Neighborhood Spotlight : Old Towne Orange

South Carolina has Savannah, Louisiana has the French Quarter in New Orleans, and Massachusetts has the preserved whaling community of New Bedford, but to experience the essence of California, there’s no better location than Old Towne Orange. Just six miles from Disneyland, Old Towne Orange emulates Main Street, USA in a way that would make even Walt Disney nostalgic.

Centered on the historic Orange Plaza, Old Towne Orange encompasses one square mile of land, in which sit over 1,300 homes and buildings that are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Beyond this area are countless other homes that are maintained in such a way that they complement the nationally registered homes, making a walk through Old Towne Orange really something to experience.

The largest number of homes in Old Towne Orange were built between 1911 and 1920, but another significant percentage of them were built between 1921 and 1930. Some of the oldest buildings date back to 1874, and together these structures make up the second largest collection of historic buildings in California. Overseen by the Old Towne Preservation Association, all of the buildings in the historic district are held to strict standards for renovation and restoration, much to the delight of all who visit.

Locals and visitors love stopping into Watson’s Drugs & Soda Fountain, which has been in operation since 1899. Watson’s has the distinction of being the oldest drugstore in Orange County as well as the oldest on-going business in the city of Orange.


Everything about Watson’s is delightfully old school, from its ice cream sundaes at the soda fountain counter to its “house calls.” Can’t make it into the pharmacy to pick up your prescription? A member of the pharmacy staff will deliver it to your home. Stop by to ask questions of pharmacist and owner, Scott Parker, who prides himself on the individualized service provided to each and every customer.

Swing into Orange Circle Antique Mall, the largest antique shopping spot among the countless boutiques, malls, and outlets in Old Towne Orange. It’s been in business for nearly 40 years and boasts a loyal following of locals and tourists alike. At the various booths that line the two story space you can find handcrafted 1800s-era furniture, vinyl records from the ‘60s, Mid-Century Modern Danish furniture, jadeite glassware, antique books, and retro clothing.

Orange Circle Antique Mall

Not everything in Old Towne Orange is from a bygone era though. The district is home to a wide variety of restaurants that offer cuisine from around the world. Ways & Means Oyster House features sustainably-caught fresh seafood and a menu that showcases seasonal ingredients. The restaurant pays homage to the classic oyster bars located around the world, with a complementing wine list to satisfy even the most discerning palates.

For a modern take on traditional Mexican cuisine, Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen is an unparalleled eatery. Adopting an eco-gastronomic approach in an interpretation of classic Old World dishes, Chef Gabbi Patrick wows diners with truly unique offerings. Start your meal with the tlacoyo de aguacate: a toasted masa cake covered with grilled avocado, cara cara oranges, blood oranges, pickled cucumbers, and pea tendrils. The Azteca tortilla soup is the perfect complement to the spinach and shrimp enchiladas de camarones or the carnitas norteñas made from braised Berkshire pork, pico de gallo, guacamole, and served on handmade tortillas.


Gabbi’s is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach; rustic exposed beams create a cathedral ceiling above the brick-walled dining room, and the bar is awash in hot pink indirect lighting. It’s the perfect place to meet that special someone for a night out.

In the summer months, Hart Park hosts live entertainment for the whole family. Acquired by the city in 1934, the park spans over 40 acres and features two structured playgrounds that are suitable for children five years old and up. Reserve a picnic area to host your next family reunion, where 57 tables can accommodate up to 700 guests. Public use, non-reservable tables are also available for spur of the moment Saturday afternoon picnics.

Old Towne Orange

Since 1973, the Orange International Street Fair has been held in the center of Old Towne Orange on Labor Day Weekend. The unique event features 42 food and alcohol booths on 15 streets. Run by local non-profit organizations, the booths’ proceeds go directly to their individual organization. Shop for handmade arts and crafts from local artisans, and find your new favorite charity to support at one of the many community booths at the fair. Local companies are given the opportunity to promote their business there, and eight stages are scattered throughout the fair, showcasing local musicians. An added bonus for families is the entire street dedicated to crafts and games for the kids.

