Alyssa Sparacino

"Put a bow on anything, and I'm happy."

Alyssa is the Online Editor for HGTV Magazine. She lives in a cozy brownstone apartment in Hoboken with (she likes to think) tons of charm. The older building provides character in a growing town just across the Hudson from New York City. A mirrored vanity and a gallery wall are next up in her bedroom re-do.

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POSTS BY Alyssa Sparacino

  • Tell Your Friends

HGTV Magazine is pet friendly. Sadly, that doesn’t mean we can bring our dogs to work (OK, so maybe they’ve stopped by once or twice), but we love our furry friends like family. Our adorable dog model, Daniel Patrick the West Highland terrier, even graced the cover back in Jan/Feb 2014!

Don’t you just love Daniel Patrick’s sweater?

This time, we’re busy putting together a special pet feature for an upcoming issue, and we need your help. Take a second to answer the four questions below, and we’ll use the results to help create a story you and Fido will both love.




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The newest issue of HGTV Magazine marks an important milestone for the brand — we’re turning the big 3-0! The May issue (out tomorrow!) is our 30th since we began publishing in fall 2011.

May 2015 cover

HGTV Magazine May 2015 Cover

The magazine (and staff!) has grown exponentially, with each issue getting bigger, better and brighter than the last.

“I truly believe the magazine just gets better and better. I’m very proud of the fact that the staff is constantly creating fresh, new, never-been-done-before stories and layouts. We launched our premiere issue with that kind of thinking, and we still operate that way three years later.” — Sara Peterson, editor in chief

“Thank you to all of our advertisers for making our 2nd annual paint issue a tremendous success, and thank you to our readers for making HGTV Magazine one of the most successful magazine launches in recent history.”  Dan Fuchs, publisher and chief revenue officer 

We’ve made a lot of creative strides in our short lifespan. We’ve created a kids-only mini-mag, shared a cover with Food Network, took you inside one incredible home after another, and now, for the second time, we’ve expanded our DIY content for a giant all-paint-everything section.

Inside, you’ll find 13 pages of hue-drenched rooms, color-rich DIYs and pro-picked shades (including a poster-size, fold-out paint index). So get your paintbrush ready, because we’re showing you nearly a dozen different ways you can paint almost anything.

paint how tos

Paint the floor. Paint a lampshade. Paint a dresser.

BONUS: As you’re clicking through the story, don’t miss the links to exclusive online-only how-tos for many of the fun elements you see in each bold room. (There are 11 in all.) Happy painting!

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In the latest High/Low Challenge we asked you to spot the price difference between these two fun outdoor seats. The correct answer was Left: high, Right: low. Were you right? The winner of our HGTV Magazine prize package for May will be chosen and notified by email.

high low may answer

Were you correct?

An outdoor-safe seat cushion makes this curvy chair on the left more comfy. The back of the chair on the right was inspired by the shape of a traditional Amish barn. Both great choices, both great buys. For shopping information on these powder-coated steel and iron chairs, check out the newest picks on our High/Low List in the May issue of HGTV Magazine — out Tuesday!

  • Tell Your Friends
high low may

Can you spot the price difference?

The latest High/Low Challenge features a pair of bright orange chairs that are screaming to be a part of a backyard party or to sit on a sun-drenched patio. Both share fun geometric designs, but one is priced higher than the other. Can you guess which seat is ‘High’ and which is ‘Low’? If so, you could be the lucky winner who takes home an HGTV Magazine prize package filled with an umbrella, notebook, and the latest May issue. To enter, leave your answer in the comments below (i.e. Left: high, Right: low or vice versa). You must answer correctly for a chance to win. And hurry! You have until tomorrow at 2 p.m. to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received.  Sweepstakes ends at 2:00 p.m. ET on April 3, 2015. Full official rules are available here. Sponsored by Scripps Networks, LLC dba Home & Garden Television, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932.

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smoothies
Spring is right around the corner, and by right around the corner, we mean tomorrow. “Wait, what?!” That’s right. Even though it may not feel like spring is in the air, warmer weather, sunshine, and yes, shorts and swim suits, will be a reality before you know it.

