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Ohara Davies-Gaetano on Sophisticated Neutrals

Monochromatic, tone-on-tone designs seem to be all the rage right now. When this trend uses whites, creams, and neutrals, I think it's especially alluring - a beautiful way to bring a sense of tranquility, sophistication and classic style to a home. I love the way my sweet friend California designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano played with this concept in two homes that she recently shared with me. Ohara created incredibly soft and inviting spaces using various layers, textures and subtle differences in materials and elements.
This Newport Beach home has a casual, comfortable feel with multiple seating areas and the warmth of the sun flooding in from windows and doors. Soft layers make this gorgeous living room feel so spacious, great for these homeowners who downsized when moving to California from their previous Virginia residence. Ohara said, "I wanted all areas of the home to feel like a continuation of the next, ensuring a very open feeling overall."
I adore the way that Ohara has accessorized these shelves, drawing out the palette of the pillow fabric in a curated way. Most of the objects are the client's own collection of finds, mixed with some antiques and collectibles that Ohara integrated. The antique mercury bottles are so pretty, each one with its own special shape and patina. The Baker floor lamp and Oly end table have a great simplicity that balances rather than competes with the built-ins.
The mix of antique pieces and modern lines adds so much interest to this area! The custom-made pillows with a graphic, diamond design are a beautiful foil to the 18th century Italian altar stick and the antique French frame that Ohara used to showcase art from the homeowners' collection.
Ohara custom-designed these fab end tables based on an antique Gustavian cabinet she saw on a recent trip to Europe. She's incorporated so much character into this assortment of old-world pieces like the drawer pull and modern elements like this stunning lamp made from Selenite mounted on a lucite base. "I love the juxtaposition created by combining, the old, the new, the polished and the more organic."
Notice the subtle differences in the chairs surrounding this dining table… Ohara matched a Saladino-inspired, slip-covered chair with an exposed leg chair based on a South of France antique she'd found.   This Italian chandelier that was recreated from an 18th century altar stick - beautiful!
One last glimpse of the chairs! Ohara offered some great advice if you want to accomplish a similar look: "Since I used two completely different styles of chairs around the round table, I wanted to unite them by using the same upholstery and the same trim. The eye discovers the variance in shape and scale, but it isn't jarred by a contrast of various tones of fabric."
This next home in Southern California also has a tone-on-tone design, but here Ohara plays off the French Provencal architecture throughout the outdoor and indoor spaces. By creating a very classic and neutral backdrop, Ohara could incorporate the English antiques that the homeowners collected when they lived in London without the pieces seeming too abrupt or out of place.
As you enter the home, this antique statue that Ohara found on a recent buying trip adorns the hallway and offers blessings.
The great room is the epitome of elegant sophistication. Creamy plaster on the walls, the room has a warm and embracing quality of light that Ohara used as an inspiration for the color palette. The furnishings here - everything from the pair of chairs from Baker and the mirror over the fireplace to the custom-made Tibetan rug and Amy Howard cabinets - are just gorgeous!
The outdoor areas of this home are truly spectacular! I can just imagine spending my mornings here surrounded by fountains and antique and reproduction planters that were imported from the South of France and Italy - heaven!
The vines and archways invite you into the wonderful loggia.

What an enchanting patio! All of the outdoor furniture is from the Andalusia collection of Century and then customized with these beautiful embroidered outdoor pillows from Bliss Studio!
I love the irregular stepping stones- they give the outdoor areas a more European and older feel.
This modern meets old-world sitting area outside of the master bedroom is so cozy! The little window with shutters is my favorite! Ohara chose these great Giati metal chairs and matching end table to play off the beautiful black and white tile design. The custom-made pillows are also fab!

Thanks again, Ohara for sharing some more of your incredible design projects and sources with us! You are truley talented!! Hope everyone has a great week! xo Leslie

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Can You Live in White?

Happy New year Everyone!! Full of new beginnings and new resolutions! I thought white which represents new beginnings and purity would be a great start to the new year!!

White is such a staple seen in nature and used in everything from fashion to decor.  It's capable of complimenting every interior style from the most modern to minimalist to a more old-world.  But how much white is the right amount for your home and what meaning does it lend to your spaces??

