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Our New Offices After the Final Clean!

I hope everyone had a great week!  Mine was so crazy!  We are still trying to get organized in the new space...  I have decided this is why I have lived in the same house for 25 years - the dread of the move.  The hardest part is that I am so used to getting up at 4 and working on design things or billing or blogs before my staff arrives at 8.  And since the move, all the computers at my home office haven't been working. Maybe God is helping me establish boundaries between work and play; the problem is I feel like my work is play - I love it all!!

Here is the outside of the house, near completion.  At this stage, it still needed some architectural elements and landscaping to really transform the look.

We stained these two cedar posts in the front, as well as the shutters, in a soft gray. The door - formerly that gorgeous (haha) orange color! - was finally changed to a distressed gray blue.  All these things made a big difference. I just adore the landscaping too!

All the little accessories make it so lovely!  The light fixture from Lighting Inc. was a bit of a splurge, but really pretty close up.  The mailbox, on the other hand, is temporary, only $14 from Home Depot.  I bought one that I just love, but it came in damaged so I sent it back, and you have to have a mailbox to pass inspection!  The numbers on the door, just $4 each from Home Depot, add a clean line to balance the old world look.  The stone bench from Statue Makers in Houston is beautiful. Statue Makers has great things for wonderful prices; this bench was $225!  They also have beautiful olive jars and fountains. Don't worry, I'll get a welcome mat soon. Any suggestions?

This is the landscaping at the corner of my lot.  When I pulled up to a client's home not too long ago, I fell in love with the work of Steve Henry from Gregory/Henry Landscape Design.  She had wonderful things to say about him, and I wasn't disappointed!!!  He listened to my needs - I wanted a European feel with a charming front and a lot of parking. I absolutely love what he designed within my budget!

Steve came up with a wonderful compromise for the parking area. This is "grasscrete", a lattice paver placed over soil, allowing grass to grow through. Once grown in, it will have a beautiful pattern of green grass and gray pavers.  He got the color and softness he wanted, and I got more parking!  Brilliant!!!

From the last photos I posted, you can see that the floors are now refinished in a light undertone with a gray wash on top.  Ari with AR Floor Designs Of Houston Inc. (281-932-9461)  did a wonderful job patching and repairing these original floors from the 1950s. Notice the antique mirror we installed in the art nook. Frame Tek does an absolutely fab job on these mirrors, making them look truly vintage without overdoing them. We're going to add glass shelves, and we'll be selling a wonderful mineral collection on acrylic bases here. The mural is finished, and I am loving the little bit of France with its fields of lavender!!!

Here's the view from my conference room to the back of the house.  It feels so big and open!  I am so appreciative of Goodchild Builders everytime I walk in!!

This room will house the art gallery and home accessories! Sitting on my beautiful floors, there are two pieces of art by the cute girl I did a post on who just got married.  These paintings sold before we could photograph them!

Since I originally planned to mildly renovate and then decided to gut and start from scratch, I definitely had to watch every penny.  This light fixture from MAI Consigned was $250 but solid black.  We added a textured gray finish to soften the look!!

Here is the kitchen with the stencil backsplash and cabinetry all done. Yay!  

I love both the quartzite counters from Olympus Marble & Granite, a splurge, and the contemporary sink and faucet I purchased online for $300.

We bought all the appliances from Home Depot online, free shipping.  My little stove measures just 20 inches - too cute!

To divide the stencil from the plastered walls, we painted a faux metal strip with nail heads to transition between the two finishes.

This is an office for two that will house the approved sample. We distressed these white shutters from my house, giving them a new life.

The shelves were just inexpensive pine that we distressed.  The splurge was having the shelves built into the sheetrock so they float!!

We built the offices around these cabinet doors with chicken wire and fabric.  In my home office, we had these all around the room so, to save money, we used the same doors and just refinished the exterior in a different way!!  This one is in a textured finish and  has a $149 Ikea cabinet underneath it.  It looks amazing, especially for the price!!

Karen loves her new space!!

And this is Isai's space in the office he shares with Karen.  He is so cute, not complaining at all about the brighter plaster color and the little bit of glimmer on the cabinets!

I share an office with my design assistant Leslie Carrigan.  We love our wood ceiling and the chicken wire cabinets!!

Another look at our bathroom with my favorite cabinet ever that I shared last time.  The tile is from Home Depot, only $1.80 per square foot!  Cutting the tile to include the border and insets cost a bit more but was worth the splurge - Goodchild Builders did an incredible job here making my vision become a reality!!!


The powder bath is wonderful with this lovely sink basin from Designer's Direct for $250.  The tree mural is one of my favs!!!

