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.
Some 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