So as we adjust our closets from cable knits to maxi dresses, let’s make some changes in the kitchen, too. These healthy smoothies are just the light and fresh recipes to help you make the transition.

Get the Recipes

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Ah, April—the name alone sounds like spring doesn’t it? Get excited for the new season with a new issue of HGTV Magazine, on sale tomorrow. Inside you’ll find kitchens that excite, homes that look better than ever, and furniture and decor that helps you make your home magazine-worthy, too.

April 2015 Cover

Pick up your April issue tomorrow

Here’s a look at just some of what you can find this month! There’s lots more where this came from.

From the crafty (wink, wink) editors who gave you awesome ways to use felt and gold paint, now comes five faux-leather DIYs you’ll want to make ASAP.

leather DIYS

It’s all about faux leather this month

Head over to hgtv.com/clipboards for the web-exclusive templates we used to create the faux-leather clipboards below.

clipboards

Download the templates for DIY faux-leather clipboards

BONUS LOOK: Anthony Carrino let us in to his one-of-a-kind loft in Jersey City, NJ. You’ll need to pick up a copy to see the entire tour, but we’re sharing some behind-the-scenes photos of the shoot over at I Heart HGTV.

Never miss an issue—subscribe here.

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When you have a cold the tissue box can be your only friend, so it should at least be cute, right? Right! In this edition of The High/Low Challenge we showed you two green patterned tissue box covers, and you were correct if you answered “Left: Low, Right: High.” One lucky winner will be notified by email.

You can personalize the acrylic pick on the left with a monogram or name. And you won’t believe how many coats of lacquer are on this patterned version on the right — seven shiny layers.

tissue box answer

Both make great housewarming gifts

For more information on these items and even more High/Low deals, pick up the April issue of HGTV Magazine on newsstands Tuesday, March 10!

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Grab a tissue for this one, but not for the reason you might think. This is not about a sappy rom-com, but about your eye for design. This month’s High/Low Challenge is giving some attention to your tissue box.

Decorating is in the details with these two tissue box covers that add color to any bathroom, while covering up even the saddest and most smashed drugstore box you’ve seen. Regardless of which pattern you prefer, can you correctly spot the price difference simply by what you see here?

To enter HGTV Magazine‘s latest High/Low Challenge, tell us which item you think costs more (the High), and which item costs less (the Low) in the comments below. For example: Left: High, Right: Low or vice versa. The correct answer will be revealed on the blog tomorrow, so check back to you see if you were right on the money. We’ll choose one lucky winner from those who answered correctly.

Oh, yeah — and the prizes are pretty great this time, too. The winner will receive a prize package which includes an HGTV Magazine tote bag, an HGTV Magazine yoga mat and a copy of the brand-new April issue, on sale Tuesday. Good luck!

tissue box covers

Which is the high? The low?

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Sweepstakes ends at 2:00 p.m. ET on March 6, 2015. Full official rules are available here. Sponsored by Scripps Networks, LLC dba Home & Garden Television, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932.

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No matter how you plan to spend Valentine’s Day (or with whom), it’s probably fair to assume there will be chocolate involved. Make it dark chocolate for a healthier sweet treat you’ll L-O-V-E.

Dark chocolate and cocoa are packed with antioxidants, a powerful agent against free radicals, which have been linked to serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease. So indulge in these dark chocolate recipes with your beau or a friend, and they could help protect your heart, even if it gets broken.

Smoldering Heart Dark Chocolate Cookies

heart shaped chocolate cookies

Image courtesy of The View From Great Island

These heart-shaped cookies stand out among the rest. Ditch the pink icing or red sprinkles, and opt for a more “smoldering” dark chocolate look. Cayenne powder in the shortbread cookie adds just the right amount of heat, and smoked paprika on the icing spices things up even more.

Get the full recipe at The View From Great Island

Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bars

oatmeal chocolate bars

Image courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

This treat may be having an identity crisis: Is it a bar? A cookie? A brownie? But, who cares! They are healthy thanks to filling fiber in the oats, those antioxidants in the dark chocolate, and the recipe calls for coconut oil (jury still out on the potential benefits, there). Plus, they’re done in just 30 minutes flat!

