Steve was born and raised in England, educated at Sevenoaks School in Kent and at Cambridge University, where he studied at the School of Architecture from 1968-1973.
His father was also an architect and Steve's own interest in architecture grew from the work he saw his father doing and from the opportunities he had to help out and learn to draw in the office. He also inherited from his father and other Rayner forebears, Victorian artists noted for their architectural watercolours, a passion for drawing and painting.
In 1973, his other life-long passion, flying, took him to Hamble, the College of Air Training sponsored and run by British Airways. The oil crisis of the mid 1970s put paid to his aspirations for direct entry to BA following graduation and he returned to the world of architecture, joining the office of his former Cambridge professor, Sir Leslie Martin, to complete his architectural training and become registered as an architect.
When airline jobs once again started to become available, Steve returned to flying, securing a position with British Midland Airways (now BMI). Over the next several years, operating out of East Midlands Airport, he flew a variety of routes within the United Kingdom and around Europe as first officer on the Viscount and DC9, before moving to the left-hand seat as captain of the Shorts 330 /360 (the 330 being known affectionately as "the Shed" for reasons obvious to those familiar with its boxy shape). and F27. During this period, his wife Geraldine kept him in touch with architecture as she pursued her own career in the profession and Steve himself continued to draw and paint in his free time.
With the birth of a daughter, Tamsin, the lure of a 9-to-S existence drew Steve back to architecture and he and Geraldine returned to the south-east of England, where their second daughter, Corinne, was born. They enjoyed several years of professional stability before the recession of the early 1990's forced them to re-examine their goals. An exploratory visit to Vancouver revealed exciting possibilities and led to their emigration in 1994.