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By MARQUES G. HARPER mharper@leader.net

Saturday, October 09, 2004     Page: 4D

    The task of turning a small, cold, boxy space into a cozy, warm home might not be as simple and easy as most homeowners and renters might think.
    But Carla Oberlander, who lived in tight spaces during a run in New York, has managed to work wonders inside her parents' new home, a decades-old mobile home in Cooney Park, a mobile park in the Ashley section of Hanover Township.
    ``It was really ugly,'' says Oberlander, a 52-year-old artist, former actress and mother of two sons, sitting in the now white-bright dining area of her parents' kitchen as a Norah Jones track played in the nearby guest bedroom. ``It was so closed in. If I didn't lighten it up, my mother would be depressed.''
    To add a rush of warmth to the home, Oberlander, dressed all in black with red lipstick and fuchsia nail polish on a recent afternoon, used three coats of primer on dark paneled Formica walls before painting the trailer with Benjamin Moore's white coffee paint. Going lighter is the trick of making a small space appear bigger, she says.
    ``I paint everything,'' says Oberlander, who is staying with her parents and crashing with other relatives in the area and in New York. ``It's funny how many things can be painted. ... I can't stand staying anywhere ugly.''
    Oberlander, who has a degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, focused on murals and large canvases when she lived in New York. So coming up with a plan for the trailer, which has no more than 1,500 square feet of living space, wasn't difficult, she says. It just took some creativity.
    To lighten things up, Oberlander went on to paint the walls and kitchen cabinets. She also painted decorative floral accents on the dining-area hutch. New carpeting and flooring was installed throughout the space. Two of Oberlander's biggest projects, though, happened in the master bedroom and the guest bedroom.
    In those rooms, she painted colorful scenic murals on a wall and doors to help create a fake sense that the rooms were bigger than they are in reality.
    ``I had to give her a little French door to extend things,'' she says of the mural she painted in her parents' master bedroom. ``In a trailer, it's pretending.''
    But there are a few realities. During the task of revamping the mobile home, Oberlander says she had a new thought. She discovered she fell for the area and all of its scenic beauty and now plans to stay.
    So in the weeks ahead, Oberlander plans to open a business and art studio in Wilkes-Barre. And at some point, she says, she's going to find her own place. Until then she'll bop among relatives and, of course, continue to paint and explore her art.
    ``What I really do is get crazy and put up paint,'' she says laughing in the dining area of the mobile home. ``That's what I'm going to do with this town.''
    Marques G. Harper, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 831-7324.
    At Home With ... Carla Oberlander and parents
    Cooney Park, Ashley section of Hanover Township
    Residents: Carla Oberlander and her parents
    Location: Cooney Park, Ashley section of Hanover Township
    In Oberlander's words: ``I came here and lightened it up.''
    Years in house: None. They just moved in a few weeks ago.
    Specs: This decades-old mobile home has a master bedroom and bathroom and a guest room and side porch.
    To jazz up her parents' guest bedroom, artist Carla Oberlander painted a mural on one of the walls. She says the mural makes the room longer inside an otherwise decades-old mobile home in the Ashley section of Hanover Township.
    Carla Oberlander, 52, recently relocated to Northeastern Pennsylvania to be close to her family and to start a new business. She updated her parents' home, a trailer in Cooney Park in Ashley, with lighter colors and new flooring.
    Inside the master bedroom, artist Carla Oberlander, who refinishes furniture and paints murals, painted an outdoor scene on French doors. She says she wanted to fashion a garden image that went beyond the realities of life in a mobile-home park.
    For now, Carla Oberlander, a recent transplant from Connecticut, is staying with her parents in their mobile home in Ashley as well as taking up residence with other family members in the area. Next year she and a niece plan to revamp the outside of the home with a garden scene.
    A dining-area hutch was updated with white paint and hand-painted flowers. Carla Oberlander, who moved to the area a few weeks ago, says she wanted to get rid of the dark and depressing browns that covered much of the interior of the mobile home.
    A look at the master bedroom. Carla Oberlander, who paints murals and refinishes furniture, painted a mural on French doors and added furnishings that would fit the mobile home in which her parents live. She and her parents are new to the area, having lived here only a few weeks. She is staying with them and other area relatives until she finds a place of her own.
    To give the porch of her parents' trailer some style, artist Carla Oberlander added wicker furniture and shower curtains to erase the view of an old tank. Sometimes she paints and works on her pieces outside as she did the other day.
    In the past few weeks, a cozy dining area was given new flooring, lighting and a fresh coat of paint.
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