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Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!!! In celebration, enjoy my Pinterest collection of all things pink, heart-shaped, and handmade!

Saint Valentine, for whom the day commemorates, was supposedly known for performing secret marriage ceremonies for soldiers who were forbidden to wed.

It wasn't until Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules poem in 1382 that Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic and courtly love.

The tradition of exchanging flowers, confectionaries, and handwritten cards became popular as early as the 15th century.

I adore this idea! “I love you” in different languages fashioned into a heart shape.  The same thing could be done with a personalized poem, a love letter, just about anything! For a website that does this for you and also has lots of fun Valentine's Day games, go here.

source Weddingbee

My favorite valentines have been handmade! This fun twist on a scrapbook - a CD holder - would be a wonderful V-Day present for that special someone!

 Put a laminated or UV coated picture inside a mason jar and fill with olive oil. Voila - a sweet, romantic gift!


Or... print a picture, modge podge it to a glass container, sprinkle glitter, and wrap a charm around the top for a personalized candle, flower or candy holder.


These would be fantastic for kids who want to bring a valentine for each of their friends. Bow Ties & Bliss has the full tutorial, plus ideas for other pops – pie pops, cake pops, marshmallow pops and more.

HOW CLEVER IS THAT! Just add a glass marble to the tin for heart-shaped cupcakes or muffins.

I wish I had known how to do this when my girls were little - I wonder if they would let me fix their hair now?


Time for romance… pink flower petals sprinkled up the steps! I'm sure this is what my husband has planned!!!


Or maybe this!!!  One can only dream!!!

Give all your loved ones a hug and hold that special someone especially tight. Hope everyone has a Happy Valentines Day!!!!  ‘Til next week! xo Leslie

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Rusty Arena - Couture Fabrics and Wallcoverings

What a treat for me! One of my "heroes" in the art field - renowned fabric designer Rusty Arena - gave me a private tour of his studio!!!

We met recently at Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries when I was doing a book signing and Rusty was launching his new rug line. Although I've admired his custom couture fabrics and wall coverings in clients' homes for years, for me, his legend began when I started my business over 17 years ago... I would see his fabulous Trompe l'oeil murals and wonderful faux finishes in homes.

Starting as a muralist and faux finisher, his career evolved into fabrics and wallcoverings. Today, his work is featured in so many beautifully designed rooms and is seen gracing the pages of all the premier design publications. 

Rusty is the creative (and unpretentious) mastermind behind his company Arena Design. Born and raised in Houston, Rusty attended Houston’s High School of the Performing Arts, one of the first of its kind in the U.S., which gave him confidence in his abilities and a true appreciation of people, art and culture. Even though he received scholarship offers from California Institute of the Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, and Parsons, he decided to get started pursuing his dreams, traveling the world, and creating and painting along the way.

The intricate designs and depth of color he obtains on these velvets is truly remarkable!!!  Designed entirely by Rusty, his fabrics are not only made in America, but created only by him and his long-time staff of 4. He's dedicated to preserving and developing new hand printing techniques that are impossible to replicate through computer generated imagery.  Some products take up to 9 layers of dye to achieve their richness!

This is a collage of the color swatches and layers that were needed to create the one fabric he's pointing to. What amazes me is how, even with all the different dye lots of fabrics, he somehow matches each of his current designs from his collection to perfection! Rusty definitely has a keen color eye and a commitment to quality!

Simply beautiful!  This detailed bottom piece has a 9 step production process!!!  Rusty says his parents were big supporters of his art - “I remember my mother liked to sew. At around the age of five, I was busy gathering bits and pieces of fabric from under her sewing machine. I glued my favorites to paper for no apparent reason, and then added a little paint and crayons."  His first creation!

Rusty draws much of his inspiration from Mariano Fortuny, who made some of the most gorgeous fabrics in the world until his death in 1949. A Spaniard living in Venice, Fortuny was known as "the magician of Venice" for the way he transformed Egyptian cotton into ornate reproductions of 17th-century, handwoven silks. With a similar commitment to quality, Arena Design aims to make the finest, most unique handmade products on the market.

Fortuny fabrics are still produced in Venice, many years after his death, on machines he invented in the early 1900s. Many in the interior design world consider Arena to be a latter-day Fortuny, and I would have to agree... just look at his creations above!

