Sabrina Soto’s Best Tips for Decorating a Small Space

September 16, 2013 at 8:00 am , by

Since moving to New York City last year, I’ve struggled to make my tiny apartment feel homey. Every piece I own is either a hand-me-down or a Craigslist purchase, and I’m ready to trade my hodge-podge items for a more put-together, adult style. My biggest challenge is sticking to a strict budget—no small feat. So I enlisted the help of Sabrina Soto, HGTV designer and Target Style Expert for Home, to get me started. As a fellow New Yorker, Sabrina knows how much careful planning and consideration must go into furnishing a small space. She shared with me some of her best tips for decorating an apartment, dorm, or small home in innovative ways, and you can be sure I’ll put her advice to good use!

    1. Choose items that do double duty. 
      A modern daybed provides lounge seating during the day and transforms into a comfortable bed for guests at night.
    2. Don’t sacrifice style for function. 
      Innovative solutions like storage ottomans will hide the clutter, provide extra seating, and can even serve as a tabletop.
    3. Maximize your visual space. 
      Wire frame and translucent accessories are on-trend and work well in smaller spaces. Another tip: Use Halogen lights because they are the most like natural light. They are warmer than fluorescent and cooler than incandescent.
    4. Cut the clutter. 
      Clutter is a small space’s worst nightmare. Use colorful baskets like these from Target to keep personal items organized and easy to find. Accessorize in odd numbers. It helps break up the uniformity while adding flow and visual interest.
    5. Avoid decorating boredom without breaking the bank. 
      A reversible comforter lets you change your room’s look in an instant.
    6. Mirrors are your best friend. 
      They reflect light and create the illusion of a bigger space. On a budget and can’t afford a large piece of art? Consider mixing small mirrors and prints to create your own art collage!
    7. Make the most out of limited closet space. 
      A hanging closet organizer is a smart investment and great way to take advantage of vertical storage space.  


Get Personalized Decorating Advice From Nicole Balch

May 30, 2012 at 9:53 am , by

Nicole Balch, the guru behind design blog Making It Lovely, has a special treat for Journal readers. Her fresh and fun home office decor was featured in our July issue, and because she’s a cool and generous lady, she’s offering to do one of her famous inspiration boards (like her recent bathroom one, below) for a room in your house that needs a makeover. Just email a photo of the room you want to redo (it can be your home office — or any room you choose!) to Nicole will pick her favorite and make personalized recommendations for your room, which we’ll then feature right here on

How to Buy Art with 20×200 and West Elm

August 10, 2011 at 10:30 am , by

20x200 for West Elm

There’s nothing that completes a room quite like a fabulous print to hang (what’s more depressing than bare walls?). The art world can be daunting, though, so I’ve become a fast fan of 20×200, an online art store started by Jen Bekman, a New York City gallery owner. She’s on a mission to get everyone finding and talking about art that they love—even those who think their walls are limited to finger-paint masterpieces and dorm-décor leftovers.

20×200 connects vibrant artists with potential art lovers right in their inbox, and then sells the prints at a super affordable price. Every print is a limited edition, often starting with 200 pieces sold for $20 each (get it?).

“I really love the idea of people finishing the picture of their home with art by an artist that they’re going to read about and follow,” she says. “I want people to talk about their art collections in the same way they talk about the books they’re reading or what shoes or gadget they’re going to buy.”

Today, 20×200 launches a cool collaboration with West Elm—a collection of colorful, modern prints from a variety of artists.

“West Elm has the trifecta of simple, chic, and affordable solutions,” says Jen. “And like 20×200, they have a genuine enthusiasm for presenting indie stuff that’s fresh and new.”

Nervous about incorporating art in your home? Jen shared her sage advice on why you shouldn’t be.

Collecting art and using it in your home IS for you.
“Traditionally, art is seen as something that’s only for the elite, and that’s very frustrating. I opened my gallery as an accessible and friendly place that was still serious about art, and 20×200 grew out of that. Our tag line is ‘live with art, it’s good for you,’ and I really mean it. I feel like my life is better because I have art on my walls. I love surrounding myself with things I that I like aesthetically, and it’s really gratifying to support an artist by buying their work.”

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A Playroom of Their Own

December 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm , by

See that beautiful piece of furniture over there? That’s the Disney Princess Musical Vanity and up until 2 days ago, it was an object of decor in my living room. That’s right – in my living room. Along with several other pinkalicious toys.  You see, I was living in a townhouse and though it featured several large bathrooms and closets that dreams are made of, our girls were sharing one small bedroom and they had no playroom of their own. But now, we’re 48 hours into being homeowners where the girls have a bedroom each and a toy filled playroom. We set up the room last night while the girls are spending a few days with their grandparents. I had visions of what to do with this dark wood-paneled brown-carpeted room. Crisp white paint on the walls. Tons of bright colored picture frames with their artwork. A slipcover for our old loveseat made from this fabric. (Yes, I know it’s a duvet cover but isn’t that really just a big piece of fabric?) I was even going to take their classic letters that decorated the old nursery and hit them up with a little neon spray paint. But last night, we just unpacked the toys and put them all around the room. It looks so great – in all it’s pink glory – that I don’t think they’ll even notice the brown carpet and the wood-paneled walls. At least for now.

The room sure is a nice treat for them. (Just don’t tell them it’s really for me so I could get my living room back!)

So, tell me…do your kids have a place of their own or are their toys all over the place?

Fun Ways to Decorate with Fabric

October 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm , by

Out of the corner of your eye, you see it: perfection. Maybe it’s just the right shade of purple to match that new duvet cover. Or a bold pattern with a jumble of colors that magically ties your whole living room together. Whatever the style, there’s nothing quite like the perfect piece of fabric. I can relate—I stumbled across the swatch at right a few months ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about how great it would look with my sofa.

But now that I’ve made enough throw pillows to last a lifetime, I’m on the hunt for new ways to incorporate fabric into my decor. Here are my three favorite ideas (so far): Read more

Tips and Tricks for Hanging Artwork

October 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm , by

Kate Spade StoreAs a recent transplant to New York City, one of the most exciting things about my new apartment was deciding where to hang all of my favorite pieces of artwork. Getting everything up on the walls was the first step in making my new digs feel like me. Although my bare walls were daunting, I’m happy to report that they’re now adorned with some of my favorite things.

Here are some tips and tricks I picked up during the decorating process.

1. Bring a friend. Aside from the usefulness of a second pair of hands, a friend who can offer suggestions and unexpected ideas is a huge help. And if they happen to be a whiz at home decorating, all the better. Read more

NYC Restaurant Turns Trash Into Design Treasure

May 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm , by

The Collective (53) LE The Collective (12)

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of attending an event at The Collective, a new restaurant in the meat packing district of New York City. The drinks and food were good, but the intriguing design was even better! The design team from ICRAVE searched sites like Craigslist, Etsy and Ebay for the materials to fill The Collective rather than turning to their usual vendors or high-end design shops for inspiration. The results? A wall made of used Legos and casino slot machines; a ceiling composed of Styrofoam and turned into a captivating light fixture; bottle caps from restaurants around the neighborhood; a bar decorated with flying seagulls made from license plates; a host stand made from the hub of a plane and a wall decorated with butterflies made from old records. The list goes on and on. Although you may not decide to turn your entire home into an upcycled shrine, you have to admit that the concept is inspirational. Do you have any “trash to treasure” stories of your own to share?