor accents throughout your home.

By embracing retro design elements and injecting nostalgic touches into your decor, you can create a unique and stylish living space that pays homage to the iconic aesthetics of the 1980’s.

Modernizing the Space

When it comes to decorating a 1980’s split level home, one of the key considerations is finding the balance between modernizing the space while still honoring the original architecture. These homes often have unique layouts and features that give them character, but they can also feel outdated. Here are some tips for maintaining the integrity of a 1980’s split level home while updating it to fit your modern lifestyle.

Preserving Architectural Elements

One of the first steps in modernizing a 1980’s split level home is to take stock of its architectural elements and determine which ones are worth preserving. Features such as exposed brick walls, wooden ceiling beams, or unique staircase designs can add charm and interest to the space. Consider ways to enhance these elements rather than remove or cover them up.

Upgrading Fixtures and Finishes

Another way to update the interior of a 1980’s split level home is by upgrading fixtures and finishes. This could involve replacing dated light fixtures with more contemporary options, swapping out old cabinet hardware for something sleek and modern, or updating bathroom and kitchen faucets for a more polished look.

Open Concept Living

Many 1980’s split level homes have compartmentalized living spaces that may not suit today’s open concept lifestyle. Knocking down walls or creating larger openings between rooms can help make the space feel more cohesive and expansive. It’s important to work with a professional to ensure any structural changes are done safely and in line with building codes.

By carefully choosing which original elements to preserve, upgrading fixtures and finishes, and reconfiguring living spaces for a more open concept layout, it is possible to modernize a 1980’s split level home without losing its unique character. The key is to find ways to honor the history of the home while making it work for your current needs and tastes.

Color Palette

When it comes to decorating a 1980’s split level home, one of the key considerations is the color palette. The 1980’s were known for bold and vibrant colors, and while you may not want to go full-on neon, embracing some of these retro hues can really bring the era to life in your home.

One way to do this is by incorporating pops of color through accent pieces such as throw pillows, rugs, or artwork. For example, incorporating shades of turquoise, pink, or peach into a neutral backdrop can create a fun and nostalgic vibe without feeling overwhelming.

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Another approach to exploring color schemes that complement the era while still feeling current is to focus on earthy and natural tones. Think olive green, terracotta, mustard yellow, and other warm hues that were popular during the 1980’s. These colors can be used on larger surfaces like walls or furniture upholstery to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere that pays homage to the decade while still feeling modern and sophisticated.

Adding Metallic Accents

In addition to exploring specific color schemes from the era, consider adding metallic accents throughout your 1980’s split level home. Mirrored or metallic finishes were a staple in 1980’s interior design and can add a touch of glamour and nostalgia to your space. This could mean incorporating brass or chrome fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom, or adding decorative accessories with metallic finishes such as vases, candle holders, or picture frames.

Embracing Pastel Shades

For those who want to infuse a more delicate touch into their decor scheme but still maintain that 80s vibe, pastel shades are an excellent option. Soft pinks, blues and greens all played notable roles in interior design during this time period. Balancing these light tints with white walls or furniture can result in an airy inviting space without appearing too saccharine.

Flooring and Wall Treatments

When it comes to decorating a 1980’s split level home, updating the flooring and wall treatments can have a significant impact on modernizing the space while still paying homage to the era. One approach is to embrace the retro look by incorporating bold geometric patterns and vibrant colors that were popular in the 1980s. For example, consider installing patterned ceramic tiles in the kitchen or bathroom to add an element of fun and nostalgia to the space.

Another option is to update the flooring with more contemporary materials such as hardwood or laminate, which can help give the home a fresh and modern feel while still respecting its original architecture. When it comes to wall treatments, consider adding texture with wallpaper or paneling, taking inspiration from 1980’s design trends while maintaining a contemporary aesthetic.

In addition to updating the flooring and walls, incorporating retro-inspired decor elements such as mirrored accents or metallic finishes can help tie the space together and create a cohesive look. By carefully selecting flooring and wall treatments that complement both the era and your personal style, you can transform your 1980’s split level home into a unique and stylish living space that balances nostalgia with modern design sensibilities.

Furniture and Layout

When it comes to decorating a 1980’s split level home, choosing the right furniture and arranging it in a way that maximizes the space can make a huge difference in the overall aesthetic. Here are some tips for selecting furniture and creating impactful layouts:

  • Choose Furniture That Reflects the Era: Look for furniture pieces that have a retro feel to them, such as bold geometric patterns, curved lines, and bright colors. Incorporating vintage pieces or finding modern reproductions of 1980’s style furniture can help tie the decor together.
  • Consider Scale and Proportion: Given the unique layout of a split level home, it’s important to consider the scale and proportion of your furniture. Avoid oversized pieces that could overwhelm smaller spaces, and opt for versatile multi-functional pieces like sectional sofas or nesting tables.
  • Create Defined Zones: With multiple levels in a split level home, it’s essential to create distinct zones for different activities. Use area rugs and strategically placed furniture to define each space – whether it’s a cozy reading nook on one level or a casual dining area on another.
  • Embrace Open Concept Living: Many 1980’s split level homes feature an open concept layout, where the living room, dining area, and kitchen flow into one another. When choosing and arranging furniture in these shared spaces, consider how each piece complements the others to create a cohesive look.

