A Farewell to Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors
With Segreto Vignettes off to press (Yay, finally! Yes, I’m very excited!), it is time to say a farewell to Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors. A great learning experience for me and a true labor of love, this book – my first attempt at sharing the wonderful homes I have been a part of – is totally sold out!
In the coming months, I’ll be sharing several posts of the rooms featured in the book so those who don’t own a copy can sneak a peek and those of you that do have the book can get some behind-the-scenes details of what I learned throughout the process! What is the cover? It’s a close-up shot of an antique mirror hanging on a plastered wall. We also flipped it so you see the same image mirrored on the back. The room’s plaster was a blue-gray or Blaygeen…… but when the 6800 copies came in, it looked more like a green-gray!!! For my subsequent books, I have hired a firm that does pre-press color calibrations to ensure the colors are printed accurately!
Here is a stunning home that we completed the work in nearly 14 years ago for antique dealer Joyce Horn. Not only is the home still classic and current, but a great lifelong friendship developed between the two of us when we were working together! She invited me to go to France (my first time) on a buying trip. I can remember the date because I was 40 and skinny!! It was where I fell in love with all things French, the colors, the textures, the history and the food! Her walls are a tinted sheetrock mud layered to read like they had chipped away over time revealing multiple coats of paint underneath! Although the Segreto Finishes team is skilled at applying plaster, I still find this mud technique to work better for this look.
While we finish many contemporary-style homes today, this house, completed about 7 years ago, was one of my first modern projects! It was also the first time, but not the last, I got to work with the architectural firm Murphy Mears. Look closely at the art collection on the walls – it’s quite remarkable! See if you can spot the many famous artists’ works!! I loved the way these pieces were gallery-hung with wires so much that when I opened my first gallery, I hung the art in this manner! But what I appreciate most is the coffee table! Comprised of thousands of gold leaf pieces in an acrylic base, it’s the work of famous artist Yves Klein, who has been described as “the last French artist of major international consequence.”
Klein had a major impact on conceptual art, and he was definitely obsessed with color! He experimented with a polymer binder to preserve the luminescence and powdery texture of raw, unstable ultramarine pigment. He even patented his formula as International Klein Blue (IKB) in 1960.
I found this table on the Phillips auction website. It sold for $68,000! Researching all the sources in the book was so interesting to me!
YVES KLEIN, “Table Or”, editioned 1963
22-karat gold leaf, acrylic, glass, steel, wood.
Underside with label signed R. Klein Moquay and serial number FE-SEPO.
For this gorgeous home by designer Cindy Witmer, architectural consultant Sarah West, and builder Parker House Inc., the main areas of this home were plastered white, while the master bedroom was painted a solid color. Although the beams were stained one color thoughout the rest of the home, these were finished to feel reclaimed! When I saw the difference between staining beams one color versus distressing them and applying a series of washes over the top, I introduced this as an entirely new finishing treatment for Segreto. Now, we alter both new and existing beams to read old and worn. Due to this revelation and new technique, Segreto Vignettes has an entire section dedicated to finishing beams!
This dining room designed by Kara Childress, still one of my favorites, is just as current as it was 8 years ago when the project was completed. For me, it really illustrates how plaster can be the unifying thread throughout a home, giving a soft backdrop to furnishings and surfaces. There are many “right” ways to figure out your personal taste in design. I like to use the book’s illustrations to narrow down which style my new clients are drawn to. In this example, the trim was painted the same tone as the plastered walls so it acts as more of a soft accent rather than a standout element in the room.
In this guest room, which is designer Anne Lydick’s personal home, the trim was painted in a contrasting tone, which frames the room and allows the cased openings, windows and trim to stand out.
To heighten the contrast, you can just pick colors that are farther apart like this example of stained trim and light walls as illustrated in this kitchen designed by Maria Tracy. As you look through the Segreto Book Series or other publications, start noticing this in photos… You can use it to decipher your personal taste, which will ensure you love your finished room!!!
This bathroom, published in both House Beautiful and my book, will always be stunning!! The oak cabinets in limed tones, which are now so trendy, were just classical European at the time. The reclaimed shutters, offering a pop of warm color to the room, have received a lot of attention! After seeing the impact finishes can make on shutters, many homeowners have hired us to take new shutters installed in their homes and revamp them to read old.
These shutters, which are now doors to my sample cabinet at our office, were once used in my dining space!
I used the rest of them in my home office. Don’t forget to think about things you already have at home that, if refinished, could completely change your room.
I thought you would love to see the bedroom to that beautiful bath by designer Eleanor Cummings!!!
Of course, all the homes in the book are my faves, but this one is such a wonderful example of how built-in reclaimed elements – from the cabinet fronts, floors and beams to the antique shutter used for the pantry – can truly give an authentic French farmhouse feel. Coated with plaster, this home was the first I worked on with architectural consultant Sarah West… And it was her own!!!
But what exactly is an architectural consultant? She goes in, looks at the plans and the way your family lives, and makes revisions! Sarah’s especially gifted at thinking about lighting and the functionality of cabinetry and spaces as well as deciding where to spend money on materials and where to save. She also assists on reviewing bids from builders to help the client know what they’re paying for, and she reviews the budgets for tile, lighting, flooring and stone to ensure the allowances are adequate. I found so much value in what she does that I used her for pieces when I was redoing my own home!!!
This kitchen by Stonehenge Classic Homes and The Owen Group was part of the West University home tour years ago! I love everything about it, but the reclaimed island by Custom Floors Unlimited was the shining star! Look how the end pieces are constructed!!!
I meet so many interesting and talented people in my line of work! I truly learn from them, and they become my friends!!! I hope this walk-through of Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors gave you a little insight into what I learned throughout the process of finishing these lovely homes!! Please let me know if you like these types of posts and if you’d like to see more in the series!
What’s New at the Segreto Boutique!!!–Im obsessed!!
I know I’m nothing like Oprah, although these PJ’s are also on her A-list, but I thought I would share with you weekly some of my favorite things!!! We found this line of loungewear by PJ Harlow at market, and I have become obsessed! We immediately started carrying it at our store, and I purchased one set for myself. Well, I now own three, and I’m anxiously awaiting our next shipment so I can take home more!!! They are soooooo soft and wash well! I actually feel pretty in them so I’m comfortable answering the door if I’m not yet dressed or visiting in the mornings if we have company staying with us!
PJ Harlow is designed and produced in California, making it a product of the USA. I find they run big, but they do shrink a bit when washed the first time. If you like your PJs fitted, then order a size down. Although all the pictures here are pink-you wouldn’t want me to model them–we carry many different colors!
They also have silky robes and cardigans which feel so luxurious! Want some? Call the Boutique at 713.461.5210 and leave a message for Kirby to place your order or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week!!