April 21, 1997 12:00 PM

During the year it took The Nanny’s Charles Shaughnessy and his actress wife, Susan, to build their Santa Monica Mediterranean-style house, he recalls, the couple followed one rule: “Don’t be afraid to snoop in other people’s houses. You must be bold.” And it must look old, they told architect Eric Parlee, who created what Parlee calls the “sophisticated rustication” of a Tuscan villa. “With two kids [daughters Jenny, 7, and Madelyn, 2] and a dog [miniature schnauzer Danny], we wanted a rambunctious feel but at the same time something elegant and aesthetic,” says the British-born Shaughnessy, 42, of his home’s carved archways, glazed walls and courtyard complete with gurgling fountain. “When we’re alone, the house becomes our love nest,” says Susan, who unwinds with her husband in the marbled master bath, featuring a sunken tub, his and hers vanities, and its own sound system. “Most nights we run the bath. That’s how we relax,” says Shaughnessy. A TV hookup atop the doorway remains unattached. That, he says, is to “help sell the place, eventually.”

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