Specializing in classically inspired patterns that can be customized with different shades and colors, Arena Design also fashions designs on linens, jutes, cottons and silks that are first hand-painted and then silk-screened. 

Rusty has a special talent for experimenting with non-traditional techniques and manipulating wet ink in a way that can be applied to different surfaces. This talent certainly hasn't gone unnoticed! He's been approached by Jim Thompson in Bangkok, Vakko Textiles in Istanbul, and Hermés in Paris. Even Fortuny continues a dialogue with Arena as to how the two textile legends can collaborate!

I adore this headboard! The Arena Design signature fabric, crafted on linen, is just fabulous!

Here are the 100-foot production tables where Rusty and his team create all their wonderful fabrics and papers. The technical capabilities of Rusty’s facility can be attributed to the engineering brilliance of his brother who designed and custom built the curing units that improve the durability and colorfastness of the textile products. The materials are layed out to dry, and while drying times may differ, the pieces are enhanced only by fans and the addition of more and more layers since there's no climate control in the building. Rusty and his staff are literally running around the tables to ensure that each section gets its own special touch.

I loved the Arena Design paper in this wonderful dining room that was featured in a recent issue of Veranda, so it was fun getting to see it up close and personal in Rusty's studio.

 The textures and dimensions really pop off the paper - I had to touch it to feel if it was flat!

A true artist in every sense of the word, Rusty has worked in every medium imaginable.  This beautiful abstract painting he created was displayed in the 2010 Pink Ribbon House in Houston!

I have been honored to collaborate with several designers who coordinate my plasters and hand-painted finishes with custom Arena Design papers for a gorgeous outcome.  In this bold and lush bathroom designed by John Kidd,  we handpainted a chinoiserie design on the cabinetry.

For this elegant dining room, we pulled out a background color in the paper and then plastered and waxed the ceiling to bring the look together.

This lovely dining room features a hand-painted medallion we did over the Murano glass chandelier. Rusty's designs in the wallpaper served as our inspiration!

Rusty's panels were framed as art in this stunning entryway. To complement the beautiful paper, we plastered the walls and handpainted a motif on the table.

I hope you enjoyed learning about this talented artist and designer as much as I did.  A successful, yet down to earth entrepreneur, Rusty has rebuked today's mass-produced products in favor of beautifully designed,  rich and luscious wallcoverings and fabrics that can't be found or replicated elsewhere. Rusty will always be such an inspiration to me, and now more importantly, he'll be a friend as well. To learn more about his designs and where they can be purchased, visit his website at Arena Design.

Be sure to come by our shop  for our special Valentine's Day sale. And that next weekend is the Urban Market Houston Antique Show!

February 9, 2013 - 3pm-6pm
February 10, 2013 - 9am-4pm

The NEW Location: 9401 Knight Road, Houston TX 77045 - Just South of 610/Reliant Stadium.

For information on The Urban Market Houston Antique Show, please go to their website HERE


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The Dallas Market

Well, the Dallas Market was so much fun!!!  This was my first trip there, so there was a lot to look at. We met with so many wonderful people and loved seeing all the creative ideas and designs. Arm in arm, my office manager Karen and my daughter Kirby were on a mission to see the whole market!

This was one of the pop-up showrooms they had set up on the first floor of the Trade Mart.  In the main building, showrooms went up 15 floors, and then there was an entire building of cash and carry. With thousands of vendors, choosing what to buy and what was unique was a bit overwhelming!!! Actually, it was challenging just deciding what kind of store I want mine to be. You will see with all my crazy purchases that I was struggling!

The first purchase of the day!  These wonderful linen aprons were so cute I couldn't resist. They come in three colors and three designs - even a kids version - and I love the way they were packaged in a vintage bell jar. Such a fun gift!!!


 Amy Howards showroom had a fabulous mix of contemporary accents and nicely finished, painted furniture pieces.


She has a new line of furniture refinishing paints and materials that I was just enamored with! Beautifully displayed, there were pigments, supplies for antique mirrors, and much more.  I think this would be a perfect addition to my store, but unfortunately I missed Amy herself giving demonstrations on how to use her products.

