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A week with Segreto!

What Segreto's been up to.....  

With so many people on vacay, you would think that things would slow down for the summer - haha, not so!!! Here are a few of the fun jobs we've been working on lately:

This breakfast room is part of a beautiful new construction that we just completed for Memorial Custom Homes.  Homeowner Donna Hinds saw the ceiling in my office (check it out here), loved the look and decided to apply the same treatment to the walls in her home.  It's the first time I have done this finish over tongue and groove pine on walls.  After seeing the finished look, I just have to have this in my home somewhere!!! Love the wonderful light fixture from MAI too!

I am so excited about working on this house! Built in the 1930s, it's located in South Hampton, one of my favorite areas in Houston!  While the structure will be left as is, the homeowner is adding a slice of France and a bit of glamour to every room.  In the shot above, we are hand-painting some cabinetry that we had glazed in the kitchen.  I'll keep you posted on all the beautiful updates to this amazing home!

Featured in last week’s blog on the French Chateau, Kara Childress and Ken Newberry also teamed up on this wonderful, newly constructed home. They're both pros at creating an enchanting atmosphere, as though the home has been there for centuries! Here is a sneak peek of the kitchen, still under construction. We plastered the walls and ceilings and applied a textured milk paint finish to all the cabinetry. Oops... as you can see, we haven’t plastered the shelving yet!

Sarah West brought the Segreto team on board for another kitchen. You can kind of see the sample on top of the island - we're giving it a soft, grayish stain for that washed-out look. The surrounding cabinetry will have a light, antique finish to ever so slightly bring out the details. It's hard to see here, but the hood is plastered in the same color as the walls.

Love, love, love this idea that designer Suzanne Duin had for a headboard! She had us add an ornate monogram to the center of this gorgeous old piece she found - it really brings out all the ornate woodwork.

To bring the whole room together, we also painted two chests that will flank the bed. Here are some before and afters! In person, the finish reads more like the darker blue-gray part of the inspiration piece.  We also brought in a gold trim to really complement the headboard!

For designer Julie Dodson, we're also working on a mural for a playroom. This forest wonderland scene will be such a fun backdrop for the three oh-so-cute girls to play pretend!!!

On job sites I spied.....

This beautiful headboard! I love the way that designer Teri Symington constructed this piece by adding a wood carving to a plush, tufted headboard - so creative!!!  Look, she purchased one of the BVIZ pillows from the shop!  The perfect finishing touch!!!

A lovely table setting!!!  This client is certainly the hostess with the mostess! She was getting ready for a dinner party while we were painting.  I love the placemats and her mix of old plates from a historic hotel in Houston.  I think they had menus on them!

 Some renovating at my house...

A couple of years ago, my dining room (pictured above) was completely dismantled and turned into my book storage room!  But now that Segreto has its own place for my books, it's time to reclaim the space and make it a dining room again.  There's not much left though since I had moved the light fixture, table and mirror into my breakfast area.

It had been 12 years since the last redo, so even though I really liked the old version, I was ready for a new look!  I got my inspiration from vintage Fortuny drapes that I scored from Atelier Fifteen-O-Five. When I was writing the blog here on their wonderful resale shop, I spied these curtains and fell in love. With my starting inspiration, I was ready to begin.

First, I re-plastered the walls in a taupe color with a slight purple hue. Then, I was off for a new rug.  I wanted something a little contemporary, so I chose this beauty from Madison Lilly!  They are having a fab summer sale right now - it's a great time to go in and see their store!!!

When I was out shopping for my son's new pad, I found this solid marble table at Denny Register. Perfect!  1001-A W 34th St. (713-817-5760).

And this is as far as I've gotten... I always move so slow on my own home!  I'll keep you updated with progress!

What's new at the shop.....

I always love when we get new art at the shop!  This piece from Segreto artist Chistina Graci is no exception!!

Debbie Moseley also brought in this stunning painting!!!!


Another one of Christina's!  It just makes me smile.


We got more of these wonderful paper placemats and table runners from Kitchen Papers, including some that are UT, A&M, and LSU themed.  I have become addicted to these, they're great gifts, and you can just throw them away after use - no clean up!

We also got a new shipment of my favorite thing to shop for - jewelry!  Each piece a unique creation, there's a beautiful array of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Even some special vintage pieces!

