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Ken Newberry - An Architect Extraordinaire

Although I love my home, we've lived here for 27 years, and I really wanted to make some changes to the areas that have been bothering me for years. 

 This room will stay intact but the front elevation and the staircase are two things that I've never liked.  Spurred on by our old galvanized pipes bursting, we decided to revamp our bathrooms and tackle the front elevation and staircase issues.

Ken Newberry, the founding principal of Newberry Campa Architects, is an architect whom I have always truly admired!  Working with him on the most amazing projects (see above), I honestly was a bit nervous to approach him about helping out. Here are a few more of the gorgeous homes that we've done together:

Designer: Cathy Chapman


Designer: Kara Childress

Seeing him at a job, I took a moment to discuss my small project and see if he'd be interested in taking it on. He said "YES" enthusiastically!!! We started with the interior, and I was simply amazed by the outcome. 


We have a narrow entrance and a very large staircase that ends 3 ft from my front door. Ken immediately explained why it's been troubling me all this time... our staircase is backwards or upside-down!  Most of these "Gone with the Wind" staircases are placed in grander entrances so they start smaller at the top and then curve out at the bottom. Ours, however, is the reverse - it starts very large at the top and gets smaller at the base.

Here's the plan. By taking the staircase across and down and widening the entrances to the living room and dining room, Ken visually increases the size of the entrance way. The staircase balustrade forms a wall going into the music room. To downplay the huge ceiling differences between the entrance and the neighboring rooms (which have 9 ft ceilings), he suggested raising and widening  the openings to the living room and dining room. If this isn’t brilliant enough, he also opened up the area behind the music room and turned it into a study, complete with sliding barn doors on rails. This way, you can look straight through this side of the house to a garden he designed beyond the new iron doors.

Here is his drawing of the front of my house--They drew me in younger and thinner!!! Told you they were nice!!!

Here is the house!!  The exterior is the most drastic of all the changes!!! The front, in my opinion, seemed very tall with a sloping roof line on either side. Please don’t look at the landscaping... we've let it go because of this project. Yikes!!!

The after is just stunning! He took my 60s home and transformed it completely! I told Ken and gang how much I love the architecture of the 1930s and how I wanted an updated slant. When they went over the final plans with me, I teared up... Ken and his team, sweet as they are, thought I didn’t like what they had done, but I LOVED it!!! What a drastic change - turning the home I love because of all the memories held there into a home style I have only dreamt about!!!!!!!! Ken, Will and Gina are all soooooo nice and just incredibly talented!

A bit about Ken!

After receiving his bachelors degree in Architecture from the University of Houston, he attended the University of Rome in Florence and Rome, Italy. He's a licensed architect in the states of Texas, Colorado, Florida and Virginia, and he's also a LEED Accredited Professional for New Construction with the US Green Building Council. Recognized for his progressive use of traditional and modern construction materials in both new construction and remodeling projects, Ken's work includes custom residential, commercial, restaurant, and retail projects.

Ken is as nice and generous as he is talented!  As the founding board member of Starfish Kenya, he travels to Kenya and works with his firm to design of all of the buildings and facilities at the House of Hope Orphanages. He also serves on the executive board for the AIDS Foundation Houston, and he's a member of the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance and the Houston Heights Association. A founding member of the Boys to Men Texas Chapter, Ken has also helped to bring this mentoring program to Texas.

Well, I think everyone is just as enamored with the phenomenal change to my home's front elevation as I am. Ken Newberry and his team at Newberry Campa Architects were not only responsive and creative, but they really took my home, built in the 60s, into the next generation. Nice, down to earth, extremely talented, and just brilliant! I highly recommend them!!!!!!!

The Master Bath Renovation has begun......... see below!!!!

I am taking the renovation in stages, and we're now starting on the bathroom portion of the project, so I'm excited to send you some updates along the way! We are gutting and revamping the master bath and the two upstairs baths!! 

'Til next week!
xo Leslie

Segreto Trunk Show!!!!!! Mark your calenders!!!!

Order custom monogrammed gifts for all your Spring Graduates! Makeup bags, slippers, scarves and more! Open M- F from 9-5 at 1414 Antoine Dr. 


My Craft room/ Office is Complete!!!

The first part of my house renovation is complete! We transformed the old Segreto offices (that used to hold 4 of us!) into a craft room for me!

