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My Favorite Room: Melanie Chandra keeps her past close at hand

Hot Property | My Favorite Room | Melanie Chandra
Melanie Chandra stars on CBS’ “Code Black” opposite Rob Lowe, now in its second season. She’s photographed in her favorite room where she typically reads scripts, writes and meditates.
(Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

Mementos of actress Melanie Chandra’s many lives are scattered around her Beverly Hills bedroom.

There are photos from Stanford University, where she studied mechanical engineering and was student body president. From India — where her family is from and where she helped co-found a rural hospital — she has figurines of Hindu elephant-faced god Ganesha.

And there are favorite scripts from projects, such as the CBS medical drama “Code Black,” in which she plays Dr. Malaya Pineda opposite Marcia Gay Harden and Rob Lowe.

Chandra, an avid traveler who visited six continents with her husband last year and once worked as a business analyst at McKinsey & Co., has lived primarily in New York for eight years. But for the last five, she has also maintained a three-bedroom house in Los Angeles.


Why is the bedroom your favorite?

I love the aesthetic — white linen, sky-blue walls, tons of sunlight, and it opens up onto a grassy terrace. This is where I’m most creative, where I can read scripts or work on my nonprofit or my writing. I have my best ideas for characters first thing in the morning or right before I fall asleep. I do everything in that room: read, write, be on conference calls, email, meditate. Sometimes I’ll go out onto the terrace and do yoga there. I don’t like working in a home office.

How did you choose the furniture?

I like things that are very modern — I’m not really much of a girly girl when it comes to furniture. I like things larger, more masculine, clean, simple, with pops of Indian in it.


Favorite piece?

I have this corner chair that almost curves over my head like it has a roof. I love curling up inside of it, reading a book — like it’s my own personal cave. It just makes me really happy to sit inside of it.

Where’s the chair from?

It’s Restoration Hardware. I actually have a lot of their stuff.

What else populates the room?

I keep a couple of journals there. And white orchids — they’re my favorite flowers. I have one set on either side of the bed.

And there’s this very rare handmade mirror passed down to me by my grandparents. Even when I travel, I’ll take it with me. It’s made from metal, not glass. It’s only made in one place in the world — a small village near my parents’ hometown in Kerala, the southern part of India. It’s a reminder of my roots and my personal strength as well.

What was it like setting up a home here when you’re bicoastal?


It was a long process. I didn’t know when I first moved out here if I’d be committing myself to L.A. So it was more piecemeal — every trip out, I’d keep adding onto the house. It wasn’t one shot. But I don’t want to clutter anything — it’s at its perfect place right now.

And now you have a new place in New York.

It’s a lot of project management, especially when you have so many moving pieces — we’re working with an interior designer and sourcing furniture from the U.S., Europe and India. You have to set a clear vision up top, which is something I learned at Stanford. It’s all about planning.

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