Just the spot for a Norwegian family’s easy-living home.
Ilove it when things appear timeless and you can’t tell what work has been done and what is original. A house should feel like it has always been like that; and that also goes for the furnishings. It should feel as if it was collected over time.” This is the essence of Pamela Shamshiri’s philosophy. Pamela is the principal partner at Studio Shamshiri who remodelled the garden and reworked the interior of this classic Rustic Canyon residence, making a home with equal levels of comfort, indoors and out .
The original post-and-beam-style home was built by Matthew Leizer in 1962. Once completed, the legendary Julius Shulman photographed it, which is like being anointed ‘good to excellent’ in architectural circles.
Since that time the house had been occupied by several owners including screenwriter Larry Levin ( Dr Doolittle and I Love You, Man). Despite its dated ttings, several original features remained: the exposed Douglas r beams and ceiling; terracotta oor tiles; and oor-to-ceiling glass facing the backyard and pool area. These hallmarks of Southern Californian midcentury Modernism, together with the jungle-like surroundings of Rustic Canyon gave Studio Shamshiri strong material with which to work.
A Grammy Award-winning music producer and an awardwinning journalist/writer had made the move to Los Angeles from their native Norway – two lifestyles at polar opposites. The ‘Scandi’ family were keen to meld with the Southern Californian aesthetic. Their home had to make the most of the year-round sun, the nearby Paci c Ocean, and a sprawling modern metropolis that cradles dense pockets of diverse nature, one of which they bought into and made their home.
The original house had undergone several renovations, but the indoors remained separate and unintegrated with the outdoors. And the garden failed to capitalise on the surrounding environment, which consisted of massive trees and parkland in the reserve just outside the back gate. “The original house was made to engage with the pool and the garden a lot more than it did, so the challenge was to make it ow again, as if it had always been like this,” says Pamela.
Responding to her clients’ enthusiasm to dissolve the boundaries between ‘in’ and ‘out’, Pamela imagined a sprawling multipurpose outdoor living area over several levels, but also an interior space that was stylish but tuned into this relaxed lifestyle and sense of freedom – all with a strong sense of identity. The nearby forest setting boasts a kind of mini rainforest formed by the area’s unique microclimate. Pamela’s idea was to exploit this natural asset as much as possible, visually integrating it into the overall concept.
“We entirely remodelled the garden and pool” – Pamela refers to it as ‘a hardscape’. “We created a kind of outdoor living area but this meant we had to make sure the interior of the house was not fussy, that it could withstand things like kids in wet bathers.” Free- owing and user-friendly was the call.
When Pamela says ‘entirely remodelled’, she means it. The old was scrapped, taken out and levelled. They started over. The new was carefully designed (with the help of landscape designer Matthew Brown) in perfect proportion and colour, handcrafted, moved in and tted. The result is an outdoor living area in the true sense of the expression.
An outdoor lounge, dining and cooking area, a re pit, and quiet, sheltered corners for relaxed contemplation or grouped gatherings are tted on different levels, optimising the space and putting the pure class act of the architecture as one backdrop, and using the parkland as the other. The sense is that this is a house that sits among a forest of trees; the delineation between the garden and the park outside is now blurred, with the dark colours on the retaining walls bringing out the textures of the surrounding natural foliage.
» A Grammy award-winning music producer and a best-selling writer made the move with their young children from their native Norway to Rustic Canyon, LA. » Their choice of home was motivated by one thing, the desire to fully embrace the Californian lifestyle. » A midcentury Modern post-and-beam house built in 1962 was the stylistic foundation, and they asked Pamela Shamshiri to make it their own by designing an easyliving home that made the most of the outdoor area and extraordinary garden setting.
And while the work involved for the exterior rebuild may have been proportionately greater, the subtlety of the interior work had to carefully complement it.
Inside, the hard-wearing terracotta and concrete oors were already in place and conformed to the casual schema. Pamela reinforced this by choosing leather on the couches, and solid wood and sturdy marble low tables in the living room – materials renowned for their timeless durability.
“This couple is always entertaining so a large table was essential,” she says. Like the exposed timbers in the home’s structure, the table wears its history and as such ts the architecture, as do the vintage chairs from Copenhagen, a stylishly subtle link to the family’s Scandinavian heritage, which points to another idea close to Pamela’s heart.
“I love the idea of ‘interior as portraiture’. We are telling a story of a particular piece of architecture, what city it’s located in, what point of history it was built in and who is living here now. There are all these layers that should, in the end, reveal a kind of story. I think a lot of interior design and architecture tends to lose these values and, therefore, the chance to support these kinds of emotional exchanges,” she says.
“My clients wanted a house that facilitated the indoor/outdoor lifestyle that this city is known for. Doing that without subscribing to a trend or something that’s new is hard to do well. But I always hope that my home projects come out timeless and classic, and that they have their own points of view rather than representing a strict place and certain time.” #
For more go to studioshamshiri.com.