Get the full recipe at Half Baked Harvest

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

chocolate cake

Image courtesy of Heather Christo

Looking at this decadent dark chocolate cake with chocolate-espresso icing you’d NEVER be able to guess its secret ingredient. Zucchini helps keep the cake super moist, and it’s a sneaky way to meet your veggie quota.

Get the full recipe from Heather Christo

Chocolate Dipped Fruit

chocolate dipped fruit

Image Courtesy of Marla Meridith

It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a chocolate covered strawberry or five, but don’t discriminate against other fruit that taste equally delish dipped in the good stuff. Create a different kind of bouquet by dipping various berries in melted dark chocolate—blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries were all used here. Stick them on the end of a skewer, and place in a vase for easy access to healthy snacking.

Get the full recipe at Family Fresh Cooking

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

chocolate covered banana and peanut butter

Image Courtesy of Smile Sandwich

I personally love a recipe that calls for items you likely have in the cupboard already. Enter these bite-sized treats that have just four ingredients. Potassium from the bananas, protein from the nut butter, and antioxidants from the dark chocolate come together for a unique homemade sweet to share with whomever you choose.

Get the full recipe at Smile Sandwich

  • Tell Your Friends

Your favorite HGTV Magazine stories are better than ever in the latest issue on sale tomorrow. Curb Appeal heads to sunny Florida, Flea Market Flips is still turning tossed goods into look-at-me-now furniture, and let’s just say the house tours…those will leave you with more ideas than you know what to do with.

March cover

Pick up the latest March issue of HGTV Mag!

There’s lots more to explore, and you can be among the first to dig in to new content by subscribing here. For now, let’s take a look at some of what you’ll find when you head to the newsstand.

We started with the basics: a white dresser. Then added no-fail accessories that show off your personal style: a lamp, a vase, and a pretty object.

dresser

Mint green dresser, Chevron wall, and pretty flowers—we love.

We created four dresser looks, but it’s only online where can you find the instructions for painting two of the more intricate designs. Visit hgtv.com/dresser-formula to see how.

A brand new column in this issue included a recipe from a familiar HGTV star. One who is known for his colorful personality, but who can apparently also whip up a batch of gooey delicious Chocolate Chip Sea-Salt Cookies. Who do you think this mystery man is? Take a guess, then test the recipe for yourself.

cookies

Guess which star baked these bakery-size cookies?

Get more exciting HGTV Magazine news on Twitter by following us @HGTVMag.

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For this edition of HGTV Magazine‘s High/Low Challenge, we asked you to correctly identify the low and higher-priced product from a pair of stunning blue chests. Was this an easy one, or were you officially stumped? Those of you who correctly answered Left: low, Right: high, must have a knack for spotting a great deal. The lucky winner of an HGTV Magazine prize package will be notified by email.

high low answer

Were you right this time?

Both of these beauties have a similar curved design, but the slightly darker blue version on the left has less ornate hardware, helping to bring down the cost. The more intricate design on the right has a surprise inside! The drawers are lined with wallpaper—no DIYing required. Find shopping information for these and many other pairs in the The New High/Low List.

  • Tell Your Friends

It’s a new year, and a new chance to win! The first High/Low Challenge of the 2015 comes just in time for the release of the March issue of HGTV Magazine (on sale Tuesday), and shows off two blue chests worth a closer look.

From an entryway to a guest bedroom, these two pieces make just the right kind of statement. The shades of blue are saturated without being too bold, making it a truly versatile addition to your home. While it may be difficult to choose a favorite among the pair, let’s see if it’s easier to spot the difference in cost. One of these chests is nearly half the cost of the other, but which one is it?

Enter for a chance to win a prize package that includes a copy of the March issue, an HGTV Magazine iPhone 5 case and an HGTV Magazine tote bag. All you have to do is leave your guess in the comments below (i.e. Right: high, Left: low or vice versa). You must answer correctly to win. The answer will be revealed on the blog tomorrow, so come back to check if you’ve got a keen design eye.

high low blue chests

Which is more wallet-friendly?

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Sweepstakes ends at 2:00 p.m. ET on February 6, 2015. Full official rules are available here. Sponsored by Scripps Networks, LLC dba Home & Garden Television, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932.

