The Everyday Carry of an Architect: Jeff Shelton

"Certain types of ideas live in certain instruments." -Jeff Shelton

By Paige Alexus

Los Angeles Times

Home of the Day: A Dr. Seuss-like space in Santa Barbara

This whimsical live-work space in Santa Barbara's Presidio neighborhood could just as well be found in the pages of a Dr. Seuss book with a pueblo-inspired design accentuated by bright ceramic tiles and Escher-like details.

By Neal J. Leitereg


This Zany Santa Barbara House is Reminiscent of Both MC Escher and Dr Suess

Architect Jeff Shelton has a penchant for designing wild, artistic houses, and this one is no exception. The Santa Barbara, California home, recently put on the market for $4.149 million, is, as the listing describes, "reminiscent of artistic MC Escher with winding, seemingly-endless stairs and also Dr. Suess for his fantastical use of shapes and colors."



El Andaluz looks more like a Barcelona building designed by Antoni Gaudí than it does a California condo complex. Its bold forms, vibrant colors, and curves galore look similar to Gaudí's Casa Batallo and set the building apart from its tidy Americana neighbors.

Design Bureau


Contemporary Hints in Santa Barbara

What many may not know is the way in which Santa Barbara architect Jeff Shelton, among others, is taking Spanish style to new heights, challenging the typical building aesthetic of Santa Barbara. Though it would be a stretch to call this a modern movement, there are contemporary twists that stand out in a sea of sameness where there weren't before.

By Kerri Kelly
Photography by Steven Holmes

Casa Bohemia

The Spanish-Styled House

A celebration of the uniquely vibrant architecture and interiors of classic and new Spanish-style houses in the southwestern and southern United States, Mexico, and Spain. Casa Bohemia showcases a collection of some of the most beautifully preserved Spanish style houses, from restored haciendas in Mexico to early and recent 20th century California mission styles.

Three of Jeff's designs are featured in this book: Casa de la Riviera, Casa Ablitt, Casa Oak Tree.

By Linda Leigh Paul
Principal Photography by Ricardo Vidargas

Additional Photography credits:
Wayne McCall
Jim Bartsch

Casa Bohemia Cover

Santa Barbara Independent

Jeff Shelton, Santa Barbara’s Architectural Wizard

Is Pearl Chase rolling over in her grave, or is she jumping for joy?

From the rooftop of El Andaluz, the newest building going up along the Chapala corridor, we could see the dazzling panorama that is Santa Barbara: Sailboats bobbing in the marina, red-tiled roofs defining white stuccoed buildings, the Santa Ynez Mountains cascading toward Rincon-a city of natural beauty and human charm. To the north, of course, stood the charred, color-leached hills stretching from Montecito to Goleta, a devastating vista left by four wildfires within two years...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

By Michael Seabaugh

Jeff Shelton Architect in the Santa Barbara Independent

Sunset Magazine

Come on, live happy

In Santa Barbara, a lighthearted design for a condo complex boosts spirits and fosters community.

By Samantha Schoech
Photography by Andrea M. Gómez

Jeff Shelton Architect in Sunset Magazine


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.

By Gina Potthoff

FunkZone Podcast

Santa Barbara's Best Known Architect

A Jeff Shelton building is unmistakable once you know his style. And as he is a Santa Barbara native *and* devoted to only building in his hometown, so Santa Barbara is the only place you'll see his curvy, Dr. Seuss-like creations.

Designer Insights with Terry's Fabrics

Jeff Shelton is an architect that designs with a touch of whimsy to appeal and relate to everyday people, working from his own firm, based in California. Jeff is a strong advocate of developing Mediterranean based architecture in Santa Barbara, so works frequently with local artisans with the same vision. His goal has been to enlighten Santa Barbara by creating a strong sense of freedom, in a similar vein as Gaudí achieved in Barcelona. So we are proud to bring you the Designer Insights of Jeff Shelton.

