When artist Kelly Ventura had outgrown her painting space in her Milford home about four years ago, she started looking for a new studio. After about a year, Ventura — a busy mother of three kids ages 12, 10, and 6 — was driving by an old building on Milford’s Main Street and looked up to see a skylight. Ventura did some digging to find out who owned the building, discovered it had been vacant for about six years, made an offer at the end of 2017 to rent and renovate the space, and was painting in her new studio by early 2019.
“The building dates to 1872,” Ventura says of the 1,400-square-foot space. “The third floor, where we are, was called St. John’s Hall, and musicians, poets, theater groups, and more would provide local entertainment. … When we first got it, there was a toilet in the middle of the floor. There were no walls. It was a mess.”
Today, from the beautifully renovated space, Ventura and her sister, Jen Walker, run Ventura’s fine art and design business, Kelly Ventura Design. It offers Ventura’s branded line of wallpaper and fabric patterns for retail licensing, as well as fine art prints and original artwork, all of which showcase splashy, colorful watercolor motifs in muted, organic colors and shapes.
In addition to selling their own line of wallpaper and home textiles, the two collaborate with national retailers on a range of products, from bedding and stationery to dinnerware and small gifts. A few of her current retail partners include Anthropologie, Blue Sky, Crate & Barrel, and Target.
“Creating patterns is a great way to express myself,” says Ventura, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan and two impressive New York City internships for a bespoke wallpaper designer and a rug-design company under her belt. “I’m an introvert, on the quiet side and shy, so through color and texture, it’s a way for me to be louder, to express, and I get to share it with everyone.”
Some of her works are reminiscent of Great Lakes State scenery. “I think I’m inspired by trips to northern Michigan, and maybe that’s where I find my blues,” she says.
Here, Ventura shows us where all the magic happens.
A Closer Peek at Kelly Ventura’s Milford Studio
One wall showcases some 60 textile sample patterns with both floral and abstract motifs. “Our fabric line is something we just started less than a year ago,” she shares. “Some of the patterns are woven for upholstery and drapery. Some are reversible.”
Bright and light
The natural light and the 15-foot-high ceilings were the biggest draws to the building, Ventura says. “Even on the dreariest of Michigan days, it’s beautiful and bright in here.” Hanging are 12 pendant lights she purchased at West Elm.
As you enter the studio, you’re greeted with a rack of beautiful linen and linen-cotton blend pillows for sale that range in size from lumbar-style to square. It’s the backdrop of a cute sitting area that features two chairs (“$25 for two on Facebook Marketplace!”) reupholstered in Ventura’s own “Valley in Hazel” linen fabric.
Ventura has a green thumb, and it’s not from her paints. “My studio plants are like extra children for me,” she says. Discovered on Facebook Marketplace and at estate sales, Ventura’s plants include a fiddle-leaf fig that is 60 years old and 15 feet tall and a rubber tree about 14 feet tall. “It’s nice to have a little outdoors inside.”
Beauty and the brick
“When we tore down the old plaster walls, we discovered that the whole space was brick, but we felt that we needed white walls (painted in Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace), too. We kept two walls of original brick, which adds a lovely warmth and character to the studio.”
Floored by beauty
“The pine floors are, tomy knowledge, original to the building, and we salvaged them,” Ventura says. “We stripped the old finish, patched the damaged areas, and restained them. There are old chips and dents, but that adds such character to the space.”
This story is from the May 2022 issue of Hour Detroit. Click here to see more metro Detroit interiors.