A 1950s Ranch goes back to its MCM roots through this retro redesign.
A classic rail fence bisects a small lawn and flowerbed in front of this Studio City ranchette. The homeowner suspects it may be a Cliff May model due to the fireplace and beam details, as well as the way the garage and house join at more than a 90-degree angle.

David Izenman’s 1950s ranch in Sherman Oaks, Calif., is the eighth house he’s bought and renovated in the past 12 years. The longest he’s stayed was four years, and the shortest, nine months. A Spanish duplex, a 1912 Craftsman, a 2,500-square-foot midcentury modern and a 1940 Bermuda Colonial are among the eclectic styles that previously caught the eye of this hairdresser. His realtor brother thought the 1,250-square-foot ranch was a step down from the last house, but Izenman could see past the vanilla interior. “When I bought it, every inch was painted over, carpeted over and tiled over. There was way too much Tuesday Morning going on here,” he says. “I more or less brought it back to close to the way it looked when it was built in 1950. “My last house was a bland, traditional ranch house, but I did my bedroom in fun Roy Rogers cowboy stuff. That’s the one room I loved the most and the room that people would comment on.”

That over-the-top western theme set the tone for house numero ocho.

Izenman’s photographer father worked for various studios such as Desilu and, when he accompanied his dad to work, seeing Hollywood history up close wowed him. “As a kid, being on the sets of ‘Petticoat Junction’ and ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’ I remember the magic of it all.” From his mother came the decorating gene, perhaps, though he says her aesthetic was very Akron [a ’60s import merchandiser]. “I have one glass clown left,” he says of his midcentury design inheritance. “I won’t put it out but I can’t get rid of it either.” The family vacationed in Las Vegas in the 1950s and ’60s, staying at the El Rancho Vegas or the Frontier, two western-themed family hotels. “To this day, I still have a memory of what the lobbies looked like; that was part of my inspiration for this house—Vegas-y cowboy,” he says.

“I like the remodeling process, though it’s hard, it’s exhausting. It’s like having a baby: once you’re finished with it, you forget about the pain and enjoy the outcome so much. At this house I didn’t think about what other people liked. I wanted to do something that I liked, all the way across the board.

“For the most part, I’ve needed to finish projects before moving in,” he further explains. “I’ve had as much as four weeks; on this house I had nine days.” During that week-plus, ceilings and cabinets were sandblasted and skylights and lighting systems installed. Ceiling beams were defrocked of their drywall, and the existing bamboo floors in the living and dining room, the tile in the kitchen and bath, and carpeting elsewhere were replaced with $16,000 of prefinished distressed chestnut floors. Izenman knew there was original brick underneath the bookshelves and Masonite panels around the fireplace, so he ripped the later-built elements out. When he then discovered that an additional three rows of brick had been added to the fireplace surround to make it look more modern, that was removed as well.

French doors leading to the patio replaced windows in the living and dining room, and they were framed with beefy, notched moldings similar to the originals. “I do the hardest job—writing the checks,” he wisecracks. “I have a contractor and subs that I’ve used over the years; they really drop everything when it’s time for me to use them. I’ve given them so much business over the years and we like each other, so I always get great work and people who show up.”

Corralling a Ranch-Style Kitchen

Next up in Part 2, find out about David’s full midcentury kitchen remodel to remove the gnarly ‘70s tile and turn it back to its 1950s Ranch-style roots.