For Vern Yip, ‘everything is in the details’ in design

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Good design is in the details, and celebrity interior designer Vern Yip is all about the details.

Known for his precise, almost meticulous approach, Yip said he’s often asked the same questions by people when it comes to decorating their own homes. In fact, the No. 1 question he gets from the public: How high should I hang my pictures?

Vern Yip, known for his meticulous approach to design, will speak May 5 at the Michigan International Women’s Show.

“People universally say eye level, but then you have follow that up and say ‘Whose eye level?’ ” said Yip, chatting by phone from his home in Georgia. “Even if you live by yourself, the chances that you’ll have visitors at same point, you’ll have friends over, or relatives, are pretty good. In the design world, we like to say 60 inches from finished floor to the center of the picture, center of the mirror, or grouping of pictures unless it’s over a headboard or mantel.”

And why 60 inches?

“That’s average human eye level,” Yip said.

Yip will dole out more of those user-friendly tips next week when he speaks at Michigan International Women’s Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace. The Detroit News is a sponsor.

Scheduled to take the show’s Fashion Stage at 1 p.m. May 5, he will offer design advice and go behind the scenes of TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” which returned to TV earlier this month with most of the original cast, including Yip as one of the designers.

Yip said it’s been incredible to be back on the show. And while the rules and foundation of “Trading Spaces” have stayed the same — friends or neighbors switch houses and have to transform one room in each other’s house over a 48-hour period on a budget — other elements have changed, he said.

“People have become much more design-savvy then when we first did the show,” Yip said. “When we did the show initially there was no such thing as Pinterest. You didn’t have everyday people speaking design language.”

In fact, Yip said he thinks shows like “Trading Spaces” really “brought design to the masses.”

“It made it accessible and it made it fun, because it said you don’t have to live up to someone else’s rules. You should tailor your home to yours,” he said.

But there’s no question a lot has changed since the show first started in 2000. The Internet was just kind of kicking off, and Yip remembered printing out maps to get from Point A to Point B.

“It was a different world,” he said.

And there were no online furniture retailers like Wayfair or, all of which can deliver on a day’s notice, if not the same day. The unlimited ways available to furnish your home is both good and bad from a design perspective, Yip said.

“On the one hand, you have a lot of additional options. But on the other hand, as a homeowner, how are you supposed to negotiate all those options, especially if you’re not a designer?”

The new “Trading Spaces” comes as Yip continues to expand his brand in new ways, all while juggling two kids, 8 and 7. Yip has a new fabric and trim line, scheduled to hit the market this fall, along with a wallcovering line and even a home fragrance line. He’s also working on another book that will be published in 2019.

Tentatively called “Every Day Vacation,” Yip said the idea behind the book is that every person should immediately feel re-energized or revitalized the minute he or she opens the front door. But many people don’t, and the book is a resource guide to help achieve that feeling.

“I feel like there are really concrete things I can impart that will help you get there,” Yip said. “I feel like there are a lot of people who can make big broad statements, but the follow-up question should be ‘How? How do I get there?’ And that’s what I want to do is give that advice in a really concrete, solid way, a path from A to B, so people can achieve that feeling in their home. Instead of sitting at your desk, pining to be somewhere else, be excited to be coming through your front door.”

Yip said his goal is to help people design in the smartest way possible and get out of their “design paralysis.”

It’s “really investing the time and resources to put that foundation in place that reflects you, functionally and aesthetically.”

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Vern Yip at the Women’s Show

Celebrity interior designer Vern Yip will offer design tips and go behind the scenes of “Trading Spaces” when he speaks at 1 p.m. May 5 at the Michigan International Women’s Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The Detroit News is a sponsor. Tickets are $12 at the door or $9 online if purchased in advance. Visit