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Remodeling Makes A Dream Comes True : By Virginia Gray

February 24, 1985

Not everyone would be happy to live in this sophisticated, starkly contemporary environment, with its structural concrete pillars and curved, soaring ceilings. But there are those who have special yearnings for angular, one-of-a-kind contemporary houses and the design discipline that goes along with the furnishing of them. Marianna and David Fisher, the owners of this house, are exactly that type--design-wise people who knew precisely what they wanted in a house and which architect could fulfill their special dream.

The architect was Marshall Lewis AIA, and the Fishers called on him when it was time to expand and remodel their single-story, semi-contemporary, ranch-style house. (Yes, what you see here is the result of a remodeling project, albeit one on a grand scale.) Like many families, the Fishers wanted (and needed) more room for their growing family. (At this writing, there is another Fisher on the way.) They wanted a new family room--now located where the master bedroom had been--and a second story that would contain three bedrooms.

"The result here is far more than merely a remodel or a simple add-on." Lewis says, understating the obvious. "This is virtually a new house, although we did salvage the curve of the original foundation and also some of the structure where the three downstairs bedrooms are. To look at the house now, there is little, if any, evidence that any of the old house was retained."

By salvaging the original foundation, Lewis knew that he would have to devise a support system for the new second story. He created a system of massive, concrete pillars that supports the upper level on the exterior and is also used structurally and aesthetically on the interior, integrating well into the overall interior-design scheme. Lewis worked hand in hand with general contractor Jim Stowell of Stowell Construction.

There were many factors to consider when Lewis conceived the plan for the remodel. "I like to integrate interior and exterior materials," Lewis says, "so that the house displays a sense of cohesiveness." Thus, the Bouquet Canyon stone that is used floor-to-ceiling on the fireplace wall is also used at the entrance, on the patio and as decking around the pool. The Fishers were comfortable and happy with the original house's unified kitchen-dining-living room arrangement, and Lewis kept that in mind when he restyled these areas.

The house is located in a canyon with many tall trees; thus, taking advantage of daylight became a major design concern for the Fishers. Because Lewis lives in the same area, he knew exactly where light rises and falls seasonally in the neighborhood. He planned light-infusing skylights that punctuate the roof line in various spots and specified clerestory windows in certain strategic places and greenhouse-style windows in others. Night lighting is supplied by spots, track lighting and contemporary Italian hanging lamps that, Lewis says, "look good from above and below, an important factor when looking down onto the first floor from upstairs."

The color scheme throughout (for paint, tiles, flooring, etc.) was planned by Lewis as part of his architectural package. But when it came time to furnish and accessorize the house, it was Marianna Fisher who tackled the task. Consulting with Lewis, she chose mostly Italian imports by Saporiti--sofa, chairs and concrete-based dining and cocktail tables--to furnish the dramatic living-dining area in which the ceiling soars to as high as 30 feet. It was a stroke of luck that Marianna found the concrete-based tables, the perfect complement to the structural pillars that are such a dominant element throughout the house. Accessories are at a minimum in keeping with the drama of the architecture, but there are a few contemporary paintings and touches of Oriental art, and there are always fresh flowers and green plants around the house.

This is a fine house in which to entertain because of the easy flow from one space to another. "We entertain dinner guests on the average of twice a week for business and for pleasure," says Marianna, who does most of the cooking and planning. The kitchen is a cook's dream, with generous counter space and the latest appliances--ovens, dishwasher and trash compactor by Thermador and a Sub-Zero refrigerator. The built-in, tile-covered service counter, which helps divide dining and kitchen areas, is a few steps from the oven and range and provides a place to set up hors d'oeuvres or a buffet quickly and easily. And there's a wet bar in the kitchen--near the serving counter--and another in the family room just beyond the tall, stone fireplace wall.

Upstairs, the children's bedroom areas boast desks and extensive built-in storage with room for the youngsters' growing collections. The spacious master bedroom sports a Formica-sheathed, built-in headboard; the romance of a fireplace; a sitting area; a built-in desk with plenty of storage; a huge walk-in closet, and a lovely large bathroom that overlooks the pool below.

All considered, this is a dream house. Perhaps not everyone's idea of a dream house--perhaps not yours. But for Marianna and David Fisher, a dream house it is.

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