Neighborhood Spotlight – Anaheim Colony

When you think of Anaheim, your first thought is probably about Disneyland. But Anaheim has more fun to offer than just Disneyland. Why not visit a place that can be “the happiest place on earth” for both you and the kids? Winter is the time to check out the Anaheim Colony, a quaint historic district located in Anaheim, California.

Anah lkg E on W Ctr across Lemon 4-2-1946The Anaheim Historical Society hosts events throughout the year. These events highlight a variety of historical subjects. In addition, the Anaheim Historical Society hosts the occasional Historic Home Tour in order to showcase existing architectural buildings throughout Anaheim. They are definitely worth a visit to see what’s going on in Anaheim during your stay.

If you’re looking for a great place to eat, the Anaheim White House Restaurant is not only beautiful, but is also a restaurant with a heart. This restaurant serves 600 free dinners to homeless motel children each night and is the only restaurant in the world to do so. It specializes in Italian steak and seafood and is located at 887 S. Anaheim Boulevard in the Anaheim Colony. Many celebrities have eaten here, including Jimmy Carter, Danny DeVito, and Andrea Bocelli.

Tandoori Garden is a relatively new restaurant, started in 2009, that is also in the Anaheim Colony. This restaurant serves fine Indian cuisine and is also located on S. Anaheim Boulevard, at 30 S. Anaheim Boulevard. Tandoori Garden features an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $8.95 Monday through Friday and a Weekend Champagne Brunch for just $10.95.

Ember ClubA classy place to listen to music and have a few drinks is the Ember Café and Music Club located at 401 N. Anaheim Boulevard. On Tuesdays, the Ember Café and Music Club features salsa music and dancing. If you’d rather keep it more low-key, The Juke Joint at 735 N. Anaheim Boulevard features 5 pool tables and 20 beer taps. The Juke Joint also serves cocktails. Friday night is Ladies’ Night at The Juke Joint and there is free pool Sundays from 7 PM to close.

A fun event to do in the Anaheim Colony is its weekly Farmers’ Market on Thursdays. This market is held year-round, but will be closed December 26th and January 2nd for the holidays. The Farmers’ Market is held from noon until 7 PM. It features international foods, certified farmers, live music, and a craft fair. This event is great for both kids and adults.

visitor_imageTo get a bit of culture from the Anaheim Colony, visit the Muzeo, an art museum located at 241 S. Anaheim Boulevard. The Muzeo hosts three traveling exhibitions yearly which are otherwise not seen in the region. The current exhibition is “Worn to Be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket,” which will be going on until January 12, 2014. The Muzeo is open from 10 AM to 5 PM daily and costs just $6 for children and $10 for adults. Perhaps you would like to see the ballet. The Anaheim Ballet, at 280 E. Lincoln Ave in the Anaheim Colony, is currently performing The Nutcracker for its 27th season.

As you can see, there is much to discover in the Anaheim Colony. The next time you visit, make sure to explore the many activities, events, and restaurants available. This beautiful historic area is not to be missed!

Article written by our contributing writer: Tabitha Jean Naylor

Historic Holiday Memories in Orange County

Winter is the perfect season to discover historic homes in Orange County. Why not explore historic homes as a low-cost (and sometimes free) holiday activity? Here are several suggestions of historic homes in Orange County to visit.

Historic George Key Ranch is a historic home, garden, museum, and orange grove located in Placentia, CA. Tours can be reserved Tuesday through Friday by calling (714) 973-3191. Built in 1898, the George Key Home is part of the 2.2 acre site that also contains a ¾ acre garden and one acre orange grove. Free tours are available by reservation at 2 PM on the first Saturday of each month. You can visit the George Key Ranch website.