And finally, we had a photo shoot at the store for the new Scout Guide. Look at all the great pics they got!!!  It was so fun! This publication is definitely a fab place to "scout" out some cool finds.

I hope that everyone has a great week!  'Til next Monday! 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.













Bunk Beds: Space Saving Sleeping Solutions for the Young and the Young at Heart

This week we are welcoming a guest blog post from one of the newest members of the Segreto team, design assistant Andrea Condara.  As the oldest of 6 kids, she is no stranger to the challenges of sleeping arrangements for herds of family and friends! Today she tells us a little bit about bunk rooms and their many iterations.

There is nothing quite like the memories of staying up for hours, talking the night away, in the bunk room at my grandparents house in Galveston. After a long day at the beach, swimming and working on our sunburns, we would pile anywhere from 6-10 grandchildren and friends into the bunk room to "sleep". We would stay up for hours talking and inventing games and generally causing mayhem that only the closeness of bunk beds can inspire until we would finally drop off, one by one, to sleep. 


As a child, nothing compares to the rush of winning the battle for the top bunk and the novelty of being allowed to climb a ladder, by yourself, to the place where you would be sleeping! With the exhilarating memories of feeling that grown up freedom, it's no wonder that bunk beds are so irresistible to the young and the young at heart! 


Although there is no official recorded beginning of the bunk bed, there is some evidence that the concept of a lofted bed dates as far back as the Ancient Egyptians.

Soldiers in bunks aboard the S.S. Pennant Source

Bunk beds, as we recognize them, have a long history of providing functional and space efficient sleeping solutions for large groups of people. Less glamorous examples include the military, ships, trains and even prisons. More comfortable versions are found at summer camps and personal and vacation homes. 



The "standard" bunk bed is a simple, space saving design of a twin bed stacked over a twin bed with a frame made of metal or wood and a ladder to the top bed. In the recent decades, the style of the "standard" bunk bed has become just one option in many. Today, designs include lofted beds, twins over full sized beds, L-shaped configurations, queen beds and custom multi-story built-ins.

Colorado Scarp Ridge Lodge

Southgate Residential

As special as our bunk beds in Galveston were, with their bright blue metal frames and the white sheets printed with brightly colored sailboats, they now seem like primitive prototypes for the incredible bunk beds that are cropping up in contemporary designs. These rooms are literally the stuff of dreams!



Coastal Living






Stepbrothers, 2008

Bunk beds are not just for kids! Bunk and lofted beds are a great way to use your vertical space more efficiently! As Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly point out in "Stepbrothers" - It will give us so much extra space in our room to do activities! Lofted beds are popular for college dorm rooms and many styles have built in drawers or storage underneath.

Elle Decor

Contemporary loft and grown up sized bunked beds open up the door for creative sleeping arrangements, especially for guest rooms at a lake or ranch house (or even for the college graduates moving back home)!




So the question of the day is: "Do you ever become too old for bunk beds?" Our answer: Never! 

We hope you enjoy our bunk bed finds! Do you have a favorite bunk room? Share them with us in the comments section! Have a wonderful week! Warmest Regards, Andrea 


New at the Segreto Boutique! 

Greyfreth Bottles from California


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.


An inside look at a historic Houston home!

While I adore all the wonderful homes I get to see and all the projects I get to do, it's always refreshing to be involved in historic home renovations, especially in a city of tear downs and big new constructions.  I really appreciated the opportunity to work on this 1930s French chateau, designed by famed architect John Staub.  The gorgeous estate was just featured in the August edition of Architectural Digest.  Some of you may have also seen Miss Joni's wonderful write up on this house over at her blog, Cote De Texas.  After uprooting their lives from New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, homeowners John and Terri Havens lovingly restored and brought life to this stunning Houston gem with the help of designer extraordinaire Kara Childress and talented architect Ken Newberry!!! Old time great Tyne Sparks was the chosen builder for the initial remodel and his forman sweet Ernest Melchor still works for the Havens today.

Led by Terri and John’s direction, the team was ready to go.  As Kara explained quite well, “the Havens love the house, they love its history, they love design and art and all that is involved in making a project like this happen. They value and insist upon authenticity in bringing their house back to its original splendor; they truly appreciate the labor and efforts to attain that goal.”  With that, I certainly agree!  I was brought in to restore and re-plaster the interior of the home as well as to finish much of the cabinetry, paneling and moldings.  What a treat for me!!!  We started in 2007, and we're still working on some of the new additions to the home!

