Jefferson Highway was a two-lane country road 41 years ago when Linda and Wayne Barker bought their home.
There, between the Lobdell and Old Hammond intersections, the family "kept a horse in the front yard and had a stable in the back," Linda Barker recalled.
At the time, the Barkers had a shop on Government Street, where she sold a few antiques, mostly on commission, and he stripped and refinished furniture in the back. Money was tight, so they decided to economize by buying a house where they could live with their two small children, Matthew and Chris, and run their business.
They added a laundry room and a closet, moved the kitchen and turned the back half of the house into their shop.
"Several years later, we decided that we were busy enough and more and more people were interested in antique jewelry, and Wayne was less and less interested in stripping and refinishing, so we built the store, Barker's Antique Jewelry, on the back of the house and took the house back," Linda Baker said.
When the couple first came to Baton Rouge, they met interior designer Bruce Foreman, who taught them a lot about refinishing antique furniture and who became Linda Barker's "partner in crime" in changing up the house.
"This house has been so many different colors," Foreman said. "Once, we even had the living room Turkey Red."
The exterior of the home is painted what Foreman calls "Linda Barker Buttaaa Yellow" with bittersweet doors and trim and dark green shutters.
"My grandchildren all call me 'Butter' because of my forever over-use and requested extra servings of butter," she said.
The main entrance is through a deep porch that faces the back of the property. An unusual square entrance hall steps down to the living room painted the same yellow, even on the ceiling, a contrast to the fireplace mantel Foreman had painted black. The windows, cornices and two chairs are covered in a linen fabric in a chinoiserie pattern.
The draperies, made decades ago, are still in perfect condition.
"That's because they were made properly of fine fabric," Foreman said. "They were double lined. That way the fabric didn't fade."
Linda Barker said she believes in the value of using fine fabrics.
"The draperies we have in the master bedroom were in the house we lived in before we lived here," she said. "I tell my children to buy the best. If they can't do that, they should wait."
The study and dining room to the left of the entrance hall were originally one large glassed-in porch. The Barkers put in walls and divided the porch into the two rooms. Foreman decorated the study with wallpaper and matching draperies in a pattern that looks like an 18th-century tapestry.
"Over the years, the wallpaper shrunk where you could see white lines between some of the panels, but because it was of such high quality, someone was able to come in and touch up the spaces between the panels," Foreman said.
The dining room windows are covered in the same draperies as the study, with needlepoint panels incorporated into the cornices in both rooms. Over the years, the dining room has been a number of colors, and is now Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue.
The den, at the back of the house, is filled with items Linda Barker has collected over decades including many early American-made baskets. Years ago, she found an old French meat rack in brass, but she could never find a place for it in the house until Foreman hung it from the ceiling and filled it with baskets.
"Just some of her baskets," he said with a laugh. "Linda is constantly changing her tabletops and bookcases with her endless inventory of accessories."
Fine American antique furniture, English and French pottery and porcelain, miniatures bronzes, iron toys, stoneware crocks and many unusual pieces are found throughout the house.
"After being in the antiques business for close to 50 years, I have accumulated many different collections," Linda Barker explained. "It's impossible to enjoy them all at the same time, so I change the contents of the drawers I store them in. I don't want things put away. I want to look at everything."