Artist Kellie Talbot Opens Her Home & Studio

At 1,000 square feet, Uptown shotgun is a giant template for Muses artist's creative touches

Kellie Talbot designed Krewe of Muses floats and this year's Jazz Fest poster.

BY JYL BENSON | Contributing writer  Pub. 2/1/2024

A bargeboard wall delineates the living area and creates a background for the on-trend sofa and Talbot's painting of a pelican. The floorlamp at left in the likeness of a goddess is in the Hollywood regency style. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

For years, Kellie Talbot and John Hamilton walked past a shotgun single that Talbot had come to call “Perrie” for its exterior shade of soothing blue with a touch of purple. When the colorful little Uptown house went on the market, Talbot longed to make it her own, but the asking price kept it from reach.

“When it went under contract, I was crushed,” she said.

When the deal fell through and the house re-emerged on the market, a friend toured the cottage and brought along Talbot, who was out of town, via FaceTime.

Mardi Gras beads adorn the front gate of the brightly colored shotgun home. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

“I already knew the house so well,” she said. “I had memorized the floor plan on Zillow and fantasized about it all the time.”

When the price came down enough for them to afford it, Talbot and Hamilton pounced on the bargeboard cottage that was built in 1876, probably as housing for a dockside worker on the river.

It mattered not to Talbot that little money was left to adorn and furnish the new home she and her husband now share with a cat (Dr. Girlfriend) and a duck (Pepe).

In her studio, Kellie Talbot is getting ready for a Cole Pratt Gallery exhibit of her photorealistic oil paintings. She also created this year's Jazz Fest poster of the Dixie Cups. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

A fine art painter, de facto “staff” artist and float designer for the Krewe of Muses, and creator of the official 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival poster featuring The Dixie Cups, Talbot would approach those tasks with her signature wellspring of creativity and thrift.

Old but fresh

“Pretty much everything in this house is a family heirloom, a family hand-me-down, stuff our friends were getting rid of, stuff found in a thrift store or garage sale, or stuff salvaged from the side of the road,” Talbot said. 

A wall of ancient wooden bargeboards arranged in a chevron pattern creates a striking backdrop for an oil painting of a pelican in flight that Talbot created for Hamilton.

In front of the wall, an on-trend tufted velvet sofa picked up on sale at Anthropologie keeps time with Talbot’s grandmother’s cocktail table that was given new life with a can of spray paint.

When Talbot and Hamilton bought the house, a large unframed mirror soared from the fireplace mantle to 11-foot ceiling, overwhelming the space. Because removing it would cause extensive wall damage, Talbot instead painted it green but preserved a small section, which she framed. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

Across the room a pair of midcentury wooden armchairs, the first pieces of furniture Hamilton's parents bought as newlyweds, were reupholstered in pale pink faux fur resembling Mongolian lamb.

Clever, Arty Updates

When the couple bought the home in 2018, a large unframed mirror soared from the top of a nearby fireplace mantle to meet the 11-foot ceiling, visually fighting with the wooden wall and the painting for dominance of the open space.

Because the mirror was permanently affixed to the wall, removing it would have necessitated costly repairs. So, Talbot just painted over it with Sherwin Williams Jadeite green paint, centered a smaller gilt-framed mirror over it, and framed the new mirror with a pair of curvaceous candelabras of gilded wood.

The result is an eye-catching vignette that leaves the original mirror undetectable — unless Talbot tells you it is there, which she will readily do.

Layering frames around a single piece of art is a thrifty way to make a bigger visual impact. 

“I think that was pretty dang crafty of me,” she said. “Paint is cheap.”

Throughout the 1,000-square-foot home, Talbot worked freehand using her favorite medium to create "spaces” and crisp definitions where none actually exist.

More visual effects

In the living room, she carried over a deeper shade of the home’s exterior color to define the space around the front door, which opens directly into the room. The deep color extends around one corner and ends in crisp lines amid the otherwise white walls to either side of the door, which is painted the same deep periwinkle as the walls.

When viewed from afar, the clever use of color gives the illusion of a tidy entry foyer.