The stone flooring and railings were hand-selected in France and brought over for the original construction. Although the whole experience was wonderful for Kara, one of her biggest challenges was mixing in the fresh, modern touches that Terri wanted while also staying true to the period of the home as John insisted.   A compromise was reached when Kara selected a gorgeous, citron-colored silk to modernize the antique settee!

Another shot taken at a different time-the staircase and railing are stunning!!! 

Kara’s favorite room in the house is the library!  With gorgeous French oak paneling that's original to the home, custom Fortuny drapes, one-of-a-kind, centuries-old light fixtures, an antique Sivas rug, and a stunning ceiling that they found, restored, and installed, how could you disagree?!!!

Painted on canvas and hung in a villa near Parma, Italy, the ceiling dates back to the late 16th century.  Kara went on so many incredible buying trips with the Havens - they even brought Kara's daughter, who is currently studying design, along for one of them!

The ballroom, beautiful, elegant, and comfortable, has many unique features.  Kara's particularly fond of the pocket doors throughout.  All the windows are actually floor-to-ceiling doors that slide into the walls, revealing the gorgeous terraces outside!!!  Since there was no air conditioning when the residence was built, John Staub situated the house in such a way as to receive the best of the Gulf breeze during the hot, humid months of summer.

Here's another view which was taken years earlier!  This room was particularly difficult for us. Before we could re-plaster the ceiling, we had to remove the canvas backing from the first plaster job without harming the beautiful plaster medallions above the light fixtures.  The walls in this room were left as they were when the Havens purchased the home.

The music room is perhaps my favorite!!!  Elegant, warm, and tranquil, I love the mix of luxurious fabrics and beautiful, soft hues. 

Here is an earlier shot right after we finished plastering the room and glazing the beautiful moldings to bring out more detail!!!

The home boasts a sunken dining room adorned with the original moldings, flooring and chandelier, as well as a 15-foot ceiling!  We plastered the walls in this room in Venetian plaster, just as it was in the 1930s. 

 The ceiling was plastered in a traditional gypsum plaster like the rest of the home, lending continuity from room to room. I love how this offsets the walls from the ceiling with a slight sheen difference.  The moldings were glazed to bring out their carved details and soften the feel of the room, allowing the wonderful furnishings and fabrics to remain center stage.

The way families use their homes has changed significantly since the 1930s.  The small kitchen, baths and closets all needed to be revamped for this modern family of five, with two dogs and lots of visitors.  “The house had no family room when we began the project,” said Kara.  “Instead, there were only formal spaces.  In the '30s, I don’t suppose any of those things were negative, but with today’s busy families – sports, friends, entertaining, etc. – the Havens’ needs are different.”

Architect Ken Newberry extensively researched John Staub and the period in which the home was built in order to stay true to the intended architecture of the home. Using this research, he designed a breathtaking conservatory to give the family a more casual space to eat and hang out. Kara furnished the new addition with a gorgeous breakfast table and a cozy settee, perfect for a sunlit morning with coffee and a good book.

The new addition also included this wonderful family room!! "Family is of the utmost importance (and enjoyment) to the Havens", smiles Kara. " I also love the fact that John Staub combined the formality of  ‘pure Louis Quinze’ with country French to make the house as spectacular as it is."  She has also mixed the two so seamlessly in her exquisite design.

Going down to the wine cellar is certainly a treat! It feels as if you are traveling back to Europe in time!

This wine cellar is a new addition to the home, created from a space in the already existing basement. Ken outdid himself in the design — so warm and charming!  The floors and stone from Chateau Domingue and the wonderful furnishings that Kara and the Havens found melt together to create an amazing ambiance. A hangout room for the kids was also fashioned from space in the basement. Fun and comfortable, this space was true genius from Kara.  With four kids of her own, she knew exactly how to combine functionality with charm! Sorry I don't have pics!

To keep the additions seamlessly consistent with the period and style of the rest of the house, Kara and the Havens selected tiles and old stone flooring from Chateau Dominque, which has an amazing collection and assortment of old floors, tiles, doors, and fountains.  To see my visit to Chateau Domingue, click here. The wood floors were restored beautifully by Custom Floors Unlimited, Inc..

