Kelly, Al & Ava’s Art-Filled Bow House

published Jan 19, 2015
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Name: Kelly, Al and Ava Milukas
Location: Tiverton, Rhode Island
Size: 2,600 + square feet
Years lived in: 15 years; Owned

Early in their courtship, Al asked Kelly to share her philosophy on life. Without hesitation she said, “live the live!” He cocked his head to the side, and with a puzzled expression, asked, “live the life?” “No,” Kelly explained, “Live the live is much simpler and more authentic. It means to celebrate good will and LIVE every day to its absolute fullest within the means you have.”

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

The phrase has become somewhat of a family motto. The words glow in neon above their basement bar – an anniversary gift to Kelly – and serve as the title of Al’s blog, which he describes as “notes from a foodie, cook, Master Gardner, world traveler, and imbiber of creative cocktails.” The blog features the Milukas family’s culinary adventures, which take the couple and their eight-year-old daughter Ava from their New England kitchen to food markets, restaurants, and wineries around the world.

On a weekday afternoon, Al, an on-air radio personality, is preparing for the family dinner with the care and attention most would reserve for a dinner party or special occasion. “This is my other full-time job, this restaurant,” he jokes. Food is clearly a passion he raises to an art form.

The creativity that Al brings into the kitchen is matched by Kelly and Ava’s gifts for visual expression. In addition to her position as Vice President of Concerts at Providence Performing Art Center, Kelly has a successful career as a professional artist. Her love of painting has rubbed off on Ava, who started following in her mom’s footsteps at age 4.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

“She asked me at age 3-and-a-half if she could please have her own art show,” Kelly explains. “After six times over the course of a few months, I finally said, ‘well, if you’re serious, you have to have at least 30 to 40 paintings.’ She said okay without hesitation, at that early age, and painted with me nearly every weekend out in my studio. She created 35 individual beautiful works and we invited her friends and our family friends to a day of celebration.” The framed and matted paintings she exhibited were sold and auctioned with all proceeds going to two children’s foundations that give terminally ill children a camping experience or grant them a wish. A couple of the paintings Kelly and Al couldn’t bear to part with are displayed proudly in their home among the family’s vast art collection.

The art throughout the Milukas’ home exemplifies the family’s love of heritage, creative expression and adventure. “Our art is really all about honoring places and people,” Kelly says. The collection includes the work of Lithuanian artists Al’s mother used to host in New York in the 60s and 70s, along with pieces the couple has purchased in Lithuania, Al’s ancestral home. “We are lucky to travel often,” Kelly elaborates, “and when we are touched by a place, the light, the architecture, and often the artist, we try to find something that will be a symbol of that experience to take home in the form of art.”

From the home they have created, to the food and experiences they share as a family, it’s clear that the Milukas’ life has held true to Kelly’s simply stated philosophy. The Milukas’ know how to live the live.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic Arts and Crafts Comfort

Inspiration: Curator of Color

Favorite Element: Art from around the world

Biggest Challenge: The style of a Bow House (bow roof upside down hull) is always challenging due to the low ceilings and pitch of the ceiling walls, but the kitchen was the hardest, we had to tear a wall down, and move a major support beam.

What Friends Say: Your home is so comfortable.

Biggest Embarrassment: The first renovation of the basement, we didn’t properly plan for “water” and humidity. A flood forced a complete tear out and toss out of everything except the teak bar, from Asia West in Portland, Maine… ( teak likes water). Now it’s got iron bases and chairs, stained cement floors, and everything is off the floor that should be.

Proudest DIY: The art studio interior cedar walls and the overall design of the renovation and addition.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Wolfe Stove… it was way beyond our budget, but it’s used every day, multiple times a day. We take better care of it than our cars.

Best Advice: Splurge on the practical things you use every day – your oven, cooktop, countertops, sinks and your shower – and contain yourself on those that are more for esthetics, or things you just think you may use.

Dream Sources: Dwell Magazine and Maine. Magazines are awesome, and traveling overseas gives such an inspiring perspective on colors, textures, architecture and ART!