The Kellogg House in Santa Ana, CA is a historic home that was also built in 1898. This house is an example of Queen Anne-style Victorian architecture and displays Kellogg’s avid interest in ships by a mast in the center of the home stretching from floor to ceiling. Public tours are available on Fridays from 1 – 5 PM and Sundays from 11 AM – 3 PM at a cost of $5 for adults and $4 for children. Santa Ana residents receive free admission the first Sunday of each month. Visit the Heritage Museum website for more info



The San Juan Capistrano Historical Society gives walking tours of the historic town of San Juan Capistrano, CA. This tour includes walking by historic adobes as well as the Pryor House Victorian home built between 1870 and 1880. The Pryor House is the Historical Society’s headquarters and is now known as the O’Neill Museum. A $2 donation for adults and a $1 donation for children are accepted for the tour. These tours are every Sunday at 1 PM and are 1.5 hours long. For more walking tour information visit their website



front-wThe Dr. Howe-Waffle House located in Santa Ana, CA was built in 1889. It is a Queen Anne-style Victorian home. The Dr. Howe-Waffle House is open for tours the first Saturday of every even month from 12 PM until 4 PM at a cost of $5 for adults and $3 for students.  Visit the Howe-Waffle House website

download (3)

The Stanley House was built as a two-story Victorian-style farmhouse in 1892. Just next door is a strawberry patch. The Stanley House is located in Garden Grove, CA. There are other homes on site dating from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Call the Garden Grove Historical Society to arrange a tour at (714) 530-8871. For more information, visit their website.

The Helena Modjeska Historic House and Gardens was the home of Helena Modjeska, world-renowned Shakespearean actress, from 1888 until 1906. It is an adorable white cottage located in Lake Forest, CA. Docent led tours are available four times a month by reservation and cost $5 per person. Call (949) 923-2230 to make a tour reservation. For more information on the Modjeska Home and Gardens, visit their site.


To learn more about some of the great historical neighborhoods in Orange County, feel free to email us ( ), visit our contact page, or give us a call! (949) 280-6481


Article written by our contributing writer: Tabitha Jean Naylor

Near-Downtown Value in Santa Ana Home

Don’t be “spooked” this Halloween by the location. This near-downtown Santa Ana home checks a lot of the right boxes at an eye-popping sub-$350k price point. It’s a fairly walkable location with great access to freeways. A point that I like to make (and one that I don’t think I’ve made in a while) is how a home like this compares to a condo, in terms of payment. Remember, a condo usually has an HOA fee of $200+. Assuming a $300/mo HOA fee, this home at $319,900 (the present list price), will equate to a condo costing about $250,000. In light of that, this home seems like a bargain, and it is.

Obviously, in this price point you’re not buying a Floral Park mansion, but this home does have a lot of great qualities. My favorite are the built-ins in the dining room and the window plan. Very fortunately, these elements have been expertly preserved on this home, along with most of the original wood floors and trim.

With a house like this, the real discussion is what are you compromising on and what will need to be changed. With this home, these are actually intertwined. This home sits along First Street, which is Santa Ana is a pretty busy thoroughfare. Whenever clients are considering such a home, I’m always thinking of mitigation strategies. Which brings me to my second point, the landscaping. The chain link fence is not doing anybody any favors and the house feels unfinished on the outside. It doesn’t look like a home. Whenever there is a house that borders on a major street, the best thing you can do is create some psychological separation. The picket fence is a good start, but given the size of the street, I think it needs a hedge and some other elements. A single family historic home with good details under $350k is a deal, though, no matter what tweaks need to be made.

This home is listed by Antonio Delgado of California Team Realty, but we’d love to represent your interests as a buyer. If you’d like to schedule a private showing of this property, don’t hesitate to contact us


19th Century Mansion

19th Century Mansion

This home is located just North of Downtown and just South of Floral Park and is a 19th Century Mansion. In most parts of the country, the presence of a 19th century home isn’t too big of a deal. But when you realize that Los Angeles was a city of just about 100,000 people in 1900 — you begin to realize there weren’t that many houses around before the turn of the century and few of them survive today. In 1900,  Santa Ana was the largest city in Orange County, but with only 4500 residents. As a two-story home, this was most likely the home of a large landowner and it is built in the farmhouse style. Due to it’s more urban setting (it isn’t too far from the original downtown), it seems to have some more ornate trim than would have been found in a midwestern or prairie farmhouse.

