How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes {5 Tips from Segreto}

How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes {5 Tips from Segreto} features a special guest: Leslie Sinclair of Segreto Finishes!

Segreto Finishes plaster walls in a romantic muted pastel bedroom - Ohara Davis Gaetano Interiors
Leslie Sinclair

I am tickled pink to welcome Leslie Sinclair of Segreto Finishes to the blog today…if you are an admirer of European-inspired design or a lover of beautiful decorative wall finishes, you may be acquainted with Leslie’s lovely work, her amazing books, and her award-winning blog. What you may not know is that we have been online pals for years, and she is one of my favorite Texans on the planet! Just the kindest and most gracious class act…so let’s get to know Segreto, be inspired, and snag expert advice for choosing the right paint colors and finishes!

Beautiful plaster wall finish by Segreto in a romantic Old World French Country room
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

           Hi Hello Lovely friends. I am so excited today to share a bit of what I do with you today! My name is Leslie Sinclair and I own a decorative painting and plastering company in Houston.  With a staff of over 40 we are so blessed to be a part of so many beautiful homes and collaborate with top designers, architects and builders. Although we provide many finishes on walls, floors ceilings, beams and cabinetry, finding the right color palette is where most finish designs begin.

How to Choose the Best Paint Colors and Finishes

Choosing the right paint colors and finishes can be an overwhelming decision.  There are thousands of colors available, each with different tones and intensities, and the perfect combination of paints is so critical to the overall success of the design.  Here are five helpful tips on selecting colors for your own home.

Segreto Vignettes Book Cover
Segreto Vignettes

Step 1

Look through magazines and books to determine your own personal design style.  As you flip through the pages, pay attention to different color combinations of floors, walls, trims and ceilings.  Notice whether the pictures you like have bold contrast or a lack thereof. In my Segreto book trilogy of coffee table design books, clients have shared that the images are a wealth of inspiration in picking finishes in their own homes.

Beautiful architectural finishes in a bright orange room by Segreto Finishes
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

Some rooms may have distinct colors that set apart the walls, trim and ceiling……….

How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

………………….. while others may have similar tones and each surface blends effortlessly into the next.  Which look do you prefer?  Do your favorite rooms have strong colors on the walls or in the fabrics, art and accessories instead?

Beautiful plaster finishes by Segreto in a French Country kitchen by Trisha McGaw
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

Step 2

Think about which elements in your home are permanent.  Your counters, backsplash, flooring, rugs or fabrics can serve as great starting points to dictate your palette.  In an existing home, the perfect paint color can highlight tones you love in a countertop or rug and downplay less desirable hues in these elements so that they will work in the new design scheme.

Incredible architecture and plaster walls by Segreto in a bath designed by Elizabeth Garrett
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

Step 3

Make a list of your home’s best and worst architectural features.  The proper paint combinations and finishes will not only enhance the aspects in your home that you love but also disguise your least favorite attributes. For instance, by using the same color as the walls on elements like fur downs, smaller trim pieces, spaces with too many angles, and doors, you can make these unwanted details disappear.

Gorgeous paint finish by Segreto to grey cabinets in a bar area with brick backsplash
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

To emphasize the elements that enhance the room’s design such as furniture-like built-ins, interesting ceiling details, elaborate crown moldings or paneling, choose a contrasting color, sheen or specialty finish.

Gorgeous deep blue plaster walls by Segreto in a powder room with stone sink by Jennifer Rigamonti-Sarah West
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

Rather than painting smaller rooms a light color, give them a warm and cozy feel with rich, deep tones and……..

Romantic French Country bedroom with plaster walls and ceiling finished by Segreto
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

……….. let your big rooms expand with lighter hues.

Incredible luxury closets by designer Sheila Lyon with finishes by Segreto
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

Step 4

Look through your closet! One of the best ways to determine which colors and styles make you feel the most comfortable is to study your own wardrobe.  In what colors do you think you look the best? What are you wearing when you feel the most beautiful?  Do you tend to incorporate pop colors in jewelry and accessories or do you layer different textures in the same color?  Are strong colors worn on a daily basis or just occasionally?  You can apply these same principles to your paint selections.