By Tudor Davies

Mediterranean Design

Cota Street Studios & Pistachio House

More countries line the Mediterranean Sea than any other body of water. "Mediterranean" conjures up passionate, sensual visions of the ocean and charming villages. Mediterranean Design has universal appeal, reaching from the roots of Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, and Croatia to interpretive architecture in the United States, most especially in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

Mediterranean architecture touches people through comfort on a basic level with charm, beauty, and nature, wrapped in sculptural elements and tempered by vivid colors and tactile textures. Mediterranean communities are tight-knit, friendly circles where partnership is valued. Invite this engaging design into your living space to encourage social interaction and elegant warmth.

By Mary Whitesides

mediterranean design

Santa Barbara Seasons

Art + Architecture + Ablitt

A Living Work of Art in the Heart of the City

One of Santa Barbara's most exceptional examples of public art occupies a sliver of land in a back alley off Haley Street, just west of the busy pub and restaurant district on lower State Street. The story of its construction is a fascinating tale that begins in 1984, when Neil Ablitt (rhymes with tablet) founded Ablitt's Fine Cleaners & Launderers on a piece of family property. He also bought a tiny lot in the middle of the same block, not to build on, but so he could use its Haley Street address to possibly run for a position on the planning commission.

By Cheryl Crabtree
Photography by Jim Bartsch

Pocket Neighborhoods

Chapter 14: Lines of Enticement

When Jeff Shelton is designing a building, he keeps his eye out for "god lines," a term he uses for the lines of enticement that make you curious to follow a path through a gate or around the next bend. He tries to find the "master lines" as he begins to develop a design, and treats is almost as an animate being, tracing its path and coaxing it to reveal its special delights. "You may not be able to see these lines," he says "but you can certainly feel them."

By Ross Chapin

 Luxury Home Quarterly

Jeff Shelton Architect: Designer Taps Local Artists to Bring Unusual Building to Life

El Andaluz seduces and hypnotizes Chapala Street pedestrians, who often saunter over for a closer look. The mixed-use Santa Barbara development of seven condos and two parts Dr. Seuss and one part Escher. Wavy plaster walls bow and curve as keyhole openings lead to a shared courtyard filled with dazzling custom tiles. Painted ceilings hold oversized glass and iron fixtures while handmade lamps and flowerpots extend from the walls. The distinctive project was designed by architect Jeff Shelton and features the work of many local artists and artisans. 

By Zach Baliva

SB Digs

Riviera Home Designed by Jeff Shelton

There's a reason Annie and Paul de Bruyn Kops use the work "magical" to describe their Riviera home. With artisanal features like sculpted stucco walls and handcrafted tiles, the three-thousand square foot space feels like a gigantic work of art.

This makes perfect sense since Annie was a longtime art instructor at Cold Spring School. Whether you’re inside or out, each blink of the eye reveals something unique: a glass pendant’s glimmering reflections; a wood-beamed ceiling’s snowflake motif; a Gaudiesque iron balcony’s changing patterns.

“There really isn’t anywhere that you’re not looking at some delightful detail or another,” she says gazing down at the black and white swirls in the floor tiles of the entry hall. “We wanted to have people come in and feel as though they’re walking on a bed of flowers,” she says.

By Arnie Cooper
Photography by Jim Bartsch

SB digs, Arbolado Hosue by Jeff Shelton Architect


Outdoors: Jeff Shelton

Huts in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara architect Jeff Shelton is known for his fanciful, almost Gaudi-esque buildings (see his Ablitt Tower, for instance). We also like his garden huts, which he creates using reclaimed wood and vintage doors and windows.

By Julie Carlson

Food & Home Magazine

Downtown Artistry

If you take a stroll in lower downtown Santa Barbara, chances are good that you’ll happen by one of the buildings designed by local architect Jeff Shelton. Each of them has a unique, yet consistent theme to the surrounding buildings in the neighborhood…hand finished plaster walls, ironwork detailing and his signature custom tiles. Shelton’s philosophy on urban design is simple:

“I purposefully try not to get to a design until I understand the limitations as well as the opportunities,” Says Shelton. I try to understand the codes and rules. I try to ask good questions to the clients. Once that is all generally understood, I see what opportunities are left. From the very beginning, the client needs to understand that besides getting what they want, they need to give back to the community. If they want to move in to a community and cause havoc, I won’t take the job.”

