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When the Party's Over, It's All Serenity and Light
By MICHAEL CANNELL | Printed with permission from the New York Times

WHEN the dance beat dies and the stragglers disperse, Tom Whitman heads to the hills above the Sunset Strip for a little peace.

An event planner catering to Hollywood's gay community, he stages 200 or so parties a year, including Wonderland, the largest of the city's Gay Pride events, which will be held Saturday on Paramount Studios' back lot.

A party boy needs a place to unwind. So three or four nights a week, well after 1 a.m., he drives his silver Porsche convertible up the twisting back roads of Silver Lake, the once rough-at-the-edges neighborhood now populated by hipsters and musicians, to a 1921 Spanish bungalow he renovated last year as his refuge from all things rowdy and raucous.

''My job means being around thousands of people talking and dancing and having fun,'' Mr. Whitman said. ''When I come home I want to simplify my life.''

The house is designed for calm, starting with the black slate steppingstones that meander across his abbreviated thatch of lawn and the pocket-size rock garden with beach pebbles and a trickling water basin that manages to feel authentically Asian.

The bungalow inside is simple, verging on austere, with little deviation from dark-stained wood, white walls and stainless steel. Mr. Whitman, 35, who bought the house two years ago for $600,000, outlawed any carpets or color. ''I never wanted it to be a crazy, vibrant place,'' he said last month in a tour of the place, which he moved into in September. ''I don't think that's relaxing.''

He added: ''It may be a gay man's house, but it's masculine. It's not fussy.''

The only decorations are a series of Mr. Whitman's sepia-tone photographs of far-flung spots like the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul and a Roman fountain by Bernini. The pictures reflect Mr. Whitman's itinerant upbringing; his father was an Air Force colonel, and the family moved every two or three years around Europe and America. The bungalow is the first residence he has owned, and he said he sees it as his first real home. ''Home was always where my parents were,'' he said. ''This is my first opportunity to translate the idea of home into a physical place.''

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