To open up the crowded kitchen, Talbot and Hamilton removed a large island and replaced the upper cabinets with salvaged cypress bargeboards. They display dishware and a collection of the German cookware she uses everyday. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

The opposite side of the living room fireplace opens into the kitchen, where Talbot and Hamilton, a master chief with the Naval Construction Battalion, aka a Seabee, and an author of fiction, used their combined construction skills to open up the space.

They removed all the upper cabinetry as well as a room-dominating seating island, which jutted into the room from the base of the fireplace wall.

The upper cabinetry was replaced with floating shelves of salvaged bargeboard to display tidy collections of vintage cookware and glassware.

They painted and repurposed the cabinetry throughout the home. Where the island once stood is a small, round wooden table that once belonged to Talbot’s great-grandmother.

The couple snagged a taxidermied deer head from a thrift store for $5 --probably because one antler is broken. Talbot painted a golden mount for it on the wall, and hung a piece of her artwork underneath. The angel wings in her painting echo the soaring shape of the antlers. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

Artistic solutions

The table is illuminated by an atomic-style ceiling fixture and flanked by a pair of wooden armchairs reminiscent of the Louis XVI style. One of Talbot’s friends refurbished and reupholstered them in highly textured chenille with a pattern of bucks. The pattern plays along with the taxidermied deer head Talbot snagged from a thrift store for $5.

“Usually deer heads are mounted,” Talbot said, “but he was not, so I made one for him.”

To accomplish this, she painted a gold arch over and around the base of the deer’s neck and down the wall, where the shimmering gold paint ends in a dripping pattern against the deep gray walls.

Opposite the room, a “frame” was painted on the fireplace wall to accentuate a resin portrait by Seattle artist Troy Gua that merges the likenesses of Jack Kerouac and President John F. Kennedy. The frame of paint draws the eye upward.

Talbot stacked vintage suitcases that came from Hamilton's family to create a side table. The ornate porcelain lamp was made in the 1960s by Talbot's grandmother. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

Talbot spent many a night lying awake in frustration in the couple’s coral-pink bedroom, where the frame surrounding a pair of louvered closet doors jutted out in an odd dogleg angle.

“It drove me crazy, so I decided to cover it with flowers,” she said. She kept on going. The display of variously sized white foam flowers she bought online extends up the wall and across the ceiling over the bed.

The room is adorned with collections of art in gilded frames, gilded-frame mirrors, and gilded Hollywood Regency-era lamps in the likeness of cherubs the couple picked up in a thrift store on River Road.

Creating a distinctive vibe

A hallway to the rear of the bedroom leads to the yard and beyond, to the painting studio where she executes her distinctive photorealistic paintings of vintage neon signs.


Irked by a dogleg in the molding around the bedroom closet doors, Talbot finally came up with a solution. The lowest flowers at left hide the imperfection, and the addition of even more flowers creates a statement look. She handpainted the ceiling. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

On one side of that hallway, a bank of 1960s-era jalousie windows that open to overlook a side alley made Talbot feel like she was in a terrarium, so she leaned into it.

Hamilton, a Michigan native, tiled the floor in river rock. He put shallow shelves in front of the windows and covered them in succulents and flickering candles that cast watery shadows on the walls. A collection of taxidermied puffer fish are suspended on clear filament from the window frames.

Two of Talbot's photorealistic paintings share space with decorative plates depicting birds, centered in a small space over a settee. Talbot used paint to define the shape of the plate on the left, keeping it visually connected to the other pieces even though it breaks the plane of the grouping. PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

Talbot and Hamilton’s journey to the soothing and surreal place they now call home started in 1999 when Talbot, a native of Seattle, came to visit a friend who was housesitting for an extended period in the French Quarter.

“When the taxi pulled up, I looked around and said, ‘New Orleans, where have you been all my life?’" she recalled.

Today, however, she is fully enmeshed in the Crescent City. 

Catch her in the Krewe of Muses parade on the Uptown route at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8.

Her  new exhibit, “A Visual Vernacular,” featuring her photorealistic oil paintings depicting vintage neon signs, opens April 6 at Cole Pratt Gallery, 3800 Magazine St.

And the 2024 poster will be available at Jazz Fest, April 25 to May 5 at the fairgrounds, or now at

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