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TASTEMAKER

LESLIE SINCLAIR

If artist and businesswoman extraordinaire Leslie Sinclair actually had one of those “old-fashioned” Rolodexes sitting on her desk, it would contain a virtual who’s who of Houston clients—from designers, homeowners, builders and architects. The owner of Segreto Finishes, unintentionally began her business in the hallways of her own Memorial home. Soon her past time attracted mass attention and blossomed into a business that now employs approximately 35 people. The work of Segreto Finishes, a decorative painting and fine finishes company, is often highlighted in Sinclairs’ blog: www. segretosecrets.squarespace.com.

Terracotta hues and a rich, golden metallic stenciled in a baroque Damask pattern transform this powder room into one of glamour. The ceilings are encrusted with gold leaf and aged with an umber glaze. We added gold highlights to the finished cabinet to impart a bit of elegance. (photo by Wade Blissard)

(photo by Megan Thompson Lovoi Photography)

Powder Room Dreams an interview with Leslie 

You can really have fun with smaller spaces, since the size generally keeps expenses down. Using painting techniques is easier to replace than wallpaper, plus there are no odd seams to deal with in those out-of-theway spaces usually found in half baths. Think of the of the powder room as being the jewel box of the home.

What are the decorative trends for powder baths? There’s a trend leaning toward cleaner and crisper looks. We’re doing a lot of stenciling for wallpaper effects. Graphic stencils are becoming very popular as well as the quiet sophistication of plaster, which can read Old World or contemporary.

How dramatic can you go in a small full or half bath? Very Dramatic . . . go all out. Murals can enlarge a space, and patterns on the walls or on the cabinets can make a big impact. I typically make the decision of what finish—whether it’s plaster, murals or stenciling—

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would make the most impact by looking at what is going in the room. If the sink, mirror and floors are very dramatic, it’s usually better to go with a simple finish. If there isn’t a “special element” in the room, then the walls need to evoke a stronger statement. If you were to suggest doing one thing to a small bath or powder room, what would it be? Focus on your cabinets. Put your money into making them feel like fine pieces of furniture. And put on a quality furniture finish. You do not want to overpower the other elements—such as the sink or mirror—in the room. What is the most elaborate powder room you’ve ever done? We did a mural inspired by a 16th century Fresco painted at Torre di Bellosguardo, a former hunting lodge outside of Florence.

The silvery blue plastered walls are layered with wax to give this bathroom porcelain depth. This treatment provides a beautiful backdrop, highlighting the restored antique French stone remnant on the vanity and the mother of pearl wall covering accents (Stark) on the ceiling and the back of the cabinets. Betty Richter Arnold, designer. (photo by Wade Blissard)

Reminiscent of centuries-old walls in aged European manors, this stencil, applied over a textured Sheetrock mud, suggests a worn look by allowing unevenness in its application. Cindy Witmer, designer, and Architectural Consultant Sarah West. (photo by Wade Blissard)

What has been the simplest? Those with a pretty glazed cabinet or a plastered wall. In one bath, we plastered the walls and finished the cabinetry to look like old stone highlighting the beautiful old basin and mirror.

Getting Personal What do you collect, or what can you not get enough of? I love looking at homes, and good food and wine . . . love shopping with my girls—and Pinterest. What or who inspires you? I am inspired by so many things: Fabrics and surfaces that designers bring in, special pieces in rooms . . . and nature—especially the way the day’s light plays off of simple finds like leaves, grasses, flowers. What's your favorite go-to place(s) for decorative items? Joyce Horn Antiques, Boxwood, junk shops, IKEA, and, of course, my own store, Segreto Boutique.

What decorating books do you like? Celery Kimble’s books, “The Houses of Veranda,” and all sorts of books on Europe. You’ve written a book, “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors,” which has been released to rave reviews . . . . where is it being sold? On Amazon, my own Web site (www.segretofinishes.com) and at Briargrove Pharmacy & Gifts, Berings Hardware, Brazos Bookstore, River Oaks Bookstore, and others listed on my site. —SF 18

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This vanity’s mural was inspired by a Fresco painted in the year 1500 in France. (photo by David Schilling)

When a bath has asymmetrical angles and vaulted ceilings, it is best to choose a finish that will wrap the walls and ceilings. This bath has a textured plaster that enhances the architecture without a focus on its angles. The vanity’s furniture-quality finish applied gives the space charm and character, complementary to the mirror and sconces. (photo by Wade Blissard)

Sinclair likes the pretty glazed cabinet in this half bath. She says it was not a complicated project but one that conveyed elegance. Eleanor Cummings, designer (photo by Wade Blissard)

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Tastemaker : Leslie Sinclair