Willow Glen home: spicy with a dash of Cajun. Owners’ love of New Orleans reflected in decor

Tucked away in Willow Glen, a compact neighborhood off Old Mt. Tabor Rd., Greg and Nancy Racicot’s home is a spicy blend of things saved, collected, and inherited.

“Our house is a melding of the history of our families and the treasures we have found as we journey through life,” Nancy explained. “It’s what makes it a home for us.”

The couple bought the one-and-one-half story brick at 1212 Glen Crest six years ago because it was next door to Nancy’s father, the late Raymond Barber, then in his 80s. “It made it a lot easier to check on him and look after him,” Greg says. “And it didn’t hurt that we loved the house.”

“It was like coming home for me,” said Nancy. “I already knew all the neighbors.”

As it turned out, the house needed few changes, thanks to tasteful choices made by its previous owners, Doug and Barbara Livingston of Harrodsburg. The Racicots even kept the color scheme. “At first we didn’t think we would, but once we started putting furniture in here and saw how good it looked, we decided not to change it,” Greg explains.

Hardwood and untold linear feet of gleaming black marble floors and even some walls complement neutral colors with dramatic splashes of red on the main floor. The Livingstons even put marble on risers to dress up the oak staircase. The same black marble with gray veining anchors the owners’ suite, second-floor catwalk and Greg’s office/man cave. “I remember Barbara (Livingston) saying there’s so much marble, the contractor finally moved in with them so he could finish it faster,” Greg recalls.

Plantation shutters and thick crown moulding add to the charm of the 3,478-square-foot residence built in 1988. Glossy black wainscotting, plantation shutters and crown moulding show off big against faux finish walls in the New Orleans-inspired dining room. The custom chandelier with Italian-made tulip globes casts a warm, romantic glow onto the room’s soft, red walls.

An Arkansas native, Greg has long loved the blended culture of New Orleans that’s reflected in art displayed throughout the house. “When we go to New Orleans, we like to visit galleries and talk with the artists,” he said. The couple’s first date took place in the Big Easy after the two met at a business function in Little Rock. “It’s our favorite city to visit,” he added.

Like New Orleans -- a melting pot of French, American and African culture—the Racicot (pronounced “Roscoe”) home’s decor has evolved into an appealing blend of family heirlooms, original works of art and newer touches that tie everything together.

For example, two shadow boxes flanking the front door contain keys: two small ones to Nancy’s maternal grandparents’ home and a large “key to the city” Hazard, Ky. officials gave Barber for his role in locating a vocational education building there.

A child-size school desk that was Nancy’s mother’s when she attended elementary school in Petroleum in Allen County sits under the staircase. When Ray and Leona Hinton Barber went to the school to retrieve the desk they’d bought, it was still in the same classroom and easy to identify, thanks to the initials “LMH” the late retired teacher carved in it decades earlier.

A few steps away in the family room, an eight-foot mirror towers over the eye-popping custom-designed fireplace and mantel. An exact replica of one built for a client of Lexington interior designer Barbara Ricke, the Racicots’ snagged it when the other client—a famous country music artist—decided he didn’t want two of them in his house.

It turned out to be the piece de resistance that Ricke implemented to make the eclectic décor work.

This home is listed with Rick Queen, a Realtor with Turf Town Properties. He may be contacted at 859-268-4663, 859-221-3616, and

Raymond Barber

Raymond Barber is remembered as one of Kentucky’s most influential leaders because of his efforts to improve the quality of public education. A member of the state legislature from 1960-64, he served in some capacity with every governor from Ned Breathitt to Paul Patton. During the John Y. Brown Jr. administration, he held dual roles as superintendent of public instruction (a state elected position and de facto head of education) and as secretary of education and the arts.

Barber created and implemented the Governor’s Scholars program. He removed vocational education from high schools and created separate programs and community colleges which evolved into the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Barber also is responsible for teacher accreditation and for implementing the math, science and English requirements to obtain a high school diploma. He led the charge to equalize per-student funding across all school districts. In addition, he was one of two finalists President Jimmy Carter interviewed for U.S. Secretary of Education.