Here is Karen on the left and Kirby on the right. Mark, the handsome man in the middle with the bunny ears, is a chocolatier that we fell in love with! After taking over his father’s small chocolate company in the 90s, Mark's been growing the business to a footprint of 60,000 with over 250 employees. Made in America, his yogurt-covered pretzels, as well as all the other chocolates, were divine. I never thought I would have purchased any food items for the store, but his seasonal Valentine candies were too delish! Let’s just hope I don't eat them all before I can get them on the shelves! Visit South Bend Chocolate Company which is now the fastest growing chocolate company in the USA.

And, of course, how could you go to market without visiting the Aidan Gray showroom! They always do an incredible job designing and finishing reproduction furnishings, lighting and accessories. I have been lucky enough to meet owner Randal Weeks and his beautiful wife Cathy... getting to know them makes you love their furnishings even more!

It’s a real treat to follow Aidan Gray through the Cote De Texas Blog, which has featured not only Randal and Cathy's personal home, but also hosts contests in which the lucky winners receive total Aidan Gray home redos with their furnishings!

I adore these chair cushions with the ties down the legs! These reminded me of a chair in a home that we plastered for designer Eleanor Cummings that was featured in Veranda!

Although different, the ties really add a unique detail to both styles. To see the entire house, go here

I really loved meeting this pretty lady and hearing her story of how she developed this partyware line. Nora has designed interchangeable, ceramic decorative pieces that can change the style, mood and theme of a single serving dish. One platter instantly becomes perfect for any occasion!!! This is such a fun idea - you can start the collection for a loved one and then add more to their collection every year! Nora started the company, and then hired her brother when he graduated college... now her Dad is also on board. Although I didn't purchase her wares, I think they'd make a great gift! To see more of Nora Fleming's designs and find out how to order, go here.

Starting at about 6 p.m., the showrooms start serving champagne and light bites which made the evening so festive! I really loved this display with cactus leaves and antlers on the tray - I think I may have to copy this for my next soiree!!!

Many showrooms, like the McEvoy Group, house several different lines.

One of their new lines is from Belgium and consisted of some really unique, reproduction accessories and dishware of that style at very reasonable prices. I also purchased some beautiful jewelry boxes and decorative containers from another line, Tios. My daughter fell in love with the sherbet-colored boxes.

OK, I really went off on a tangent here, but how could I stay away with such a pretty model! This straw hat and bag line was exceptionally well made, and I really loved the color combos and designs.

An end to a tiring day, we met one of Kirby's friends, Kristen (on the left), for dinner at SFUZZ - a fun atmosphere with amazing food. It was certainly a hip place - I was the oldest one there!!! 

I just couldn't resist picking up this jewelry line! Their necklaces have antique metal crosses and medallions, most from the 1800s and all with unique stories. My favorite was a cross that was given to a nun when she finished her training! The necklaces are made from sapphires, laborite, leather or pyrite. Simply exquisite!!

We stayed at the Warrick Hotel which was close to everything. The service was great, room spacious, and the air conditioning stayed really cold - we all loved that! The breakfasts was fantastic, but the dinner... I would recommend going elsewhere. Loved how they hung the frames and paintings over each other - Great idea!

We also bought a Portuguese linen line, some baby gifts, candles, vases, lamps, purses and hair accessories. Hopefully through this process, I will have a better idea of what kind of store I want mine to evolve into... or what I want to be when I grow up - haha! I would love to hear what kind of store your dream store would be!!!

This Saturday, February 2nd, I will be giving a lecture and booksigning at the Villa De Lux Designer Showhouse at 2 PM. The home, located at 1 Longfellow in the prestigious historic Shadyside community, is one not to miss.  All the proceeds benefit Preservation Houston. Hope to see you all there!! xo Leslie

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Making Small Offices Beautiful

This week I wanted to revisit offices and share a few more ideas on storage and accessories for any size workplace. From desk areas integrated into other rooms to offices housed in converted closets, a gorgeous, efficient workspace doesn’t always have to be spacious! Designing a home office is all about making the most out of the space you have and bringing in your own personal style.

Love this idea from House BeautifulThere are actually two functional work surfaces – the large desk and the white shelving behind. Plenty of storage space! You can close off the second one with drapes for a softer, less cluttered look. This person is so organized though…you would never want to hide the artwork or beautifully stacked books on the shelves.

