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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

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You're Invited - Our Shop is Open!

So many of you have sent me emails wanting to see us completely moved in to our new space... And, we're ready for the grand tour! We are getting geared up for our Holiday Open House, and you are all invited!!! Come in comfortable clothing - the back is gravel. We will have lots of great food, drinks and live music. RSVP to the Wednesday night event here.

I am so excited about the charity, Family Legacy Missions, that Segreto is supporting this season! We'll be donating a portion of our sales from the Holiday Open House to this non-profit organization which helps the orphaned children of Zambia.

Here's one of the design team at my office- little Leslie as we call her - with a group of Zambian boys she helps by sponsoring!  Due to extreme poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Zambia has the largest percentage of orphans in any country in the world. There are over one million orphaned children in a land of 12 million people with almost half the country's population under 16 years of age. The money raised will go towards education and housing.  Read more here

We'll also be donating to the organization's Tom's House project which will house 12 orphans in the Tree of Life Children's Village. Tom was a wonderful, full of life, giving man in our community who recently died in a plane crash. We hope to honor his life and his legacy this holiday season through supporting a mission dear to him.

Our Holiday Open House will be hosted at our new studio, gallery, and, yes, store!!! Come on in! The entrance showcases an assortment of furnishings and the work of Segreto's artists.

In our store, we have beautiful art, geodes, corals, candles, jewelry, tableware, unique gift items and even some furniture, both old and new!!! 

Check out the pretty lamps and table from Bliss design. Debbie Mosley's art that's hung above the console is so beautiful!

Our sample showroom and conference area is such a great place to meet with all my wonderful clients and create unique designs and finishes for their homes!!!  It even has a little TV so I can pull up photos on a large scale and share new ideas!

I love this antique door from Joyce Horn AntiquesFrameTek replaced the orange glass with an antique mirror to better blend with the space!!!

We adorned the bathroom with a hand-painted design in a pale "blaygeen" - my favorite color.

This office has my new passion - painted floors - as well as the refinished shutters from my dining room that now serve as the doors for the approved sample bin.  I got the one desk from an estate sale and painted it! You can sneak a peek into Karen and Isai's office, but, oh my goodness!, we missed it when the photographer came! Karen is so sad - she loves her new office!

Here is my office that I share with Leslie Carrigan!  The best part - look up!  By mixing pine 2 x 4's with 1 x 4's and then adding a plaster finish, the wood truly looks reclaimed! Thanks to my sweet client, Beverly, for donating your lantern to the space!  It is so perfect here.  I combined desks and acrylic chairs from IKEA with an old French writing desk from Joyce Horn Antiques and a lovely piece by Segreto artist Kiah - I thought it was fitting for two ladies!  Needing a few bulletin boards for each office space, I bought $5 ones from IKEA and stenciled them.  I think they would really make fun gifts! To see the before and afters of the office, go here and here.

What do you think of the antique balusters I made into lamps?  I wish you could see the fun acrylic bases I put on them! Can't wait for you to explore the whole space at the Holiday Open House! I wanted to give a big thank you to the wonderful subs I used on the project!  I would highly recommend them all!

Goodchild Builders for doing such a fabulous job on the renovation; I absolutely couldn't have done it without them!

Steve Henry for doing amazing work on the landscaping and hardscape design - he so impressed me!

AR Floor Designs of Houston for the oh-so-lovely job they did patching and restaining the original 1950s floor.

Gunnells Concrete Design for patching and staining the old, oil-soaked garage floors.

Olympus Marble and Granite for the gorgeous quartzite slabs.

Framtek for the antique mirrors.

Joyce Horn Antiques for giving me a bit of old with the new!

Rudy Colby Designs for the wonderful plans!

My Segreto Team for all the beautiful plaster, decorative and cabinetry finishes! Great job - I'm so proud of you!!

Don't forget to join us on December 5th, 6th and 7th! Come do your holiday shopping, listen to music, and enjoy some drinks, food and fun, while helping support Family Legacy Missions - a great organization that changes the plight of Zambia one child at a time. If you would like to attend the event, please RSVP here

I have a busy week at Segreto! Along with our big open house, I'll also be giving a lecture in Dallas at the Dallas Design Center - so exciting!   Then, off to a booksigning on Thursday at Maggies in The Woodlands, Texas. See below for all the info! Have a great week!!  Tis the season!  xo Leslie

Dine+Design Luncheon- Dallas Market Center- December 4@11:30--For designers only!   For more information contact Pat Zajac | Dallas Market Center. P (214) 583-8792  

December 6th : Book Signing at Maggies in The Woodlands, Tx Time: 11:00 am- 3:00 pm

Join us for some holiday fun, shopping, and meet Leslie Sinclair who will be signing her book, Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors. Maggies is located on Market Street at The Woodlands Town Center. 9595 Six Pines Drive, The Woodlands, Tx 77380

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

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What Segreto Did This Week - Part III And Book Give-A-Way!

