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Sabrina Soto's Black Belt Level Holiday Home And Design Tips

Last month we checked in with Sabrina Soto during Renters Week (when her DC holiday party for thirty people required plastic sheeting and an outdoor heater) but now we're back with some of her suggestions for the holiday season. Since she's an HGTV Designer she has some quick upgrade ideas before family members arrive and since she's a Target Style Expert for Home she has a few affordable gift ideas too. We also couldn't help but ask her for design advice when it comes to the skinny rowhouses that are so common in DC. She used to live in Cleveland Park and Dupont Circle so her tips come from hard won personal experience.

You're good at staging houses to make them more appealing to buyers, but what are some things homeowners can do if the in-laws are coming for a week?
The good thing about having family come over is it sort of forces you to declutter your space. Instead of just hiding everything I think it is a perfect opportunity to really purge things. Just get rid of the things that are taking up extra space. If there are things that you absolutely need to keep then just put them away and find inconspicuous ways to do it. Since I've been doing this for many, many years I find that people just keep things just to keep them. And they never even use it. If you haven't touched something in a year then get rid of it.

Since you've seen so many homes filled with stuff do you have any insights about why people won't throw things away?
I think it is the process that is so hard. Especially when I did Get It Sold in DC I came across so many people who had hoarding issues. At one point I remember there was this pair of chopsticks and this homeowner would not throw them away. It was the chopsticks you get with takeout and he had so many of them. Once you get it out, especially if you donate it so you feel like you're doing something for someone else, and you see that your space is organized it's a lot easier. It's tough for some people. I deal with it every week on the show. Afterwards once it's all over and they see their space it relieves them of so much stress.

Since you're the Target Home Expert what are some small, non-cluttery gifts you recommend this year?

When I have guests over I love to give them a little gift basket on the bed with toiletries and maybe slippers. Target has a cute little bundle of hot cocoa in a mug which is a really fun gift they can use while they're at the house or take it home with them. In DC everyone is so busy and on the run so I like to give certificates. There's Drybar. I love that place. Or getting a car service just to make their lives a little bit easier. I love Uber. It's such an easy service. Also, I find that no matter what your style is I find that everybody loves a cozy throw in a house. It really makes you feel the winter months are here.

Houses in DC are often very long and narrow which makes furniture placement challenging. What suggestions do you have for people with skinny spaces?
It is tough. Doing all the shows in DC I came across so many narrow spaces, but there's a few things you can do. First you want to make it feel a little bit bigger. So obviously using mirrors makes it feel more spacious. But also break up the space. Let's say you have a very narrow living room. On the far edge you can have a viewing area but then you can have a little seating area in the beginning of the space. Don't feel like you have to use it for only one purpose. Even in narrow rooms you'd be surprised you can still float furniture so play around with arrangement. Definitely having a flat screen TV helps in the narrow spaces in DC. You can even recess them so they take up no space whatsoever.

Your book so many distinct design ideas. Were there any that came from DC?
I did six seasons of Get it Sold and four seasons of Real Estate Intervention in DC. My HGTV career started in DC. All of the knowledge I got from those DC houses I put into the book. What I loved especially is that there were so many different homes. Colonials, Cape Cods, and such great architectural detail in all of them. So much character. I'm such a fan of the area especially since you can go to all the museums for free. That's my favorite thing.

· Sabrina Soto [OfficialSite]
· Home Design by Sabrina Soto [OfficialSite]
· Sabrina Soto Will Never Throw This Big A Dinner Party Again [CDC]