  • Tell Your Friends

From Boston to Seattle and everywhere in between, Super Bowl Sunday will have parties filled with fans, football, and oh yeah, food. Many of the traditional game-day dips are high in calories, high in fat, and highly likely to put you in a food coma.

That’s why we rounded up some simple swaps that are still delicious but better for you. There’s no need to “cheat” on any diet to enjoy these dips. Let’s leave that kind of controversy to the NFL.

Skip: Spinach Artichoke Dip
Get: Creamy Avocado, Artichoke and Kale Dip

artichoke dip

Image courtesy of Blissful Basil

Gooey cheese, though delicious, is one of the easiest ways to add saturated fat and calories to a recipe, and it’s the star of most spinach and artichoke dips. When superfood spinach and antioxidant-rich artichokes are mere sidekicks, though, the health benefits get overshadowed. Not the case in this recipe for Creamy Avocado, Artichoke and Kale Dip. The veggies take the spotlight, and not a cheese is in sight. It’s the avocados, loaded with good-for-you fats, that create the creamy texture we love so much. We bet you’ll never be able to look at the classic version the same way again.

Get the full recipe over at Blissful Basil

4 More Skinny Dips

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UPDATE: This poll is now closed. Thank you to the more then 2,500 of you who participated. Look for the results in an upcoming issue of HGTV Magazine.

Of course there’s THIS fantasy home: HGTV Dream Home 2015. [Enter for your chance to win here.] But there’s also the home of your dreams that exists, well, only in your dreams. HGTV Magazine wants to know exactly what it looks like. If money were no object, if you could choose every feature, design every room, how would your ultimate luxury home turn out?

HGTV Dream Home 2015

HGTV Dream Home 2015 on Martha’s Vineyard

Take the survey below by choosing ONE for each of the following pairs. For example, would your perfect home include a home theater or a home gym? Your answers will help us with an upcoming story.

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Jan Feb 2015 cover

Make this the year that you finally redecorate the living room, remodel the kitchen, or just spruce things up a bit. The January/February issue of HGTV Magazine can help you get started—it hits newsstands this Tuesday, January 6. Here’s a look at some of what you’ll find.

Four savvy design bloggers share how they style a space while still staying on budget. Plus we share online-only how-tos for DIY projects from each of their rooms.

purple room

Update idea: Remake a hand-me-down piece of furniture or snag an item from a local yard sale. Our clever editors took a used china cabinet and turn it into a display piece you’ll be excited to show off. We see many dinner parties coming your way in 2015!

china cabinet

To be among the first to know of new HGTV Magazine content, follow us on Twitter @HGTVMag, or become a subscriber and receive every new issue right to your door.

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The last year was a big one for HGTV Magazine! We ran special departments like the all-paint-everything section in June. We got to look inside the homes of more and more HGTV stars—Alison Victoria’s kitchen, Genevieve Gorder’s HUGE NYC remodel, not to mention Jonathan and Drew Scott’s family home in Las Vegas. We also debuted the first ever duel cover with the May issue, teaming up with sister publication Food Network Magazine. Whew—what a year!

HGTV Magazine 2014 Issues

A year with HGTV Magazine

We thought it would be fun to round up some of the most memorable content from each issue for a look back on a year of DIYs, house tours, star encounters, and brand new ways to make HGTV Magazine a part of your home.

As they all do, the year began with a brand-new calendar. In this case, the Jan/Feb issue shared a year’s worth of DIY wreaths, with a new project for every month.

The March issue held one of our most popular stories of the year by far: 7 Ways to Fill Up Your Walls. With ideas for the kitchen, living room, and office, no wall should be left bare.

By April, our jaws had hit the floor with a show-stopping house tour out of sunny Florida. Every room held something to awe, but we’re particularly fond of the giant chalkboard calendar. (Make one yourself with the online-exclusive instructions.)

hgtv magazine images

Wall art from March and XL chalkboard calendar from April

Spring cleaning kicked into high gear with the May issue. We found some items in the attic that deserved a second life.

Everyone fell in love with this beach house with new bones and old charm. The on-the-water back “yard” with three tiers of patios doesn’t hurt either.