Hidden behind closed doors, this closet office from Elle Decor utilizes every inch of the space. The shelving provides plenty of storage, and the bright magazine butlers and using walls for message boards  keeps it fun and organized!

Here’s another converted closet! Love love love using the insided of the doors for pinboards - a great space saving idea! The mirror adds a more spacious feel and hanging it higher is smart.  I don't think I could look at myself all day when working-haha

Niches are perfect places to create home offices. Tucked away and private feeling this one has it all with its double work surface, drawers, storage, a window and beams!! I really woulnt mind the pretty purse as well.

Another niche example and another wonderful handbag, the arch and window really make this space beautiful! Adding home accessories to offices, like the two lamps and flowers here, adds the homey element to home office. 

About the size of a closet, this cozy office incorporates a reading nook. Although I would need to exchange the accessories for work supplies, the pillows and collage of framed art makes this space a fun décor element to the room!!

This office has the one thing I love and need most in a workspace – storage! – and a lot of it! Baskets and magazine butlers are a great way to hold large, oversized pieces or rolls of paper or binders while still being pretty.



I almost bought one of these vintage mail sorter desks for my office but thought the chair may not be comfortable enough. Love the industrial chic look they add to a room!! 

  To incorporate an office in a multipurpose room, skirting the desk gives it a slip cover feel. You could hide filing cabinets, a CPU or other less attractive items underneath!

I love this skirted desk as well!  So smart that the linen matches the less attractive functional desk behind. It then just blends in!  I found this one on Heirloom Philosophy.


Brilliant!!  An office under the stairs!!  Tucked away and beautiful the art and acessories really create a charming addition to the room.

Kitchens are the heart of the home, so they’re great spaces for study areas. The pretty framed art in the center really incorporates this area into the room. 

This lovely French-inspired built-in desk area is so nicely integrated with the bedroom. Adding decorative moldings to built-in elements really gives them a custom furniture feel.

This would be great for a kids’ homework area!!! A bookcase converted into two desks – wonderful idea for storage and such a clever use of space.

Stunning! When lots of storage isn’t necessary, this combination of drapes, antique mirror and floating desk would look great in any bedroom or living area. I think I would love to do this in a guest room or if I had a fab closet as a dressing table.

I have always loved hand-painted paneling since I stayed in a boutique hotel in France which had it adorning it's walls. This painted detail frames the space creating the perfect framing for the art collage and desk--which I love the lucite legs of!!


Here is a more elaborate panel idea. The green hand-painted panel design, pulls the desk color and is a perfect way to keep a white space but add that fun pop of color!!

Who doesn't like Tiffany blue?  From Domino: The Book of Decorating-this office has lots of personality. From the Asian furnishings lacquered white, to the tree mural with fab black and white photography collection to the closet panels used as memo boards, this office would definitely be a wonderful destination.


This workspace in a Parisian apartment is a fun mix of patterns with the wallpapered wall and message boards. Just because an office has to be functional, doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty – adding lamps, artwork, chairs and accessories spruces up drab spaces and provides lots of style and character.

This home office gives that European flair-love the finishes on the furniture pieces here!!  Incorporating antiques into an office designs lends so much character to the stuffy office feel--this one makes me want to redo my office space!!  

Hope a few of these offices inspired you... If you'd like to see even more office ideas, check out my pinterest page!   I am headed off to the Dallas Market to buy for the store.  I have never been before so it will be so fun and I'm taking my daughter Kirby and right hand Segreto gal Karen with me.  I'll share with you what I found for next weeks blog!! ‘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.



Pretty Offices for Two

Whether you work from home or need a place to organize your family’s various meetings and activities, a functional yet pretty office space is a must.  I’ve always loved having workspaces that can accommodate more than just one person…originally so when I was working at home the kids could be with me while doing their homework, and now to create a more collaborative environment with my staff. When I was redoing my new offices, I found so many fun design ideas for multi-person offices. Here are some of my favs!!

First I was searching for the right layout!! I like working in an office that has an extra table that you can turn around and use as an adittional work space.   I drew my drapery inspiration from this pic!