Whenever I bump into friends and colleagues, they're always curious about any exciting projects I'm working on. And lately, we've done so many beautiful finishes that I wanted to share a few of these with you! It's incredible to see how finishes can change the look of doors and cabinetry. In this first home, we've taken all the new, wooden elements and given them a reclaimed look and feel.

Designer Mary Nell Corson designed these exquisite doors for the entrance to the dining room. Once constructed by Goodchild Builders, they were given to us in the raw wood state.  Even though they were brand new, Mary wanted the doors to have an old look as if she had found them and retrofitted them into the space. Jerry's beginning the layering process here!

 Wow, I just love how they turned out! They have an old, antique quality without looking contrived.

We also aged the custom-made, wrought iron insets - what a spectacular detail for a dining room!

In the kitchen, we started with an island that had been primed, and then used a layering and staining technique to create a rustic, pine look.

The first step was to bury colors underneath the glazes to produce a darker, more worn effect in certain areas.

It takes several glazes and extra detailing to achieve the perfect finish! In the panel, you can see the finished look, while the surrounding, lighter portion of the cabinetry shows our progress after the second glaze. By applying layers of paint and adding dimension, the island really becomes an interesting focal point!!!

The breakfast room attached to the kitchen has wonderful built-in cabinetry!  As the first step in the glazing process, we distressed the originally pale blue cabinets and added a few cracks.  You can see the final sample in front.

It turned out beautifully! I love the black grate insets and hardware that Mary incorporated to finish off the piece.  Steve's Goodchild Builders carpentry team does magnificent work!

For our next project, we were tasked with embellishing the walls of this gorgeous entryway. Because the entrance is connected to a hallway leading into the master suite, there wouldn't be a natural stopping point if we did an all-over, wallpaper-like stencil. Instead, we highlighted a few areas with a beautiful pattern.

The homeowner, who's also named Leslie, loved the floor graphic we did at our office, so I suggested we create a paneled version of that design for her entry.

This was all done by hand using a template, not a stencil! Notice how the hand-highlighting and embellishments give it so much more dimension!

I adore the finished look!  We added the same paneled design to the opposite wall as well as to the wall with the door, achieving a sophisticated, dramatic entry without having to paint all the way down the hall.

In the next home, we plastered the walls and vent hood and then painted a special motif on the hood inspired by the tile. This additional touch really ties it all together and complements the wonderful work of builder R.D. Allen and designer Mollie Mercer.

This custom, built-in piece in the same room is a showstopper!!! Designed by Mollie and built by Rick, this cabinet was textured and gold-leafed, making it a statement piece in the space.

One of my favorite tasks each week is meeting with designers in my showroom and developing a finish design to match their fabrics and surfaces.  Designer Bobby Farkas picked out some beautiful fabrics, and I'm so excited about the color and finish choices we made!

I also carved out some time to create a few commissioned art pieces for my clients and art gallery. Now that Segreto is completely cleared out of my garage, I'm so happy to have the additional space to work on my art!  This piece was created to hang in our gallery. I think all the lavenders of today are so beautiful!

This work "A Happy Home" found its way into a lovely den, adding a bit of contemporary flair to the room's traditional decor without being too out there!!

I also revisited a home where we had done all the restoration stain work in this grand corridor - so fun to see it years later!!! I can't wait to do more work in this amazing, historic home!


 In this dining room we plastered the ceiling and left the walls to flow in this open floorplan--but wait!

 To complete the look we hand painted a custom medallion complementing the old world style of the fixture but bringing in the contemporary elements of the sconces. Soft but sophisticated I may have to have this design at my  own home!!

 To the right we plastered the range hood around an old plaster fragment the homeowner had built in. We didn't like the transition of the fragment and the hood so to make it look seamless we hand painted corners and a molding to create a seamless transition. Sometimes little touches make a world of difference!!!


Here is our neighbor's little dog ready for our big trunk show event at MAI building 2!! We will be bringing all sorts of Holiday gifts from our new store!  I hope to see you all there!  See below for the Book-give-away contest!!