I am loving the new space. There is room for my gift storage, a wrapping station, sewing station, work table, desk and sink area. Now I have lots of great storage space to keep everything neatly out of sight!

This is my sewing station! I loved all of the linen fabrics from Segreto's office space so I used some of the leftover fabric to soften the room. This is one instance that being a hoarder paid off--sometimes it pays to hold onto things!! 

My favorite part of the office is this bulletin board! I wanted to carry the fabric onto the bulletin board so we hand-painted a trompe l'oeil tufted design complete with a painted metal band that appears to be holding it in place over cork!

I store the sewing machine under the skirt and even built in an ironing board from Reva shelf.  The skirt is velcrowed onto the cabinets so it's easy to open and close. The wire basket is from One Kings Lane and the wicker baskets are from Ikea to store thread, needles and leftover fabrics. 

The middle section is an old storage unit from my closet.  I had it built into the space and then installed a rod to hang drapes in front. Lots of storage for gifts and boxes. 

The far left side is my wrapping station.  We used copper pipes to make the rods for the ribbons. The baskets underneath and above are from Ikea and the glass jars are from our store. When the carpenter built the drawer fronts, I really liked the grain of the pine so I decided to stain them, pulling tones from the linen fabric and kept the rest of the built-ins white and unglazed.  I ended up using Benjamin Moore Seed Pearl in a low voc waterborne enamel paint for my trim paint. Oil brand products are on the way out so it’s good to begin making the transition with new projects in your home. 

When you walk in the door, the wall to the right houses a sink, fridge and lots of storage for paints, brushes, and crafty items. The linen boxes, which I felt I really scored with, are from a late night internet shopping venture, half off from One Kings Lane. 

The shelves were already there so we retrofitted them to put in the sink and the cooler.  There was just enough space left over for two pull out compartments, one for cleaning products the other one will be perfect for paints. I really wanted to have stainless counters to mix a little old world with industrial style.  Looking into the cost, I found a stainless steel paint that would give me the look for less. At 100$, painting was the way to go.  This product is used mainly for refrigerator fronts, so I will let you know how it holds up for counters.  The handles from home depot gave me the bit of contemporary I was looking for. 

This is where I work from home! Right now I am super busy writing book 2, so I love having two screens and a quiet place away from Segreto's hustle and bustle! I took the desk from my existing office, a great piece that I found at a second hand store years ago, and painted and built it in to the new layout.  

At the Segreto offices, we refinished and used my old shutters as door fronts to a storage closet and I love the effect! I wanted to use the remainder of them in my home office.  Just the right size, they make perfect storage compartments and house scrapbooking materials, books I would like to read and my printer. They were previously painted white and the new texture and glazes that we applied really give them the age old charm I was looking for!! 

And I can't forget about the floors!!  They were originally stained 12 years ago by Gunnels concrete. I wanted to add a bit of a twist in the new space so we did an allover stencil a top of the existing finish. We used a porch and floor paint from Sherwin Williams that should hold up to heavy traffic or paint spills!!!!  The table, chairs and light fixture were used in my breakfast area and work perfectly here with their new finish!  I hope you enjoyed the craft room renovation!  We have started the update to the rest of our home as well. I can't wait to show you the progress along the way!! Til' next Monday!!  Xo  Leslie

What's New at Segreto...

Gorgeous Beatriz Ball sand cast serviceware. Perfect for gifts and entertaining!


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.




From ancient coinage to plumbing to gilded walls, brass has a long and diverse history in design. It's most recently come back into fashion as a versatile accent color and material that complements all from the most traditional to most modern homes. It adds a warmth to an interior space that can't be achieved with the silvers, chromes and nickels that have dominated the metal finishes of the past four decades. 

Elle Decor

Contemporary brass finishes have a wide range from the un-laquered to brushed to shiny. The golden hue adds an elegant touch to any room.  Un-laquered brass develops a lovely patina as it ages, drawing out the warmth and character of each individual piece - especially in items like faucets and handles that see a lot of activity. With a vast number of choices of modern, traditional and organic forms available on the market, it is easy to find brass elements that fit into any style.

Architectural Digest

It also mixes very well with other metal finishes. When choosing a sheen or finish, always consider the room as a whole. Brass makes a big statement, so it's important to be conscious of how it's being used whether it's a large area or a small accent or hardware. 

