ix years ago, OB-GYN Shamsah Amersi was faced with a decision–launch her own medical practice or purchase a home for herself and her son. “I knew I couldn’t buy a house and start my own business because of the big commitments of both of those endeavors,” Shamsah says. “So, I put the house aside.” A few years later, with her practice established, she began to think once more about a home of her own.
The sleek, contemporary residence on the Westside of Los Angeles that Shamsah found reads more bachelor pad than a dwelling for a mother, teenage son and their dog. “We are the exact opposite profile of who’d you expect to live there by looking at the outside of the house,” she laughs. But the family was excited to turn the interiors of this modern shell into a home that reflected their personalities–sophisticated, fun, and playful. “And it had to be cozy,” she says.
While Shamsah knew what she wanted, accomplishing that goal was a different story. “After I moved in, I started getting a little overwhelmed,” she says. “I didn’t know how to fill the spaces so it would feel like a home.” On the advice of a mutual friend, Shamsah turned to designers Kristi Bender and Wendy Schwartz to create both a sanctuary for her and a virtual playland for her son. “She wanted a place that her son could feel proud to have his friends come over–almost like a camp for the kids,” says Bender, “while being something that made her happy.”
For the well-traveled family, the home needed to suggest the refined opulence that the pair was used to from their trips abroad. “It had to be luxurious but also still be low key,” says Schwartz. “Not an in-your-face kind of fancy but to just reflect those amenities that you experience when you’re traveling.” Case in point, the living room: The cocoon of femininity showcases a curvy sofa and chair, both covered in a soft boucle, and a water-like gray and white wallcovering that provides the backdrop to a grand piano where Shamsah’s son, Jaden, practices. “I’ll sit on the sofa with my dog and listen to my son play while I relax,” she says. “It’s a room that I live in because it’s not a formal living room.”
Another defining aspect of the living room is the smoked glass and bronze Lindsey Adelman chandelier, the tones of which complement the gray stone of the fireplace. In fact, lighting frequently takes a starring role–even in the double-story glass entry where a cluster of rope-wrapped hanging light fixtures can be seen from the street. “She wanted there to be a ‘wow’ factor in there,” says Schwartz. “This did that without being too flashy.”
“The lighting throughout is a balance of elements,” observes Bender. The openness of the layout allows the fixtures to play off each other while still creating special moments in each space. Above the dining room table a paper-plate cloud pendant (yes, you read that correctly–it’s truly made of paper plates!) is both quirky and unexpected, while adding a layer of softness in relationship to the bronze ginkgo-form chandelier in the adjacent stairwell and the sea anemone-inspired fixture just around the corner [TK where?].Â “They’ve created such a beautiful flow that I love going from space to space because they don’t feel like they contrast,” observes Shamsah. “They all just kind of mesh together into a beautiful oasis.”
Other spaces emphasize that retreat-like feeling. Shamsah’s bedroom is a symphony in cream and white, complete with a wingback upholstered headboard, plush carpet and luscious alpaca chairs positioned in front of the fireplace. Across the hall, a cozy den is also outfitted in white hues: An oversize chaise is perfect for curling up with a book and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
After the doctor had poured so much energy into her business, the designers were gratified to give her an abode of her own. “As we chipped away at each space, and she started to have a home that she could feel proud of, she just became happier and happier,” says Schwartz. For her part, Shamsah says, “This home is a source of pride for me and my son because he saw me go through those challenges of owning my own business. It reminds me that hard work and perseverance really pay off–in creating a vision for yourself and your family, and working toward it.”