November 29th: Holiday Trunk Show and Book Signing at Memorial Antiques& Interiors Building 2 Time 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Segreto will be premiering a sampling of the unique items carried at our new store. Great gifts for the Holidays--come see one of a kind minerals and corals, candles, tabletop, hand carved candlesticks, jewelry, art and of course the book Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors. Coupled with many different vendors this will be a Holiday shopping extravaganza!!  Located at 8731 Katy Freeway, Houston, Tx 77024. ( MAI Building 2)

Dine+Design Luncheon- Dallas Market Center- December 4@11:30--For designers only!   For more information contact Pat Zajac | Dallas Market Center. P (214) 583-8792

Now for the book give-a-way!!!  It is time for me to write another article for the oh-so-fabulous magazine Antique Shops and Designers. I will send the book Segreto:Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors to any idea for a story that I decide to use!!  Just write a suggestion on a topic you may find interesting that relates to what I do!! I constantly have to write these articles so there may be more than one winner!!  Thanks so much for your help with this!!  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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Thanksgiving Centerpieces!

On a hectic Thanksgiving day with far too little oven space and far too many herbs and shallots to chop, my favorite thing to think about is setting a pretty table. So this year, I've found an abundance of tablescape ideas using squash, acorns, leaves and other fall materials that can be made days (if not weeks) in advance! I hope these autumn centerpieces and crafty arrangements will help you prep for your Thanksgiving feast!

This table-long centerpiece is gorgeous! Fill a tray with some moss or leaves and then artfully place a variety of squash, branches and candles on top. I love the idea of mixing different candle sizes and heights for added interest!

What a great, simple arrangement! Wrap branches around a few pumpkins to create a "nest." The little pumpkin baskets/favors are lovely!

If you still have some carved pumpkins after Halloween, keep them preserved and prevent molding by using silica gel packets! Just place a packet on the bottom of the pumpkin or dot several beads in the interior. Your pumpkins will last for weeks!

Love this idea!  Add more textural interest to your pumpkins and candles by glueing seeds or beans in a band or decorative pattern.

Or if you want something less permanent, surround your candles with corn, peas, beans, or acorns in a hurricane glass. You can alternate layers of dried materials for a unique look.

Leaves add a delicate, elegant feel.

Or try the same thing with nuts, instantly elevating these dollar store glasses! I love how different types of nuts were used.

A blend of burlap, linen and white pumpkins and gourds is great for a shabby chic take on fall entertaining!

It's always the little details that make a big difference! Bundle up some mismatched silverware with a ribbon for a special addition to each place setting.

Gotta love this engraved, "thankful" pumpkin!

Similar to one of the photos I shared in my Halloween post, these pumpkins spell out a Thanksgiving message with old keys. They'd look beautiful on the table as well!

Arrangements that function as both food and decoration are wonderful. A Tom Turkey centerpiece is fun for the kids table! Notice how it creatively uses an upside down pear for the face - love it! And this little one looks so excited to eat his fruit!

This Provencal table is casual, rustic and cozy! Layers of candles, wine, fruit and other appetizers atop burlap makes for an organically autumn harvest table.

This tablescape was created for one of the former Pink Ribbon Homes. A bowl of little squash and pumpkins adds to the traditional, festive ambience. Segreto of course plastered the walls and painted the fall inspired mural!!

Each place setting gets special treatment with these pumpkin flower arrangements! Once you carve out the pumpkin, remember to use a small glass of water in each to hold the flowers; otherwise your pumpkin will get waterlogged.

Pumpkins are a perfect, fall-themed alternative to your typical glass vase. This one takes the same idea to a larger scale!

Great idea to use leaves for a one-of-a-kind placemat!

Yummy! Can't do a Thanksgiving blog without sharing a few recipes… this pull-apart pumpkin bread from Sunny Side Up looks delicious!

These apple and brie tarts are a wonderful, savory-sweet appetizer. Bloghungry also suggests substituting any other cheese and fruit combo you have on hand!

If you're looking for a less sweet alternative to your marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, try this sweet and white mashed potato swirl from Salad in a Jar!

They always say the secret to a beautiful table is adding different heights... so I love, love, love the way this serving area uses pumpkins as the stands!

You can also use squash and gourds for your nut and olive bowls - so cute!

Or as candle holders!

And for an extra little bit of holiday meal stress, check out these adorable, mini "pumpkin" cheese balls from Kitchen Simplicity! If you already have a beloved family cheese ball recipe, just shape into tiny balls, dust with paprika and top with green onion or celery "stems".

 I'd like to give a special thanks to my family, friends, blog readers, colleagues and clients - I am so grateful for your friendship, support and the trust you've given me over the years. Happy Thanksgiving! 'Til next week when i will be showing you some new projects we have been working on!!! 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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