Two Northwest residents recently enlarged their 40-year-old house in American University Park -- because they like the neighborhood and didn't want to leave -- by opening up and expanding the home's rear section, leaving the front untouched. The change has given them much more space for entertaining and an enlarged bedroom area on the second floor.

Dr. Marvin Blecher said that he and his wife, Dr. Jocelyn Hicks, looked at houses for six months before deciding to renovate their Van Ness Street NW home.

"At that point we consulted a friend, architect Terry Horowitz, who showed us how we could substantially enlarge our basic 33-by-24-foot house in the back and come out with a dining room that is 20-by-18, and also have a larger living room, a new kitchen and also more space in the bedroom area on the second floor," he said.

Blecher, a professor of biochemistry at Georgetown University, and his wife, who is chairman of the department of clinical laboratories at Childrens Hospital, employed Burton Contractors to do the work. They added space on two floors in back of the house and did not change the front.

Three skylights were incorporated into the high, slanted ceiling that overlooks a upper balcony and the enlarged dining room, which now seats 16 persons.

Blecher said that he and his wife remained in the house while the work was being done by confining their living area to a bedroom-study.

Blecher and Hicks now have a larger master bedroom suite with walk-in closets and a tiled bathroom. He said that the house is typical of others in American University Park that sell in the $140,000 to $150,000 range these days.