Technically, white can be understood as either the absence of all color or the presence of all color. It has come to represent wholeness and completion, openness and truth.  

With its connotations of purity and innocence in western counties, white is traditionally worn by brides. Illustrating how different the world's cultures are, in eastern countries the color white represents mourning and funerals.

 Because of its tranquil and peaceful qualities, it's an ideal color for places where you'd like to meditate or bring about mental clarity.

Here are some instances where I love the choice of white in home interiors. These white plastered walls are the perfect complement of this homeowner's wonderful colorful art collection. According to Leonardo da Vinci, "the first of all single colors is white ... We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen."    The white really makes the art pop while the texture of the plaster adds so much depth!

Associated with low-fat foods and dairy products, white's a great choice for kitchens. Who knew?!  My personal taste leans towards mixing colors and textures with white for heightened contrast like in the photo above from Décor Pad, but maybe an all-white kitchen would subliminally encourage me to change my grocery store purchases!

Though white can have a cold and sterile quality, when mixed with worn textures it comes to life creating instant charm and character as in this vintage style kitchen.

My new love is accessorizing with white dinnerware from the old to the new!!  The interplay of different versions of white in the dishes, cabinetry, marble counters is wonderful here! 

Mixing white with clear colors gives this kitchen such a fresh feel, pairing white with the warmer tones of the floor and the soft, sea foam of the light fixtures and accessories. 

White’s association with cleanliness also makes it a popular choice for baths. This one featured in Veranda feels so elegant with the pretty bench, and mosaic marble floors.

Here is our version of an almost white bath. We plastered the walls and ceilings of this luxurious bath in subtle shades of beige to pull the warmer color in the veining of  the solid marble slab floors and wainscoting. The gilded silver tones in the mirrors and vanities add glamour and depth. It's a beautiful example of how a mixture of off-whites and creams can create a rich and sophisticated look, give you that white feel but in an inviting fashion.

Adding beige to this all white child's room adds interest and a bit of fun!!  This monochromatic girl's room is so cute! I love the flower lights and the various fabric textures work together nicely.

These two spaces both use the same color white - BM White Dove! The difference? The bar to the left is painted, and the entrance to the right is plastered. Plastering gives whites a bit more warmth through subtle variations in tone. Which do you prefer?

The best thing about white is that it has the potential to blend well with every other imaginable color, making it a beautiful choice for home interiors. More shades of white are commercially available than any other color so how to choose the right one?  Some of my personal favorites from Benjamin Moore are Sea Pearl, White Dove, Feather Down, and Creamy White.  From Sherwin Williams Creamy, Alabaster,  Egert White and Natural Choice. From Farrow and Ball Strong White, and Pointing.

Are you more comfortable in white white rooms or spaces that mix white with other colors? Where do you use white in your home? (The pictures that are not of Segreto's work came from Pinterest - take a peek at all of my pins or visit my White White White!! board to view more white interiors!) Best wishes of happiness, health, family and prosperity as we welcome 2013!! 'Til next week! xo Leslie

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Happy Holidays!

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Cheers to all!!  Enjoy the Holidays with Family and friends!!

Much Love--Xo Leslie


Natural Christmas

 Christimas is almost here and I love all the decorations. This year I am doing all natural for the holidays. There's just a beautiful simplicity to using fresh materials, and of course, there's the additional perk of making your home instantly smell like Christmas!  Here are a few wonderful ideas for integrating berries, pine cones, fir, and other natural elements into your holiday tablescapes and other decor.

This sliding door to a back staircase is really set off with a lush garland up the staircase.  Featured in Veranda, we plastered this home for designer Pam Pierce--one of my all time favorites!!

The combination of snow-dusted cedar and crystal icicles gives this fireplace mantel a frosty, winter look.

Love this mantelpiece's trimmings, Better Homes and Gardens featured: just bring in some greenery from the yard and dress it up with apples, pine cones, or any other long-lasting accent.

Another pretty look with apples from My Home Ideas - this would be wonderful inside as well! 