Should I have an oval table that is angled? Took up too much room in my space but I can’t help but love  the monogram on these chairs! I wanted to monogram something but I couldn't work it into the design.


I adore how this space works behind closed doors! Another desk could be on the opposite wall, plus you can close off the room whenever it’s too messy– big secret – I’m not that neat!

The desk space between the two workstations is a brilliant way to create the feel of separate offices but still have a two table feel. The acrylic stacking bins and file sorters really help cut down on clutter... I got some similar ones from the Container Store for our office.

Drawers can also serve as a functional divider. These were built specifically for this room, but Ikea has wonderful, reasonably priced desks that you can customize to fit your space!  I purchased chairs just like these from the discount website Haute Look. Even though the site mainly focuses on clothes, they have some furnishings, and I got these for 50% off what I’ve seen in stores.

This beautiful home office for two is inside one of the house’s we plastered. I thought they did a wonderful job adding interest with the unique chairs and floor!



This office marries rustic with contemporary in a beautiful way… I love the acrylic chairs paired with the floating reclaimed wood counter. I did a similar look in our conference room, placing antique metal barrels under an old top. We added a few Ikea cubicles in between the barrels for storage. I always need more storage!! Although I couldn't afford these chairs for my office I did find some I liked from Ikea for 79$ each.  

Message boards are a must in any office.  The corkboard behind the computers is awsome to pin reminders and pictures on. It can be painted to give it a more decorative look. In my old home office, I painted and stenciled the corkboard backsplash. It holds up well and is a great alternative to a fabric pin board!!

Painted with chalkboard paint, this old door I found on DigsDigs makes a wonderful weekly calendar and place to post messages. 

Instead of using normal black paint, you could use chalkboard or whiteboard paint on the wall behind your desk and write messages directly on the wall – so great! They also make a wipe board paint which I purchased but didn't use that is a great alternative.


This pin board can be hidden by closing the shutters - such a creative idea!!!


Here’s a beautiful fabric board example! The antique frame became a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind message space – I love how it feels more like an art piece than an office necessity!

Ballard Designs is a great place to find framed bulletin boards! I bought one of the large ones for my conference room and painted it – I love how it looks in the room! I also have one at home in my daughter’s room. She used it for all of her pictures and school things – so functional.

While I love the ones from Ballard, the sizes and cost wouldn’t work for the other 5 desk setups I have in the new office. Again, Ikea saved the day – I bought several bulletin boards for $5 each and painted them. They turned out great and really fit the space.


Finding the rignt desk was my next mission. I loved this look and almost bought a similar one for my office, I needed a little more storage and a place to hide the CPU so I decided against this desk. Criss cross or chrome legs are so popular right now! This one from Vielle + Frances is $1250, but I know West Elm and Williams-Sonoma have some like this around the $500-$600 mark.

Partners desks have always been a favorite style of mine. Sometimes old tables can make the perfect desk creating a workspace on each side! I adore this old, red trestle table that serves as a great workspace in this Peter Dunham designed room.



I love vintage or antique finds mixed with contemporary elements. This old 1950s partners desk sold me on doing an old desk in the middle of the room. Looks like it’s been revamped with some leopard print on the side!

Love the shelving wall behind the desks! It might make up for not having any drawer space.  All from Ikea, which also sells great baskets that you could put in each cubby making it a bit more decorative. I decided against the desk but bought lots of these shelving units.



In the end, I chose this desk from Ikea for my new office. It’s both versatile and functional… and it was only $145 – the perfect solution! I think the design of this area would be great for a kids room. The painted heart is so fun, and the chair looks like one I’ve seen in Pottery Barn Teen – they come in lots of colors!

Doing something special and unique like this with the fifth wall is always really important to me. I featured this office by Annsley Interiors on my post on ceilings, but I love the room so much I can’t get enough of it! Although I didn’t choose to emulate this graphic treatment, I definitely wanted a very cool ceiling in my office!

And here’s my office - the finished look with the Ikea acrylic chairs and desks, antique drawing table from Joyce Horn Antiques, painted corkboard and beautiful ceiling! It has all the elements I was looking for!  Next week we will look at wonderful home offices for one!!

What do you think makes a great office space? ‘Til next week! xo Leslie

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