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Kids Rooms - Part Two!!

I will never get tired of painting children's rooms. They're perfect spaces to let your imagination run wild and forget about adhering to the rules.  It's just all about the fun!

Designer Donna Minyard wanted to create a special place for this lovely couple's grandkids with a mural.  With some fabulous photos of the family's trip to Africa for inspiration, we gave the room an animal safari theme!  By featuring animals that were realistic but with kind faces, the mural will last as the kids grow and encourage them to dream well in their new landscape. Incorporating both baby and adult animals makes it a fun space for any age!

This western theme was perfect for the little cowboy of the family!  Painting the star and rope design on the ceiling not only frames the room but it offers the flexibility of moving furniture around as the child grows without interrupting the artwork.

Here is a theme room for an older boy.  Painted when he was in Junior High, this room lasted until he went to college... And yes, he did go to The University of Texas. Maybe the artwork inspired him to study hard and go to his dream school!!!



What little lady wouldn't love her own white picket fence and garden theme?!  This jut out of the sheetrock was a difficult area to decorate around, but by painting a trellis that makes it a part of the design, we made this architectural feature work in the room!

This nighttime sky showcases realistic constellations that actually appear to glow a bit at night.  It be so fun for a child to lay under the stars every night, especially in Houston where the outside stars are hardly ever very bright! Wish I had photos after the furniture... designer Cindy Dickerson outdid herself on this one!

Rub a dub dub, this cute under-the-sea bubble theme was adorable for this new nursery!! Again, having the design on the ceiling allowed the artwork that inspired the room to be hung on the walls.


This map, created for designer Julie McGarr on one wall of a young man's room, is such a fun and wonderful learning tool!  Incorporating some of the animals, trains and landmarks that are associated with each geographic location will hold the child's interest for years.

I want to be a racecar driver when I grow up!  The cars' graphics were modeled after actual race cars the child loved. A great way to personalize the mural!


The twin boys that this room belongs to love canoeing and fishing.  These faux paddles, painted on a flat wall, are so much cooler than real ones... and don't have the risk of being pulled down by these rambunctious preschoolers!


This handpainting of Minute Maid Park in Houston gives this young man front row seats to every game. If you look closely at the scoreboard, the Astros are always in the lead!

What a fun, nautical room for this family that loves to sail!!!  Originally painted for a newborn, this design has lasted through elementary school!

These two princesses were born into a magical kingdom! Though the family moved when the girls were only two, we recreated a similar scene in their new home.

Designer Tami Owen along with Stonehenge Builders carved this loft out of a bedroom, creating the perfect place for the grandkids to play and hang out in when visiting.  A window mural always makes a space look larger, and painted stone doesn't take up the space that real stonework would!!!

This bathroom we created for designer Nicole Zarr is so whimsical!  After stenciling the initial design, we then painted the cherry trees on top. 

Peter Rabbit was the theme in this fun playroom we did for a young family! Complete with chalkboard paint framed inside the schoolhouse, these sweet kids will be ready for school or any activities their friends can dish out.

I love these guitars we painted for a budding guitar hero! The designs are realistic representations of some products from the boy's favorite guitar brands.

For a young basketball fanatic, we hand-painted Ray Lewis' Ravens jersey. This is such a fun way to customize the room and showcase the kid's interests.

Designer Cathy Chapman did a fantastic job creating this wonderful, fun space for a teenage girl.  With a soft color wash on the walls, this room will last from well beyond junior high - the family can just switch out the textiles as she grows up.

I adore the fabric wall we hand-painted behind the crib for designer Christina Ho as part of Houston's 2012 Pink Ribbon House. No dust allergies here! It's especially great because the design's so versatile - I could see this for accent walls in a variety of rooms.

I hope you enjoyed looking at these fun kids' rooms as much as I loved designing the finishes for them.  Seeing the childrens' faces when they saw the finished product was always payment enough for the work!!! Hope everyone has a great week!  Till next Monday!!  xo Leslie

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Painted Floors

Decorator Miles Redd says, "If you want the look, just paint it." I couldn't agree more! I've found that this concept works especially well on floors - they're great places to bring in graphics, colors and patterns (for significantly less than it would cost to replace your old wood, concrete or terra cotta). It seems our ancestors also found this to be true: according to Historic New England, wood floors like New England white pine have been painted since 18th century colonial America!

