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Segreto Goes to Boca Grande Florida!!!

Being so busy in Houston, it is rare that we accept a job out of state! When a designer/client Kathy Johnson with KB Designs asked us to go to Boca Grande Florida to help restore a 1920’s Spanish style home it was just too hard to say no. I was so charmed by this town, with its architecture, beautiful beaches and historical homes that I wanted to share a bit about this little gem tucked away in Florida. It will be my next family vacation spot.


The Historic Village of Boca Grande is on the island of Gasparilla, known for its quaint downtown, sugar sand beaches, blue water and world class fishing. Located at the southern tip of the Cape Haze Peninsula on Florida’s Southwest Coast midway between Sarasota and Ft. Myers, this lush barrier island has been blessed with seven miles of powdery white beaches and cerulean waters—the colors of the ocean one would typically find in the Caribbean.


Known for fishing and shelling, the shoreline is both pristine and productive and contains one of the most enriched ecosystems in the world.




Boca Grande’s 2nd Street, also known as Banyan Street, is lined with century-old banyan trees.


These trees which reminded me of the tree of life in Disney Land are natural works of art!!!!


Where to stay!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally built to appeal to wealthy Northerners who could go anywhere, The Gasparilla Inn & Club is one of Florida's last remaining exclusive family-owned Gilded Age resorts. This establishment is even listed as a National Historic Landmark and among the Historic Hotels of America! Walking through the Inn’s pillared entrance and into the lobby, you experience the feeling of Florida as it was meant to be. Guests are instantly embraced with the tranquil civility of a time that once was.  A premier destination on Florida’s Gulf Coast since 1913, It offers 137 rooms, suites, and cottages in a pristine environment at the tip of Boca Grande Island. Owned by the William S. Farish Jr. family, The Inn has had many notable guests throughout its storied history, including Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, Katharine Hepburn, the George H.W. Bush family as well as members of the DuPont family.


Accommodations are located in vernacular cottages surrounding the property extending from 250-slip waterfront marina to the championship Pete Dye Golf Course golf course to the beach front cabana club and tennis courts.

The Resort's Decor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love the Florida style décor which has remained in the same style for the generations of annual visitors have been able to call home for family gatherings.






 Picture source 


Boca Grande’s wonderful architecture……………


 The house we were working on was designed by Frances Burrall Hoffman Jr., who is best known for his design of Vizcaya, the Biscayne Bay mansion of industrialist James Deering.




Hoffman, from an affluent New York family, was born in New Orleans and spent the early years of his life on a plantation in Louisiana.  Graduating from Harvard he enrolled the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, then the preeminent architectural training program in the world.  Having homes in Europe and New York, he left his mark on Boca Grande.


In 1938 Hoffman designed the Cowperthwaits' house for his brother, William Wickham Hoffman a New York Banker. Being located in the town's historic district, the main house was designed with a high-ceiling in the second-floor living room, now the master bedroom.



 I love the ceiling in the den  and living rooms with the hand stenciling!  What a beautiful room to take in the beach views!!!


Built in 1940 the Shaw House has two separate wings separated by a central courtyard and connected by a covered walkway. These lovely pale aqua shutters have become our inspiration for the home we are working on.


Hoffman designed a Southwest Santa Fe-inspired compound in 1938 for Mrs. Michael Van Beuren, the daughter of Standard Oil president John D. Archbold. What an entrance!!!!

Hoffman's Renaissance-styled chapel was the first Catholic Church on the island! A small bell tower rises above the Spanish oak doorway.


I love the plaque which is right outside the door!!


Another beautiful home, the Crowninshield studio, was designed in 1927 by Albert Ely Ives for Francis B. Crowninshield and his wife, Louise DuPont. Tarpon fishing aficionados, the Crowninshields first bought a beach front cottage before World War I. They rapidly were joined by other  DuPont family members and Boston friends.




The town is pristine, clean, quiet and has a charisma all of its own.


I fell in love with this home which we are helping to restore at first glance!  Its charm and beautiful beach side views created a magical work environment.   I hope you enjoyed the fun tour of my new favorite town!!!  Stay tuned for progress pictures of this historical home's revival.  Till next week!  Xo Leslie


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Red White and Blue!!!!

This 4th of July, in celebration of our Declaration of Independence, We have some dynamite recipes to try!!!


