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Monday
Aug122013

Christina Graci: Art Give-A-Way!!!

 

Meet Christina Graci: Designer by Trade, Artist at Heart

Christina, one of the wonderful artists featured in Segreto Gallery, runs an interior design firm based in New Orleans with her brother, Chad Graci. Together, they are able to offer a wide variety of services to their clients from color consultation and space planning to complete home design. In her art, Miss Graci truly brings the color and enchantment of her hometown to life on canvas.

"My design style is transitional but leans more towards a traditional, comfortable side. Chad’s style is a bit more transitional but with a more modern, eclectic feel. We both love the combination of beautiful antiques with modern and new furniture."

I was lucky enough to find Christina while visiting my daughter, Sammy, who was attending LSU at the time. After getting a bit lost in town, I wandered into an antique mall where Christina was showing her art. Moved by the wonderful color combinations and composition of her work, I purchased one piece and ended up contacting her later for more. Her work has been so successful in our gallery.  Read on to find out how you can enter to win a Christina Graci original...

"My work is constantly changing and is a reflection of my mood and the place I am in during my life. I have many different styles and have an urge to try new things all the time."

Christina, who began painting in high school, uses her art both to inspire and adorn the walls of the interiors she designs.

 

"My paintings, although sometimes have a lot of movement, are also very precise and thought out. I would never paint something that I wouldn’t put into one of my clients’ homes."

Hailing from a creative family, Christina’s career path and passions are not unusual. Her father and Chad both graduated from LSU with an architecture degree, and even her cousin has an incredible talent for art.

"My design style is actually a lot like my paintings, believe it or not! A cool, pale color palette with pops of color, proportion and scale, thought out placement of color, and a very simple and precise aesthetic would be the main focuses of my design."

As far as being an artist goes, Christina is the total package. Not only does she have the intrinsic eye for art and design (perhaps a talent passed through her family}, but she is also well-educated in the subject. She received her degree in interior design with a focus on art history from LSU and was able to spend a semester abroad studying design in Copenhagen, Denmark. She later went on to work with two prominent New York design firms: Victoria Hagan and David Easton.

"The only time my mind is completely clear is when I am painting. It has been the most calming, fulfilling aspect of my life thus far."

When she isn’t painting or running her interior design business with her brother, Christina can be found near the by-water area outside the French Quarter. She loves to browse the antique and vintage shops, including Sterling Provision, a personal favorite of both her and Chad. For all you Houstonians out there – Christina recommends Carl Moore and Joyce Horn as great shops to visit.

Christina’s creativity extends to the kitchen where she absolutely loves to cook for her friends and family. "I guess that’s just the New Orleans Italian in me!" she explains. On the nights she doesn’t want to stay in, you may find her at Mr. B’s or even Galatoire’s for Friday lunch. "Galatoire’s is the epitome of New Orleans dining in my opinion -- it's classic and fabulous."

"I truly get gratification when a piece of my work is purchased. I love knowing it’s hanging in someone’s home."

As for the future? Christina’s goal is to continue to build upon the success and happiness in her life she has already experienced, and then some. "I would love to be able to continue Graci Interiors and my painting well into the future, someday have a family of my own, and maybe live in a foreign country for an extended period of time to be truly inspired."

Thank you so much to Christina, you are a true talent!  Many of these wonderful works of art are available at Segreto’s gallery and can be viewed online at www.segretofinishes.com. Or...... stop by Segreto at 1414 Antoine (Open M-F 9:00-5:00) to see her paintings in person and browse our little shop.

 

Don't forget! You can win your very own Christina Graci original. Here's how: 

1. Go here to "like" Segreto on Facebook.

2. Go to our Facebook album of Christina's paintings here and choose your favorite Christina Graci original. Then post a comment describing why you love it.