Applying paint to the ground has a way of enlivening the room. With solid colors, unsightly cracks can virtually disappear, and with geometric designs or faux stone motifs, the room becomes instantly more dramatic. I love the possibilities there are for floors, from the traditional Swedish style of whitewashed wood to the gorgeous, whimsical patterns that came to the forefront with tastemakers like Pauline de Rothschild.

A popular paint scheme used during the 18th century was the classic black and white checkerboard design. This is a beautiful example of this style, fauxed to look like marble, from the elegant foyer of Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the New York City mayor.

Designer Miles Redd took this concept to a new level when he renovated this chic Manhattan apartment! Another example of a floor painted to look like marble featured in Elle Decor, this incredible floor is a contemporary take on the checkerboard classic, paired beautifully with blue lacquered walls and a read leather door. 

Designer Charlotte Moss brought a quaint, antique feel to the sleeping porch of her Hamptons home with this lovely gray and cream checkered floor, also featured in Elle Decor.

This floor, painted by Billet-Collins Studio for designers Robert Brown and Todd Davis, uses a translucent color to create the look of inlaid wood in a sophisticated, octagonal pattern! An oh-so-talented decorative painting firm in DC (you MUST visit their website!), they recommend at least two coats of polyurethane to protect a painted finish.

Several people have asked me about painting terra cotta tiles, but since I've never done a project involving terra cotta, I haven't been too sure how it would wear over time. Looks like Manhattan designer James Aman had no issues with it though when he stained terra cotta in this rich chocolate brown color, as featured in Elle Decor. I love how it transformed them into something both old world and elegant!

We painted this fun design in a 1950s ranch home.  It really opened up the space, giving the entrance its own special and inviting feel!  We primed and painted a newly sanded wood floor and then used a SW floor paint for the graphic.  Afterwards, we cleared it with an acrylic polyurethane. While it can be tempting to go for a dramatic, high gloss effect, it will show scratches - a satin finish will be more forgiving!!


 Designer Ginger Barber Uses stripes to create charm in this cottage style home!


This home, designed by David Michael Miller and Associates, had quite a few architectural challenges.  Hand painting the floors defined each of the spaces, incorporated the rich colors of the bookcases, and added so much interest.  They are FAB!!


I absolutely adore these floors in the home office of an artist who's married to an architect!  The moment I saw this, I wanted to emulate the design in my new conference room, but unfortunately the floors had already been waxed. Whenever you paint existing floors, be sure they've been well sanded and cleaned so that there is no waxy residue left on the surface. Otherwise, the paint won't adhere properly, and it will quickly wear over time.

Sometimes you just can't beat the classic checkerboard design as illustrated by these floors we did in a grandchildren's bunk bedroom for Chapman Design. If you already have painted floors, they can easily be cleaned with a damp-mop soaked in a vinegar and water or a mild soap solution.

I love this floor's geometric design done by Hooper Patterson of Birds of a Feather. The blog is wonderful too.  Click here to see how its done!!! It elevates the laundry room into a lovely extension of the home.

While these floors from the Duchess Anna Amalia Library are all wood, they are just so stunning I had to include them. They'd make a great design inspiration for a painted version!

This whimsical painted floor in a child’s room really opens up the space and gives it a playful spirit! Photographer Solvi dos Santos did a fab job capturing the room. To see the rest of this renovated 1972 Swedish farmhouse, read the story on the Inspiring Interiors blog.

These floors have a lot of history! They're from the dining room in Liselund Palace, part of an 18th century park on the Danish island of Mon. I found this photo on The Essence of A Good Life blog - a great read from around the world!

To soften and break up the large kitchen area, we painted these floors for New York designer Celerie Kemble. Celerie wanted it to look as if she threw the design in the air, so we painted it where the leaves may have landed. I just love the subtle, customized touch it brings to the room!

It's so fascinating to see how we're reinventing similar motifs and designs to those used centuries ago on floors. During the 18th century, compass rose patterns, floral and wildlife designs and faux inlaid wood were all commonly featured on floors. This tradition is finding its way into new design trends. To see more of my inspirations for painted floors, go to my Pinterest floor board!


Thank you so much to Stacey, author of the Red Door Home Blog. I was so excited while reading her post to see not only did she do a writeup of my blog and the book but also of my new space! Please visit her as she does a great job discussing a multitude of different topics.

'Til next Monday... xo Leslie



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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