An Artist And A Minimalist Find Balance In Sharing A Renovated Uptown Side Hall Shotgun

For visual artist, illustrator and author Emma Fick, the glass eggs her grandmother Ginny collected became more than things sitting on a shelf.

They inspired some of Fick’s own colorful artwork, in which she’s incorporated eggs “as symbols of rebirth and safe spaces,” she said. “I’m positive seeing those eggs in their house influenced me from a young age.”

A few of those eggs now are displayed throughout the 1,950 square-foot, Delachaise Street side-hall shotgun Fick shares with her partner, Helvio Prevelato Gregorio.

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Fick- Helvio and Emma with a poster she designed for Bayou Boogaloo in 2018 ORG XMIT:

While Fick is a self-described “collector at heart,” and has numerous collections that inspire her throughout the home, Prevelato Gregorio is a minimalist.

“His only thing is if you’re going to have this much stuff, you have to keep it clean and you have to keep it neat,” she said, adding that the two have the same aesthetic when it comes to art and jointly decide on furniture pieces. Most came from family or were purchased secondhand through Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or vintage shops.

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Fick- the kitchen is very open and features an Island. ORG XMIT:

They’ve managed to make their opposing decor styles work by deftly combining their furniture, Fick’s artwork, various collected objects and the mementos from travels to more than 40 countries.

The result is eclectic spaces where nearly every beautiful piece has a story or memory about where it was found or who gifted it. “It’s almost like being in a little museum of things that I love. Everything has a symbol and a meaning,” Fick said.

There’s a handful of bug and beetle items, along with some "wiggles and squiggles," Fick’s term for the curved pieces she's acquired. They include clay creations she’s made, hair accessories by a South African artist purchased online, and a blown glass knot found at New Orleans consignment store Consign Consign.

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Fick- In the foyer, the presence of Emma’s fascination with hands is prevalent. ORG XMIT:

But most of the display space is dedicated to Fick’s more than 87 objects shaped like hands. Found in the form of statues, bookends, wall-hung artworks, glove forms and more, they make up her oldest and largest collection.

“I revere hands because they are the conduits through which I get things from my brain to the page,” said Fick, who found her first decorative hand — made of blue glass — at a Midwestern antiques fair during a college road trip. It now stands among a grouping of glass eggs and stacks of books on one of the house’s multiple reclaimed wood shelves, created by woodworkers Benjamin Bullins and Matthew Holdren.

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Fick- Emma’s office and chill space. ORG XMIT:

“I love thrifting. I love looking for treasures, so it was very meaningful for me to symbolically put down roots through the home,” she said, adding that Prevelato Gregorio “likes what I do and lets me do my own thing."

Their combined look includes the wooden bench and geometric plant stand handmade by Fick’s paternal grandfather; prints — hanging on the kitchen walls — place mats, and ceramics from Prevelato Gregorio’s native Brazil; and kitchenware and pillows from the thrifting troves of Fick’s mother, Eva Gold.

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Fick- Behind the fence, Emma and Helvio’s house displays their personalities from the first step into the yard. ORG XMIT:

The couple will show off their home via a Zoom webinar at 10:30 a.m. June 19. It is one of five virtual shotgun house tours, along with a bonus tour of a Creole cottage, being presented as part of the Preservation Resource Center’s Shotgun House Month. Held throughout June, the tours and other online programming celebrate the city’s beloved housing type.

Fick and Prevelato Gregorio, who met in Serbia in 2015, weren’t specifically searching for a shotgun when they started their house hunt. Because both work from home — even pre-pandemic — their wish list included enough square footage and the right layout to accommodate a studio for her and an office for him. As frequent travelers, they also didn’t want to invest the time or energy into major house projects.

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Fick-The exposed wood is from the Previous owners renovation. ORG XMIT:

After nearly a year of looking at lots of houses that didn’t work, and a failed deal on another shotgun, they found what they needed in the circa 1920 three-bedroom, two-bath home. After being abandoned since Hurricane Katrina, it had been completely renovated in 2015 by its previous owners, James and Barbara Willeford.

The project focused on saving as much of the original structure as possible, such as the nonfunctioning fireplaces. Wood beams found underneath the house were turned into decorative ceiling beams, door and window trim, and wide baseboards. All the wood was left exposed to tie the spaces together and provide a pleasing contrast to the white walls and white painted floors.

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Fick- hand bookends and other hands fill the table by the living space. ORG XMIT:

Layout changes created more space and a better flow. The rooms just off the entry became an open living area, anchored at one end by floor-to-ceiling windows and at the other end by the kitchen, with its large Carrera marble-topped island. The existing side hall was bumped out, and the cased opening between it and the kitchen was expanded.

The home’s two guest rooms and a guest bath are tucked one behind the other off the side hall, which ends at the master suite. One became an office for Prevelato Gregorio, an oceanographer. The other is where Fick does illustrations, including those for her upcoming book, “Border Crossings: A Journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.”

While much of the house is dedicated to work spaces and storage, “it doesn’t feel like it,” Fick said, in part because of the side-hall layout and some stylish storage solutions, such the wooden tower her father, Tom, built for her art prints, which are kept in old wooden wine boxes.

An English professor with a woodworking hobby, he also created colorful wooden sculptures — one is a large free-standing hand, the other a wall-hung dragon — for the garden. During the COVID-19 shutdowns last year, the couple created new garden beds and pathways, along with a dining space, and placed Fick’s various succulents on tables rescued from trash piles.

The couple also has been able to successfully live and work in the home by “thinking of creative ways to mentally divide up the spaces to make them dual function,” Fick said.

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Fick- Helvio decorated his office with one of his favorite pieces by Emma ORG XMIT:

In the living room, she first thought of putting up decorative screens to more literally divide the conversation spots from her studio, where she creates the larger pieces sold at art markets and through her website,

Instead, she did lots of furniture rearranging and finally ended up turning the sofa toward the kitchen, with a console table behind it, creating a separation from her drafting tables by the front windows.

The console table contains two of Fick’s favorite hand pieces, both found while traveling abroad. She got the red ceramic hand for just change in an outdoor market on the outskirts of Paris. Three brass door knockers came from an antique shop in Coimbra, Portugal.

“We had seen them on old houses all over,” she said. “I was dying to buy one, and I didn’t know where I could possibly find one. We went in this tiny, dusty shop, and they were there. ... They’re very heavy, and I had to carry them around in my backpack for the next month. But it was worth it.”


What: Five virtual shotgun house tours and other online programming held throughout June, presented by Entablature Design + Build & Entablature Realty

When: Emma Fick and Helvio Prevelato Gregorio will lead live a virtual tour of their shotgun at 10:30 a.m. June 19.

Where: Online via Zoom webinar. To register, and to see more about featured homes, visit

Cost: $25 donation suggested. 

More: Shotgun House Design Guide, filled with 3D tours and detailed information about the paint colors, materials and products used on the featured houses; with donation.

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An artist and a minimalist find balance in sharing a renovated Uptown side-hall shotgun

An artist and a minimalist find balance in sharing a renovated Uptown side-hall shotgun