3. We will have a drawing and the lucky winner will receive the 12" x 12" Christina Graci original painting below:

 

Best of luck!! Till Next Monday!!  xo, Leslie

 

Sunday
Aug112013

Madison Lily Rugs

I love love to shop and with so little time on my hands, I seem to find myself sourcing little treasures at all the beautiful homes I see each day! I have been craving some of the luxurious materials and soft colors of the rugs available today.  After all, many times the rug is the starting point for the color schematics of a room. When I asked where many of my favorites were purchased-Madison Lily kept coming up. So I had to go see their showroom for myself!!

I called them to see if they were open at 11:45 on July 4th (having a bit of time to shop) and owner, Edgar, answered the phone. He said he was there working on some designs and would be there till one. I quickly put on my Lulu Lemons and off I went!! 

With fresh designs, beautiful soft color combinations, and high quality materials I not only fell in love with their product but also enjoyed learning about the creative and passionate team behind the Madison Lily brand and wanted to share a bit of them with you!! 

Kelly and Edgar Podzemny began their business almost 20 years ago, first teaming up with antique stores and having trunk shows across the country and settling down to open thier first store in Austin. After meeting in Hawaii, they travelled the globe together before settling in the US. Edgar is an art major from Amarillo and Kelly is from Wales, UK.  Having visited areas that wove rugs, they fell in love with the art form. Later, the opportunity arose to move to Houston and Madison Lily was born. Named for thier eldest daughter, Lily Madison, Madison Lily seemed to have a nice ring to it. They have also named other lines of rugs after their other three children.

They graciously shared insights into their creative process and the trends in the contemporary rugs. See their answers to our questions and their gorgeous work below!

Q: What makes Madison Lily different from other companies?

A: We have a passion for the design and quality of materials used. When designing the next piece, we consider how each material used will play into the finished product, from nettle and bamboo silk, to hemp or hand-spun wool, the options are endless. 

Q: Do you do all of your own designs?

A: We design all the more modern rugs in the store and our partner designs the more traditional pieces. The partnership was a perfect opportunity to meld Edgar's design styles with that of our partner's more traditional taste. It has been a lot of fun, artistically, to create pieces together and to use both styles in the same interiors, a beautiful addition to any home. 

 

Q: What is the best type of rug to buy for high traffic areas?

 A: All of our rugs are made of quality materials and really can all be used in high traffic areas. We can also stain guard our rugs, which helps repel stains, etc.

Q: What questions should you ask when looking for a rug?

A: There is such a broad spectrum of qualities out there. Look to see if the rug is hand knotted, types of materials used, and policies of the store. Do they have full service for cleaning and repair, etc.?

Q: What is the best way to clean a rug?

A: The best way to clean the whole rug is to have it professionally cleaned. For spills and spots, it is best to always blot the stain, never scrub, and use a mild soap like dawn and luke warm water and blot until the stain has gone. 

My dog had an accident on mine and they had said to try club soda mixed with dawn and then follow rest.  It worked!!!!! Yayyy!!!

Q: What are your favorite designs from your collection? 

A: It is hard to pick just one favorite. My (Kelly's) favorite right now is the Relish. I love the vintage texture of the scraped away design and the organic texture of the handspun, semi-finish wool background. Egar's favorite is the Niagara (pictured above), which has a very similar finish to the Relish.

Q: What trends do you see happening in the industry as far as color and style?

A: We see a lot of neutrals and tones of gray as this can work with many different design styles. Though we do, of course, have many clients that love to add a splash of great color.

Q: Can you do customized rugs?

A: We can customize any color, any size, and shape. We can create a virtual rendering on the computer that shows exactly how the finished rug will look. This is a great tool to take a lot of the unknown out of the custom process. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge in opening the business?

A: I guess the biggest challenge is juggling a young family and a business, there is never a dull moment, that's for sure!

Q: What is each of your favorite part of the job?

A: (Edgar) My favorite part is creating and designing the rugs and (Kelly) Playing our part in helping our client create a beautiful space for their families to enjoy for years to come.  

I wanted to add a bit of life and fun in my breakfast room and purchased this polka-dot pattern that makes me smile every time I walk by!!  Charlie loves it too!!