 If you remember, this was the back of the house during construction!

And now it's becoming a nice outdoor retreat! We since this photo have added white limestone gravel to the back for extra parking, but Steve Henry made the area look amazing by incorporating a back patio.  The arbor from Home Depot was $1500 - love it! These whiskey barrels from Lowes for $30 each will look great once they have the plants in them.  I also love my four olive trees, a splurge, which Steve balanced in cost by using gravel and precut concrete air conditioning pads that run just $30 each.  With twinkle lights, this area will be the perfect outdoor space for our events!!!

When I first purchased the first house, I had planned on building a warehouse in the back for our furniture refinishing.  But when we layed out the lot, there wouldn't have been enough room for parking, so, instead, I purchased this other house two doors down to use for furniture refinishing, scaffolding storage, and book storage!  What a beauty???

Although I was out of money to fix up this one, I did paint... and what a difference paint makes!  The roof was green - yikes! To pull attention away from it, I painted the home SW Dovetail Gray and painted the aluminum window in a bronze and the door in a French blue. It's still in transition but looking so much nicer.

Thanks so much to my blog friends and my clients during this process.  I am not quite there yet, but I'm so appreciative of everyone's patience and support.  I'm still treading water, but I hope I can come up for air soon and give you some great home tours on the blog and great finishes in your home - the highlight of my week!  A big thanks to Joni Webb of Cote de Texas for listing Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors as one of her all-around top design books!  Thanks, Joni! 'Til next Monday!!  xo  Leslie 

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What Segreto Did This Week - Part II

I hope everyone has had a wonderful week! I know we did here at Segreto... This week in addition to moving our offices ot our new space, I really had the opportunity to see some absolutely beautiful homes.  Our first project was for designer Julie Dodson in an incredible home with a modern twist.  The first room was a very cool loft for the homeowners' daughter.

Julie had the staircase and upstairs area painted white for us to start. Using fabric for color inspiration, she wanted us to do add a simple design on the staircase. I love the satin nickel and glass railings - so chic!!!

The great lighting in the adjoining bath gave us another blue to complement for the staircase design as the sconces going up the staircase were similar.

We chose a damask pattern, painting it up the steps in Sherwin Williams 6225.

 It's such a fun prelude to the daughter's upstairs hangout!

Once you reach the top, you're greeted by this beautiful monogram that we hand drew and painted!  What a fun space for a girl!!!

In the fabulous and spacious back powder of the same home, Julie wanted a dramatic fabric ceiling to draw out the colors of the border tile. She chose to keep the walls white for the homeowners' wonderful artwork.

Love the sconces, tile and marble in the vanity area! The acrylic antlers entwined with the light are so unique!

Here we go on the first step!!!  Starting with Sherwin Williams 7672, we created shadows in various shades of SW 7673. The ceiling has so many angles and shapes that we took some extra time to ensure that the "fabric" folds would fall in a realistic way.

Wow! I love the sophistication and whimsy of this space.  It is definitely a one-of-a-kind back powder.

Next, we did a plaster job for Beverly, an oh-so-fun homeowner that I had a blast working with. Don't worry... when she finishes the wonderful house, I will photograph the whole home.

When I first met with her, the walls were the same beige as the ceiling and the rest of the home. I loved the soft green-blue trim on the drapes and in the fabric for the skirted round dining room table. By pulling that tone into the plaster, the room becomes truly cohesive.

I really adored her new art - a two-piece series for one wall.  The waxed plaster looks stunning, both with the art and the French decor!

The outdoor summer kitchen features this built-in box for a TV. To make this look more like art, the homeowners provided a few paintings for inspiration and we got started!

What a clever way to hide a TV or other electronics! The possibilities for painting styles are endless!

The next stop is her bathroom. I love the nook for the tub - it feels like a little vignette so it's the perfect place to add a few touches to make the space more special. Beverly loves birds so we decided on this Nordic-inspired design.

I am later going to pick one of the bird colors for Beverly to use when painting the ceiling in a pale blue.

The detail in the mural is so beautiful!!! I love it so much I'm planning to paint a similar design in the powder bath of my new shop since there are no more walls left at my home - Yikes!!!  I hope with the kids back in school everyone is winding down to their routine.  Have a great week!!  Till next Monday!!!  xo  Leslie


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Our New Office!!

Segreto and I are taking on a whole new venture.  Working out of my home office for the last 17 years, we've been renting one space for the art gallery and furniture refinishing and another for book storage. I decided it was time to own rather than rent, and I wanted to put the entire team under one roof. Looking at warehouses and commercially rated houses, I purchased this home in December with the plan to renovate and add a warehouse to the back in which to refinish furniture.

