Podcast, Ep. 35 with Vern Yip

Designer, architect, and television star Vern Yip stops by the podcast to talk decorating, parenting, and much more

Our guest today on the How to Decorate podcast needs no introduction. If you’ve watched a decorating TV show in the last two decades, you most likely know Vern Yip — from TLC’s Trading Spaces, HGTV’s Design Star, and Bang for Your Buck. We love his book Design Wise: Your Smart Guide to a Beautiful Home, so we were thrilled to sit down with him and talk shop.

What You’ll Hear on This Show:

  • Vern tells us his background, how he ended up living in Atlanta, and his path to becoming a designer
  • He tells us about his first design project for Disney
  • We talk about how incredible Vern’s book Design Wise is, especially as an instructional tool
  • Why designing is actually a lot simpler than you’d think and why Vern’s book is so helpful in making it easy
  • We talk about value in furniture and why a deal isn’t always the best choice and why a splurge isn’t always smart either
  • Why space planning is the first crucial step before shopping
  • Why embracing your personal style can save you money
  • Vern shares his favorite exercise for uncovering someone’s personal style
  • He tells us about designing his childhood bedroom and how he sees his own style in his son
  • We talk about mixing styles together and how to create a ‘thread of continuity’
  • Why you shouldn’t be in a hurry to fill your space
  • Why it’s important to collect pieces while you’re traveling
  • The most dramatic travel souvenir he brought home
  • Taryn tells us about her most recent travel treasure
  • Vern tells us about why he’s always redecorating — it’s not the reason you think!
  • We talk about how Vern’s house has changed becoming a dad
  • We talk about the incredible antique education Vern got from his mom
  • We talk about how his kids are already developing their own unique sense of style
  • Vern tells us about his favorite place to visit
  • Why it’s worth it to spend the time making your home a reflection of you

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hi Ballard Team!

I am a new listener to your podcast. I recently renovated a home and I noticed that we have fan lighting combinations in the every bedroom and in the kitchen and living room errors. Is this stuck in the 90s? What is the design advice on fans? Should I replace them with ceiling lighting? My husband thinks we will use them but honestly we have central air conditioning! Help.

Thank you,
Apryl Clark

Vern is in favor of removing the fan, especially since you say you aren’t really using them. Those spaces are great opportunities to make a beautiful statement with lighting. Pick something special and set it up on dimmer.

I am very pro-fan because I like the way they feel. My general rules are to keep them simple, neutral, and blend into the spaces. Skip the light kit and use can lighting instead, and definitely skip the fan in rooms like dining room and kitchens where you’re eating.

Karen suggests living in your home for a while and deciding whether you actually need or will use them, then remove them from rooms you aren’t using.

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, pleasesubscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. Of course, you can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Chris Acree

    October 19, 2017

    This Podcast was both fun and informational. I loved getting to know Vern and all of you!
    Great takeaways! I cant wait to get Vern’s book Design Wise for myself and friends.

  2. Reply


    October 14, 2017

    Great interview w/ Vern Yip! Interesting to hear his back story learn more about him. Thanks for the inspiration

  3. Reply


    October 13, 2017

    Oops never mind, I found the link for decorating dilemmas after I posted. Thanks.

  4. Reply


    October 13, 2017

    Hi There,

    This podcast was wonderful and Vern is amazing, what a neat and accomplished guy! And I just love his decorating philosophy and drive to personalize spaces.

    About the podcast generally, I have been listening to the podcast, and just went back to the early ones and listened to the one about styling a bed and making beds. I also learned on the earlier podcasts that Caroline runs the blog and answers questions. Not sure if this is true, but if so, I just want to tell you how much I enjoy the podcast and listening to the three of you. I actually crack up out loud, which I’m sure you’ve heard plenty! You seem like such a sweetheart, Caroline, and Karen Mooney is a hoot! Taryn’s stories are hilarious too. I’m so envious of her passion for travel, it sounds so fun, though I am a homebody at heart. I know those earlier podcasts were a while ago, but out of them, I have several questions/requests:
    1. I would like to hear more about bed making. On that podcast, the stylist said “no one sees your sheets,” but I have always made my bed with a flat fitted sheet and a top sheet that I roll back over my down comforter or quilt, so you do see it. So…do none of you use top sheets, or fold them back to be revealed? If so, do you fold back your quilt or duvet or just leave it up with your pillows on it? I cannot leave home without making my bed, and to take care of the wrinkled sheet issue (that you do see on my bed), I fold the top sheet and quilt back, then tuck the entire quilt along with the sheet between the 2 mattresses. It does give it a polished look, but I’m so curious about the sheet issue…I read recently that Emily Henderson doesn’t even put on a top sheet and I was just amazed, I admit!
    2. Like others (I now realize from the podcast and other blogs), I am fascinated by paint color and “getting it right.” I always want to know a paint color even though I know full well my room won’t turn out like the magazine picture for the reasons you ladies mention. If possible, please do a podcast about paint color and how to choose a paint color, what colors you think work time and again, your favorites, etc. Cannot get enough of this topic!

    3. Thanks so much for making my day happier with your podcast, I hope to send a specific decorating dilemma soon (I have plenty!). Where do we send those by the way?

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      November 22, 2017

      Thank you so much for listening and leaving a comment. I’m with you on using top sheets. I can’t imagine not using a top sheet because I love that crisp feel of a percale sheet and wouldn’t want to have just a quilt or duvet as my blanket. Like you, I fold the top sheet and quilt or coverlet back and tuck it on the sides when I make my bed every morning, but I think it’s really just a personal preference. Like Beth said, she lays one giant linen sheet over the whole bed after she’s done making it.

      In terms of paint colors, hopefully our episode with Maria Killam answered some of your questions. Paint colors are so, so tricky, and sadly I think it’s mostly just an issue of trial and error. Taryn and Karen are a little more of the ‘wing it’ type where as I tested a million giant swatches in my house before painting. I think in one of our episodes I mentioned how before moving into our house, I painted large pieces of dry wall from the home improvement store and also one foot sections of moulding with probably 4 wall colors and 4 trim colors, then took all of them over to my house before we closed. That way I could move the swatches from room to room to see how they’d look and see different moulding colors next to different paint colors. It was a bit tedious but it helped me feel confident before having our entire house painted right after closing.

      I think the biggest issue with paint color is not knowing what you want. I honestly have never had that issue because I typically get some very specific color in mind of what I want, then test like crazy until I’ve found just what I’ve imagined. If you don’t know what you want, then that’s a whole other ballgame! Now with that said, Karen, Taryn, and I all really enjoyed Maria Killam’s workshop, and while I haven’t read any of her e-books, I bet they’d be as helpful as her workshop with helping instruct on how to know what you want.