Going a bit more contemporary in the dining room, this rug was the perfect choice for me! Yikes! I can't seem to fiqure out what to do on the walls!!  Many Thanks to Kelly and Edgar for sharing their story and beautiful rugs with us! Visit them on the web HERE or at their showroom at 1727 Post Oak Blvd, Open: Mon-Sat 10:00 - 6:00PM. 

New at the Segreto Boutique!

Start a unique colletion: Combining vintage crystal and metal crosses with unusual glass and cut crystal bases, Greyfreth Designs creates unique and beautiful objets d' art that are a conversation piece in any room. 

Jewelry with a story: vintage pieces by Intellectual Propery, like this lovely vintage bronze and enamel Catholic La Salle School Merit Award, 

Be subtle but glamorous: This unique necklace is made with labradorite, pearl and black diamonds! 

Bring in a little nature: New corals and minerals have just arrived at Segreto! Until next week! xo Leslie

To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website, click here or to purchase through Amazon, click here. To subscribe to Segreto Blog, click here.

Sunday
Aug042013

A week with Segreto!

What Segreto's been up to.....  

With so many people on vacay, you would think that things would slow down for the summer - haha, not so!!! Here are a few of the fun jobs we've been working on lately:

This breakfast room is part of a beautiful new construction that we just completed for Memorial Custom Homes.  Homeowner Donna Hinds saw the ceiling in my office (check it out here), loved the look and decided to apply the same treatment to the walls in her home.  It's the first time I have done this finish over tongue and groove pine on walls.  After seeing the finished look, I just have to have this in my home somewhere!!! Love the wonderful light fixture from MAI too!

I am so excited about working on this house! Built in the 1930s, it's located in South Hampton, one of my favorite areas in Houston!  While the structure will be left as is, the homeowner is adding a slice of France and a bit of glamour to every room.  In the shot above, we are hand-painting some cabinetry that we had glazed in the kitchen.  I'll keep you posted on all the beautiful updates to this amazing home!

Featured in last week’s blog on the French Chateau, Kara Childress and Ken Newberry also teamed up on this wonderful, newly constructed home. They're both pros at creating an enchanting atmosphere, as though the home has been there for centuries! Here is a sneak peek of the kitchen, still under construction. We plastered the walls and ceilings and applied a textured milk paint finish to all the cabinetry. Oops... as you can see, we haven’t plastered the shelving yet!

Sarah West brought the Segreto team on board for another kitchen. You can kind of see the sample on top of the island - we're giving it a soft, grayish stain for that washed-out look. The surrounding cabinetry will have a light, antique finish to ever so slightly bring out the details. It's hard to see here, but the hood is plastered in the same color as the walls.

Love, love, love this idea that designer Suzanne Duin had for a headboard! She had us add an ornate monogram to the center of this gorgeous old piece she found - it really brings out all the ornate woodwork.

To bring the whole room together, we also painted two chests that will flank the bed. Here are some before and afters! In person, the finish reads more like the darker blue-gray part of the inspiration piece.  We also brought in a gold trim to really complement the headboard!

For designer Julie Dodson, we're also working on a mural for a playroom. This forest wonderland scene will be such a fun backdrop for the three oh-so-cute girls to play pretend!!!

On job sites I spied.....

This beautiful headboard! I love the way that designer Teri Symington constructed this piece by adding a wood carving to a plush, tufted headboard - so creative!!!  Look, she purchased one of the BVIZ pillows from the shop!  The perfect finishing touch!!!

A lovely table setting!!!  This client is certainly the hostess with the mostess! She was getting ready for a dinner party while we were painting.  I love the placemats and her mix of old plates from a historic hotel in Houston.  I think they had menus on them!

 Some renovating at my house...

A couple of years ago, my dining room (pictured above) was completely dismantled and turned into my book storage room!  But now that Segreto has its own place for my books, it's time to reclaim the space and make it a dining room again.  There's not much left though since I had moved the light fixture, table and mirror into my breakfast area.