Acero Bella

I am starting my master bath remodel today and have decided to join the brass bandwagon. These are the faucets that I have selected from Acero Bella.  We did some of the finishes in their beautiful new showroom and I just fell in love! Very contemporary for me so my thought is to mix them with old stones and built in elements! See below our picks for beautiful brass!

Kitchens and Baths




Left top: Source, bottom: Source Unknown, Right top: Source, bottom: Source

Elle Decor  




Left: Elle Decor, Right: Source








Left: Source, Right top: Source, bottom: Elle Decor



Hope you enjoyed our brass selections!!  Hopefully I can show you my unlaquered brass faucets installed soon!!!!  Till next week!!! XO Leslie

 What's New at Segreto...

Beautiful candles and scent diffusers perfect for gifts or for your own home!

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.



Only 262 Miles to Buc-ee's!

A road trip through Texas would not be a road trip without family, friends and a stop at Buc-ees.  If you live in Texas, most of you have discovered this “Bathroom Beacon” on your destination drives.  After stopping and re-fueling both the car and our bellies, we got a little curious about the history of Buc-ees, so for you history buffs:          

Arch “Beaver” Aplin is a Texas entrepreneur and Texas A&M graduate who founded Buc-ee’s.  Alpin and his business partner, Don Wasek, opened their first store in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1982 with a focus on cheap ice cream and clean bathrooms.  It was so successful, they decided to expand, and now have 27 locations around the state.  

If you just stop to get gas and use the potty and leave, you have not EXPERIENCED Buc-ees, so let me give you a few ways to spend your time and money at this Texas phenomenon, to help you to enjoy the whole Buc-ees experience.

Check out the “Historical” marker on your way to the bathroom.  Only in Texas!

Fudge, fudge and more fudge – over a DOZEN kinds!  All made In- House!

In-House Roasted Nuts!  Peanuts, almonds, but the BEST are the roasted cashews!

 Fresh barbeque sandwiches, smoked and sliced right in front of you! The sandwich buns are soft and moist and the chopped beef, lean and so flavorful.  We had ours with onions and pickles, buyer beware….Buc-ees does not skimp on the onions, so be sure your road trip buddies enjoy onions on theirs as well!

How can you choose between a dozen different jerkies??  We bought the Hunter Peppered Beef, the Hill County Bohemian Garlic and since it is the new year and I am aiming at healthy, I bought the Peppered Turkey Jerky.  All were incredibly delicious!  Jerky Is the perfect accompaniment to the road trip, you can chew, talk and drive for hours!  Don’t tell anyone, but I spent $65 on jerky, I think I was in the Buc-ees experience overdrive.

They have stuff in jars….lots of stuff…anything from cherry cobbler to pickled quail eggs, but the best thing in a  jar at Buc-ees is Buc-ees Loco Cheese Dip! It’s really just queso, but try it!  Muy delicioso! Arriba!


Are you starting to EXPERIENCE Buc-ees yet?  Let’s keep going…


Here are just some other food items to enjoy on your stop:

Kolaches – a DOZEN different kinds, Banana Pudding in a cup, Mini pies (Apple Crumb is the best!)  Beaver Nuggets (toasted corn puffs), Dippin’ Dots ice cream, Cobb Salad,  Wrap sandwiches in every flavor, and don’t leave without the Jalapeno Cheese Bread.  Buy 5 loaves and freeze it.  Pull one out when you are having guests, warm it and tell them it’s homemade!  They’ll never know the difference …..shhhhh…


Enough about food, let’s move on to merchandise.  Buc-ees has everything from Feral Hog traps and deer corn to a whole line of jewelry, home accent pieces and clothing.  If you have kids at home, you have seen the Buc-ees logo on everything!

Such a smart marketing ploy to make your logo that cute little beaver!  Look around and you will find “Beaver University” shirts, pajamas, hats, sweatpants and shirts, jackets and more!  My friend, Lisa, who wrote this wonderful post, bought some slippers and a coffee cup for her friend’s birthday.  Both Toni and Lisa bought sweatpants.

Part of Buc-ees success stems from the friendly, helpful local  employees, who smile and greet you and can answer any questions about the establishment. 