The master suite and dressing areas are simply divine!!  Painted a solid cream when the home was purchased, Kara wanted to bring it back to its original splendor!  With drapes as our color inspiration, we layered a series of glazes to lend that been-there look.  Here's the room in progress... you can see the bottom half is complete, and we're still adding more embellishment to the top.  The corner panels flanking the opening to the bedroom are hidden closet doors!!!

Stunning!!! I love the fabrics that Kara chose here - they remind me of ornate, ball gowns.

Finishing the cabinetry in a way that would blend with the built-in reclaimed doors and stone was quite a fun challenge for us.  It was of utmost importance that the finishes retain authenticity and not look contrived.

A room for a princess, the daughter's suite is so charming!  Kara created a timeless space that will last from elementary to the teen years and beyond.  We plastered the ceiling a soft shade of pink to complement the fabrics and furnishings.

This project truly had a dream team!  The Havens are as philanthropic as they are warm and fun, Kara Childress is one of the most talented and sincerely sweet people I know, and Ken Newberry had such knowledge and an unwavering commitment to the project. I was honored to watch them all do their magic and to help them restore this historical beauty!!!  In asking Kara what were her best memories of the project her response was-"Though probably some of the strongest memories about the decoration project itself tend to be in regards for different events generously hosted by the Havens ~ and crazy deadlines…everything from an intimate wedding in the chapel, grand gala for 350 people tented in the backyard, a seated dinner for 2 different US Presidents, or a romantic 8 course meal in the wine room (nothing like a party to get things done)!  I was honored to watch them all do their magic and to help them restore this historical beauty!!! Please visit Kara's website-still under construction--beautiful homes!!!

I hope you have a great week!  I'm off to California to spend time with family. It'll be the first time we've taken the boyfriends along!  Should be fun!  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.


Matthew Moves To Dallas!!

I always love sharing current projects that excite me. Although this one doesn't include paint, it certainly hits close to home!  My 24 year-old son, Matthew, is relocating to Dallas for a new job and asked for my help to decorate his pad. Jumping at the opportunity to spend more time with him, I said, "Yes, of course, when can we start!!!!"

I initially offered him some of our furniture that we weren't using, but he quickly responded, "Sorry, Mom, I don't think you own anything that I would like - I want my place to be modern!" Though a bit out of my comfort zone, I was excited to help him put together his mid-century modern apartment on a budget. We set out for a day of shopping so he could see a wide range of things and gain some understanding about costs.  Our first stop was Ikea.  It's probably the best bang for your buck so I felt it was good place to start.


He loved the bar, entertainment center and rug as well as some of their desks, but he decided to hold on all of his furniture purchases until he found a well-built sofa and chair to invest in.  We did outfit his kitchen though, complete with pots and pans, dish towels, dishes, glasses and barware.  As he pulled out his credit card, he said, "Boy, isn't $270 a lot to outfit a kitchen?"  Ha!!  Since Matthew loves leather and modern pieces, our next stop was Cantoni.

Sleek, mid-century modern, he had to have this one!  He loved the chrome and the way it transforms into a rocker when you take it off the base stand.

Matthew was instantly drawn to this espresso brown leather couch that had a cool feature: the back can lay low as shown here to be used as a seating ledge or it can pop-up for a higher back.  Although the piece was 30% off, we went off to comparison shop. 4 hours later, Matthew called Cantoni and gave them his credit card. That’s a change - your child footing the bill!!!  For the rest of the apartment, he wanted to furnish with pieces that had a nice look but were not so expensive.  


George, a friend of mine who owns Randall Edward, was having a huge up to 80% off sale so I scouted it out and took some pics to show Matthew.  Here are some of my finds that he liked: vintage seltzer bottles, a pair of lamps made from 200 year-old Greek tiles, a circle sculpture composed of ship masts from the 1700s, and wooden balls. He was very interested in the history of all these pieces and loved the idea of mixing the old with the new. The entire purchase was around $750 (Mom pitched in here)!


One of my favorite Houston shops, Denny Register, buys up large estate sales and puts their finds in a massive, un-air-conditioned warehouse filled to the brim!!!  We bought this unique side table a a bargin price. Love the bamboo and retro 60s style. 1001-A W 34th St. (713-817-5760).

Of course a home is never complete without something on the walls! I had so much fun painting this work for Matthew using his pop colors of orange and teal, and I've given him several other pieces over the years that can now come in handy. To add a little of the mid-century element, I also framed some pages from a 1930s suit catalog that I have in the store. He picked out the two that were my favorite for him plus one more!