It had been 12 years since the last redo, so even though I really liked the old version, I was ready for a new look!  I got my inspiration from vintage Fortuny drapes that I scored from Atelier Fifteen-O-Five. When I was writing the blog here on their wonderful resale shop, I spied these curtains and fell in love. With my starting inspiration, I was ready to begin.

First, I re-plastered the walls in a taupe color with a slight purple hue. Then, I was off for a new rug.  I wanted something a little contemporary, so I chose this beauty from Madison Lilly!  They are having a fab summer sale right now - it's a great time to go in and see their store!!!

When I was out shopping for my son's new pad, I found this solid marble table at Denny Register. Perfect!  1001-A W 34th St. (713-817-5760).

And this is as far as I've gotten... I always move so slow on my own home!  I'll keep you updated with progress!

What's new at the shop.....

I always love when we get new art at the shop!  This piece from Segreto artist Chistina Graci is no exception!!

Debbie Moseley also brought in this stunning painting!!!!

 

Another one of Christina's!  It just makes me smile.

 

We got more of these wonderful paper placemats and table runners from Kitchen Papers, including some that are UT, A&M, and LSU themed.  I have become addicted to these, they're great gifts, and you can just throw them away after use - no clean up!

We also got a new shipment of my favorite thing to shop for - jewelry!  Each piece a unique creation, there's a beautiful array of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Even some special vintage pieces!

And finally, we had a photo shoot at the store for the new Scout Guide. Look at all the great pics they got!!!  It was so fun! This publication is definitely a fab place to "scout" out some cool finds.

I hope that everyone has a great week!  'Til next Monday! xo Leslie

To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website, click here or to purchase through Amazon, click here. To subscribe to Segreto Blog, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Jul282013

Bunk Beds: Space Saving Sleeping Solutions for the Young and the Young at Heart

This week we are welcoming a guest blog post from one of the newest members of the Segreto team, design assistant Andrea Condara.  As the oldest of 6 kids, she is no stranger to the challenges of sleeping arrangements for herds of family and friends! Today she tells us a little bit about bunk rooms and their many iterations.

There is nothing quite like the memories of staying up for hours, talking the night away, in the bunk room at my grandparents house in Galveston. After a long day at the beach, swimming and working on our sunburns, we would pile anywhere from 6-10 grandchildren and friends into the bunk room to "sleep". We would stay up for hours talking and inventing games and generally causing mayhem that only the closeness of bunk beds can inspire until we would finally drop off, one by one, to sleep. 

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As a child, nothing compares to the rush of winning the battle for the top bunk and the novelty of being allowed to climb a ladder, by yourself, to the place where you would be sleeping! With the exhilarating memories of feeling that grown up freedom, it's no wonder that bunk beds are so irresistible to the young and the young at heart! 

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Although there is no official recorded beginning of the bunk bed, there is some evidence that the concept of a lofted bed dates as far back as the Ancient Egyptians.

Soldiers in bunks aboard the S.S. Pennant Source

Bunk beds, as we recognize them, have a long history of providing functional and space efficient sleeping solutions for large groups of people. Less glamorous examples include the military, ships, trains and even prisons. More comfortable versions are found at summer camps and personal and vacation homes. 

 

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The "standard" bunk bed is a simple, space saving design of a twin bed stacked over a twin bed with a frame made of metal or wood and a ladder to the top bed. In the recent decades, the style of the "standard" bunk bed has become just one option in many. Today, designs include lofted beds, twins over full sized beds, L-shaped configurations, queen beds and custom multi-story built-ins.

Colorado Scarp Ridge Lodge

Southgate Residential

As special as our bunk beds in Galveston were, with their bright blue metal frames and the white sheets printed with brightly colored sailboats, they now seem like primitive prototypes for the incredible bunk beds that are cropping up in contemporary designs. These rooms are literally the stuff of dreams!

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Coastal Living

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Stepbrothers, 2008

Bunk beds are not just for kids! Bunk and lofted beds are a great way to use your vertical space more efficiently! As Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly point out in "Stepbrothers" - It will give us so much extra space in our room to do activities! Lofted beds are popular for college dorm rooms and many styles have built in drawers or storage underneath.

