Dressing your home is a lot like getting yourself dressed. It has to be done in layers.
That belief has guided interior designer Sabrina Soto, who just wrote her first book, "Sabrina Soto Home Design: A Layer-by-Layer Approach to Turning Your Ideas into the Home of Your Dreams."
According to Soto, host of HGTV's popular "The High Low Project," "you put on your outfit and then you layer and accessorize. In the same way that you layer clothes, you can layer a room. There are so many choices and options available when decorating. How do you know what fits and what doesn't? You can't collect a bunch of things and throw them together."
She said the best approach to decorating any room in your home is to work in steps.
"Working in steps provides you with the essential tools needed to understand your space so you can make those design ideas really pop."
These steps are incorporated into an eight-layer sequential process that begins with the basics: understanding your space and creating a design plan.
"Once the space is evaluated and you have a design goal in mind, you are ready to begin," she said.
Then she tackles color, surface treatments, storage, furniture, textiles, lighting and accents.
Soto said this approach works for any size design budget.
"What it ultimately comes down to is no matter what particular situation you are in, what your budget or taste is, the layer-by-layer approach is flexible enough to accommodate any circumstance."
Soto has been exposed to good design principles her entire life. Her mother had a decorating and home-staging business, which, in turn, sparked her passion for design and honed her knack for creating beautiful spaces on a budget.
She said she developed her layered approach to design as a way to explain her philosophy and work habits to clients.
"Working with clients, time and time again, made me realize that I had to come up with some sort of process that had to work in any room, space, home or design challenge. Designing in layers is a step-by-step process which allows you to bring your imagination into your home."
Imagination is the creative spark to coming up with a design. And Soto is a firm believer that every person has the creative imagination necessary to come up with a design for their home.
"Being creative is just a matter of finding the right inspiration and an easy method to help you organize and develop your ideas," she writes in the book's introduction.
Soto said she decided to write the book because it was "a way for me to put everything that's happened to me, in my career, and all of my knowledge into one place."
She said she is often asked by people she meets about design principles, how to choose a color to paint their walls and what sofa works in a particular space.
"This book allows me to basically hold someone's hand and help them through any design process from the initial concepts to the beautiful finishing touches."
It is written in a casual manner and reads as if Soto were sitting in your family room chatting about what changes you want to make to your home. Scattered throughout are "Sabrina's rules" and "Sabrina's tips," practical bits of advice that help people avoid making the same mistakes she has.
Although she admits that other designers use a layered approach, Soto said all professionals need to have some type of process to create a well-designed space.
"You wouldn't paint a wall after you've already arranged the furniture," she said. "My layer-by-layer concept simplifies the process of design. It breaks down each step so that nothing stands between you and your dream design with a simple and effective decorating process."
In addition to "The High Low Project" Soto has served as host for HGTV's design-based shows including "Get it Sold," "HGTV's Green Home," "Bang for your Buck" and "Real Estate Intervention," and appeared on shows such as "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Today" and "Rachael Ray." She is a LEED-accredited designer.
In 2010, she was named Target's style expert for the home.
Soto also is a licensed real estate agent.