The rest of the shopping was done online.  CB2 is a wonderful place to get cool contemporary pieces at very good prices!

The coffee table, stacking side tables, and bar were all purchased for about $500, a fraction of what we had found similar pieces for!


West Elm also has some great buys. He got the headboard and fun martini table there. Unfortunately, they didn't come in time for the final reveal!!! For the bedding, Matthew purchased hotel-type linens that were crisp white with gray stitching details from Rue la la for 75% off. It's one of my favorite online discount shopping sites.

The last purchase was a cow hide rug. CowHides International seemed to have the largest sizes and prettiest hides for great prices.  On sale for $199, Matthew was thrilled! He decided to go with this rather than the shag rug from Ikea he originally wanted.

For the big move, Matthew used Point 2 Point, a firm that I use to deliver furniture for us.  They were excellent, taking such good care of him and doing a fab job - on time, on schedule, and no breakage!!!!

And now for the Final Reveal!!!! (wish my iphone pics had turned out a little better)

Here's the view as you enter the door.

I love how all the pieces came together!

Of course, a 24 year-old boy's pad isn't complete without the TV!

The vintage suit catalog artwork is so fun!

Matthew, of course, loves the bar!

The kitchen has beautiful finishes. We'll see how much he actually uses it - hehe!

All his UT memorabilia is prominently displayed over his desk. Love how he mixed the clean lines of the chair and desk with the antique lamp which he stole from my shop.

There's a beautiful view of Dallas from the balcony.

We all had a wonderful time getting Matthew settled into his new pad!

He seemed so happy when we left!  Furniture set up, clothes put away, and ready to start his new adventure!!!!


We were all exhausted when we got back home and a bit sad that Matthew had moved away!  Chrissy's already missing him!!!  I wanted to thank my sweet friend Mimi from the blog A House Romance for writing a two part blog series, the first an interview with me and the second on after seeing her lovely home what finish recommendations I would give. To see the first go here, then for the second part hit newer post. She writes a great blog and I was honored she asked me to help with her home.  I hope everyone has a great 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.



Why do we love gray?

I love all the gray rooms and accessories that are in home design today.  But, at first glance when looking at the meaning of gray, it's a little perplexing why the color is so popular and how it manages to work with so many different design styles.
As a true neutral, gray communicates a void of movement, emotions, warmth or any identifying characteristics.  Yikes!!  But, somehow, I find this bath painted in BM European Gray to be calm, soothing and elegant.  Why is this?
It's this very lack of emotions that makes gray so calming!  Because gray isn't expressing much of anything, the color remains simply restful, quiet, and tranquil. It allows vibrant colors to pop while also cooling their intensity. Oh I get it!!

Every color seems to perfectly complement some shade of gray - just take a look below at how these accent colors look with a gray backdrop!

Yellows and Golds!!!

Source: The Architecturalist

Reds and rusts!!!

Source: Belgian Pearls Blog


Source: South Shore Decorating Blog


And even teals!!!!!

Some Native American tribes relate gray to friendship, and many other cultures use the color to symbolize security, maturity and dependability!

The Four Seasons in Florence uses the sophisticated color for this lounge that caters to the business sect. It's a smart choice considering how gray suits have become part of the uniform of the corporate world. Dark, charcoal gray imparts the strength and mystery of black without its negative connotations.

While gray goes wonderfully with most colors, picking the right gray to complement your accents can be tricky.  The 10 Rooms blog has some great tips and color suggestions!

I love the above grays from SW!!! They are some of my absolute favorites.

Benjamin Moore also has a lovely one called Silver Fox.  Designer Michael McKinnon calls it "a warm, taupeish gray, what artists call a French gray. Very relaxed and chic. It immediately puts me on the Île Saint-Louis overlooking the Seine. It’s equal parts earth and air, to use feng shui terms, which means it’s perfect for a small, narrow entrance hall, because it adds warmth and air at the same time.”

So… put some gray in your home if you want:
    •    to create an environment where compromise is encouraged
    •    a neutral, non-invasive feeling
    •    to reduce the intensity of another color, while still including it
    •    to create an isolated getaway

Do you have a favorite gray room? Send me pictures to - I'd love to see! We have just gotten a new shipment of art and jelrey at the store--come by and take a peak!!!  Have a great 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.