In the July/August issue we visited another beach house. This time Vern Yip invited us to beat the summer heat at his Florida home, and we’re still dreaming about the rooftop pool.

beach house and Vern Yip

Two amazing beaches houses from the summer issues

Our creative editors came up with genius DIY art ideas for the kitchen to share in the September issue. The pineapple plate and teacups on canvas were big hits.

October delivered Genevieve’s big overhaul we mentioned above, but also the know-how to create a stylish space of your own. We narrowed down the list of the BEST online shopping sites for home goods. Happy decorating!

We spent some serious time flipping (flea market finds), updating (discarded paintings), and creating (projects with cloth napkins) in November, so it’s fair to say it was a major DIY issue.

Finally, how better to wrap up a fabulous 2014 than with a decked out holiday issue! One of our favorites stories takes you inside the Fixer Upper house loaded with charming seasonal touches. You can still pick up a copy on newsstands now (Jan/Feb 2015 is available 1/6), and in it you’ll find our ultimate gift guides to buy, make, or bake the perfect present this year. We also share helpful tips for holiday lights, ways to deck the halls all around the house, and a home that was born holiday-ready.

December issue content

A Fixer Upper holiday kitchen and a log-stacked fireplace in a winter-ready home

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These bright pendants are the stars of the show! (And of this month’s High/Low Challenge.)  In the end though, there can only be one winner in the spotlight. It could be you if you answered  “Left: high, Right: low”. The winner of this month’s HGTV Magazine prize package will be notified by email.

high-low-answer

Could you tell the difference?

Topping Sabrina Soto’s High/Low List in our December issue—on stands Tuesday!—these pendants are the perfect way to add sparkle to your home around the holidays. Hung above the table, the pendant on the left will be the show-stopper of your dining room. The fixture to the right, which is slightly smaller, would shine bright in a hallway. Click through to find shopping information for these pendants and other great finds in our High/Low Buys for Any Budget.

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Time flies when you’re busy crafting, DIYing, decorating, and shopping! The holiday issue of HGTV Magazine is hitting newsstands Tuesday, and it’s full of great gift ideas, seasonal decorating inspiration, and of course, lots of handmade projects to keep the elves busy.

Take a look inside this month’s issue at these stories that come with a little bonus. In each piece below you’ll be directed to web-exclusive content that can ONLY be found at hgtv.com. Consider it a little gift from us @HGTVMag.

December 2014 cover

What do you get for the person on your list who has everything? A DIY gift that’s one-of-a-kind. We share six easy ideas to choose from.

picture frames

Embroidery hoop picture frames

To say metallics are on trend would be an understatement. And we can happily say they aren’t going anywhere soon. We gilded everything from pillows to pencils in these projects using gold paint. Online readers receive two extra ideas that didn’t make it in the issue.

ampersand pillow

Gold glitter paint was used on this ampersand pillow

When it’s time to decorate the mantel for Christmas, try one of these HGTV star-designed stockings. Each made from two online-only templates, the DIY designs let you make the holidays more creative.

christmas stockings

Made-from-scratch stockings

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What I love about these star pendants is that they are festive for the holidays and yet subtle and stylish enough to keep up all year. Hang in the dining room, hallway, or even a pair above the kitchen island for a look that is sure to be noticed.

Though both are great buys, one is actually less than half the price of the other. The High/Low Challenge question: Can you tell the difference? Answer correctly and one lucky winner will receive an HGTV Magazine prize package that includes the latest December issue, and HGTV Magazine mouse pad (great for browsing the new hgtv.com) and an HGTV Magazine thermos. leave your answer in the comments below (i.e. Left: low, Right: high or vice versa). You must answer correctly to win. Check back tomorrow to see if you were right!

high-low-star-pendants

Star light, star bright

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Sweepstakes ends at 2:00 p.m. ET on November 14, 2014. Full official rules are available here. Sponsored by Scripps Networks, LLC dba Home & Garden Television, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932.

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  • By a long shot, our fan favorite with the most repins of

  • Tune in to HGTV on April 20 at 11pm (10c) for the HGTV

  • And that's HGTV Smart Home 2015! We're so glad you came to