Personal Space: An Artist's Guide to a Happy Home Office

If you’re an artist who’s been working in a dark basement, there’s literally nowhere to go but up! Painter Kelly Ventura knocked it out of the park with this light-filled home studio.
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kelly ventura portrait

While her main gig is painting florals and other patterns for decor companies, Kelly also creates and sells (and ships) original art, prints, and stationery (kellyventura.com), all from her home.

When Michigan-based fine artist and pattern designer Kelly Ventura and her husband, Jeremy, first went house hunting five years ago, their family was growing and they wanted more space in a walkable town. Kelly’s design business was also on the rise: She’d established partnerships with companies like Crate & Barrel and Minted and needed a more functional headquarters. 

“It’s hard to paint in a dark basement,” says Kelly of her former studio space. “I needed something light, bright, and inspiring this time around.”

home office painting

It took two years of searching, but once Kelly saw the upstairs of her current home, she knew she’d found the one. The former owners had added a yoga studio with windows on three walls. Though the room was empty, Kelly saw potential in the abundance of natural light and the cork floors, which would be cushy underfoot while she stood and painted.

kelly ventura painting

"I wanted clean white walls and furniture, because I work with so much color," says Kelly.

Splurging on fancy furniture that would get hit with splatters didn’t make sense. Instead, Kelly bought basic white IKEA tables and shelving that wouldn’t compete with her artwork. Specialized pieces were a family effort: For a file cabinet that holds paintings, blank paper, and product samples, Kelly and her mother-in-law refurbished two cabinets (a steal at $60 each on Craigslist), while Jeremy and her father-in-law built a base for support. 

Now the studio is a beautiful blank slate for creating. “Waking up and painting in here is so energizing,” says Kelly. “I’ve never been so inspired!”

office couch

Kelly outgrew her studio, so she carved out a corner in a spare bedroom for office overflow. The niche next to her desk holds extra frames and mailing supplies for orders. Her office chair (an $8 diner cast-off) and the daybed (thrifted from the Salvation Army) feature seat cushions upholstered with her textile samples. Her third collection with Windham Fabrics, best known for its quilting materials, launches this year.

kelly ventura sons painting

The studio is now a favorite hangout for her boys: (center, clockwise from top) Sam, 6; Henry, 7; and Ben, 2.

“The kids even have their own supply drawer,” says Kelly. Originally an oil painter, Kelly made the switch to watercolors, which are less toxic, when she had kids.

paintings on walls kelly ventura home office studio

For the easiest-ever pinboard, Kelly mounted clipboards to a wall so she can rotate swatches, catalog tears, color chips, and images in and out for different projects.

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