I have a feeling that at one point this home would have had a full front porch — I think the area you see on the front was enclosed. There is definitely a lot of good, and some bad on this house. I like to start with the positive, and it appears that most of the floors, windows, and the rather ornate moldings and trims are intact. To me, one of the coolest parts is the upstairs, with the unique transom windows located above some of the doors. It’s a unique touch that you won’t found in many Southern California historic homes. As far as the not-so-good…the original kitchens and baths are long-gone. While the replacements aren’t terrible, they aren’t exactly period correct, either.

While the Tudors and bungalows are common in Orange County — authentic farmhouses are not. This is a unique area and one of the oldest homes still around in Santa Ana. It’s on a larger-than-usual ~8400 square foot lot and offers a lot more square footage. It does come at a price and while it’s not in a bad area, it’s also not within the other old neighborhood near downtown: French Park.

This home is listed by Alysha Ommen of Port Street Realty Corporation, but we’d love to represent your interests as a buyer. If you’d like to schedule a private showing of this property, don’t hesitate to contact us


Laguna Canyon Fairytale – Historic Home of the Week 9/5/2013

Laguna Canyon Fairytale

September 5th, 2013

We’re doing something a little different this week. This home has been very extensively renovated, and most of the time, we tend to gravitate towards the properties that preserve as much of the original fabric as possible. However, the reality is that doing so isn’t always possible. While we always think of beautiful tree-lined streets and older, established neighborhoods — things change. In no city is that more true than Laguna Beach and especially Laguna Canyon.

Many of these homes were built as part-time, hastily-constructed, vacation spaces and many were built in ways that predate any codes or municipal oversight. This is in great contrast to Old Towne Orange, for example, where the city was involved in the home building process early in the 20th century. And that brings us to the home here, located within Laguna Canyon — once a no man’s land and now an affordable gateway to one of Orange County’s priciest cities and collections of historic property.

What this home lacked in modern construction, it makes up for in charm. And with a complete “down to the studs” renovation you no longer have to make compromises on modern livability. But I think what I like the most is the things they did keep are super cool. The cathedral window in the master bedroom sitting area is my 2nd favorite item. My first favorite? The stained glass window with the coat of arms in one of the secondary bedrooms. Don’t let the small lot size scare you, either. This home has the outdoor space where it counts: concentrated in a long outdoor patio that runs along side the house and is easily accessible from the main living spaces.

A home like this isn’t for everybody — in fact, it’s a bad idea for most people. But it’s one of the those charmingly unique places that certainly warrants the designation: one-of-a-kind. Add in that it’s a turn-key proposition and located with a Laguna Beach address and the asking price doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

This home is listed by Julie Kuntz with Prudential California Realty, but we’d love to represent your interests as a buyer. If you’d like to schedule a private showing of this property, don’t hesitate to contact us


Prime Anaheim Colony

Sometimes you run into a home that really has a little bit of everything .Right location in Anaheim Colony. Right price. Right size. Two baths. Great paint scheme. A home like this is hard to fault and at below $500k, we can actually call it an affordable home. It’s even more affordable that the price would suggest due to the Mills Act contract on the property, which puts the property taxes at about $2100/yr. Normally, a property like this would have taxes that were approximately $5600/yr — that’s a savings of $200/mo.

There’s always a careful balance between preservation and updating for a more modern lifestyle. In the 1990s owners added a master suite. The addition is well-done and integrates well on the back side of the house. For many families, the #1 wish list item we hear about is having a 2nd bath and this home does. The French doors leading outside the master bedroom have the same mullion pattern as the original windows. That, along with a porch on the back, really ties everything together.