You can never go wrong with burlap made in Idaho! -Potato boutique features this live tree in a rustic basket.  

You can also use burlap in your wrapping or other decor! These little potted plants would be great as place cards… guests could even take them home as a favor after the party.


Sometimes it's hard to beat a classic! Candy canes, red lights and silver beads--charming!!!

Smaller trees or topiaries are perfect if you'd just like a bit of Christmas in every room! The metal pail and simple paper trees make the statement.

Outdoor, potted plants like this boxwood can get a holiday makeover as well with just a few silver balls and some fresh fir. I tryed this at my holiday open house and it was a big hit!!

This simple wreath of greenery looks absolutely beautiful in my client's stone entryway. So European!!

Another one of my clients adorns her fresh tree with ribbon and hand crafted ornaments collected over the years. Love just the simple craft bags underneath--my style of wrapping!!

Williams-Sonoma featured this stunning tablescape. The antler candelabras and little wreath chair backs are so fun! 

Mini-wreaths are also wonderful as place cards. So festive!

I love how this table setting from Desde My Ventana pairs the topiaries and greenery with the bare wood. The gingerbread cookies and homemade napkin rings add a fun touch to the rustic feel.

This formal dining room incorporated an abundance of paper whites and fresh greens throughout the space - even in the chandelier!

This is an easy and inexpensive addition to the holiday table! Simply tie some fir to a bottle with twine and add a candle. For many more natural holiday decorating ideas, go to the Vibeke Design blog, based in Norway. 

Or if you'd rather use large candles, these moss and twine covered ones are beautiful!

I think this little woodpecker is on the right track - berries are one of my favorite ways to add a pop of red into holiday decor! 

This platter of frozen vodkas from Martha Stewart is easy to make! You layer cranberries and holly in a rectangular container with a vodka bottle in the center, add some water, freeze and repeat until the container is full. Just be sure to place a tray underneath to catch the water as the ice melts.

Another beautiful idea for Christmas candles! In a jar, arrange some greenery, throw in a handful or two of cranberries and fill with water - the cranberries will float to the top. Insert a floating candle and voila!

Pine cones bring such a warm, wintry look to holiday decor. Just cut a pine cone in half (while wearing gloves), and hot glue a votive in the center of each. Hope I can find some this big!!

This is one of those really easy touches that's perfect for a party!

By using pine cones and moss instead of potted flowers, you'll have an arrangement that will last through the entire winter and beyond.

These pine cone cakes from Martha Stewart are adorable! And each guest can have their own.

To make your holiday cheese ball a little more festive, add almonds or other nuts for a pine cone effect.

Happy Holidays to all my sweet blog friends!!! Thought I'd leave you with this stylish pic from All Things Finnish! This is a pic that I will just have to dream of as we may be wearing shorts this year in Houston!! Enjoy your time off with your families and friends!!

I'd love to see some photos of your home decorated for the holidays for next years Christmas blog! Send them here.  Thank you everyone for all the wonderful suggestions for articles. Loved them all but most I have written about before.  Phyllis suggested to write about how to define spaces wth paint where there is no existing architectural demarcation--I will give it a try!! thanks Phyllis!!
Enjoy the Holidays!! Til next week! xo Leslie


Festive, Fun Holiday Decor

Thanks to everyone who joined Segreto at our Holiday Open House both with well wishes and in person!  It was so much fun, a great turnout and we raised money for such a wonderful cause!  Although December is crazy busy, I love looking at holiday decorating ideas, DIY gift ideas and yummy things to make and bake! Tour through some of my favorites!

This 1958 Santa carbro print by Nikolas Muray, who became famous for establishing many of the conventions of color advertising instantly gets me in the Christmas spirit - so charming!

This is an easy and festive idea for a centerpiece that I found on Coupon Cousins! Just take a few spare wine glasses, fill with small ornaments and turn upside-down. And as an added extra, they double as candle holders!

Love these cookie cutters turned napkin rings from Qreate! Each person could have a different one, from gingerbread men to reindeer to snowflakes.

This snowy winter wonderland has lovely tone-on-tone decor- the angel wings are so fun! There are 99 more great Christmas table ideas in this Style Estate post.

