Colin & Soleil Bogan
Colin & Soleil Bogan

From their front porch on North Harwood, Colin and Soleil Bogan love to watch the sunrise and vastness of the sky above Old Towne Orange.  Most of their plants are from The Potting Shed in the Plaza.

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There’s something especially magical about two small rental homes on North Harwood in Old Towne, where tenants through the years have experienced transformative, life-changing events that have led to love, happiness and even marriage.

For Old Towne native Soleil Bogan, her time as a renter at Bret and Michele Jackson’s tiny rental coincided with meeting the love of her life, Colin Bogan, who she married in 2021.  The couple now lives across the street in the blue house, which is also owned by the Jacksons.

“The tiny house is magical and gives you whatever you might need in your life in the moment,” says Soleil, who at the time in 2018 was recovering from the tragic loss of her then-fiancé Matt to cancer.  “I saw the for-rent sign when walking my dog, and I took a leap of faith.  For me, the tiny house gave me comfort and healing, and helped me move forward in fostering new love when Colin came into my life a year later.”

Whether coincidence or destiny, five different female renters prior to Soleil also met their soulmates while living in the tiny house on North Harwood.  One couple got married and settled in Old Towne; the other couple married and then rented the blue house for a time as newlyweds.

Soleil and Colin on their wedding day on June 5, 2021, flanked by Soleil’s parents, Chuck and Sheila Walstead. (Photo by Stefani Welsh Studios)

The comfy and musical living room is a favorite spot for hanging out. Most of the décor and plants were purchased from retailers in Orange, while many of their books came from Little Free Libraries found during walks to town.

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In honor of the romantic nexus between both properties, Colin and Soleil held their wedding ceremony in the backyard of the tiny house followed by their reception in the backyard of the blue house.  Her grandparents hired a mariachi band that led the small wedding party to the blue house across the street for the reception.

“It felt very symbolic of the significant number of people who had lived in the tiny house and found partnerships there, and then moved into the blue house where we live now,” says Colin.  “It’s like the natural order of things here in this neighborhood.”

Built in 1909 as living quarters for ranch hands, the blue house totals 753 square feet on a tenth of an acre.  Much of the abode is vintage, such as the beautiful hardwood floors in the main living room and back bedroom.  Also original to the home are several double-hung windows, including the sizeable window at the front-entry porch.

“The windows are amazing and have the original pulley system that slides up and down within the window frame,” says Colin.  “They make a ringing sound as they open.  There are other fixtures and hardware in the home that appear to be original as well.”

The couple relaxes near the vintage blood-orange tree in the back yard, where parties are hosted, music is played and naps are had. 

The cozy kitchen features nostalgic stained-glass windows that cast a beautiful light throughout the day. 

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What the blue house lacks in square footage, the yard makes up for in size.  The centerpiece of the backyard, the stately avocado tree produces a bounty of buttery avocados twice a year and a broad canopy of shade.

“The tree feels grandfatherly and hugs the entire middle portion of the yard,” says Soleil.  “When it’s hot outside, we like to sit under the shade of the tree where it’s at least ten degrees cooler.”

With an expansive lawn, seating niches, picnic table, fire pit and pathways, the backyard offers a favorite retreat for the couple and their cute, little dog, Lu.  The couple hosts multiple outdoor gatherings for friends and family throughout the year.  The picnic table originated from Hart Park via their old neighbor, Tom, a lifelong resident of Old Towne.

“When he passed away, his family gave us the picnic table and we painted it to match the trim on the house,” says Soleil.  “I remember him playing guitar on that picnic bench when I lived in the Tiny House next door.  It turns out that my grandma actually went to school with him at Holy Family Catholic Church in town, and he grew up in his house.  Now there’s a new and wonderful family that lives there.”

The stately avocado tree provides cool shade, lots of avocados and a home for squirrels, parrots, owls and hawks.  Gifts from each other and from family, dried Hawaiian lei (po‘o and maile) hang from the branches.  “We love hosting events for our friends and family and seeing everyone gathered here under the tree,” says Soleil.

The piano was purchased by Colin’s grandfather in the 1960s.  Colin, as well as his dad, aunt and uncle, grew up playing this piano, which now fills the home with music.  Colin’s grandmother made the quilt on the piano bench.

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Like the old avocado tree, Soleil’s roots in Old Towne grow deep.  Her great-grandfather Ralph, from her dad’s side of the family, was the projectionist at what is now Son Light Theater on North Glassell.  Her mom’s side of the family, who lived in the Historic Cypress Street Barrio and owned the Cypress Street Market, attended shows while Ralph worked there.  Her parents, Chuck and Sheila Walstead, still live in the family home on East Palm where Soleil grew up.  A musician, Chuck owns the garage-door company in Orange that his father founded in 1963.  Sheila owns a dance studio in town called Moana Nui School of Polynesian Dance where Soleil still dances.

Old-timers in Old Towne will remember the license-plate frames that Soleil’s grandmother, Erin, made that read: “It’s the Plaza, not the Circle.”  Her grandmother also created Native Orange stickers and decals she would give away with the license plates.

A native of Fullerton, Colin attended Fullerton College and transferred to UCLA.  Currently, he works as a foreman in the audio-visual trade.  In his spare time, he plays guitar and writes and records music.  He also plays piano on the heirloom piano passed on to him by his grandfather.

Colin and Soleil spend time in the garden where they grow vegetables and herbs throughout the year to share with friends and family.  Seeds came from the seed-lending library at the Orange Home Grown Farmer’s Market. 

Guests gather at the very first Harwood Hunnies party in 2022.  

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The couple appreciates their life in Old Towne Orange.  Both are involved in fitness groups in town.  Colin practices Brazilian martial arts at 10th Planet.  Soleil takes dance classes at Leyenda Ballet Folklorico.

Expanding their circle of neighbors and friends, Soleil recently co-founded a social group called the Harwood Hunnies.  They gather once every three months to get to know neighbors farther down the block.  “It’s so fun and really a great way for us newer, younger folks to connect with those who have lived in our neighborhood for many years,” she says.

For Colin and Soleil, life on North Harwood couldn’t be sweeter.  They can walk to the Plaza four blocks away or simply stay home and enjoy their close-knit neighborhood.

“We are grateful to be able to live in Old Towne,” says Colin.  “To have such amazing landlords, and to be in such close proximity to our parents and family, you can’t wish for anything more.”

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Article Published in the
Mar / Apr 24 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Karen Anderson Photos by Kristin Smetona
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