Renowned in Orange
Renowned in Orange

Homeowner Jenny McCandless fashioned her 1970s-era house after the arts & crafts movement. The impressive remodel showcases wood shingles, tapered trim and an expansive front porch accented in slate. Jenny’s father’s 1963 Corvette is parked on the cobblestone-style driveway.

It’s no coincidence that gorgeous tile work abounds in the Orange home of Jenny McCandless, whose late grandfather Charles McCandless was one of the most renowned masons in Orange.

Whether the slate window trim in her kitchen or the floor-to-ceiling rockwall fireplace in the living room, there are echoes of her family’s masonry history throughout Jenny’s home.

Founded by Jenny’s grandfather in 1924 in Santa Ana, McCandless Tile is a third-generation business currently owned by her father and run by her brother Mark. Local landmarks attributed to Charles McCandless include the First Presbyterian Church and the historic fountain at the Old Towne Plaza, installed in 1934.

“My grandfather lived in Orange, and both of my parents were raised in Orange,” says Jenny from her 1970s-era home located within walking distance of the Plaza. “He did tiles throughout Southern California, including at Disneyland, Orange High School and the Wrigley Mansion on Catalina Island. He also tiled the animal mural at Cambridge Elementary, and of course, the Old Towne Plaza fountain. Every time I walk by the fountain with my daughters, we are reminded of my grandfather. I’m so thankful for his commitment to the city and being a part of its history.”

Jenny’s teenage daughter helped design the landscaping on the property, which features everything from drought resistant succulents and sage, to marigolds, basil and a sequoia tree. The family enjoys shopping for plants at the Potting Shed in Old Towne.

The beautifully renovated kitchen features a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams. The kitchen window is trimmed in slate, while the counters are clad in granite.

In the kitchen: Jenny’s twin daughters, Sierra (left) and Paige, are active in the local community. Paige sings with her high school choir at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Sundays. Sierra is the volunteer chairperson of the Assistance League of Orange thrift shop in the Plaza.

With its arts & crafts architectural accents, incredible backyard and expansive front porch, Jenny’s home is a central gathering place for family, neighbors and friends. The single-story residence was built in the 1970s in a tract of 1950s-era ranch-style homes. In 1997, she bought the house from the original owner (who also happened to be her mother’s friend), and then proceeded to renovate and remodel the entire house from top to bottom.

“The kitchen was our first big remodel,” she says. “We knocked out a wall between the front room and the kitchen to make it more open. It was just a regular ceiling before we vaulted it and installed exposed beams. We also knocked down the entire garage and widened it by eight feet, and then added on the new front porch off the front of the house. We got ideas from looking at houses in the area built in the 1920s and 1930s.”

Jenny herself sketched the architectural drawings for the front porch, which is clad in Hardie-board fascia that looks like wood. Tapered columns are tiled in slate at each base, while hand-molded bricks reveal actual handprints in them. In keeping with the arts & crafts architectural influences, the exterior also features wood shingles, vintage-style lanterns and windows trimmed in Georgian brick.

The driveway and walkway below the front porch showcase stone from Thompson’s Brick Supply near Katella. Local mason Gordy Smith did all the masonry in the front, as well installed all the cement in the backyard, adding an acid wash for a vintage look. The backyard provides an oasis for family get-togethers.

Flowers and festive touches abound throughout the home. With the holidays just around the corner, the home will soon be decked out with lights, décor and plenty of seasonal foliage.

Installed during the remodel, the floor to-ceiling fireplace showcases gorgeous river rock. Embedded into the hearth are small tumbled stones from Jenny’s grandfather, Charles McCandless, a renowned mason in Orange who tiled the Plaza fountain in the 1930s.

Archie loves his daily walks through the historic neighborhoods of Old Towne and Hart Park.

“We love to sit by the fire pit or lounge in the Jacuzzi,” says Jenny. “We recently had the girls’ 16th birthday party in the backyard with their friends. My daughter Sierra planted most all of the plants in the back, including the Chambakka tree, Mexican sage, succulents and basil. In the front, we have a sequoia that we planted. We love going to the Potting Shed in Old Towne. The girls love all-things Old Towne. I can see them owning a store there one day.”

A graduate of Villa Park High School with a master’s degree from Chapman University, Jenny worked for the Magnolia School District in Anaheim as a school psychologist before taking a 16-year hiatus to raise her twin girls, Sierra and Paige. Having recently earned her special-education credentials, Jenny now works (albeit virtually during the pandemic) for the Orange School District.

The centerpiece of the home’s interior is the floor-to-ceiling pass- through fireplace that features stone from Tustin Stone Yard. Jenny recounts that it took three months to build the fireplace. Several tumbled stones from her grandfather are inset into the hearth. Meanwhile, the home’s three bathrooms are all tiled in the same slate featured in the kitchen.

The three-bedroom home brims with warmth and a welcoming charm with the framed family photographs taken by daughter Sierra, the rocks and pottery that Jenny has collected through the years and the artwork, antiques and keepsakes that take center stage throughout.

With its spa, fire pit and meticulous landscaping, the inviting backyard provides the perfect spot for gatherings with friends and family, including a recent 16th birthday celebration for twin daughters Paige and Sierra.

With the holidays approaching, Jenny is looking forward to their annual Christmas fun and festivities.

“We like to decorate for the holidays, and we pull out all the stops,” she says. “There are a lot of established families in the neighborhood that we celebrate the holidays with. My parents visit us just about every day.”

With her roots so firmly planted in Orange, it’s little wonder that Jenny’s family remains active in the community. Her mother volunteers at the Now & Again thrift shop run by the Assistance League of Orange, where daughter Sierra is a thrift shop chairperson. Paige is active in the Villa Park High School Choir and sings on Sundays at St. John’s Lutheran Church. They also relish spending carefree hours window shopping, visiting favorite cafés in town, or walking their dog, Archie, through historic residential neighborhoods or to Hart Park.

“I love going to the antique shops and restaurants in town,” says Jenny. “We particularly like shopping at Country Roads, where I found one of my favorite pieces of pottery in my collection. It’s been fun to see Old Towne evolve and transform through the years. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Article Published in the
Nov / Dec 20 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Karen Anderson Photos by Jeanine Hill
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