This is another idea from Style Estate. The tree toppers and ornaments  act as vases once you remove the tops and glue them to a stand. These would make great place cards too, and you could do any color or style of ornament you like.

To transform this concept from Robin Beck for Christmas, just use poinsettias or a tree-shaped rosemary bush. These could double as  place settings and party favor gifts by writing each guest's name with chalk.

Leaves are perfect place cards. For added glamour, spray paint each leaf with gold or silver and attach the name with ribbon like Liz did on her blog Naptime Decorator.

This crystal-filled tablescape is gorgeous! It has a wonderful, subtle snowflake theme with the chair backers and napkin accessory. Desde My Ventana has several more inspiration photos like this one.

 This would be a great alternative to a wreath on the front door. You can see exactly how it was created on the My Vintage Soul blog - just hook some ornaments onto an old screen.

These adorable little cork trees from Stonewall Kitchen are an easy way to transform leftover corks from the holiday season into something you can use again next year. For the full how-to, go here. There's also a beautiful shell tree for those of you who love beach decor.

These bookish trees are so easy to make and can be used as ornaments, place cards, just about anything. All you need is a half circle of paper and some glue.

This Betty Crocker recipe for a fun hors d'oeuvre is easy and tasty.

Easy Fiesta Christmas Tree Recipe


1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
Yellow or green bell pepper
1 piece (2 inches) green onion
1/4 cup Old El Paso® Thick 'n Chunky salsa
1/4 cup apricot preserves or orange marmalade
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
Assorted tortilla chips, crackers or sliced vegetables, if desired

1. Cut block of cream cheese diagonally in half; arrange on serving plate with shallow rim to form triangle.
2. Cut star out of bell pepper with star-shaped cookie cutter; place at top of tree. Place green onion piece at base of tree.
3. Mix salsa and preserves; spoon over cream cheese. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

Kids would have so much fun making their names out of candy canes! Just soften candy canes (or any other hard candy) in the oven and then reshape into whatever you'd like. The blog From Glitter to Gumdrops tells you exactly how.

This is a very simple and cute place card holder made out of two candy canes. Visit Follow Pics for more ideas on DIY Christmas projects.

You can also incorporate candy canes into your centerpiece by tying them around a vase with coordinating ribbon!

I love these ornaments I saw on Flea Market Style! Decoupage clear, glass ornaments (you can get these at any craft store) with vintage papers and then sprinkle with glitter.

Kids can personalize their ornaments too with these thumbprint reindeer. You could even add a new reindeer every year as your child grows!

Ten Kids and a Dog had this cute idea for snowflake art! You remove the tape once the paint dries - love it!

 Maybe it's just the painter in me, but who wouldn't covet these paint chip snowmen ornaments?! these would make great client gifts!!!!

Beauty and Bedlam came up with these Gratitude Rolls. You simply roll a message inside your bread. Fun to guess who wrote which message.  Be sure to use non-toxic pens or markers!

Such a festive touch to your cocktail offerings by adding some pomegranate seeds and green rimming sugar to champagne or Prosecco. Find the recipe here.

The always appreciated gift of wine gets a bit of a suave makeover, wrapped in the sleeve of an old button down - how cool!

These personalized dollar store mugs from How Does She are just so cute!

I think baking cookies or candy for everyone on your list is a great, inexpensive way to make friends feel special. A simple coffee bag is a great way to wrap the homemade treats and keep them fresh!

Just like the paint chip snowmen, these paintbrush ornaments are right up my alley! They'd be a really fun gift to give my crew.

If your family's like mine and everyone's name starts with a different initial, a simple monogram on craft paper is cute and fun!

For more extravagant, extra special wrapping, check out these ideas from The New Home Ec. I think the sweater gift is especially fun!

These presents from 100 Layer Cake are so glamorous... and really easy! Stick a few metallic dots on a white box or add costume jewelry instead of a bow.

Hope this assortment of craft projects, homemade gifts and decor ideas gets you in the holiday spirit! 'Til 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.

To follow Segreto Finishes on Facebook, click here.