Finishing Touches

I have said it time and again, my blog has connected me with some incredibly talented individuals that I am proud to call “followers.” I love nothing more than getting to know my followers on a more personal basis, especially when they possess incredible gifts of design. After clicking a website link from a comment left by follower Leslie Sinclair, I soon discovered her business, Segreto Finishes. Her company refinishes everything from furniture, to ceilings, to kitchen cabinets and more. I have always been too nervous to refinish a piece of furniture, but I know many people who often do. I also know it is not always an easy task. I asked Leslie if she would share some of her advice on refinishing and give a little bit of background about her thriving company that creates exceptional finishing touches.

For lasting pictures and inspiration of Leslie Sinclair’s skilled work, purchase her book Segreto Style.

Advice on DIY Refinishing

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What do you look for in a piece of furniture that you want to refinish? Any requirements in a piece that makes the project more feasible?

Everyone has pieces that they bought in the past or inherited that no longer work with the room’s new décor, so before rushing out to buy a new piece, consider adding on a fresh coat of paint or a specialty finish to give these furnishings the desired look and change the overall feel to the room. If you’re wondering whether or not a replacement is worth it, look at your existing furniture and ask some questions to decide:  Does it have good lines? What is the quality and the condition of the piece?  Is there sentimental value attached to the piece?  How much would it cost to replace?

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Leslie: Loving the size and shape but not the finish, we applied a gray glaze over the wood still allowing the grain to show through.  This now will be extra storage for a home office.

Necessary materials for the job?

It depends on the finish desired on what materials.  I typically always sand and prime the pieces before I apply the paint. There are a lot of chalk paint products that are very easy for people doing their own pieces to use.  These require little sanding and no priming.

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Leslie: A perfect example of how paint and fabric can give any piece a whole new look!!

Any steps that are crucial that people often miss?

On older pieces, removing all the previous wax or furniture polishing products.

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Leslie: The shutters on the floor are old doors which we are currently revamping to look aged and reclaimed. The picture to the right is the inspiration for the new finish.  The right shutters, purchased in 1987 and originally hung in my dining room, were painted to look old and are now used as cabinet fronts in my offices.

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Leslie: This piece was previously a very rustic peeley paint finish which the homeowner didn’t like for her new bathroom.  We sanded it down, painted it, and applied an aged, more refined finish. Loving the painted marble top, it was left as is!! It just didn’t work with the bathroom.

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Leslie: The perfect size and shape to house a TV for a bedroom. This piece, originally stained mahogany, received a major redo by first sanding, priming and painting, and then applying a two toned painted finish incorporating gold leaf accents. This piece now better complements the fabrics and  gives the rooms lighter feel.

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Leslie: This piece (previously mahogany with brass hardware)  used to be in my mother’s bedroom when she was a child.  By putting a textured light finish and silver leafing carved hardware, this piece was given a more contemporary feel.

Where are you from/live currently?

I was born in Germany, as my Dad was in the Army.  Moving to the states when I was two, I lived in Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee.  Moving to my Dad’s hometown, Griffin, Georgia, when I was 6, I always say that is where I was from.  I moved to Houston when I was 12.  I guess being here all of these years makes me a Houstonian! Funny how I always feel I have Georgia roots!!!

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I love the hand-painted chinoiserie vines of the enchanting and serene dining room.

How did your business come to be?

I went to the University of Texas and majored in business, heading to the corporate world when I graduated.  Although I love to work and loved my career which specialized in sales, marketing and product development, I felt that my contestant stream of ideas couldn’t be implemented fast enough for me. After my first was born, I worked as a consultant part time for the company I previously managed. After the birth of my third child I really wanted something different.  Always showing an interest in interiors, architecture, art, and loving to paint and craft, I started faux finishing and refinishing furniture pieces in my own home. Becoming passionate about the craft, I started Segreto Finishes, which combines my husband’s given last name Segreto (secrete in Italian) with my love for finishing! Thinking it would be a part time career, I now have close to 40 employees.  For me it wraps up all my passions and hobbies into a wonderful, fun, challenging career.

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The walls add the perfect amount of texture to the space. So classically finished.

Best advice you ever received about your business?

When I was growing up, my family was in the restaurant business. I started waiting tables at 7, going to work with my parents. I think what I learned as far as customer service has been invaluable. I consider each client a blessing and truly feel honored to help them with their home!


Is there any style of home that works better with your work than others?

One of the things that I truly love about my work is that no two homes are alike. Working with each client to make them feel more comfortable in their personal space is so rewarding!!!!

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I adore the finish of these graceful gray cabinets.

What are your design pet peeves?

—hmmmm   I think trying to put too much jewelry on when you are going to the ball. I really feel that when you walk into a room you should see the room as a whole and not focus on any one individual element.  The finishes to me are backdrops creating a beautiful pallet for the art fabrics and furnishings of a home.

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Look at the beautiful ceiling finish. It elevated this room to the next level.

How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?

Doing my own home is often hard as I love all styles of design and simply adore finishes.  Trying to mix all together, where the room is interesting but soothing, warm and inviting is definitely a challenge!!!

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Who inspires you?

My parents, my friends, people giving back to the community and others. I am definitely inspired by the talented architects, designers and builders who I am fortunate to follow—I learn every day!!

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Leslie: These pieces all went to a country home!! The front piece was previously mahogany and on the back ones only the doors are old. The other cabinets were built new and aged to feel like they were one with the doors.