Decor & Renovation

Five minutes with designer, Vern Yip

Photography by David Land Image by: Photography by David Land Author: Canadian Living

Decor & Renovation

Five minutes with designer, Vern Yip

Though most of the no-money makeovers seen on TLC’s Trading Spaces weren’t exactly what you’d call timeless, one of the show’s original designers has proven to have serious staying power. With an approach to interiors that favours clean lines over kitsch, Vern Yip’s luxe, livable designs are as indemand as they were during the show’s heyday. Now splitting his time between Atlanta and New York, Yip recently popped by the Canadian Living office to talk TV, tree trimming and his favourite ways to turn up the heat without touching the thermostat.

Brett Walther: How do you “winterize” your home from a decor perspective?

Vern Yip: Texture is your friend when it comes to warming up a space. Texture can be tactile—chunky knit throws and pillows layered on your sofa—but it can also be visual. People don’t often think of how lighting showcases the visual texture of a space, but dimmer switches and various levels of lighting are very important. I also recently refloored my New York apartment in cork, which warms up a space in wonderful ways. It’s soft, shock-absorbent and comfortable underfoot, and it's a fantastic insulator. So, even if your taste is really contemporary and you like things pared down, you can still make your home a space in which you’d feel comfortable hibernating.

BW: What holiday decorating trends are worth trying?

VY: The ‘natural’ trend—feathers, bark and antlers—is making a huge comeback, but you don’t want it to look like little forest animals are dwelling underneath your tree. It’s important to incorporate natural elements in a restrained way, and to pair them with things that are a bit cleaner. When you juxtapose organic with slick, the two are better for it. It’s all about creating balance.

BW: What does your own Christmas tree look like?

VY: I’ve been to 47 countries in the past seven years, and everywhere I go, I pick up a unique thing to put on the tree. What ties all of these souvenirs together is a colour theme: As long as it’s red, white or clear, it can go on the tree. Once you’ve established a thread of continuity, you can incorporate a wide variety of ornaments that makes your tree feel genuine. In that way, the tree is just a microcosm of what your entire house should be: ornaments and accessories that tell your story and the story of your family.

For some more interior design advice, check out our interview with the creative director of West Elm.

This story was originally titled "Five Minutes With Vern Yip, Designer" in the December 2014 issue.
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Decor & Renovation

Five minutes with designer, Vern Yip