Not far from my own home, this 1950s ranch is located in an up-and-coming neighborhood across from a private Catholic boys school.  I currently live across from its sister girls school so I thought it was fate! Since we work mostly on residential projects, I loved the idea of having Segreto’ s office and design studio in a house to show what paint can do for a home environment.

At 2000 square feet, this house had low ceilings, lots of choppy rooms, and had been untouched since it was built. Hope you enjoy this walk-through with me!  I couldn't even show my husband the inside of the home until we were well into the renovation process - he has no imagination and would have said "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!"

Here was the existing kitchen right off the entrance.

As you walk through the kitchen to the back of the house, you reach this den.  Accustomed to selling multi-million dollar homes, sweet realtor Pama Abercrombie with Greenwood King helped me with the purchase. Her husband, Andie Abercrombie, is an incredible builder whom I have been privileged to work with throughout the years. You can tell we bought in December - Pama has her coat on. Neither the heat nor the air were working in this house.  Ha-ha... nor the electrical, gas or plumbing!!

Looking back to the front of the house, a doorway leads to a converted garage...

which has been lined with shelves and used for storage.

This hallway leads to the 3 bedrooms, or offices as they've been using them. Look at how narrow it is!!

The formal powder is the first stop to the right. Love the tile!!

This room, after the renovation, will serve as a reception and storage for approved samples as well as a display space for some wonderful new home accessories that we will carry when the space opens.

Here is my office that I will share with Little Leslie, one of my design assistants! There is one more room across the hall that Karen and Isai will use.

Love our second bathroom!!

You can see I needed some help - there's lots of work to do!!!  We brought on Steve Goodchild and Juan of Goodchild Builders, well-known for building and remodeling some amazing homes.  As my neighbors at the old space (our furniture refinishing studio and art gallery), they agreed to help. And to create the plans, I hired building designer Rudy Colby with whom I had just finished a wonderful project. Team intact, we got started!!!

Well, when we began the renovation and took down the yellow siding, which was in bad shape, look what was underneath! I made the decision to completely gut the home and start from scratch. The front part of the house was originally the garage where you saw the storage racks.

Here, it's on its way to a big transformation as we are lifting the ceilings!  This will be my new conference room and design center, filled with samples of our work.

Here is a sneak peak!!!  We plastered the walls and ceilings in a textured finish.  The trim is painted in BM OC-19 to blend with the slightly darker walls as you can see.  The window, painted in SW 7018, was a find!  Knowing that I'm on a budget, sweet builder Steve suggested that I look at Home for Habitat, a nonprofit that builders donate their leftover or reclaimed materials to, and The Door Clearance Center. I purchased the front door and this one at the Door Clearance Center which had gorgeous doors at great prices!  We wrapped the ceiling's support beams in inexpensive plywood and then distressed and glazed them. This was a big cost saver, and they look great!

Here is the beam before!!

I had Del of Gunnells Concrete Designs stain and wax the floors. I have been impressed with Del's work and his fair prices for a long time, and he's such a nice guy to work with!!! He did amazing work on the garage floor slab from the 1950s! He also builds counters and sinks!!

This is the room behind the old garage.  Previously the kitchen and a separate living room with 8 foot ceilings, you can see on the floor where the walls used to be. We incorporated a small 4 foot porch that was part of the slab into the space, and then opened it up, raised the ceilings, and closed-in the two side windows.

After a visit to Olympus Marble and Granite, I picked a quartzite, which is harder than granite, for the counters.  I loved the colors so we designed the entire color scheme around that!!!

Wanting a small kitchen that blends old world and contemporary, I did open shelving. Rather than laying tile, we are using one of my favorite stencils behind the kitchen area.

To balance the fur down which was necessary to get air-conditioning into the previous garage, I built a niche into the room. It's the perfect place to show off some of our mural work!!!

Karen, my go-to gal at Segreto, was looking a little doubtful about her new office. Accustomed to working out of my home, she's hoping her new space will be just as nice.

Well, this is a start!  I built custom cabinets for her and used the same chicken wire doors from her office at my home.  She likes a little color, so we plastered the walls and ceiling with a sleek finish in the palest of aqua. Just wait though!  She's going to have silver leafing on the cabinets and a design painted on her floor!!  I love the little light I bought from Circa Lighting!

For the front office where the reception will be, I used my dining room shutters to create a cabinet that will house approved samples for clients.  We are going to finish them to look like age-old shutters.  It is amazing how many elements that you already own can be used instead of buying new!!

I love them and the design that we painted on the floors as well!!!