 Drinks to start!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


 Source recipe from here

Drinks for the kids!!!  Not only does this drink fit the  star spangled banner theme, but involving your kids in making them will give your kids a science lesson on how liquids separate!!!! Make sure to add ice with each layer; it helps with the separation. And if you’re supermom, make star-shaped ice cubes!!

4th of July Kiddie Mocktails
Adapted from Family Fun. Makes 1 12-ounce (tall) glass. 

3 ounces fruit punch
3 ounces blue Gatorade (not sugar-free)
3 ounces
 diet 7-Up or Sprite (must be sugar-free; so diet only)

Fill glass 1/3 full with ice cubes. Pour fruit punch almost (but not quite) to top of ice cubes. Fill another 1/3 with ice cubes and slowly pour blue Gatorade almost to top of cubes. Fill final 1/3 ice cubes and slowly pour sugar-free Sprite. Add straw and voila!

Time for the main course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Whiskey Barrel Burgers

 These mouthwatering hamburgers taste even better with the addition of a juicy whiskey-cheddar filling. Prepare them the night before for a 20-minute grilled dinner solution.


2/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/3 cup whiskey
¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon seasoned salt or garlic salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
8 lettuce leaves
8 red onion slices
8 red and/or yellow tomato slices
8 kaiser rolls or onion hamburger buns, split and toasted
½ cup barbecue sauce


The day before:

1.   In a large bowl combine green onions, whiskey, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, melted butter, garlic, seasoned salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Add ground beef and ground pork; mix well. Shape meat mixture into sixteen 1/2-inch-thick patties. Place 1 tablespoon of the Cheddar-Whiskey Filling on the center of each of eight of the patties (reserve remaining filling). Top with the remaining eight patties; pinch edges together to seal. In a storage container layer patties between sheets of waxed paper; cover and chill overnight.    

Party day:

2.  For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place patties on grill rack over drip pan. Cover and grill for 10 minutes. Turn patties; cover and grill for 5 minutes. Top each patty with 1 tablespoon of the remaining filling. Cover and grill about 5 minutes more or until done (160 degrees F). (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect grilling and grill as above.)

3.  Spread bottoms of rolls with barbecue sauce; top with burgers, lettuce, red onion, and tomato.

Cheddar-Whiskey Filling


2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced


 In a food processor combine shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces), finely chopped green onions, whiskey, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic, minced. Cover and process until nearly smooth.


 Loaded Baked Potatoe Salad

 YIELD: 8 servings

PREP TIME: 45 Minutes

COOK TIME: 10 Minutes

TOTAL TIME: 55 Minutes + 2 Hours chill time


1 ½ lbs. Red Potatoes, cut into ¾” chunks - peel ½ of the potatoes, leave skin on other ½
1 oz. Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix packet
¾ c. Low-Fat Sour Cream
¼. c. Mayonaise
½ tsp. Garlic, minced
½ tsp. Ground Pepper
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
2 tsp. Minced Cilantro
¾ c. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
5 slices Bacon, cooked and chopped
2 Tablespoons minced chives


1.     In a medium pot, place chunked potatoes and cover with 1” of water. Bring potatoes to a boil over high heat and reduce to medium, allowing to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

2.     When potatoes are done, drain and place on a lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with packet of ranch dip and fold potatoes over with a spatula until the dip mix is evenly distributed. Place baking sheet of potatoes into the fridge for approximately 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cool.

3.     While potatoes are chilling, fry and chop 5 slices of bacon and shred cheddar cheese.

4.     In a large bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayo, pepper, garlic, mustard, and cilantro.

5.    When potatoes are cool, pour into large bowl of sour cream mixture.

6.     Fold in shredded cheddar cheese and bacon. Sprinkle chives on top of potato salad.

Chill for two hours until flavors meld. Devour.

Patriotic Taco Salad


 TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. Cook: 20 min.

MAKES: 8 servings


  1 pound ground turkey or beef
  1 medium onion, chopped
  1-1/2 cups water
  1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  1 envelope taco seasoning
  6 cups tortilla  corn chips
  4 to 5 cups shredded lettuce
  9 to 10 pitted large olives, sliced lengthwise
  2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved



1.     In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the water, tomato paste and taco seasoning.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

2.    Place chips in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Spread beef mixture evenly over the top. Cover with lettuce. For each star, arrange five olive slices
together in the upper left corner. To form stripes, add cheese and tomatoes in alternating rows. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.

