Design Inspiration: Bayou Bend & Ima Hogg

Jul 04, 2016

Hi, blog friends! I hope you’re all having a fun-filled July 4th weekend! If you’re looking for some food and decor ideas to celebrate Independence Day, be sure to check out last year’s post and this one too! One of my latest jobs has me thinking about all the people who’ve gone before us…

Segreto Secrets - Bayou Bend - Dining Room Wallpaper Close Up

I had so much fun looking into part of Houston’s history to inspire a room we were doing recently!! Designer Marti Stewart asked us to create a wall mural inspired by the dining room at Bayou Bend, a historic mansion now housing the decorative arts collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It would make a fab family outing to go and visit for the 4th!!!

Segreto Secrets - Dining Room at Ima Hogg's Bayou Bend

Here’s our inspiration! Such a stunning room!!! The wall was papered in gold leaf with a hand-painted design on top.

Segreto Secrets - Mural Finish Inspired by Bayou Bend

And here’s our interpretation in progress!!! What do you think?

Segreto Secrets - Bayou Bend Entrance

While I was researching the walls, I remembered that I had gone to Bayou Bend as a kid. Of course, back then I knew very little about Ima Hogg, the owner of the estate… other than joking with friends, “ima hogg, ura hog!” (Apparently, Ima didn’t like her name either and always used stationary with “I. Hogg” or “Miss Hogg”!!! She even started being called Imogene a few months before her death!) The rumor that she had a sister Ura Hogg is, sadly, just a rumor!

Segreto Secrets - Ima Hogg in the 1890s

As I looked more into her life, I discovered so many interesting things! Here she was in the 1890s around the time her father Big Jim Hogg served as Governor of Texas! Her interest in the arts started early. As a young twenty-something, she studied music in New York and Vienna, and then she founded and managed the Houston Symphony Orchestra upon returning to Texas. Even though she never married, word has it she received over 30 proposals in her day!

Segreto Secrets - Ima Hogg at 18 circa 1900

In 1918, oil was discovered on the family plantation, making Miss Hogg a very wealthy woman! Since she never felt that her wealth was “earned,” she wanted to make sure it was used to benefit Texas and became a preeminent philanthropist of the 20th century!! The Houston Chronicle describes her as “an unstoppable force determined to ensure that arts, culture and commerce would be constant companions in Texas.”

Segreto Secrets - Ima Hogg circa 1910

“The First Lady of Texas,” as she’s fondly called, is best known for her art donations (including works by Picasso, Matisse and more!) to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and for her involvement with the plans for the Kennedy Center. But what I found even more interesting is that she served on a committee locating furnishings for the White House!! She certainly was a renowned collector of early American antiques!

Segreto Secrets - John Staub Bayou Bend Estate

The Bayou Bend residence, designed by famed architect John Staub in 1928 to house Miss Hogg and her two brothers, is characterized by its 18th-century Georgian style reminiscent of many antebellum plantations. Today, 28 of the mansion’s rooms are open to the public! For the most part, you aren’t allowed to take photos inside Bayou Bend, but you can take a virtual tour of the rooms here!!

Segreto Secrets - Bayou Bend Garden

I just love the gardens!! The 14-acre River Oaks property has impeccably maintained grounds designed to serve as outdoor rooms for the Hogg Family. Several of the gardens, including this one, were inspired by goddesses of ancient mythology!

Segreto Secrets - Ima Hogg Mansion

Miss Hogg generously donated her home and collections to MFAH in 1957 but continued adding to the collection until her death in 1975! The museum spent the next decade faithfully recreating period settings from bygone eras to showcase her extensive collection of antiques and decorative arts spanning from the 1620s to 1870s. Bayou Bend opened to the public in 1966 and quickly became known as one of the best decorative arts museums in the country!

Segreto Secrets - Bayou Bend Fountains

Another great shot of the grounds! It’s hard to believe that when she first purchased the property this was all dense thicket!!!

This video by MFAH and Biography is a great introduction to Bayou Bend. It talks more about the legendary Ima Hogg, her extraordinary collection and the beautiful, historic gardens. Definitely worth the watch if you’re interested!!

Segreto Secrets - Marti Stewart Dining Room inspired by Ima Hogg with Mural by Segreto

Here’s our finished product! I’m so thrilled with the way this turned out and had a great time learning all about Bayou Bend through my research! Hope Marti and the homeowners love the final look too!!

Segreto Secrets - Bayou Bend Inspired Final Look - Metallic Gold Walls with White Flower Mural

And here’s a close-up of the walls. How do you think we did??

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July spent with family and friends!!! Till next week!

xo, Leslie

  • Taste of France
    Posted at 08:48h, 04 July Reply

    Those walls are works of art. The perfect level of decoration.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 12:17h, 05 July Reply


  • Barbara
    Posted at 09:37h, 04 July Reply

    What talent your artist has!

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 12:16h, 05 July Reply

      Hi Does! It has been fun watching him develop and grow!!! hOPE YOU HAD A GREAT 4TH!!!

  • Bara
    Posted at 07:56h, 05 July Reply

    The artist is truly an artist. He must have been felling the zen and knowing he won’t have to eat big Mac’s for awhile.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 12:18h, 05 July Reply


  • Cathy
    Posted at 09:07h, 05 July Reply

    I can’t imagine having 4 walls done in gold leaf! That alone must have looked stunning.
    I’m sure the owners are quite pleased.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 12:15h, 05 July Reply

      Hi Cathy! To save cost on this one we painted the walls with Modern Masters Gold! A fraction of the cost! Happy July!!!

  • michele@hellolovely
    Posted at 15:07h, 06 July Reply

    the wall treatment is a treasure–i can just imagine how special guests will feel surrounded by such warmth and glow. thanks for this history lesson…i’m a geek and read every word. though i got a little hung up on the whole naming a baby girl Ima with that last name. either a cruel sense of humor or a special family name? peace to you.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 05:51h, 15 July Reply

      I agree on the name thing for sure!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cynthia
    Posted at 14:27h, 17 November Reply

    The walls are beautiful! The history lesson on Ms. Hogg was quite enlightening, as well. Certainly enjoyed learning about her generosity in supporting the Arts.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 15:35h, 17 November Reply

      Hi Cynthia!! I loved writing it and learned so much when working on the project! I want to see all the lights there during Christmas!!! It looks stunning and right down the street from me! Have a wonderful Holiday Season!!

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