I was the most excited about my wood plank ceiling! We painted the ceiling black first, and then Goodchild builders put up inexpensive pine wood. Using a plaster technique, we gave the pine a worn finish. It has the look of reclaimed wood at a fraction of the price! Notice that I replaced all the windows. Henry, Steve’s foreman on my job, bought all the windows in a bronze finish at Home Depot. Because we used standard sizes, they were very reasonable, and we could pick them up the same day!!  Thanks, Henry, you have saved me on so many occasions!!!

The inspiration for my little bathroom came from a mirror that I had gotten at Joyce Horn Antiques and some 200 year-old columns that a good friend had given me. Goodchild Builders did a great job building columns into the vanity. I emulated the mirror's finish on the piece and then added a hand-painted mural as the final touch!!! I loved both the colors and the price point of this tile from Home Depot too. Next, we'll be plastering the shower and walls in a waterproof plaster. TOO cool!!

I hope you are enjoying my journey in creating a new office space!  A big thanks to the Goodchild Builders' team who did a fantastic job every step of the way!!!  Stay tuned for more updates on the progress and final reveall!!!  Hip hip horray--we are moving in this week!!  Have a great week!! xo  Leslie

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Wedding Spotlight - Rachel

You go through so many stages and celebrations in life - graduations, first jobs, weddings, births, birthdays. Now I'm finding myself going through all of these happy occasions again but with the next generation. I brought Rachel into my gallery as a budding artist right out of Stephen F. Austin State University, and I have loved seeing her grow as an artist, person, and now, three years later, as a young married adult! Her wedding was so wonderful that I wanted to share the special day, as well as some of her beautiful art, with you!!

Juggling her time as an elementary art teacher and artist, Rachel has created a signature style with these plaster masterpieces. She has done so many personilzed commissions of wedding and christening gowns. What wonderful heirlooms these become.  This plaster work on wood is embedded with lace - so creative and romantic!!! It was not at all surprising that her wedding was just the same.

What a beautiful couple!! High school sweethearts, they both went to college on athletic scholarships, Zack for baseball and Rachel for soccer. They're such a dynamic duo - nice, fun, gorgeous and athletic!!


They continued dating throughout their school years andd beyond. The ceremony was especially touching with their minister from their college days, to whom they were both very close, marrying them!

No, they are not sisters!!  This is Debbie, mother of the bride - you can see where Rachel gets her good looks from.  Love the hats, gals!!

Choosing to have their wedding at Marburger Farms - the place where the famed antique show is - Rachel started out with the bridal luncheon.

Because Round Top is over an hour from Houston, I wanted to stay nearby. I rented the most wonderful cottage from Kristine, an oh-so-cute, bubbly young mother who owns Big Daddy’s, an antique store in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Shopping at the Round Top fairs each year, Kristine wanted a place they could call their own. She is wonderful to deal with, and the house was just amazing, decorated in the chic country style that Round Top is known for! I would highly recommend this place to all.

Pretty as can be, here's Mom Debbie on the wedding day!!

Here is the groom, escorting his parents down the aisle!  Everyone looked so happy on this day!  Zack's wonderful family came to every art show Miss Rachel had at my gallery.

 Loved the bridesmaid dresses in lavender shades!

 Awwww!!! Their flower girl looked adorable with her flower hair piece and cute bubble dress.

 Too cute!!!!!

Here comes the bride in a gorgeous, vintage-style dress with her proud papa! Her wildflower, country bouquet was so charming.

Now announcing....  There were crystals hanging down from the large oak tree that gently blew in the wind--so romantic!

Marburger Farms is made up of many historical homes from the 1800s.  This one housed the dinner.

Instead of the normal sign-in book, they had a vintage typewriter to leave special notes to the bride and groom! I just loved that touch!!!

The burlap runners on the table and the vintage bell jars for the flowers really fit the theme of the big event!!!

Believe it or not, her mom, Debbie, and a good friend did all the wedding decorations! Amazing job!!

There were so many special touches like the handpainted monograms on the burlap runners of the sweethearts' table.

The entire evening was just dreamy!! Rachel and Zack were so happy during their first dance!

What to get such a special bride?! I chose a loose flap, cream-colored, vintage-style, leather scrapbook. Each thick, interior page of hand-pressed paper was separated with sheer pages. I almost got one for my girls to save for their big day!!!

I had so much fun at the wedding!  I went with Karen, my office manager and right hand, Segreto gal, on the left, and my wonderful friend, Lisa, whose daughter was recently married too! Hope you enjoy some of Rachel’s beautiful artwork below!

Congratulations to Zack and Rachel - Enjoy many happy years together!!! Their love for each other and beautiful ceremony really touched my heart!  To see more of Rachel’s art, go here.  