Elle Decor

Contemporary loft and grown up sized bunked beds open up the door for creative sleeping arrangements, especially for guest rooms at a lake or ranch house (or even for the college graduates moving back home)!

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So the question of the day is: "Do you ever become too old for bunk beds?" Our answer: Never! 

We hope you enjoy our bunk bed finds! Do you have a favorite bunk room? Share them with us in the comments section! Have a wonderful week! Warmest Regards, Andrea 

 

New at the Segreto Boutique! 

Greyfreth Bottles from California

 

To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website, click here or to purchase through Amazon, click here. To subscribe to Segreto Blog, click here.

Monday
Jul222013

An inside look at a historic Houston home!

While I adore all the wonderful homes I get to see and all the projects I get to do, it's always refreshing to be involved in historic home renovations, especially in a city of tear downs and big new constructions.  I really appreciated the opportunity to work on this 1930s French chateau, designed by famed architect John Staub.  The gorgeous estate was just featured in the August edition of Architectural Digest.  Some of you may have also seen Miss Joni's wonderful write up on this house over at her blog, Cote De Texas.  After uprooting their lives from New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, homeowners John and Terri Havens lovingly restored and brought life to this stunning Houston gem with the help of designer extraordinaire Kara Childress and talented architect Ken Newberry!!! Old time great Tyne Sparks was the chosen builder for the initial remodel and his forman sweet Ernest Melchor still works for the Havens today.

Led by Terri and John’s direction, the team was ready to go.  As Kara explained quite well, “the Havens love the house, they love its history, they love design and art and all that is involved in making a project like this happen. They value and insist upon authenticity in bringing their house back to its original splendor; they truly appreciate the labor and efforts to attain that goal.”  With that, I certainly agree!  I was brought in to restore and re-plaster the interior of the home as well as to finish much of the cabinetry, paneling and moldings.  What a treat for me!!!  We started in 2007, and we're still working on some of the new additions to the home!

The stone flooring and railings were hand-selected in France and brought over for the original construction. Although the whole experience was wonderful for Kara, one of her biggest challenges was mixing in the fresh, modern touches that Terri wanted while also staying true to the period of the home as John insisted.   A compromise was reached when Kara selected a gorgeous, citron-colored silk to modernize the antique settee!

Another shot taken at a different time-the staircase and railing are stunning!!! 

Kara’s favorite room in the house is the library!  With gorgeous French oak paneling that's original to the home, custom Fortuny drapes, one-of-a-kind, centuries-old light fixtures, an antique Sivas rug, and a stunning ceiling that they found, restored, and installed, how could you disagree?!!!

Painted on canvas and hung in a villa near Parma, Italy, the ceiling dates back to the late 16th century.  Kara went on so many incredible buying trips with the Havens - they even brought Kara's daughter, who is currently studying design, along for one of them!

The ballroom, beautiful, elegant, and comfortable, has many unique features.  Kara's particularly fond of the pocket doors throughout.  All the windows are actually floor-to-ceiling doors that slide into the walls, revealing the gorgeous terraces outside!!!  Since there was no air conditioning when the residence was built, John Staub situated the house in such a way as to receive the best of the Gulf breeze during the hot, humid months of summer.

Here's another view which was taken years earlier!  This room was particularly difficult for us. Before we could re-plaster the ceiling, we had to remove the canvas backing from the first plaster job without harming the beautiful plaster medallions above the light fixtures.  The walls in this room were left as they were when the Havens purchased the home.

The music room is perhaps my favorite!!!  Elegant, warm, and tranquil, I love the mix of luxurious fabrics and beautiful, soft hues. 

Here is an earlier shot right after we finished plastering the room and glazing the beautiful moldings to bring out more detail!!!

The home boasts a sunken dining room adorned with the original moldings, flooring and chandelier, as well as a 15-foot ceiling!  We plastered the walls in this room in Venetian plaster, just as it was in the 1930s. 