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Resources of Note:


All Paint is Benjamin Moore

  • Unifying White Walls: Mascarpone
  • All Trim: Aquaglo Semi-Gloss Super White
  • Ava’s Room – Most Walls: Wishing Well Eggshell, Interior Doors: Yin Yang Satin, Short Loft Walls: Celadon Green
  • Main Wall Behind Bookcase– Celadon Green
  • Library – Walls: Crystal Blue Eggshell, Shelf Insides: Horizon Gray, Bookcase & Pocket Doors: Arch White
  • Sunroom –Walls: Jicama
  • Kitchen – Accent Walls: Cappuccino Froth, Walls: Mascarpone
  • Stairs & 2nd Floor Hall – Accent Stair walls: Portage, Walls: Mascarpone
  • Living Room – Accent Walls: Aura Moroccan Spice, Walls: Mascarpone
  • Laundry Hall – Walls: Mascarpone
  • 1st Floor Bath – Walls: Mesa Verde Tan
  • 2nd Floor Bath – Walls: Pale Granite
  • Guest Bedroom – Walls: Woodlawn Blue Eggshell, Slanted Ceiling: Wythe Blue
  • Master Bedroom – Walls: Jicama
  • Basement – Walls: Hillside Green Deep Base, Ashwood Pastel Base, Blue Lake Medium Base
  • Mudroom: Walls: Split Pea
  • Barn Doors: Jazz


  • Fumed Oak Floors from a design shop in Manhattan, LV Wood Floors, that I walked into on a very rainy day to stay dry, and then the renovation began!
  • Two pieces of art from my favorite Montmarte Paris artist Ramzi Ghotbaldin. We have returned to visit him three separate times and acquire his works.


  • Mission Stickley Furniture from McKay’s Furniture, North Kingstown, RI
  • A piece of Ava art called A Twister, painted when she was age 4. Local artists, a boat painting rescued in a Paris flea market, Lithuanian painters and Maine painters, and a work of Kelly’s of the tannery market from a recent visit to Morocco.


  • Local artist Dora Atwater Millikin for the Powerlines
  • Art from a trip to New Zealand and Marlborough by Clarry Neame – “The Song of Marlborough,” featuring the entire orchestra of Marlborough, the vineyards and hills.
  • Burnt orange rug from the Rug in Souk Morocco, 2006.


  • Late 1800s farm table made of Tiger Maple, rescued after being in a shed in Maine for 25 years. It was all painted black and lovingly restored by Kelly back to its beauty. The table squeaks and creeks and can’t be fixed; it talks to us each night at dinner.
  • Beach painting by Olivier Suire Verley; purchased from his summer studio in the Île de Ré region of France
  • Cherry Buffet , cabinetmaker in Bend Oregon, Eric Johan


  • My pot rack. I got it in Maine 28 years ago and it’s moved with me ever since.
  • Our Wolf Stove, the idea of putting the microwave under the counter, cherry cabinets and stainless steel linear hardware sourced from


  • Strausser Solid Cherry Wood Vanity 48″
  • Maine Soap Stone Counter Top
  • Towel Rack, Renovation Hardware
  • Ceramic sculpture of rear ends, from a local artist at AS 220 many decades ago.


  • Our eight-year-old wanted all purple furniture. in Portland, Maine makes amazing eclectic handmade pieces with amazing colors!
  • Thai inspired armoire cabinet from Asia West in Portland,Maine and Moroccan Skin light and painting, bartered for in the Souk of Morocco


  • An old French armoire topped with scattered with handcarved antique birds collected from flea markets in Maine in the late 1980s.


  • A painting called The Ridges, Door County. Artist Rob Williams, Ellison Bay Wisconsin.


  • Victoria and Albert soaking tub
  • Cherry and marble credenza
  • Oversize walk in shower with Hansgrohe AXOR Cittero rain shower head.
  • Lacava 72″ solid wood – Cherry with Stone Counter and (2) Custom Sinks


  • Acid stained green cement floors.
  • Iron smoking chairs from an early 1900s factory found at Cory Daniels Gallery in Wells, Maine.


The two children’s organizations that we donated the proceeds from Ava’s art are below. We continue to support them with an annual art sale and adoptions.

  • Roundup River Ranch: They make campers with serious illnesses feel like ordinary kids. We believe in the extraordinary healing powers of “ordinary” childhood fun.
  • A Wish Come True, Inc.: They grant wishes to children age 3 through 18 who live in Rhode Island and parts of southeastern Massachusetts and suffer from life threatening illnesses.
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Thanks, Kelly, Al & Ava!

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