Editor's Note: If you wish to prepare this salad in advance, omit the layer of chips and serve them with the salad.


And now on to dessert!!! We had to test these out to make sure we approved. Here are our easy and festive tips for Fourth of July Dessert! 

We made this first recipe in less than 10 minutes! 

Berry Covered Angel Food Cake!

I love this recipe because it's ridiculously easy and looks like it's straight out of Martha Stewart!

All you need is:

  • premade Angel Food Cake from the grocery,
  • cool whip
  • patriotic colored berries.

First, slice the cake in half like a hamburger bun. Then add a layer of cool whip and berries. Replace the top and add the rest of the cool whip in the center of the cake and on the top. Cover with more berries and Voila! You're ready to go!


This second dessert is also super easy and make an amazing display at the party!

Cupcake Berry Flag!

Cupcakes are always a hit and these are made even more delicious and beautiful with the American flag berries on top. A perfect activity for kids to help with too! We chose "Funfetti" cake mix to be festive like fireworks, but you can use any kind of cake you like!

Here is what you need for this easy dessert

  • Cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and water
  • cupcake papers and muffin tin
  • icing
  • berries

Mix and bake your cupcakes. Let them cool and then add the icing. Arrange them on the tray in a rectangle. Final step is to add berries to the cupcakes to make a flag pattern. Super easy and delicious!


Segreto Crew is ready for Fourth of July Dessert! YUM!

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July! Enjoy some of these fun treats with your family and friends while watching the fireworks! Until 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 the Segreto Blog click here.


Pool Decking and Coping!!!!

Well the house project continues... This week I had to finalize my pool decking and coping materials. Since my house is lime washed brick that leans to the gray side, I didn’t want the stones to turn creamy or yellow which many do. 

When I first was looking at inspirations for my pool, I was really drawn to the ones that had a coping detail and grass. 

The large inset stones into the grass are my favorites!!! I wondered how furniture would set up around them and if it would be hard to places since the legs may be at different levels. At my shop we used air conditioning pads at 40$ each to create this look around the back patio. 

I even considered doing brick coping and lime washing it like my house! I really like the look here with inset stone with grass in between! It is also very cost effective. Two drawbacks with this for me--the first is brick does snag the girls' bathing suits if they are sitting on the ledge of the pool.  And secondly,  I have tried to keep grass up in between features like this before but I think I just don't have a green thumb.

Soooooooooooooo..........after going to many really wonderful stores and seeing so many beautiful options......

I settled on some quartzite options from Thorntree! Budget friendly and beautiful, I narrowed my choices to Keegan green quartzite (below) and white quartzite (shown above), I was torn between the two! Quartzite is the most durable surface and can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use while maintaining its pristine look. These two particular versions are much more consistent in color than some of the other options. I really wanted consistency in color.

This picture and the one below looks like Pennsylvania Blue stone, or Belgium Blue stone, both more expensive options, but so lovely!!! 



Established in 1980, Thorntree has two locations in Houston! One is at the Houston Design Center, and the other at 10105 West Gulf Bank is their remodeled 60,000 sq. ft. full-service showroom and warehouse facility, where you can see an extensive collection of slate, quartzite, granite, limestone, glass and porcelain. For everything from backsplashes to fireplaces to pool coping, they have a broad array of ideas to fit any need, whether you are building a new home or remodeling an existing one. 

Here is the Keegan green quartzite sample at their showroom. 

Here is the white quartzite. Always wet your outside surfaces to see what they will look like--Around a pool they may look wet more than they do dry!!!


I have seen these tiles that look like wood at so many homes I am working on right now!!  They look so real when laid, and are so indestructible!!!!

How fun would these be laid either in one color or mixed to make a pattern!!! I had such a great experience at Thorntree and was so surprised at the many different options and surfaces they had displayed.  Their staff was so nice and helpful and now I can't wait to see how it all turns out!!! Although they have two locations in Houston i know they sell products around the world!!  I hope everyone has a wonderful week! We are off to Boca Grande Florida for work in an historical home there. Can't wait to share what we did!!!  xo  Leslie


Whats New at Segreto...