By Raymond Bloom
Photography by Eliot Crowle

Jeff Shelton Architect at Casa Blanca Restaurant

805 Magazine | PULSE

Tile by Design

It was probably inevitable that Santa Barbara architect Jeff Shelton would end up creating tiles for the homes he designs.

By L.D. Porter
Photography by Wayne McCall

Jeff Shelton Architect in 805 Magazine

Dining and Destinations

It Takes a Village

A Riviera home designed by Jeff Shelton reaches artistic heights thanks to a team of local artisans.

By Arnie Cooper
Contributing Editor Nancy Salvucci
Photography by Jim Bartsch

Jeff Shelton Architect in Dining and Destinations

Broughton Quarterly

Art & Soul

Santa Barbara architect Jeff Shelton on bovine art and the benefits of strict building codes.

Interview by Matt Katz

Jeff Shelton Architect in Broughton Quarterly

Sunset Magazine 

Taking Spanish Style to New Heights

By Peter O. Whiteley
Photographs by Thomas J. Story

Jeff Shelton Architect in Sunset Magazine


Art-Covered Home Turns Quiet Street into Outdoor Gallery

Inspired by childhood visits to Santa Barbara's now-demolished "House of a Thousand Paintings," architect Jeff Shelton constructed a house covered top-to-bottom in artwork in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable Santa Barbara neighborhood. It looks surprisingly rad, given how easily a project like this might descend into hokeyness - the lime-green tint and the patterning on the roof really bring the place together - but the real surprise here is how hassle-free the approval process was: no fights with developers, and aside from a few angry notes, no hassle from neighbors, even though the Vera Cruz House is surrounded by neutral-colored, non-painting-covered homes. Shelton and artist Richard Wilke each created about 60 of the panels covering the home, and for the rest, he handed out canvases to local artists, requesting that they paint something from a place they had travelled to, or where they grew up.

By Spencer Peterson
Photo via Dining and Destinations

Santa Barbara Independent

Scene in S.B. 

Vera Cruz & Vandenberg

“This whole thing happened with faith. I didn’t advertise for the artists; it was all just a funny momentum,” said Jeff Shelton, the architect behind the “Vera Cruz Project.” The house on Santa Barbara Street, which used to be an empty lot, will ultimately boast 400 paintings with the theme “a place you’ve vacationed.” “Whether it’s a grand story, or a little moment, everyone had something to paint, so I’m really glad there was a theme,” said Shelton. “I told people no dolphins or clowns though!”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

By Caitlin Finch

Jeff Shelton Architect in the Santa Barbara Independent

Santa Barbara Magazine

Laguna Vieja

Jeff Shelton Architect. “What defines Santa Barbara architecture is the use of light; those designs that are exceptional are the ones that capture light and views.”

By Jane P. Ellison

Jeff Shelton Architect in Laguna Vieja

Food & Home

Fall 2002

Downtown Bound

Mixed-use pioneers resurrect vitality and style in the heart of the city.

In her classic 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs argued that keeping commercial and residential activity in the same place is crucial to the vitality of a city. Forty years later, Americans have begun to embrace the wisdom of her ideas, calling it the "new urbanism" and advocating a return to the high density, small scale, mixed commercial and residential communities of pre-suburbia. Like Jacobs, they cite the charm and practicality of European cities, which have used this model for centuries.

By Hilary Dole Klein
Photography by Rod Rolle

Tile Magazine

California Dreaming, With an Andalucian Twist

An assortment of tile–including various shapes, sizes and colors–was essential in creating the vibrant design of a four-story residence in Santa Barbara, CA. While the walls throughout the home extensively make use of colorful, customized, ceramic pieces, the floors feature decorative cement tiles. The entire house was designed to reflect the Andalucian style of architecture–and the selected tile products were a key in achieving this desired goal.

