Podcast, Ep. 121: designer Vern Yip returns!

Cover of Vern Yip's Vacation at Home book


Designer Vern Yip returns to the show to tell us about his new book, Vacation at Home and gives us insight into 18 special steps to create your everyday getaway inside your home. He talks about why we feel so relaxed on vacation and in luxury environments, and how we can start to foster that in our homes with a foundation that helps us live the way we want, and takes things off our “to do” list permanently. Vern also shares how he keeps his personal home so beautiful with kids and over 500 lbs of dogs, why fewer but bigger may be better, and a few suggestions for picking out a color scheme that will work best for your home.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Vern Yip is back to talk about his new book Vacation at Home, but first, we must give a special nod to his book Design Wise that won the podcast’s award for “Best Design Book”.
  • A special quick mindfulness practice to gain clarity on how to visualize a space that gives you that feeling of rest and regeneration.
  • Some great ideas on decluttering, storing mail, and deciding what things should stay or go.
  • A few of Vern’s 18 primary rules to creating a home that feels as though you are on vacation.
  • Why we breakdown things in terms of things we love, things we need, and where exactly that thing will go.
  • The beauty of refreshing your environment and rotating things out, even including bedroom art.
  • What Vern means when he says “designing for a focal point” to create a view and give the eyes a rest.
  • Yes, it’s possible to take things permanently off your to-do list. Vern explains how organic components and great planning can assist in this mission.
  • Symmetry is your friend, and Vern shares some things you can do to implement a sense of organization and balance.
  • Why we will never go longer than a week before washing our hand towels!!
  • How Vern set a few easy rules and guidelines for his children to follow to keep the home neat and free of toys scattered about.


Decorating Dilemma

Hello!  I am attaching two photos of the open floorpan in my Black Hills mountain home that we have just purchased.  My plan so far, is to paint the fireplace wall in Benjamin Moore century obsidian and the surrounding walls white (I haven’t chosen the shade yet).

My dilemma is, I have a custom made conversation sofa with white/cream tweed cushions and light greige buffalo leather arms and side.  My husband has a classic brown leather recliner that is oversized.  We would like to incorporate both items into the living space, but I am not gifted with arranging furniture. 

I would also appreciate any other design ideas that you have to make this feel like a cohesive space. 


First off, wow. What a beautiful home with an amazing view. We suggest working with spacing first. You can use our Room Planning Tool to put in the dimensions of your room (and even your furniture!) and figure all of it out before you start purchasing things. After that, Vern agrees that the walls should be a lighter color than the ceiling. To create a feeling of expansion and openness.


Hi Taryn, Karen and Caroline,

I discovered your podcast about three weeks ago and have been binge-listening ever since. I’ve picked up so many tips and discovered many Instagram accounts to follow!

Your Decorating Dilemmas are one of my favorite parts, so I thought I’d send mine in. My husband and I (and our two kids) bought our 1984 house about eight years ago and have slowly been updating. It’s in a great location but is a little bit funky, an asymmetrical soft contemporary style. We live in an area with hills, so the house has some interior steps. We just replaced most of the old windows and glass doors, which required some trim to be redone. Now that things are a bit torn up, we want to give our kitchen a facelift. And as long as the painters have to come out, we may as well have some other things painted… It always snowballs, right? The kitchen will get dark wood floors to match the rest of the house, new quartzite counters/backsplash, cabinets painted taupe, and walls painted white.  

I would love to paint our dining room, I think a dark green color. I go back and forth between white or a dark color. The blue is pretty but no longer goes with the rest of the house. The room has windows facing the south and isn’t super bright, so I thought we could “embrace the darkness.” As you can see from the pictures, the entry, living room, dining room, and kitchen are all visible from each other. I like the look of walls and trim all the same color; can I get away with that in the dining room, or is it too visually connected to the other spaces? We have a cutout from the entry to the dining room, so I guess that trim would need to stay white like the entry. Would that look weird from the dining room? And what kind of curtains do you think should I do in there? (I learned the difference between curtains and drapery from your podcast!) I had unlined white linen panels but took them down when we redid the windows.

Thank you for any thoughts or ideas!


Vern thinks this is a great room in terms of windows. We do think, however, that the cut out is making it less symmetrical, so just something to consider. Vern mentions that you can possibly edit your furniture and take off some of the open shelving. Second, when you decide to put window treatments, take the curtain rod all the way up and have your treatments go under the crown to the floor. This will increase the perception of volume in the room.  Don’t be afraid of a contrast color, and when it comes time to choose your wall color, Vern suggests having a couple ideas up on the wall, and take down the ones you don’t like until you are left with two or three. Then, you can get sample pots and see how they perform before you make a single choice.

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. 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.