Eye on KELOLAND: DIY duo

Eye on KELOLAND

VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Meet Katherine Peel and Judy Benson; both are interior designers who made the move from Colorado to Vermillion.

What drew them here? A motel.

“We like the town; we liked the motel and the opportunity it gave us to redo the rooms. It’s an interior designer’s dream because you don’t have a client; you’re doing whatever you want to do,” Studio 13 Motel and RV Park co-owner Judy Benson said.

The motel dates back to the 60s. The duo business partners purchased it in 2018.

Now called Studio 13 Motel and RV Park, the women are restoring to its mid-century charm with a modern twist.

“Nobody wants to sleep on a mid-century mattress or sit on a mid-century chair,” Benson said.

“I think in the past three years we’ve replaced 18 mattresses, which is a lot. Bed frames and headboards and all the furniture. It was all decades old,” Studio 13 Motel and RV Park co-owner Katherine Peel said.

The motel features a pub and 18 rooms.

Four are completely renovated so far, and the plan is to redo all of them.

“Kind of went with neutral walls and neutral carpet and picked different mid-century wallpapers to kind of be the artwork,” Benson said.

Aside from plumbing and electrical updates, this duo has been doing the work themselves.

“When we’re not working in a room or doing some kind of manual labor or cleanup or that kind of thing, then we’re doing the business of a motel, which is renting the rooms, cleaning the rooms, keeping guest happy with their stay. It’s a 24/7 kind of job doing the remodeling ourselves and the actual business of the motel,” Peel said.

The grounds used to include a mini golf course and a swimming pool. Now there’s a seasonal RV Park with 9 camping sites.

There’s still work to do at Studio 13.

Benson says the pair is hoping to have renovations complete in about two years.

“I think it’s pretty special, actually. By the time we’re done with it it’s going to be more of a boutique hotel, but not at the price of a boutique,” Benson said.

These two have embarked on a journey that’s been both fun and challenging.

“You make progress and then there’s fires to put out, pipe bursts in a room and it floods. ‘Okay, maybe that’s the next one we remodel because we’re going to rip the carpet out anyway.’ You plan and it doesn’t work out that way, but you keep going,” Benson said.

And you can see all that hard work in this motel where mid-century and modern meet.

The motel is open for business, but the RV Park runs May through October.

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