Smart Maneuver

As their Family grows, a torrance Couple moves next door.

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  • Written by
    Suzanna Cullen

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy has been teaching the techniques of ancient martial arts to thousands of South Bay residents since 1925. With more than 40 family members of the Gracie family forming the organization, the family is as entrenched in the business as they are in the community. So when Rener Gracie and Eve Torres decided to build their first home, they didn’t look farther than the house next door to his childhood home in Torrance. 

“We called him Uncle Keith, and I knew him my whole life,” says Rener of the man who lived next door to his mother, who had lived in the house since 1955 and been a lifelong friend and neighbor of the Gracie family. When the neighbor died, Rener’s mom, Suzanne Gracie of Keller Williams Realty, called to let Eve and Rener know. 

It didn’t take them long to decide that the lot was fabulous and living next door to Suzanne would provide constant babysitting for the family they want to have. Not many people can live next door to their mother or mother-in-law, but for Rener and Eve the decision was easy. 

“She’s so great, and we love being with family—and Rener has such great memories of his childhood home and this neighborhood,” says Eve. 

With a large lot providing a huge, private backyard, Rener and Eve had plenty of space to accommodate the house of their dreams. Bob Vanderhoof created a two-story family home with everything they wanted, including preserving the large backyard for entertaining. 

Dave Cordone of Absolute Custom Landscapes created a large pergola that anchors one end of the yard. With an outdoor living area and an outdoor kitchen, it’s perfect for entertaining. The rest of the yard is an expanse of grass for new puppy, Chokie, to play. 

Builder David Powers constructed the house in an incredible six months, but Eve was on-site every day to make decisions and keep the process moving. The traditional foyer welcomes guests to the home and provides views to the wide backyard. The living, dining and kitchen areas are open, allowing for easy entertaining and a casual lifestyle. 

“I had four requests for the house, and I left the rest up to Eve,” says Rener. His first two requests were in the kitchen. Part of the Gracie mission addresses healthy foods, and juicing comprises a big part of their diet. Rener wanted to make the juicing easy to access and even easier to clean up. 

A carefully crafted cabinet holds the juicer and blender. The appliances slide out on rollers when needed, and a hole in the granite countertop makes for easy composting and cleanup when the juicing is complete. Rener got his juicing station with easy composting all housed in the granite he selected for the kitchen. 

A side wing of the house includes two guest bedrooms with a shared bath, a laundry and mudroom. A large office is hidden off the foyer but provides a great space for Rener and Eve to each have space to work. 

“The first floor powder room is my homage to Santa Fe,” says Eve. She carefully selected stone, iron, candles and crosses that are reminiscent of the spiritual town. 

Upstairs provides a very soothing atmosphere for bedrooms. The master bedroom is decorated in tones of wheat and a calm slate blue. Ample closets provide plenty of space for Rener and Eve.  

Rener’s final two requests were for the master bathroom.  “I absolutely wanted a walk-in shower room because I’m so tall, and my other request was for our Toto Washlet toilet,” says Rener. 

The master bathroom shower is as large as a walk-in closet and includes a window for natural daylight. Additionally, the showerhead is placed high enough that he can stand under the stream of water. The Toto toilet is state-of-the-art both in design and water conservation. 

Eve and Rener both teach at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, so they lead busy lives. However Eve managed to oversee both the construction of the house and the interior design. 

“I did most of the decorating online because it’s so easy now with so many websites from which to choose, and we selected a lot through Pottery Barn,” says Eve. With a palate of soft colors, the house exudes quiet warmth.  

“We have more that we want to do to the house, but we’re going to approach it slowly and make decisions as we live in it,” says Eve. The house-decorating is going to take a back seat for a little while as Eve and Rener prepare for their April wedding. 

Rener smiles at her with his renowned enthusiasm and says, “She did a great job, and all the credit goes to her for making our dream come true with this house.” With impending nuptials and a built-in babysitter next door, Eve and Rener’s next decorating project will most likely include a visit to the Pottery Barn Kids website.



Bob Vanderhoof, Vanderhoof Burchfield Associates
David Powers, Dave Powers Construction
Dave Cordone, Absolute Custom Landscape
Eve Torres




Breville Juice Fountain Multi-Speed, $199 


Farmhouse Canopy Bed, $1,700

Pottery Barn,