By following these guidelines on how to decorate a 1980’s split level home through your choice of furniture and its arrangement, you can create an inviting and stylish interior that honors the unique architecture of your home while still feeling fresh and modern.


One of the unique characteristics of 1980’s split level homes is their layout, which often includes multiple levels connected by short staircases. This can create challenges when it comes to lighting, as some areas may not have access to natural light. Maximizing natural light in these homes is essential for creating a bright and welcoming atmosphere.

One way to achieve this is by opting for sheer window treatments that allow sunlight to filter through while still providing privacy. Additionally, strategically placing mirrors opposite windows can help bounce light around the room, making it feel more spacious and airy.

When it comes to selecting fixtures that fit the aesthetic of a 1980’s split level home, consider incorporating retro-inspired lighting designs from the era. Look for fixtures with clean lines, geometric shapes, and metallic finishes that were popular during the 1980s.

Chandeliers and pendant lights can add a touch of elegance to dining and living areas, while track lighting can be used to highlight specific architectural features or artwork. It’s also important to ensure that the scale of the fixtures complements the size of the rooms in order to create a cohesive look throughout the home.

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In addition to natural light and fixtures, it’s important to consider task lighting for specific areas such as kitchen worktops, reading nooks, and desk spaces. Under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen can provide ample illumination for meal preparation, while floor lamps and table lamps can add warmth and coziness to living spaces. By carefully considering both natural light and artificial lighting choices, you can truly enhance the overall ambiance of a 1980’s split level home.

Lighting TipsSelection Considerations
Maximize natural light with sheer window treatmentsLook for fixtures with retro-inspired designs from the era
Strategically place mirrors opposite windows to bounce lightEnsure fixture scale complements room sizes
Incorporate task lighting for specific areas like kitchen worktopsUse floor lamps and table lamps for added warmth in living spaces

Outdoor Spaces

When it comes to decorating a 1980’s split level home, it’s important not to overlook the outdoor areas. These homes often have unique features such as multiple levels of outdoor space, which can be utilized for entertaining and relaxation. Here are some suggestions for enhancing the exterior and outdoor living areas of a split level home.

One way to bring life to the outdoor spaces of a 1980’s split level home is by adding landscaping that complements the architectural style of the house. Consider incorporating hardscaping elements such as stone pathways, retaining walls, or terraced gardens to enhance the natural beauty of the property. Additionally, adding colorful plants, flowers, and shrubs can add visual interest and curb appeal.

Another way to enhance the exterior of a split level home is by updating outdoor living areas such as decks, patios, and balconies. Consider adding comfortable seating areas, dining spaces, and accessories such as umbrellas or outdoor rugs to create inviting areas for relaxation and enjoying the outdoors. Additionally, incorporating decorative lighting such as string lights or lanterns can add ambiance to these spaces during evening gatherings.

Furthermore, don’t forget about the entryway of your split-level home. Adding a welcoming front porch with seating or a small garden area near the entrance can instantly improve the curb appeal and make a positive first impression on visitors. By paying attention to these details, you can create an inviting and aesthetically pleasing exterior that complements your 1980’s split level home.

Decorating IdeasDetails
LandscapingIncorporate hardscaping elements like stone pathways and terraced gardens
Outdoor Living AreasAdd comfortable seating areas and decorative lighting for ambiance
Entryway Enhancement


In conclusion, decorating a 1980’s split level home can be both a challenge and an exciting opportunity to embrace the unique characteristics of this era. By incorporating retro design elements and nostalgia into the decor, homeowners can create a space that pays homage to the past while still feeling fresh and modern. It’s all about finding the balance between honoring the original architecture and updating the interior to suit contemporary tastes.

When modernizing the space, it’s important to carefully consider color palettes, flooring, wall treatments, furniture selection, layout, lighting, and outdoor enhancements. By using these elements strategically, homeowners can bring their 1980’s split level home to life through thoughtful and creative decor choices. Embracing the retro aspects of the era doesn’t mean living in a time capsule; rather, it means celebrating the history of the home while making it relevant for today.

Ultimately, decorating a 1980’s split level home is about finding harmony between past and present. It’s about honoring the architectural style of the era while infusing modern touches that make it feel like home.

With careful consideration and creativity, homeowners can transform their split level homes into spaces that beautifully blend nostalgia with contemporary design sensibilities. Whether it’s enhancing natural light or revamping outdoor living areas, there are countless ways to breathe new life into a 1980’s split level home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Make My Split-Level House Look Better?

Making a split-level house look better can involve updating the exterior with new landscaping, fresh paint, and modernizing the interior by removing walls to create an open-concept layout. Adding contemporary fixtures and decor can also enhance its overall appearance.

How Do You Update the Exterior of a Split-Level House?

Updating the exterior of a split-level house can be achieved by replacing old siding with more modern materials like stucco or stone veneer. Adding new windows and doors, as well as updating the roof, can also give the house a fresh and updated look. Landscaping with modern plants and outdoor lighting can further enhance the curb appeal.

How to Modernize a 70s Split-Level Home?

Modernizing a 70s split-level home starts with updating finishes such as flooring, countertops, and cabinetry to more contemporary options. Opening up the space by removing walls or raising ceilings can create a more spacious feel. Upgrading lighting fixtures and incorporating sleek, modern furnishings can also help achieve a more current aesthetic.

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