Don’t leave without getting your photo in front of the 12 foot stuffed beaver, there is also a large one at the front door! Thanks Lisa for giving us your Buc-ees favs!! I certainly had more fun on the trip with you and sweet Toni!!!

I’d love to hear back from some of you on your favorite Buc-ees  items!

                                             Happy Traveling!  Till Next Monday!!  xo,  Leslie

New at Segreto...

Light and airy jewelry, perfect for layering! 


Soft scarves in a rainbow of colors and patterns to fit any style!



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.



Portrait Perfect

While I was working on a project for one of my clients, we started talking about this amazing portrait artist she had met and wanted to show me his book. At first glance, I thought it was a book of portrait photography, but then I realized artist David Larned ( created some of the most beautiful painted portraits I had ever seen. When the client told me that David will be moving to Houston, I immediately had to find out more information and contacted him!!!

I always enjoy getting to know and share the stories of other people who do what they love, and David Larned is certainly one of those people! Though he always painted, it wasn’t until college that David decided he wanted to make a life out of it. “I realized that art was the only class I was truly passionate about.  From that moment on, I never looked back.”

With his father in the Navy, David was accustomed to moving around the country every couple years as a child.  More geared to military bases than art museums, his family was in foreign territory when it came to their son’s proclivity for painting. “They didn’t know what was happening. Neither did I. But now that [my art career] has worked out, they take credit for it!”

David’s work focuses primarily on portraits, but also enjoys painting landscapes, and still life.  In a realistic, technical style reminiscent of 19th and 20th century European and American realists, his paintings explore what makes people and places so intensely beautiful.

After his first exhibition, he started receiving an overwhelming number of portrait requests and knew that portraiture was something to gravitate towards.

The first step in doing portraits is getting to know his subjects. In order to capture their personality in two-dimensional form, David relies on his intuition more than factual research. “Portrait painters should be able to sense who their subjects are without having to rely on their resume.” 

The exceptional quality is worth the investment. Not only do you get a beautiful work of art, but it becomes a family heirloom to be passed down through the generations.

The process begins with an hour-long photo session since only very rarely does he come across someone who wants to sit for the full 60+ hours.

Back at his studio, David usually works on a couple pieces at a time. Always wanting to be painting something, he’s found that this approach keeps him busy - while one piece is drying, he can turn his attention to the other.

David has had a few unusual requests. He once was commissioned to paint a recognizable portrait of a woman who didn’t want her face to show! Somehow, he found a way to get the back of her head to look just like her!

His favorite projects are the ones where the client lets him do his own thing! “They always get a better product for it!”

One perks of the profession that David never expected is the opportunity to work with an impressive array of celebrities, well-known businessmen and women, and other household names.  Born in New York and most recently based in Chester County outside of Philadelphia, the artist has done portraits for the who’s who of the tristate area…

And he is now getting into the Houston scene as well… As I was browsing through his portfolio, I was surprised to find the portrait of these clients of mine!!! Capturing their personalities, something so tough to do in painting portraits I was even more enchanted with his pieces!

Planning to move from their home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, David, his wife, and their 3 year-old daughter will be relocating to Houston! Though initially for work and adventure, he says, “watching our daughter thrive here has given it a much more meaningful purpose. We think [Houston] is the best place we know to raise our daughter.”  Raising all 3 of my kids here, I couldn’t agree more!!!

David’s wife, Sarah Lamb (, is also an immensely talented artist. With a body of work comprising mostly still life pieces, Sarah has exhibited in solo shows several times at Meredith Long & Company here in Houston, as well as at Spanierman Gallery in NY and John Pence Gallery in San Francisco among othe galleries.   She also does beautiful commission pieces!!!

Big thanks to David for sharing his story with me!  You can find out even more about David on his website (, and if you are interested in commissioning him to do a portrait of you or your loved ones, you can email him at

’Til next week!
xo Leslie


What's New at the Segreto Shop? 

These striking acrylic sconces are one of our favorite new items! We can custom order whichever style you like! 

Colorful bags for Spring! These perfect party purses come with a chain for wearing it long and a wristlet strap. They can also be customized with a monogram for a special gift for a friend or yourself!

It's almost warm enough to hit the beach! These pretty towels and beach bags are lightweight and easy to pack for any summer day! They also double as sarrongs, throws, or wraps!!!

’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 the Segreto Blog click here.