 The ceiling was plastered in a traditional gypsum plaster like the rest of the home, lending continuity from room to room. I love how this offsets the walls from the ceiling with a slight sheen difference.  The moldings were glazed to bring out their carved details and soften the feel of the room, allowing the wonderful furnishings and fabrics to remain center stage.

The way families use their homes has changed significantly since the 1930s.  The small kitchen, baths and closets all needed to be revamped for this modern family of five, with two dogs and lots of visitors.  “The house had no family room when we began the project,” said Kara.  “Instead, there were only formal spaces.  In the '30s, I don’t suppose any of those things were negative, but with today’s busy families – sports, friends, entertaining, etc. – the Havens’ needs are different.”

Architect Ken Newberry extensively researched John Staub and the period in which the home was built in order to stay true to the intended architecture of the home. Using this research, he designed a breathtaking conservatory to give the family a more casual space to eat and hang out. Kara furnished the new addition with a gorgeous breakfast table and a cozy settee, perfect for a sunlit morning with coffee and a good book.

The new addition also included this wonderful family room!! "Family is of the utmost importance (and enjoyment) to the Havens", smiles Kara. " I also love the fact that John Staub combined the formality of  ‘pure Louis Quinze’ with country French to make the house as spectacular as it is."  She has also mixed the two so seamlessly in her exquisite design.

Going down to the wine cellar is certainly a treat! It feels as if you are traveling back to Europe in time!

This wine cellar is a new addition to the home, created from a space in the already existing basement. Ken outdid himself in the design — so warm and charming!  The floors and stone from Chateau Domingue and the wonderful furnishings that Kara and the Havens found melt together to create an amazing ambiance. A hangout room for the kids was also fashioned from space in the basement. Fun and comfortable, this space was true genius from Kara.  With four kids of her own, she knew exactly how to combine functionality with charm! Sorry I don't have pics!

To keep the additions seamlessly consistent with the period and style of the rest of the house, Kara and the Havens selected tiles and old stone flooring from Chateau Dominque, which has an amazing collection and assortment of old floors, tiles, doors, and fountains.  To see my visit to Chateau Domingue, click here. The wood floors were restored beautifully by Custom Floors Unlimited, Inc..

The master suite and dressing areas are simply divine!!  Painted a solid cream when the home was purchased, Kara wanted to bring it back to its original splendor!  With drapes as our color inspiration, we layered a series of glazes to lend that been-there look.  Here's the room in progress... you can see the bottom half is complete, and we're still adding more embellishment to the top.  The corner panels flanking the opening to the bedroom are hidden closet doors!!!

Stunning!!! I love the fabrics that Kara chose here - they remind me of ornate, ball gowns.

Finishing the cabinetry in a way that would blend with the built-in reclaimed doors and stone was quite a fun challenge for us.  It was of utmost importance that the finishes retain authenticity and not look contrived.

A room for a princess, the daughter's suite is so charming!  Kara created a timeless space that will last from elementary to the teen years and beyond.  We plastered the ceiling a soft shade of pink to complement the fabrics and furnishings.

This project truly had a dream team!  The Havens are as philanthropic as they are warm and fun, Kara Childress is one of the most talented and sincerely sweet people I know, and Ken Newberry had such knowledge and an unwavering commitment to the project. I was honored to watch them all do their magic and to help them restore this historical beauty!!!  In asking Kara what were her best memories of the project her response was-"Though probably some of the strongest memories about the decoration project itself tend to be in regards for different events generously hosted by the Havens ~ and crazy deadlines…everything from an intimate wedding in the chapel, grand gala for 350 people tented in the backyard, a seated dinner for 2 different US Presidents, or a romantic 8 course meal in the wine room (nothing like a party to get things done)!  I was honored to watch them all do their magic and to help them restore this historical beauty!!! Please visit Kara's website-still under construction--beautiful homes!!!

I hope you have a great week!  I'm off to California to spend time with family. It'll be the first time we've taken the boyfriends along!  Should be fun!  xo  Leslie

To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website, click here or to purchase through Amazon, click here. To subscribe to Segreto Blog, click here.