Inside, the original hardwood floors have be refinished and while this home is a bit “simpler” in detailing that many, it has a very clean, but still charming vibe. The kitchen isn’t my favorite, but I’ve certainly seen much much much worse. The glass display-cabinet upper cabinets (including some that dip down to the counter) really up the vintage ante. I think with some better colors, accessories, and maybe lighting the kitchen could go from “okay” to pretty cool.

Similar homes in Old Towne Orange are over $100,000 more expensive. This is a good opportunity for someone who wants a great home at a very reasonable price and doesn’t want to give up some modern conveniences.

This home is listed by Barbara Gonzalez with Re/Max Metro R.E., but we’d love to represent your interests as a buyer. If you’d like to schedule a private showing of this property, don’t hesitate to contact us


OC Summer Events 2013

As temperatures rise and ice-cold beer cans snap open, this question may cross your mind – what fun summer events are happening in June this summer in Orange County?  No need to look any further. We’ve compiled a list, sorted by select cities, of exciting events happening around you that will be great for some fun in the sun!

Buena Park

Concerts in the Park
Location: Boisseranc Park

Free concerts with unlimited food and fun for the entire family!
June 12: 7p.m. – 9p.m.  – Sinatra Tribute Band
June 19: 7p.m. – 9p.m.  – Wiseguys Big Band Machine, 18 pc big band
June 26: 7p.m. – 9p.m.  – Neon Nation, 80s tribute band


Costa Mesa

Concerts in the Park
Location: Fairview Park Costa Mesa

Free family fun including gourmet food trucks, wine and beer garden and plenty of activities for the kids!

Tuesday Evenings at 5:30, music begins at 6:15 p.m.
Free Movie Mondays
Location: Segerstrom Center Costa Mesa

The name says it all! Catch a free movie with the family on Mondays! Be sure to bring your beach chairs or other portable seating.
Monday Evenings – Set-up begins at 5:30 and movie starting at dusk (approximately at 8 p.m.)



irishAnnual Irish Fair and Music Festival
Location: Oak Canyon Park, Orange

Celebrate the Irish as you enjoy the largest festival of its kind in the Western United States! With 16 entertainment areas including the very best in all things Irish such as music, song, dance, sport of the Irish and over 100 Irish, Scottish and English import shops, you are sure to have a fun time! Even watch the sheepherding shows, Irish horse shows, Irish dog shows and enjoy the tunes of one of the largest Irish Step Dancing competitions in California!



San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Summer Nights
Location: San Juan Capistrano’s Historic Town Center Park, El Camino Real

Live music, dancing and children’s activity area for kids to hang out while adults enjoy a cold beverage from the beer and wine wagon.

Wednesdays 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.




Relay for Life
Location: SJC Sports Park, San Juan Capistrano

This inspirational event brings together a community in order to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. It is the largest Cancer-fighting event in the nation and raised nearly hundreds of millions of dollars last year!

June 29 – 10 a.m.


Santa Ana

Annual Ride The Coast
Locations: Start – Santa Ana Auto Mall (1500 Auto Mall Drive, Santa Ana, CA 92705).   End – Original Mikes (100 S. Main Street, Santa Ana).

Benefitting the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana, Ride the Coast is a non-competitive, police escorted open ride event. On-site registration begins at 8:30 a.m.



ConcertsintheParkConcerts in the Park
Location: Peppertree Park

Enjoy free, live music with your family as you enjoy a picnic or purchase food and snacks from community groups!

Wednesdays 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.


The Shaffer Cottages are all Dolled-Up!

The South Shaffer Cottages, located in Old Towne Orange, weren’t always such a hotspot with couples and singles seeking their next home. In fact, these cottages were so out of shape and in such shoddy condition that nobody had seemed to want them!


