By Alexandria Abramian Mott
20 Images

Photos: C&C California founder Claire Stansfield’s Hollywood Hills remodel

Claire Stansfield, co-founder of the high-end T-shirt company C&C California, bought a traditional English country-style house in the Hollywood Hills and set out to remodel it for her family.

The project was a delicate balancing act: Keep the traditional elegance, but update it for a modern family. Keep the coziness, but open up the floor plan. Stansfield and her husband, Speaks, owner of Hollywood club Den, called in the architecture firm Marmol Radziner to update the 1920 Robert Byrd-designed house. Today the exterior looks much as it always has. Even the trumpet vine survived the renovation, completed in 2008. But inside, visitors are greeted with some surprises ...

Read Alexandra Alexandria Abramian Mott’s full story on Claire Stansfield’s Hollywood Hills home. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The traditional exterior yields to a modern great room with soaring ceilings, a dark walnut floor and tons of natural light. By taking down walls in the center of the house, the family got a huge free-flowing living area while retaining snug bedrooms for boys Lucky, 4, and Rocco, 2.

Stansfield wanted a new framework to give her decorating flexibility — an environment where she could display her mother’s fancy Limoges china one day and earthy Heath pottery the next, depending on her mood.

Stansfield, who sold her company to Liz Claiborne and now works as a fashion consultant, refuses to commit to one style, and to prove that home décor can be almost as flexible as hemlines, she’s made a house that’s simultaneously traditional and modern, loaded with objects yet devoid of clutter.

“With fashion and with interior design, you can get into a situation where you love something for five years ago, and suddenly you can’t stand it,” says Stansfield, 45.

“I love midcentury, but, oh my gosh, when you get the furniture and everything in that style, then what do you do if your tastes change? Or if someone gives you a gorgeous china teapot? Throw it out because it doesn’t go with your Neutra house? It’s so important to keep your options open.” (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Marmol-Radziner lined the great room with built-in bookcases, reached by library ladder, adding warmth to the large open room. Above Stansfield is a pass-through connecting the second floor to the great room. “We want to be able to breathe in a house, not feel cramped,” she says. “And we also want to be able to see, or at least hear, our boys from every room in the house. We knew we wanted a great room, but at the same time, we didn’t want to lose this sense of country-house charm.” (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Lucky, 4, plays in the great room. Stansfield may have spent months obsessing over her architectural decisions, but she spent even more time planning the interiors. Ultimately she drifted her back to her successful fashion formula: classic tees that can go with Jimmy Choos or flip-flops.

“You need to start with high-quality basics,” she says. Case in point: The Flexform sofas in the living and sitting rooms weren’t cheap -- about $8,000 each from Poliform -- but Stansfield says the quality and the look will outlast at least three other sofas.

“The kids jump on them, and since it has this kind of Velcro’d upholstery, I can put them in the cold wash, hang them on the line, and the linen actually looks better with every washing.”

Best of all, Stansfield says, classic lines allow them to work with different styles. “I can throw on a bunch of Peter Dunham pillows and the sofa looks one way, or a kilim pillow and it looks totally different.”

In the distance is a home office. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The home office includes a station where kids can draw or play games. (Joe Fletcher /
Back in the great room, the new Sub-Zero refrigerator tucks nicely into the casework. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Above, two steel beams that now run the width of the great room. When she bought the house, Stansfield says it was a warren of small rooms. Marmol-Radziner knocked out walls and added the beams to “basically prevent the house from caving in on itself,” Stansfield says. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The other half of the great room: The kitchen island and bar chairs sit in the foreground, at right, and the dining table is at left. Stairs lead to bedrooms. Abundant cabinetry houses Stansfield’s collections of plates and glassware.

“The open shelves mean that I can pull things out of the cabinets and display things according to the season or my mood or my interests,” she says. “It gives me so much flexibility.” (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
In the dining area, Stansfield designed the table to reference the traditional and modern elements of the house. Working with fellow design consultant Channon Roe, they created a piece with wooden farm tables and a zinc top. “A wooden table would have been too much wood in this room,” Stansfield says. “That’s why I went with wicker chairs, too. They’ve got a country aspect to them, but with the zinc, it keeps a nice balance.” (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Visitors will find a wink here and there. In the powder room, she papered the walls with what looks like traditional toile. From far away, it looks like a bucolic country scene; up close, the scenes depict urban crime. “People come out of that bathroom with a smile on their face,” she says. “I love that. That pattern came in three colors; I of course went for the earth-toned one.” (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The master bedroom, bathed in natural light. Stansfield says she keeps her decorating options open by maintaining a neutral palette. “I love a woman who can paint a room red, I’m just not one of them,” she says. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The view from the master window. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The master bathroom. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The neutral palette carries over to the detached guest house, which also serves as another office. The elevated fireplace, daybed and herringbone floor are the work of Marmol-Radziner. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Stansfield admits that she’s even edited all of her brightly colored coffee table books off of the great room shelves and relocated them into the guest house. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Outside, few hints of the modern makeover inside. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
A greenhouse is filled with plants from the home’s previous owner, the late actor Stanley deSantis. Stansfield later discovered that the actor, who appeared in shows such as “Entourage” and “Six Feet Under,” made millions in the T-shirt business. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Vines on an arch begin to leaf out.

“What’s so interesting to me is that Claire saw this traditional space, and then figured out how to reconfigure it in a way that would suit her modern lifestyle. But she did that without losing this sense of traditional elegance,” says friend and frequent visitor Jamie Rosenthal, owner of the Hollywood clothing and furniture emporium Lost & Found Etcetera.

“Knowing her, I think she really loved that idea of this house being both an old-world place where she can live for the rest of her life and a modern home where she could raise her kids. The house melds those ideas so gracefully.” (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
What if her design of today begins to lose luster tomorrow? “I purposefully wallpapered the smallest room in the house,” Stansfield says. “If I change my mind, at least it won’t cost a fortune to swap out.”

Read Alexandra Alexandria Abramian Mott’s full story on Claire Stansfield’s Hollywood Hills home.

You can keep tabs on our latest home tours by bookmarking our Homes of the Times gallery. You also can get a steady stream of design news, sales updates and California gardening advice from our blog, L.A. at Home(Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)