New Downtown Santa Barbara Live/Work Space Is 4 Stories of Whimsy and Creativity

Anyone who’s ever wanted to live within a piece of art that also doubles as an office will find refuge within El Jardin, a soon-to-hit the market live/work unit in downtown Santa Barbara. A rooftop patio comes equipped with outdoor kitchen, shower, hot tub, fire pit and unobstructed views of the Riviera and the mountains beyond.

The funky, curvy and colorful four-story work of local architect Jeff Shelton at 819 Garden St. offers 6,000 square feet of luxury home meets high-end commercial space in the historic El Presidio neighborhood.

Bidding for the Spanish-inspired residence will start at $4,149,000 when the property is listed in December, with Sotheby’s International Realty and Hayes Commercial Group handling potential buyers.

“It’s whimsical; it’s fun,” said Melissa Birch, a listing agent with Sotheby’s. “There’s so much detail. We wanted to create a buzz.”

Those familiar with Shelton’s designs will no doubt recognize some of the same architectural features in his most recent work — bright colors, white textured walls, handmade tiles and hardwood floors.

El Jardin also features the occasional acorn or banana-shaped doorknob and custom-made glass light fixtures.

Shelton also designed Cota Street Studios, live/work spaces at 225 E. Cota St.; Casa Blanca Restaurant & Cantina, 330 State St.; and the Vera Cruz residence in the 500 block of Santa Barbara Street, where he worked with the same El Jardin owner — a local business proprietor who wished to remain anonymous.

“A lot of this stuff they teach you not to do in architecture school, tile and decorations,” Shelton said. “I want every detail to work out. (I think) how it’s going to add to the city. It’s a fantastic location. It’s a fantastic building.”

The ground floor of El Jardin boasts an oversized garage and wine cellar, with a 2,010-square-foot commercial space on the second story. Third and fourth floors house two bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms, an elevator, decks and balconies in the 2,386-square-foot residence.

A rooftop patio comes equipped with outdoor kitchen, shower, hot tub, fire pit and unobstructed views of the Riviera and the mountains beyond.

El Jardin includes an oversized garage and wine cellar on the ground floor, a 2,010-square-foot commercial space on the second, and a luxury, 2,386-square-foot two-bedroom residence on the third and fourth floors. (Eric Foote photo / Sotheby’s International Realty)

Shelton said he loves the yellow-gold line running along the building, the “crazy” zigzagging stairs — originally designed by a different owner into feng shui — and the large clock that’s seemingly on its own time zone, a play on his notion of time.

Dan Upton Construction built El Jardin, which was originally designed for a family with two children before they ultimately backed out.

Shelton said he was first called in to design the building in 2008 after the then-owner scratched another architect’s design, which was five feet taller.

The current owner bought the property that sheltered an aging, smaller residence two years ago, wanting to create more interesting downtown housing options.

El Jardin, which features metalwork throughout from Shelton’s brother, David, was selected for Santa Barbara Beautiful’s 2015 Architectural Feature Award. The Los Angeles Times also named it a “Home of the Day.”

Birch said the buyer could be anyone from a company CEO with family to retirees, likely someone who’s well traveled or even currently living outside California or the country.

“This property is a standout example of the current trend of redevelopment in downtown Santa Barbara, including The Mill on Laguna and Haley and a plethora of projects in the Funk Zone,” said Christos Celmayster, a partner at Hayes Commercial Group.