Everything was a mess until owner Hugh Siler purchased the property in May 2011 when the units were barely habitable. “For instance, in one of the bathrooms, the floor was so rotted that it’s a wonder a person didn’t fall through it,” Siler said. Aside from the rotted flooring, the maintenance required to bring these stylish ‘20s cottages back to life was more than just a few strokes of paint.

Equal parts vision and persistence are what pulled these homes together and created the stunning living spaces there today. Working with the City of Orange’s Historic Preservation Planner, Siler and his team were able to restore the building to better than original condition. After using redwood shiplap to replace the siding, restoring hardwood floors, installing subway tiles and finding period-correct vintage porch lights, all that was left was the matching historic paint colors in order to bring the cottages roaring back to life.

0022Some may find it difficult to locate a property such as this, especially if one wants to fix it up the way Siler has. However when it came time to make a decision about purchasing these homes, Siler took no hesitation and knew he wanted to take over. “Old Towne Orange is one of the most unique areas of Orange County, let alone Southern California,” Siler said. “I’ve been visiting this great city for decades and when the opportunity presented itself to try and do something that would a) make a neighborhood better, b) improve a city c) challenge my crew and d) make the city and entire community proud of what we accomplished, I jumped at the opportunity.”

When restoring a property such as the South Shaffer Cottages, the value of the property isn’t the only thing that rises. Of course, the neighborhood as a whole and the neighbors’ property value rises as well. When properties look this good, the dollar signs follow shortly behind.

The renovations that have been made to the cottages have not only increased their own value, but have created quite a buzz within the community. “Feedback that we received from over a dozen neighbors has been incredibly favorable, from ‘you guys just made my home more valuable,’ to ‘I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to restore something this neighborhood is very proud of,’” Siler said.

After renovations, this charming collection of four historic cottages is in the best shape it’s ever been. Built in 1923, each unit is approximately 500 sq. feet and is boasting with character. Complete with original ‘20s stoves, claw foot bathtubs, toilets and even a drinking fountain, these cottages are sure to please and have become the prime living destination for couples and singles alike. So prime in fact, that a line began to form when people saw that these homes were up for rent. Even now, Siler keeps a waiting list of interested residents should there be any vacancies.

And how hot of a commodity are the South Shaffer cottages? Just two weeks ago Siler had a vacancy. Within two hours of putting the “for rent” sign in the ground, the cottage was rented.

Learn more about the Shaffer Cottages


Clean and Classic – Historic Subway Tile


Nothing offers a more classic and clean look than solid white tile.  One of the most common, and best looking is to use Historic Subway tile for kitchens and bathrooms. For the very same reasons it was used in the early 1900’s in New York City subways.   Subway tile, as it has become known as today, is both easy to maintain and a durable material choice.  Now this material choice has transitioned from commercial to residential use.

White Subway Kitchen Tile

This look has become more popular in newly built homes but has always been a common material found in historic homes.  The look itself is very transitional.  Classic smooth white subway tiles can be used in almost any style of kitchen or bath.  In some applications, it can create a very sleek, modern and minimal look.  The most common installation of these rectangle tiles is in the classic subway pattern shown here.


Make sure to include correct cap and base trim when considering a full project.  These details are key to giving your room its most deserving restoration.  There are many great sources  for types and dimensions of tile trim.  Integrating tiled trim and built-in accessories (i.e. soap ledges, bathroom tissue holders and recessed shelves) can complete the project.   Adding these elements will not only be functional but will also complete the look by keeping it simple, smooth and uncluttered.  It is always better to plan from the very beginning with these accessories instead of trying to work them into your pattern/layout once you have started.


Also consider subway tile alternatives that offer a fresh take on the classic style.  You can now purchase subway tile in colored glass and even some metals.  This classic white tile can be installed in many different patterns.  Consider a combination of patterns within your space.  Make sure to discuss all your options with your installer and clarify your grout color choice (we suggest a white or soft gray grout) and preferences on just how thick of a grout line will be visible.  With a plan in place, you will be all set to make a timeless material choice for your home.