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Vern Yip's new book 'Design Wise' combines beauty and practicality

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Thursday, September 15, 2016

Atlanta interior designer Vern Yip has crammed a quarter century of accumulated knowledge in his head, doling bits and pieces of advice to individual clients and TV audiences on shows such as “Trading Spaces,” “Deserving Design” and “HGTV Design Star.”

But a book, he realized, would be an ideal place to give his fans a single place to learn, say, the proper height of a countertop or what shape of coffee table works best in a narrow room. Called “Vern Yip’s Design Wise,” this guide doubles as a coffee-table book with lush, inspirational photos of his homes in Atlanta, New York City and Rosemary Beach, Fla. (You can buy it for $21.33 at Amazon.)

He has two local book signings scheduled, today and Thursday, both in Buckhead. (Scroll down for details)

“I’m asked the same questions non-stop,” Yip said in a recent interview, “whether I’m in an airport about to board a flight or walking down the street in New York or in my column for HGTV magazine.”

He finds this interesting given that the Web offers plenty of free advice. “But the way you get information on the Internet is so different from the way you process it when you read a book,” he said. “Nobody has ever taken the time to amass all this data in one place in a clear bullet-pointed way. Here’s an easy, accessible way to get the answers to all the things you’ve wanted to know to help make your home an individual, quality, lasting, timeless expression of you.”

A home, he said, has to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing to the owner. “The task,” Yip said, “can be daunting. Most people, for instance, don’t know the right height to hang a photo.”

The book, which took Yip a year to create, opens with the numbers, the standard lengths and heights of various furniture and trim, followed by advice on shopping, from lighting to window treatments. Part two is more of a photo gallery, showing how Yip himself applied all the rules from part one on his own homes. For example, his sofas and coffee tables are all 18 inches apart and his hanging fixtures are 66 inches from the finished floor to the lowest point of the fixture when hung over his dining room tables.

The rules, he notes in the book, “free me up to focus on choosing colors, fabrics, textures and forms. The fun part!”

[Here is Yip on Wednesday's "Live with Kelly." I have the video starting at the point Yip appears.]

And no matter how “digital” we are, Yip noted, “we still inhabit bodies that need to sleep in a bed or sit on a sofa or eat at a dining room table. We haven’t converted to the Matrix yet!”

His homes are all very different. In Atlanta, he has a lot of space. In New York, it’s all about maximizing limited square footage. His beach home is 2,700 square feet, very close to the average-sized American house.

Yip said having two young kids changed his mindset about how to access information. “I’m juggling work,” he said. “I’m juggling kids. I like to have things handy. I need to understand it quickly. A book is a solid thing you can touch.”e.

He hasn’t appeared on HGTV on a regular basis since the network cancelled the reality competition show “Design Star” in 2014. He was a judge or host on that show for all eight seasons. But the network shifted focus in recent years away from pure design to shows such as “Love It or List It” and “Property Brothers.”

“Their audience is more interested now in real estate and flipping,” Yip said, noting that men are more apt to watch those shows, broadening the network’s appeal.

But he is still actively writing for HGTV magazine, which he said is “very design focused, which is great.”

Besides the book, Yip has recently designed a home fragrance line, lighting fixtures and a fabric and trim collection available in Calico retail stores.

Book signings

   September 17, 1:30 p.m., Frontgate, Phipps Plaza, 3500 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta

·September 22, 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble, Buckhead at The Peach Shopping Center, 2900 Peachtree St NW #310

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.