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

Anna Kournikova’s Biggest Loser Blog: Episode 11

November 30, 2011 at 10:00 am , by

This was the last week on the ranch for the contestants, and it was makeover week, so they would get new looks to complement their new bodies! But that also meant that I got very little time in the gym with Sunny, so we really had to maximize our time together.

We kicked things off with their final challenge where they had to “wear” all of the weight they’d lost so far. The winner would get a one-pound advantage on the scale, and I was really rooting for Sunny because after losing 75 pounds, she was one of the smallest people in the house. She came in third and it was amazing to see how emotional she got during the challenge. I could tell that she’s really determined to keep the weight off for a long time. And really, everyone was a winner for this challenge because they each got a year’s supply of Progresso soup and $5,000!

Makeover week officially started at the spa, where the contestants got pampered in true Hollywood style—Sunny got a facial done with 24 karat gold! It was fun watching them experience Beverly Hills at its best with celebrity stylist Jeannie Mai and celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves. They even got to walk the red carpet at the Kodak Theater. Seeing everyone with their families was really touching. It was like they were introducing their selves as completely new people.

I had the opportunity to meet Sunny’s husband, Blake, and talk to him about the routine he and Sunny will need to start after she leaves the ranch. It was important for her to tell him that she expected him to hold her accountable in the future. I think he’ll be a great support system for her—he already signed them up for a mixed doubles tennis league at home!

The last chance workout was the first time this week that I really got to spend time in the gym with Sunny. We did circuits and finished the workout on the tennis court. Sunny got emotional because she realized that after all of her hard work, she’ll finally be able to live the active life with her family that she’s always wanted.

At the weigh-in, Sunny’s goal was to be under the 200 pound mark. It was a big shock when she didn’t meet her goal and only lost one pound. She’d come such a long way and was an incredible student. I really had no words to explain such a small weight loss. Unfortunately, Sunny fell below the yellow line and was eliminated, but with her new-found confidence and strength, I have no doubt that Sunny will come back to the marathon and amaze everyone.

Tune in next week to see all 15 contestants return to compete in the marathon!

Having Hair Trouble? Rashida Jones and Dove Want to Help

October 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm , by

For many of us, bad hair days are far more common than the good ones. Yes, a sad sad truth. In an attempt to make light of the situation and to help with our hair woes, Actress Rashida Jones has teamed up with Dove as a part of their “Make Friends With Your Hair” campaign. If you’re in serious need of a hair transformation log onto before October 19th and submit a 90 second video about your unpredictable hair. Three finalists will win a VIP trip to NYC and a hair transformation by celeb stylist Mark Townsend. America will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist to star in a Dove Hair TV ad!

If you’re in need of a little inspiration for your video check out Rashida’s hilarious outtakes from her Dove commercial.

The Latest in Frizz-Fighting

April 19, 2010 at 10:05 am , by

jessica-smMy hair may look sleek in my official Ladies’ Lounge photo but it’s actually a crazy mix of waves, frizz and random straight pieces. Getting it into a presentable, okay-to-leave-my-house condition involves round brushes, leave-in conditioners, serums and way too much time and muscle power. So when our beauty director, Erica, suggested I play guinea pig and get a Global Keratin smoothing treatment—which promised to make my hair “more manageable, easy to style and frizz-free” for up to 5 months—at a local salon, there was no way I could say no. Would it give me the glam, shampoo commercial-esque hair I’ve always wanted? The answer is after the jump. Read more

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Fresh New Me: What I’ve Learned From LHJ’s Makeovers

March 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm , by

I’m behind the scenes of our Fresh New You makeovers, asking questions and taking notes of all the interesting tips and tricks that we pass along to you each month. Typically, this is for the benefit of our lucky makeover women, but along the way, I’ve learned some valuable lessons for myself.

Barrie headshotBarrie
Lesson Learned: Set aside time one day per week to work on your hair. You’ll look and feel fabulous. The rest of the week, find ways to refresh your style. My suggestions? Dry shampoo (I usually prefer aerosol sprays but lately I’m into Faux Dry, a squeeze and shake version from Blow), adding texture with a curling iron and of course, a ponytail.

Mindy headshot

Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to tell people where you stand and what you’re comfortable with. Mindy wanted to keep her glasses but update them with a rimless style and could only devote enough time to upkeep for barely-there highlights. She stayed true to herself and I think she looks great.

Jayne headshotJayne
Lesson learned: Jayne had a young child but still loved an occasional date night with her husband or meeting up with her girlfriends. It was obvious that she enjoyed taking care of herself but wasn’t sure how to pull her look together after a few years spent in baggy jeans and a ponytail. Since meeting Jane, I’ve made a vow to my self to always set aside a some quality “me” time, even when it might seem impossible.

Becky headshot

Lesson learned: Becky showed up with gorgeous, thick, blond hair but her m.o. was a headband and clip. She was game for going back to her roots, literally, and went darker so that she didn’t have to spend so much time in the salon. (Something I understand; highlights can be a time suck.) It’s scary to make such a drastic change, but I need to remember that blond is only a hair color and not a state of mind.

Don’t forget to check out Becky’s full makeover in our April issue, on newsstands now.

Think your ready for your own makeover? Email your name, age, city, occupation to Also include a full body and headshot and tell us why you need a change.

Dress Thinner—Without Dieting! Our Staff Makeover

March 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm , by


We were so inspired by the new book How to Never Look Fat Again: Over 1,000 Ways to Dress Thinner—Without Dieting! by Charla Krupp that we decided to test it out on a couple of our LHJ staff members. Then we asked Krupp to comment on our efforts. You won’t want to miss our fabulous food editor Tara Bench’s before-and-after on page 16 in our April issue. And check out how our gorgeous associate editor Jennifer Castoro was transformed from schlumpy to va-va-voom with just a change of clothes, above. Want to get the full skinny on what Charla had to say about Jennifer’s makeover? Read more