By Jennifer Adams

Santa Barbara Magazine

Homing in on Downtown

New Habits, New Controversies, New Attitudes

THE VIEWS ARE SENSATIONAL: the Riviera and Carpinteria foothills from the entry and kitchen, the blue Pacific from the living room, the Mesa from the rear terrace. But this new home isn’t on a Montecito knoll, a Hope Ranch hillside or an Upper East Slope. It’s on lower State Street, close enough to the 101 to gauge the speed of traffic.

By Laurie Deans
Photography by Russ Widstrand

Jeff Shelton Architect in Santa Barbara Magazine

Destination Wine Country

Gail and Gene Zannon, who owned and operated the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company since 1991, have only to walk a few blocks from their downtown home to oversee their popular stat at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market. They live in a much admired live/work space designed by architect Jeff Shelton on the block of lower State Street, where Gail is the self proclaimed Mom of the Block. If the music is too loud at Q’s, she’s the one who calls up, and they turn it down.

Originally on DestinationWineCountry.com

Photography by Deja Hsu

Jeff Shelton Architect in Destination Wine Country

805 Living

June 2008

Gimme Shelter: Sheds Are Small Buildings With Limitless Functions

Santa Barbara architect-artist Jeff Shelton may work on big-budget projects, but when it comes to his fanciful garden sheds, Shelton's "less is more" philosophy is appealing. Known for designing whimsical, Spanish-style residential and commercial buildings around downtown Santa Barbara, he also has a colorful crop of shed designs to his credit. Clearly, not all square feet are created equal.

By Debra Prinzing

Sunset – Outdoor Living

Spanish flavor: Old World style brightens new outdoor rooms

A sense of humor enlivens Gene and Gail Zannon's row house in Santa Barbara. Local architectural icons–white walls with arched openings, red-tiled patios, and tile roofs–dominate the design, yet they're embellished with personal touches that bring a smile. The home celebrates its balmy setting with exterior spaces, seven on multiple levels. Alongside these balconies are covered porches, all with comfortable features, such as a sitting area, built-in bench, or outdoor fireplace.

Apartment Therapy

Dr. Suess Does Santa Barbara

Visiting the West Coast this week from NYC, we were overjoyed to see this article in yesterday's LA Times real estate section...

By Maxwell Ryan

Los Angeles Times

Nowhere to go but up

Santa Barbara--BUILDING a luxury home on a gritty back-alley patch measuring only 20 feet by 20 feet seemed preposterous on its face. But Neil Ablitt and his wife, Sue, just moved into their pint-sized palace, a whimsical four-story tower that suggests the hand of Dr. Seuss.

By Jane Hulse

CBS News

Livin' On The Edge

At over 70 feet tall and with a 20 x 20 footprint, the Ablitt Tower is only large enough to house one room per floor, as seen on HGTV's "Extreme Living."

Credit: HGTV

Los Angeles Times

Santa Barbara Couple Get a Lot of Home on Tiny Lot

The Ablitts win city approval to build a four-story tower on a 400-square-foot downtown property.

By Steve Chawkins

Food & Home

Winter 2001

Everything New is Old Again

Local designers and craftsmen have honed their unique skills to create an old world style that is distinctly Santa Barbaran

By Kim O'Brien
Photography by Kristen Weber, Celeste Wiedmann, Jon Larson and Thomas Ploch


Vera Cruz House on Santa Barbara Street a Colorful Work of Art

You can’t miss it.

On Santa Barbara Street, there is a bright-green house covered in artwork and topped with solar panels. It’s called the Vera Cruz House, and it’s the vision of architect Jeff Shelton, known for his creative designs and artistic elements.

It lives up to that reputation, with the entire exterior paneled with paintings from local artists.

Shelton handed out panels and told artists to paint something from a place they traveled or the place where they grew up. It was left vague on purpose, so people could send a cityscape or the sign from their favorite restaurant, he said. Every single piece is donated.

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Jeff Shelton Architect in Noozhawk