Laguna Beach exterior of house

We have known Kyle Martin for years and it has been amazing to follow along with his achievements.  Kyle is an amazing board rider and action sports industry veteran, he currently is the Global Product marketing senior manager at Vans and just managed to do a full DIY home renovation in Laguna Beach. His wife Sarah is an incredible photographer and recently shared some images and thoughts of their recent renovation.

Slowtide: How long have you called this space home?

Kyle: We got the keys back in February 2020 so a little over a year now. Though it didn’t really feel like home until months later. More of an hourglass with the sand quickly pouring out, haha. We knew we were going to renovate the entire place when we purchased it but, as these sorts of projects generally go, the scope of work continued to grow and with it the timeline. Sarah was pregnant with our first so my mom, dad and I were racing the clock to finish construction before the baby arrived. Long story short, we didn’t make it. There was roughly one month of overlap with the newborn being home and us pulling 12-hour days to finish things up. I’m all for living in the place while you renovate it but looking back, I don’t think I’d suggest bringing a fresh baby into that scenario.

What makes this space distinctly yours?

Kyle: Since I was a kid my parents and I always talked about buying a fixer upper and renovating it. The fact that we were finally able to do it was a really special experience. When all was said and done, I don’t think there is a single thing in the house that we did not touch. It was a huge undertaking but fortunately we had my wife to help focus our attention. From the second we first saw the house, Sarah had a vision for what it would become. She has great taste and a real sense for how she pictured the space coming to life. That sort of direction was invaluable as it allowed us to focus on the work. Otherwise, I have no doubt we would still be swinging hammers.

The fact that we became so intimate with the house during the remodel makes it feel ours but there are little details that really makes it feel like an extension of our personalities; the bright palette, warm cedar details, brass fixtures, exterior barn lights, surf racks and outdoor shower. All things we always wanted in a home but didn’t have the opportunity to realize until now.

Where do you look for design inspiration?

Sarah: The way I approached our space was less of a pursuit for a particular look and more of a search for a feeling. After all the hurdles that this last year presented, I knew I wanted our home to feel bright, warm, open and inviting. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Jenni Kayne and Amber Interiors I knew that some white paint, natural wood and a neutral palette would go a long way in expanding the interior. The end result was a really nice blend of minimal design and country influence reminiscent of my childhood home in Malibu.

How do you feel when you finally walk into your home at the end of the day?

Kyle: Thankful. No other word for it. There isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t thankful to call this space our own. When we started looking for a place the market was really starting to heat up. Inventory was super low and prices were getting out of control. Every place we looked at was going over asking, people coming in straight cash. To say it was competitive was an understatement. If it wasn’t for Sarah’s design skills (our intro letter looked like a spread from a magazine) and our real estate agent’s late night DJ voice I don’t think we would have ever gotten the seller’s attention. When we found out our offer was accepted, we were literally in tears. 

Coming from a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles where the kitchen was also my closet to having room for a dedicated workspace, yard for the dog and nursery for the baby has transformed our lives and remains a constant source of happiness. It’s really the stuff dreams are made of!

To check out more of Sarah's amazing photography, make sure to visit her website.