An NYC Studio Without Closets? Here’s How This Art Curator Turned It Into A Functional Home

Kiara Cristina Ventura knows art. As the founder of PROCESSA, a studio space and roving curatorial platform that collaborates with galleries and artists, she’s been working in the art world since 2015. It’s with this same creative eye that she curates her own home, a studio apartment in Brooklyn she’s lived in since 2019.

“When my partner [artist Kameron Robinson] and I stepped into it for the first time, I started jumping up and down,” she says. “It had exposed brick. It had a studio space. It was in a cool location and right next to the train.”

In short, it was a New Yorker’s dream. The one thing it didn’t have? Storage.

Akin to many city-centric apartments, there were no closets, the only true storage being the kitchen cabinets. And considering the shape it was — essentially, one big square — Ventura knew that she and her partner would have to be very intentional about setting it up and creating storage within it, a challenge they were up for.

It was important for the NYC native to cultivate a tranquil refuge within the busy, overstimulating city — a peaceful, cocoon-like abode that exuded a sense of zen. “I’m a very spiritual person, so there are a lot of candles. There’s sage and palo santo in different parts of the apartment,” she says. “Spirituality definitely informs my design style, as does art. It’s eclectic.”

Of course, a zen space is inherently free of chaos and clutter, and Ventura counts keeping hers neat and tidy as the utmost priority. “When my apartment is clean and organized, the better I can rest in it, which is so important. The home is a grounding place,” she says. Because of the lack of storage, this meant the majority of the couple’s furniture needed to be multifunctional, simultaneously displaying art while acting as storage to create flow throughout the home.

This began with utilizing two side-by-side IKEA BILLY Bookcases to create a shelf wall — in all white to mimic an art gallery — which she meticulously styled with clusters of books, small sculptural objects, and plants, while cleverly showcasing cameras and other electronics that are typically stored away. Given their backgrounds, it’s no surprise that she and Robinson have amassed quite the collection of art books over the years, and it was important for them to be used to accessorize their home beyond the coffee table.

That’s not the only smart storage she brought into the apartment — an IKEA KALLAX Shelf Unit doubles as a music station and a place to hold other miscellaneous items that seem to accumulate in any household — mail, sunglasses, and the random things that pile up on the coffee table — keeping it all neatly hidden in bins in three of the four cubbies. The final cubby keeps the couple’s record collection visibly organized for easy access, while the top of the unit displays their turntable, speakers, and other decorative bits.

For other odds and ends, Ventura created a functional gallery wall that could also neatly store and exhibit sentimental objects. In between various paintings and prints are three floating IKEA EKET Cabinets filled with objects like photos, candles, and vases, seamlessly blending in as part of the wall art.

Despite some interpreting “zen” as devoid of color and vibrancy, Ventura notes that her space is anything but. “It’s very colorful, very light,” she says. In fact, the bedroom area is separated from the living room by hanging one of Robinson’s works, a large dyed canvas that takes inspiration from the sun, an amalgamation of warm yellow, orange, and red tones. Many of the other colorful works throughout the space come from the Latine and Black artists she’s made a career of uplifting.

While Ventura’s home has been shaped to hold the things she loves, the third-generation Dominican-American also drew inspiration from her upbringing and background — mixed African, European, and Indigenous (Taino) descent — to add an extra layer of meaning to the interior design. Particularly, she felt drawn to her family’s spirituality and its influence on their decor, such as altars incorporating gems and crystals. “I’ve always had this sense of curiosity about them, like, Wait, why do they have African masks near their altars? Why do they have these bowls full of water?” she says.

And so, she felt it was important to create her own altar near her bedroom area. “Even if my family didn’t directly teach me these practices, I just witnessed the intentionality and spirituality they lived with,” she says, noting that, like her great-grandmother who used to read cups, she herself reads tarot. “It’s amazing to make these connections and incorporate them into your surroundings. Your home is your space; it’s a protective space.”

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