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INTERIORS : Ranch-Style Revamped : In a Sherman Oaks Home, Small Rooms Become Wide-Open Spaces

January 31, 1988|ROCHELLE REED | Rochelle Reed is a consulting editor to Los Angeles Times Magazine.

BEAVER CLEAVER MIGHT have lived here. A vintage 1950s ranch-style on a quiet street in Sherman Oaks, the original home sported a multitude of small rooms, narrow doorways and traditional brick fireplaces. A year and a half ago, Brentwood-based designer Nick Berman bought this two-bedroom-plus-den house and began revamping the claustrophobic layout and avocado-and-gold decor. "The idea was to use colors and shapes to give a sense of movement," Berman says."I wanted the house light, airy and whimsical, a place to take away tension--after all, it's my home. Where better place to feel loose and have fun?" The window shutters and the entry door are a hint--square cutouts provide a sense of openness. Multiple colors on the exterior lend a playful quality to the time-worn suburban facade.

Inside, Berman swept away walls and widened doorways floor to ceiling, making vistas from room to room, a relatively simple but immense improvement on the boxy floor plan typical of postwar houses. He further streamlined the interior by replacing the floorings with bleached oak throughout. Walls were painted an artful blend of pure white, warm white, even subtle pink and blue to enhance visual depth.

After this, Berman tended to details that would give the house a sense of both peace and whimsy. He plastered over brick fireplace facades, replacing hard-edged mantels with soft, Southwest-style shoulders. The process was easy: Carpenters built a plywood form over the existing brick and finished it with lath and plaster. New kitchen cabinets were fronted with ribbed glass; tile countertops and back splashes were replaced with granite. Everywhere Berman has stayed with simple lines and classic forms, transporting a stodgy '50s ranch house into a late '80s contemporary home.

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