Thanks to Lisa of Ferndale cottage of doing such a wonderful review of the blog and the book!! She is a blogger extraordinaire who has just moved to Houston!!  Please visit her blog Fern Creek Cottage and welcome to Houston!!  Also that cute store in Brenham Beadboard Upcountry I’m always talking about is having a wonderful trunk show of a oh so amazing knitwear!!  Visit it on line here.   I hope that everyone has a great week-till 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. To follow Segreto Finishes on Facebook, click here.




A Bathroom Dream Makeover!!!

Some of my favorite projects are when we get to revisit a house we did years before - it's just so fun to work on the same house for two different owners!   I think it's fascinating to see how an identical space can transform with so many beautiful - and wholly different - outcomes!!

This home was a new construction that I completed about 6 years ago. The beautiful marble, crystal chandelier and balloon shade drapes really created a room full of glamour!  Wallpaper was added by these first owners later as shown in a few pics down.

 The glazed cabinets, mirrors hung over mirrors, and gold sconces added to the traditional, regal allure.

We had hand-painted the ceiling dome in a pretty, open, scroll pattern to bring in the gold tones from the fabric and highlight the curves of the chandelier.

The new homeowners moved in about 3 years later. A bit more casual in their style, they wanted this spacious bathroom to remain elegant while toning down the formality of the room.  They hired Kara Childress, who is just as beautiful and gracious as the amazing rooms she designs, to help them with the entire house. If you have the book, you can check out the rest of the home on page 52.  She did just minor changes to give the room a homey feel untill they did a more major renovation later. By bringing in a rug and tufted ottoman to the center of the master bath, Kara created warmth.  Notice the mirrors from Joyce Horn Antiques and sconces from BROWN were swapped from their more formal predecessors.  The hand-painted ceiling design was left untouched for now.

Three years later, the homeowners were ready for a change wanting a less busy look, and the hand-painted ceiling had to go. Kara was so cute when we met at the house to discuss the finishes - she didn't want to tell me! But I was completely on board. My boy Frank seems to be fine with the change too, taping the area to prep for the most beautiful shade of French blue-gray-green plaster that will encompass all the walls and ceilings.

There is Jerry, mixing the paints to put a sample up. In the main part of the bath, Kara chose a textured, furniture finish treatment, but in the coffee bar area, we did a glazing technique so that the cabinets would have definition, without being the focus of the space.

You can see the before and afters! The new finish in the same tone as the plaster just gives the cabinets so much character.

In the main bathroom area, however, we went all out taking our inspiration from an antique mirror that Kara had shown us!  We got the A-ok to go ahead!!

 This is definitely a wow room, a big difference!!  Kara's classic European flair places this master bath into one of my all time favorites!  Go back up a few pictures and look at the tub.  Goodchild Builders made a few changes that really update it - removing the columns around the tub and creating a soft arch above. Combined with the new lantern fixture and the drapes that replaced the shutters, this tub would make for a dreamy bubble bath! Notice too that all the hardware and faucet fixtures were also changed.

I simply adore the mohair ottoman which served as the basis for the plaster color. And the nail-head design Kara did on the top and bottom - just brilliant!! I love that you can't see the break between the paper and the ceiling.  I am a firm believer that if you have a shaped ceiling, it's best to carry the finish all the way up so that the shape of the ceiling really shines, rather than the breaks of the room.

This master bath couldn't be prettier!!  The soft colors and the interesting textures marry to form a truly enchanting retreat.  We also changed the trim from white to the soft colors of the plaster.  Kara and team, you truly did an amazing job!

Kara had papered the front powder in a wonderful Ralph Lauren corked paper with a beautiful, dramatic damask. Unable to get enough paper in the color way they wanted, they decided to just buy the cork background paper and have us match the one wall.  Without seeing the paper first, I told Kara, "Of course we can do that!" When I saw the intricacy of the pattern, though, I kinda thought to myself, yikes!!!

Well, how did we do?  Here is a corner with one wall that was the hand-painted design over plain cork and the other one from the Ralph Lauren. Can you tell which one is which?  

Thank you to the wonderful homeowners and the incredibly talented Kara Childress.  I am always amazed and taken aback by her beautiful work.  Kara never fails to achieve that timeless European look, while also incorporating comfort, color, and originality!! I have been so fortunate all these years to follow behind her, creating beautiful backdrops for her gorgeous interiors!!

Congradulations to Ginny Ford from LA for being the book give-a-way winner! It was so fun to read everyones comments!  We will have another one.  Have a wonderful week everyone!!  Till next Monday's post. xo  Leslie

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

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