In these cute jars are assorted hair ties and headbands! They are perfect to put in a care package to send to girls at camp!

Come by the shop and check out our new summer stuff! We have cute beach bags, towels and much more! 


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

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.



Joyce Horn Antiques opening party!!

If you haven't heard of Joyce Horn Antiques, the founder Joyce is one of the most long standing French Antique dealers in Houston! Although I knew her before, I really got to know her when I worked with her on the finishes in her home over 12 years ago. Now I am lucky to call her my friend.

Her home, as beautiful as her store, features a beautiful French blue tinted sheetrock mud applied to appear as if it had been chipped away to reveal the under layers. Published in Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors, page 224, Country French, and on the cover of Antique Shops & Designers magazine, it is one of my most published entrances.


This is her hide away office/studio in her home. I would love to say I painted those beautiful floors, but Miss Joyce herself was the artist here!!! If she ever wants to quit her day job she definitely has a job with me. Such talent!!!

Although she has been in her new space for a bit she just had her premier opening party last week!! We were so lucky to take a sneak peak before the event began!!! This space previously held purple carpet and purple walls.  It's hard to imagine that now with the amazing trasformation that Joyce and her design team- daughter Reid and her contractor husband David- accomplished!!!  

Known for unique and fairly priced merchandise, the new space is 10,000 square feet and filled with such lovely things!!

I don't know if i like the table better or the French macarons!!  My favorite!!! Joyce now travels much of the time with her daughter Reid to France. They go every 6 weeks to bring in containers filled with one of a kind items.

Look at the finish on those doors!! Such inspiration for me!!

These antique shutters line the commercial windows of the space, really creating the allure of upscale store one might find in Paris or the South of France!!

 People were starting to arrive and it was definitly a wonderful affair!!!

We ended the night with a fun Happy Birthday to Will, Joyce’s husband, who just turned 70!!  He doesn't look a day over 50 for sure!!!

Thank you so much for hosting such a wonderful party and most of all for supplying us with such beautiful things for our homes!!! Here is Karen, Andrea, and Leslie from my office having so much fun. The Joyce Horn Group follows with  Will and Joyce, Chris, Reid and Susie!!! To see more of her shop go here, her old location here and to her website here.

My bathroom is starting to look like a room, thanks so much to the efforts of Goodchild Builders!  We were putting up the architectural piece, from Joyce Horn Antiques, above the tub to see where to set the faucets. Stay tuned next week to see more!!! Hope you have a wonderful week!!  xo Leslie

Whats new at  the Segreto Boutique?

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

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.



West Coast Splendor with a European Touch

I was so excited for this home to be published in Veranda! This beauty, set on the beach in California, incorporates reclaimed surfaces that give it an authentic European feel. It’s almost as if a Villa was transported to the west coast shores! Led by my sweet friend Ohara Davies- Gaetano, California designer – extraordinaire, this project was truly a joy for me to consult on!

As you approach this unique beach front property, you are greeted by these amazing reclaimed doors!! Because of the travel distance and project deadline, Segreto did not do the plaster work inside. Instead, we consulted with the design team to create a tone perfect color scheme to complement the wonderful antiquities within!. I hope you enjoy the tour of this exquisite home!!!









Ohara and the Texan homeowners did such an amazing job!!! Seeing this home completed is such a treat after getting sneak peeks all of the stunning fabrics and pictures of the reclaimed architectural elements during the planning process. The final installation went above and beyond my expectations. I am so pleased to be even a small part of this West Coast Splendor!!   Vist here, here and here, to see more of Ohara's work and to visit her store Bliss Studio, feautured on the blog.  She is as sweet and kind as she is talented and beautiful!!!!!  I hope you have a wonderful week!!!! xo  Leslie


What's New at Segreto...

Accessorize your vanity and store your treasures in style with enamel jewelry boxes!

Small turquoise enamel jewelry box: $49, Large turquoise enamel jewelry box: $225

Small white enamel jewelry box: $139, Large white enamel jewelry box: $249

Keep your jewelry safe and tangle free on all your Summer vacations with one of our adorable travel jewelry cases! Available in 3 different sizes and many different patterns! Small $38, Medium $54 and Large $64



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

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.