Sophisticated and elegant French Country kitchen with paint and plaster finishes by Segreto
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

Step 5

Pick up a color wheel from two of your favorite paint stores.  Lighting has a powerful effect on color so it is important to always choose the final paints in the space.  Armed with your answers and insights from the steps above, you are now ready to select!

Magnificent plaster wall and ceiling finishes by Segreto in a hall with stone floor
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

Starting with the main parts of the home, pick a color that blends in and uses the tones of all the surfaces.  The background color of fabrics, tiles or counters is generally a safe color direction.  Depending on how much contrast you like, the trim and ceiling hues can come from the same color strip, just lighter or darker than the wall color.  Special cabinetry, interesting ceilings and adjoining rooms are ideal for coordinating or pop colors.

Magnificent dining room with rustic ceiling beams and wall finish by Segreto
How to Choose the Best Paint Colors & Finishes

By establishing a particular mood, well-chosen paint colors and finishes form a beautiful backdrop for fabrics, art, furniture and accessories.  Through these five steps, you can develop a palette that showcases your home’s architecture, flatters your own color tones and gives your surroundings an ambiance that makes a house feel like your home.

Thank you Michele and all you lovely readers!  I hope you will come visit me at Segreto Secrets where you can follow me weekly as I create finishes for warm clients and their beautiful homes!!

*****Thank YOU, Leslie for sharing your expert advice and decorating this blog with your lovely work!

Peace to you right where you are.


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  1. Cathy
    November 27, 2017 / 8:04 am

    Good morning, I enjoy your site and today was to be an interesting topic. I love Lesley’s work. Sadly not one of the pictures are up on your site (there’s a little box with a ? mark). I hope to see the pictures soon. Cathy

    • michele
      November 27, 2017 / 12:46 pm

      Hi Cathy! Sorry about the technical snafu which seems inevitable with guest posts since blogging formats vary so much! I believe we’re all set this morning and I hope you’ll tune in to see the images of Leslie’s gorgeous work! xox

      • November 28, 2017 / 12:02 pm

        I was able to view all the photos on my monitor without any technical glitches. Sometimes, on other posts on the internet (not any bloggers), this little box including a question mark has occurred, but not here. Thank you, Leslie, for your tutorial. Through the years, I’ve become quite adept as choosing wall colors and finishes, so your comments confirmed what I’ve learned in the past.

        • michele
          November 28, 2017 / 1:05 pm

          Thanks for taking the time to let me know, Jo. 🙂

  2. November 28, 2017 / 6:52 am

    I am so honored to be on your incredible blog!! It is beautiful just like you sweet friend!! I hope the readers will enjoy!

    • michele
      November 28, 2017 / 10:19 am

      You and your team do such inspiring transformations, Leslie! Thank you for sharing your talents and advice with us today, friend. xox

  3. Joanna
    November 28, 2017 / 10:44 am

    If you want advice on paint color and it’s undertones, follow Maria Killam’s blog.

    Leslie’s home is spectacular. A new build that looks old. I love every inch of it. I’m sure she is one of the best in her trade. A true artist!

    • michele
      November 28, 2017 / 1:05 pm

      Thanks, Joanna! xox

  4. November 29, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    She is a fabulous designer, love her works.
    I am catching up on all past blog postings I’ve missed.
    See you and all the beauty you inspire soon.


    • michele
      November 29, 2017 / 11:08 pm

      There’s always more inspiration to catch up on since I’m a busy blogger! 🙂

  5. Susan
    November 30, 2017 / 8:01 am

    I love the finishes in Leslie’s pictures. I have a question. I am currently living in a home with true Venetian plaster walls, the color is a medium oatmeal. I would love to lighten some of the walls. Is there a way to paint Venetian plaster without losing the texture or movement. I want something more chalky, no sheen. Any suggestions?

    • michele
      November 30, 2017 / 4:58 pm

      Great question for Leslie! Thanks for reading, Susan.

  6. pedrochapman
    December 20, 2020 / 5:45 am

    Resourceful article. We are from Romania, who are giving services for a long time. We especially worked for household contraction, painting, repair services in Romania. If anybody wants to take any service or advice from us we will be happy to share our knowledge.

    • Michele
      December 20, 2020 / 11:17 am

      Thank you for visiting. Best to you and your business.

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