Our House Calls feature takes you into homes with great style, big personality, and ineffable soul. Today we look at the Beverly Grove home of Cole Martin and Jack Rayner, who completely reinvented a 1926 Spanish-style bungalow, opening up the space while staying true to its architectural roots.
The couple purchased the two-bedroom home in 2014 after it had served for years as a rental property, acquiring it as a “condo alternative,” tucked away on a narrow street just south of Melrose. The neighborhood appealed to them for its mix of quiet residential charm and easy access to some of Los Angeles’s cultural and commercial institutions.
“I feel like Beverly Grove has the best of LA,” Martin said. “It’s got coffee shops and nice stores and great restaurants, but it’s not Beverly Hills. It’s not so nice that you feel out of place.”
Upon moving in, the first project that Martin and Rayner undertook was converting the small one-car garage into a studio for Rayner, who is a music producer. Now outfitted with a pair of dramatic wooden doors, the garage is fully equipped with a sound booth and small office.
But the house itself has received an even more thorough overhaul. Six months after moving in, the couple temporarily relocated while working with the contractor to reimagine the entire floor plan.
The tiny kitchen was opened up into what had been the dining room. The walls of the master bedroom were pushed back to incorporate a roomy walk-in closet. An elegant but purely decorative living room fireplace was replaced with built-in shelving and a wall pocket that perfectly frames the living room sofa.
“I wanted to keep it,” Martin said of the fireplace, but Rayner insisted they would need the additional space to make the living room as open as possible. In the end, Martin concedes, it worked.
A raised ceiling and a pair of glass double doors leading outside have also helped to make the home feel considerably more spacious than its 948 square feet.
For the most part, Martin and Rayner tried to embrace the home’s original architectural style, even while thoroughly gutting and remodeling the place. With arched entryways, wrought iron light fixtures, and newly tiled front steps and bathroom floors, the house is in some ways more in keeping with the Spanish-revival tradition than it was when the pair moved in.
This carries over to the front entryway, which was once a small porch. Martin and Rayner moved the front door out and incorporated the space into the home’s interior, giving it a raised brick ceiling inspired by one that they had seen in Mexico.
“I really wanted an entryway,” said Martin. “I didn’t want to open the door and be in the living room.” Now, he laughs, “you walk in and you’re real close to the living room, but you’re not quite there yet.”
Using any one of the four additional entrances, one might walk in and find themselves in just about any room in the house. Martin and Rayner have customized the home for indoor-outdoor living, adding a large front deck and a cozy wraparound patio space that runs along the side and back of the residence.
Though Martin and Rayner’s work on the home has been extensive, it was important to them to keep the residence’s basic structure intact.
“This neighborhood has become known as a place where people tear down 1920s houses and put up modern blocks,” Martin said. “We wanted to keep it Spanish.”
Martin and Rayner have certainly done that, but they’ve also created a living space that—small as it may be—is entirely their own.