Q&A: Vern Yip

Vern Yip
Sep 13, 2018

Vern Yip is known for his lively interiors and for his creativity in changing up homes in shows such as TLC's Trading Spaces and HGTV Urban Oasis. He runs his own design company in Atlanta and creates his own home furnishings and lighting products. He writes on design and travel for the Washington Post and recently penned a book entitled "Vern Yip's Design Wise: Your Smart Guide to a Beautiful Home." Vern will be appearing at the Capital Home Show on September 21-23 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Va.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 15 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.


Good morning! Jura is out on assignment today (check her out @jurakoncius on Instagram if you want a peek), but luckily we are in good hands, with the amazing Vern Yip joining the chat today. You know the design expert from TLC’s “Trading Spaces” and HGTV’s “Urban Oasis.” Vern will also be at the Capital Home Show coming up Sept. 21-23 at the Dulles Expo Center. Thanks for joining us, Vern!


Hi! Vern Yip here! Very excited to be with everyone today while I'm thousands of feet up in the air flying to LA for a shoot! Looking forward to everyone's questions!

I hear that greys are no longer "on trend" or considered neutral. What is replacing them? My living room needs to be repainted, and I want a color that is classic yet fresh. Any suggestions?

Grey has been the go-to neutral for over a decade now, especially warm grey. It literally will go with anything which is why it's been so popular. If you like warm grey, you can freshen it with the colors you pair with it. Warm grey and deep gold is a great looking, current combo. If you want a new neutral, warm white has been really surging. Navy, although not really a neutral in my opinion, is considered a fresh color choice for walls too. Especially when paired with emerald green! Good Luck!

We have a large, linen-upholstered rolled arm sofa with three seat and back cushions. It is perfect for us except that the seat cushions collapse in the face of multi-hour gaming sessions, especially where they meet. They are currently feather wrapped foam. Is there an alternative that can stand up to this (ab)use?

Sofa cushions take so much abuse from all of us! The firmest cushion would be a high density foam. On it's own, it will feel pretty firm so most folks prefer the feel of high density foam wrapped with down. Not all foam sofa cushions wrapped in down have high density foam so this is a good place to start. Even if you have high density foam, though, that foam will eventually break down and you will have to replace it once you've noticed that it's no longer bouncing back. Also, ensure that your sofa has a spring bed. Eight way hand tied is the gold standard. That will help with the support! Good Luck!

Hi Vern. Excited that you'll be in the DC area next week. We are getting ready to do a re-do of our living room furniture and finally retire the old 2000-era upholstery. We are empty-nesters and want to create (finally) a sophisticated look rather than something that is kid-proof. Our chairs (antique wing chair and comfortable arm chair) are family heirlooms and we arent replacing them, just want to give them a new look with fabric and possibly accent pillows. Couch is a standard, non-descript three seater and we like it. Obviously we don't reupholster very often so my concern is finding fabrics and accents that aren't "today's trend" but, instead, something that will be sophisticated and long lasting. Our windows now have plantation shutters without curtains - we are open to doing new window treatment as well. Help!

I love that you have seating that's of a quality that you can reupholster! Too many folks are purchasing inexpensive lounge chairs and sofas with cheap frames that don't last! Good Job! There are a lot of great options for you. Poke your head into a good local resource like your nearby Calico...also known as Calico Corners. My fabric line, among many others, is sold there. There are two solids I love right now for upholstery: Velvet and Chenille. Velvet will give your upholstery a slightly dressier appearance whereas Chenille will give it a slightly more casual appearance. I have a chenille I love called Brookwood Performance. Hope that helps! Good Luck1

A note to the chatter who had a paint question for Jura: I will save it for her to see next week!

Hi Vern, First off, I LOVE the new Trading Spaces! I am so happy the gang is back together. I am currently Semi DIYing my bathroom (I am not doing the plumbing aspects of the reno). I am currently picking out tile for the shower, backsplash and floor, do you have any tips for picking out tile? Specifically, how do I avoid a mismatched disaster?

Hi! So glad that you're loving the reboot of TS! Thanks for watching! There are a couple of rules that I like to stick to for bathroom tile. First, avoid accent tiles unless you're really in love with the idea. Accent tiles tend to visually break up a space and make it look smaller. Plus, they tend to be trendier and date your bathroom quickly. Second, if you can, go floor-to-ceilng with your tile and cover as many walls as you can using the same wall tile. Of course, you can change up the floor tile. I like one wall tile throughout the bathroom because it helps visually expand the space. Aside from the classic subway tile, I love herringbone patterned tile as well as honeycomb patterned tile. All of those options tend to be both fresh and timeless especially if you go with a neutral. If you want to have something more adventurous in your bathroom, stick to a more classic wall tile and pair it with a more dynamic floor tile. Good Luck! 

The Post Points code is HF8043.

It seems bolder colors including daring use of pattern is coming back in. Where do you find it most effective to use these?

Yes! Pattern and color are both great tools for making your home a physical manifestation of you...which should always be the point! I love using color and layering pattern with fabrics in a space...including upholstery, throw pillows, bedding, and drapery. When mixing multiple patterns in a space, make sure to employ a wide variety of scales: small, medium, large, and extra large. Also, have a color thread of continuity so that there's a visual link between all of your patterns. Having these two rules in place will then free you up to pick patterns that make your heart sing without worrying too much about whether or not their styles are too different. Good Luck!

Hi Vern! We have dogs and cats that shed 365 days a year lol. Do you have any fabric choice recommendation for sofa etc? Thank you.

