Celeb designer Vern Yip crams his first book with insider tips for the DIY set.
Do you have more pictures leaning up against the baseboards instead of hanging from the walls because you never know how high they should be? Have you put off repainting because the thought of selecting a color scheme terrifies you? Are the wood floors still bare because rug sizing paralyzes you?
“Yes” to any of those questions means Buckhead-based designer Vern Yip’s first book is for you. The former HGTV star and regular Washington Post contributor finally found time in his hectic schedule to put down answers to questions he’s constantly being asked. Debuting this month, Vern Yip’s Design Wise: Your Smart Guide to a Beautiful Home was compiled as a reference for any DIY decorator.
“In my years as a designer, I’ve heard the same questions over and over,” says Yip, who was raised in the D.C. area and moved to Atlanta in the early 1990s to earn an MBA and master’s in architecture from Georgia Tech. “People seem to think design is super-ethereal, like some sort of secret knowledge you have to be born with. A lot of it can be easily communicated, especially if you provide information in a clear, bulleted fashion without making readers search for it. That takes the intimidation factor of design out and frees them up to do the part they think is fun—picking colors and styles.”
Yip’s overriding inspiration was to write a book with useful information. “I didn’t want it to be another thing with my face on it,” he says. “My whole life, I’ve tried to improve people’s lives, so I wanted it to be functional. The approach is ‘this is what you need to pull off a successful room on your own’.”
The idea of making the book more of a reference guide than a cover-to-cover read came while Yip was killing time in his kids’ carpool line. “Getting the information organized in a way that was easy to access was really important to me. I thought about other parents like me who are sitting in a long line of cars for 30 minutes, checking email or reading news texts while they wait for their kids. It would be nice to have something you can read for 30 minutes that gives you a great takeaway.”
To illustrate, Yip uses his own three homes as examples for topics such as how high the dining room chandelier should be or how to pick a perfect sofa. Yip, his spouse Craig Koch, their children, Gavin and Vera, and three rescued dogs split their time between a not-quite 800-square-foot apartment in Manhattan, a 2,700-square-foot getaway house at Rosemary Beach and their 1925 renovated, historic home in Brookwood Hills.
“I wanted to show that no matter what your style or how big your home, these rules apply universally,” Yip says. “I figured the audience was largely people just like me who are busy with layered lives, children and pets and who still want to live beautifully without spending an exorbitant amount of time doing it. And I want to show that having a beautiful home is attainable if you have the right information.”
VERN YIP’S TOP TIPS
“It’s really important to wrap your mind around the idea that your home is the place you should want to be more than anywhere else on the planet. When you walk through your front door, it should be the best experience. This book is designed to get people to that point.”
“Your home should be a physical manifestation of you. We all have many facets, and our homes should reflect that in terms of how it functions and looks. We are way passed the point where people are trying to recreate looks out of a catalogue or showroom or live up to a certain standard. Now it’s about tailoring your home to you specifically.”
“Buy things you love that tell a story or are reflective of your journey. Things that have meaning will be what you keep for a lifetime— which is also ultimately cheaper and better for the environment.”
Meet the Author
Book signings with Vern Yip
Sept. 17, 1:30 p.m.: Frontgate Atlanta
Phipps Plaza, 3500 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30326
Sept. 22, 7 p.m.: Barnes & Noble
2900 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30305
Sept. 29, 10 a.m.: ADAC
351 Peachtree Hills Avenue, Atlanta 30305
Information about Vern Yip and his book are online at vernyip.com.
STORY: H.M. Cauley
Atlanta-based writer and editor contributing to a number of local and state-wide publications. Instructor in Georgia State’s Communication department and Emory’s Continuing Education division.