Conversation with Terry Rayment of Crane Cabin
A person might be hard pressed to find two décor choices more diametrically opposed than Herman Miller furniture and flannel. And yet, when Terry Rayment put the two together while designing Crane Cabin, a poetic paradox occurred.
It turns out that those choices are like little scenes of Terry’s life. Currently working as a commercial director in Los Angeles, he produces revelatory imagery for the likes of Kodak, Cadillac and Jaguar. The serenity and wilderness in his work are suggestive of a childhood lived in Flint, Michigan, in what he describes as essentially a log cabin.
Years later in Los Angeles, another rustic tableau came into his life. Nestled in the slopes of Mount Washington, he found (and purchased, and remodeled) Crane Cabin. ‘If you were blindfolded and dropped into Mount Washington, you would not think that you were in the city of Los Angeles,” he says of the heavily-forested neighborhood.
We spoke with Terry about modern furniture, artifacts, and how the Japanese might handle being lost in the woods.
SO, YOU ACTUALLY LIVED IN A LOG CABIN?
Terry Rayment: “Yes, literally – I’m talking, like, log cabins with furniture that had bear prints on it. Everything was flannel, right out of an L.L. Bean catalog. A woodsy vibe can be cozy, as long as it isn’t too heavy-handed. There’s a lot of noise in flannels. Lots of dark patterns and burgundies and charcoals. So [with Crane Cabin] it was about making that cozy feeling with the texture, but having it also be bright, because that’s a California thing and a health thing – natural light and bright tones.”
WHEN DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN FURNITURE?
TR: “I did a lot of commercial work for furniture companies in Grand Rapids. Not everyone knows this but the west coast of Michigan is the furniture capital of the world. Meaning, for the past hundred-plus years, anybody from Herman Miller, Steelcase, Knoll, Hayworth, and all the legacy furniture brands are based in like, a 30-mile radius. So I have an affinity towards Herman Miller because it has such a good legacy and good story and they keep things really small and considered. You learn what a chair means on a spiritual level.”
WHAT DREW YOU TO MOUNT WASHINGTON?
TR: “I like that it has a little bit of a bohemian vibe to it, just given the people who have ended up there over the years. Every house there is one of one. It’s also one of those hidden neighborhoods that even people in L.A. don’t even know where it is. Eight out of ten people that I know that live there had never heard of it.”
WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY BOHEMIAN?
TR: “It’s not square, if you will. There’s an authenticity to that. It’s a tapestry of many different architectural styles of the houses, personality types. And every plot of land is the absolute antithesis of a subdivision – 200% different than the one next to it, which obviously drives the style of the residents on it. A lot of people also don’t realize there’s a lot of wildlife up there. There are coyotes running around all over the place, there’s deer. It’s quiet.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF CRANE CABIN?
TR: “It was in pretty good shape. Obviously, what was most attractive about the house was the post and beam nature of it, because it just opens up the space, and makes it feel so much bigger than it is when you have height. I also liked the texture of the wood. And there was this really unique succulent garden out front that we’ve added to: I can’t even name all of the varieties, because a lot of them aren’t even in the United States, one of them has some folklore that it was smuggled in from Mexico three decades ago. And that stovepipe fireplace was a huge draw. The second you open the door you can see right into the second room. And that’s sort of the first thing that you see. It’s an artifact with a lot of charm.”
TELL US ABOUT THE INTERIOR DESIGN ETHOS.
TR: “It’s a thousand square foot house. So, it was about keeping things neutral, kind of like the Japanese aesthetic, and mixing that with furniture and accents. The important thing about the house was making sure it didn’t feel cluttered. In the breakfast nook, there’s this custom wallpaper I found from a company called Cole & Son in London. There’s really no separation from what you see outside the window.”
WHAT LED YOU TO CHOOSE THE FURNISHINGS YOU DID?
TR: “There’s a Matthew Hilton sofa: a white, big, blocky, comfortable couch. It’s nice because it’s white, so the light continues to bounce around the room. The other nice thing about a white couch is that you can sort of change the color with pillows and blankets. The Eames Elephant is also a nice little side chair. It almost looks like a little art piece. All of the tapestries on the wall were handmade in Oaxaca. I think I’ve been there eight times in the last few years, and every time I bring something back. There’s this family that makes incredible artisanal rugs.”
YOU TRAVEL OFTEN FOR WORK. IN YOUR TRAVELS, HAS INSPIRATION BEEN DRAWN FOR CRANE CABIN?
TR: “In the cabin, there’s an in-depth, extensive library of anything from literature to art books, and I would say a good majority were sourced from other places. I take pride in that because you’re stumbling upon these artifacts that you’d never, ever find anywhere else, just given the nature of their origin.
"There is a big instructional manual on how to survive in the woods. It’s all in Japanese. It’s not just about how to survive. It’s ‘How to build, like, a beautiful single-person dwelling’, which is so funny. It just sort of like goes to show. It’s like a Japanese thing: they don’t want to just literally survive. It’s like, make something beautiful. It’s not ironic. There are pictures, diagrams, blueprints. Maybe someone will put it to use one day. There’s also a lot of mezcal literature, a lot of Oaxaca literature, for obvious reasons.”
GIVE US A PERFECT “DAY IN THE LIFE” OF MOUNT WASHINGTON.
TR: “So, it’s twofold. There’s the hyper proximity: within like a couple hundred feet [of Crane Cabin], there’s Moon Canyon. And it’s like a miniature version of Jurassic Park, like, when they’re like flying the helicopter in. And it’s just this big swallow, lush green.
"And then you literally could roll yourself down the hill and you’re at front door of Highland Park. Whenever anybody stayed there, I would tell them to go to Highland Park. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single 25-year-old or if you have a family, there’s something about Highland Park that is really sort of approachable, charming. Not a bunch of Starbucks. There’s a lot of street food which is quite interesting.”
To book a stay at Crane Cabin, click here.
Photographs by Terry Rayment and Stacy Suaya.