We live with over 500 pounds of dog at home so I understand where you are coming from! My upholstered seating, where the dogs tend to hang out at least, is one of my fabrics called Brookwood Performance. It's Chenille-like in feel and is meant to hold up to kids, dogs, and guests who like to drink wine on them! You don't have to use my performance fabric of course. There are other performance fabric options for you to select from! Go to your closest Calico Corners to Brookwood Performance as well as an array of other performance fabrics to see if any of them appeal to you. I think it's always nice to see something in person if you can! Good Luck!

I'm struggling to find paint ideas for our low light, north-facing master bedroom. It's currently SW Alabaster and I'd like to do something a little different. The rest of our open layout house is SW Repose Gray so ideally I want to stay away from something similar. SW Eider White looks too close to Alabaster. And SW Silverpointe is a good lighter gray but looks very bluish when I sampled it on the wall. I'm open to other colors but can't do blue as the rest of the decor is red/blush/gray and I also already have navy walls in other parts of the house. Help!

Picking the right paint color can really be daunting! First, with a north facing room, you want to focus on a hue with a warmer undertone to it. It's important to know that all colors come in versions with cool undertones and warm undertones. There are many blues, for example, that have warm undertones just as there are many reds that have cool undertones. The north light means you'll want to narrow down to hues with warm undertones to counter the cooler color of light coming into that space. Repose Gray has a nice warm undertone to it (as you know because you have it!) so look at it's darker and more saturated siblings that can be found farther down on the same color card. If you want a complete departure and want to go a little bolder, purple hues have really been on the rise. Look to a warm purple, or neutral with a warm purple tint to it, that will compliment gray, navy, and red. Good Luck!

I'm planning a master bathroom remodel and love standing tubs. Is it ok to have only a bathtub in a master bath no shower?? Or should I do a combo. I don't have room to put a separate shower. Thanks!!!

Hmmm. I think you need to first determine what your long term plan is for the place you are living in. If you're keen to make decisions for the best possible resale, I would say that it's important to have a shower so I would suggest going with a combo tub/ shower. If you really want to do this for you, and don't have to worry about reselling it anytime soon, I think it's fine to embrace what makes you personally happy by going with just the tub. Good Luck!

Hi Vern, where do you stand on white vs. stained shoe molding? My contractor and I disagree.

First of all, this is your home so you should do what makes you happy regardless of what your contractor or I have to say about the matter. Having said that, I like stained shoe mold that matches the floor when you have substantial baseboards. The stain tends to be a little more durable and hides scuff marks a little better. If you have short baseboard, having your shoe mold painted white helps to make it look taller so take that into consideration too. Painted shoe mold generally is also less expensive. Hope that helps! Good Luck!

Any advice on making large fish tank(s) stylish and fit in one's home decor?

I find looking at fish so calming! As someone who's had both freshwater and saltwater tanks, I know the challenges with making them work with your decor! The point is to let the fish be the primary focus, so keeping that in mind will help greatly. I  prefer a neutral gravel to colored gravel, for example, and like real plants rather than plastic ones. The more natural looking the better, in my opinion. Also, keeping your tank and tank support simple is a plus. Something with closed storage below, versus something open and exposed,  helps keep unsightly equipment and other necessities hidden.  Hope that helps! Good Luck!

Have a 1330 sq ft, 2 BR, 2B, condo I will soon move to (from a 2000+ sq ft house). Have kitchen under control (and renovated) . LR/DR has 18' of floor to ceiling N facing glass windows (with a sliding glass door). Is sort of L shaped with dining room in L near kitchen How can I decorate/build in/ or do whatever to make the condo feel more like a house-home?

I love your big expanse of glass! It sounds beautiful! Making a house feel like a home is tough for anyone...no matter if they live in a typical house, townhouse, or condo. One of your most powerful tools is texture. Both physical and visual texture can really add dimension that will make your place feel more home-like. The other thing is lighting. Too often, people employ lighting with a color temperature that's too cool. Look for warmer colored LED bulbs that are dimmable. Use lamps and hang pendant fixtures at a human scale. The fixture over your dining room table, for example , should be at 66" from finished floor to it's underside (as long as your dining room table is standard height which is about 30" tall) no matter how tall your ceilings are. Floor to ceiling drapery, for that 18' floor to ceiling window, will also greatly help as will appropriately sized rugs. A rug should reach within 12"-18" of the wall. Good Luck!

Good Morning Vern I need some advice on choosing a fabric for window coverings in my dining room. I have a french country design with painted dining room table and hutch. Should I match the colors with that or use a different pattern or no pattern? What method do you use? Thanks!

For French country, there are a couple of approaches that you could take. It really depends on what is going to make your heart sing! One idea is to incorporate a pattern, for your drapes, that has the color of your painted table and painted hutch in it. This would be a slightly bolder and more dynamic choice. The other route is to go with a neutral pattern or solid that will allow your table and hutch to take center stage. This will result in a quieter, more peaceful setting. Hope that helps! Good Luck!

Thank You to everyone for your phenomenal questions! I wish I had time to answer them all! If I didn't get to you, or if you have a follow up question, please come see me at the Capital Home Show on September 21 at 4:00 pm or September 22 at noon and 2:00 pm. This has been so much fun and I appreciate your enthusiasm and support! Have a Great Afternoon!

I'm afraid that's it for us. So many questions today! Thanks again to Vern Yip for sharing his expertise.

Next week Jura will be back, and she'll be joined by the one and only Marie Kondo! So be sure to come back with all your decluttering questions.

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius or follow her on Instagram @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering and organizing.

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