Vern Yip: 10 Facts About The Trading Spaces And HGTV Star

You may know him best as one of the charismatic judges of HGTV's "Design Star" television series or from the iconic "Trading Spaces," but what you may not know about Vern Yip could likely fill volumes. A self-proclaimed overachiever, Yip holds dual master's degrees, one in architecture and one in management, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Virginia. Highly educated, multi-talented, and a seasoned world traveler, Yip has carved out quite a successful niche for himself in the world of functional and aesthetic design. 

In addition to the work he's done with HGTV, Yip operates his own design business in Atlanta, where he resides with his family and a lovable menagerie of dogs. Fans can see samples of the transformative spaces he has created by following his Instagram and Facebook feeds. 

If fans are quick enough, they can keep abreast of where in the world Yip has most recently touched down, whether it's a scenic shoreline in Spain or drifting in a boat off the coastline of South Africa. It seems nearly every day is a new adventure for Yip, a celebrity designer, entrepreneur, and surprisingly cool dad. 

Vern Yip is the definition of a family man

Vern Yip's immediate family includes his husband Craig Koch, and their children Gavin and Vera. Home base for the foursome is Atlanta, GA, where they celebrate many of the special moments of life, like low-key Father's Day celebrations and lazy summer days spent lounging around the family pool. However, having an impeccably decorated home in A-Town doesn't prevent the family from tripping around the globe together to exotic locales. And Yip's social media accounts are packed with photos from family outings to places such as Hong Kong, Thailand, and Spain.

Yip is consistently grateful for his family. As he told People, "[My family is] the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning. It's the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night, and it's just incredible to experience life with these three other human beings."

But Yip's dedication to family includes more than just those who currently live in his household. He also posts frequent Instagram tributes to his late mother, Vera, and a photograph of her is displayed prominently next to the staircase in his home. Every year on her birthday, April 8, Yip adds a new variety of peonies to his Atlanta garden in honor of his mother and her favorite flower. 

He's a fur dad to seven rescue dogs

We've already mentioned the other important members of Vern Yip's family: His beloved fur babies, of which there have been many over the years. Currently, the Koch-Yips have seven pups that include Roo, Wallace, Oslo, Juno, Lars, Gus, and Phil. With a seeming penchant for Great Pyrenees, the Koch-Yips adopted all seven dogs from rescue shelters and are enthusiastic advocates of rescue organizations such as Great Pyrenees Rescue of Atlanta, and Lifeline Animal Project.

It seems the love of animals — dogs in particular — is a shared trait between Yip and his husband Craig Koch. Koch is the founder and owner of Wag-a-Lot Atlanta,  a luxury doggy daycare that offers pet boarding, grooming, and more, and bills itself as Atlanta's ultimate dog destination. The Koch-Yips board their canine friends here when they travel and it's also where Koch takes the dogs when he's going to be out of the house all day. As he shared with The Atlantan, "I've got a busy day on tap and having them play with their buddies is a whole lot better than being stuck at home all day." 

Vern Yip was an architect before rocketing to fame on HGTV's Trading Spaces

Before Vern Yip was introduced to the world in 2001 through the television show, "Trading Spaces," he was a star in his own right back home in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked as a successful architect. His big break came just a year before casting began for "Trading Spaces," when Veranda Magazine awarded him Southeast Designer of the Year.  The award put him on the shortlist for the show, and after his interview, it was clear he was a shoo-in.

Yip wasn't as convinced about the gig as producers were, however, fearing television might damage his career as a designer. Eventually, he decided to sign on because he felt the project put him in a position to help people, and he was eager to show viewers that high design wasn't reserved for just the upper class. 

The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Yip is a celebrated, world-class designer famous for his elegant, yet functional, ideas.

Vern Yip is still designing beautiful things

While he stepped away from HGTV in 2019, Vern Yip has, in no way, retired. Today, he's still creating beautiful things, including fabric, wallcoverings, trim, shower curtains, and home decor. His products are sold through a variety of popular retailers, such as Target and Amazon, where fans can find his signature designs at highly affordable prices. 

In addition to partnering with companies such as Trend and SKL Home to create joyful home accessories, Yip still appears on Home and Garden shows. And he's still designing homes, like his beach house in Rosemary Beach, Florida, which is a Dutch-Colonial-inspired home he built from the ground up in 2013. The home features antiques and collectibles that Yip had collected for years prior to the build, yet it's inherently livable, which is a staple of Yip's design style. The Koch-Yips enjoy spending time in the home HGTV calls the "ultimate family retreat." And fans can even take a tour of the showpiece on HGTV's website.

Vern Yip is a New York Times best-selling author

In typical overachiever style, in addition to designing homes, Vern Yip is a New York Times Bestselling author of two books on design: "Vern Yip's Design Wise" and "Vern Yip's Vacation at Home." Yip is also hard at work on his third book, which is slated for a spring 2024 release. 

As a former columnist for The Washington Post, Yip shared his thoughts on artificial Christmas trees, jewel-toned decor, and the importance of bringing meaningful art into the spaces you love the most. It seems like writing comes as naturally to the celebrated designer as choosing wall colors or deciding when accessorizing crosses the line into clutter. 

Yip's writing is also infused with knowledge from his own world travels. It's both informative and transformative, taking readers on dreamy excursions to scenic locales like Brazil and Vietnam and teaching them how to bring their unique styles back home using color, juxtaposition, and the curation of meaningful collections. 

The star's home in Atlanta is a beautifully renovated masterpiece

Vern Yip's success as a designer, architect, and television host has been made possible through his passion. And while he stays busy preaching the necessity of creating beautiful, inspiring spaces at home, he most definitely lives by his own advice. In addition to his house in Rosemary Beach, Florida, Yip owns an imposing 1925 stucco affair in Atlanta that he calls "reverse shotgun" style, meaning the property is not as deep as it is long. This turns out to be a good feature because it floods the home with natural light. 

The Koch-Yips' home base in Atlanta is tastefully populated with what Yip describes as "a reflection of our journey," meaning it's filled (but not too much) with mementos and reminders from the family's past and travels. And as he told Atlanta Magazine, "When I walk through this door, I walk into my life's story." 

This, essentially, is what the celebrity judge wishes for everyone who has watched his shows or read his books: That he can help others achieve the same sort of inner peace and balance he has created in his own life. As he once wrote in The Washington Post, "Our homes need to be refuges that rejuvenate, relax and revitalize us." And as Yip's beautifully symmetrical home in the Brookwood Hills area of Atlanta, Georgia, can attest, he has far exceeded his goal. 

Vern Yip is the antithesis of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas

There are people who enjoy the Christmas season, and then there's Vern Yip, whose holiday decor elevates the occasion to spectacular levels. Fans can see examples of Yip's work on his Instagram feed, where Yip introduces followers to two gold-plated reindeer named Buck and Evan and posts the Koch-Yip family Christmas tree. But if you assume Yip's Christmas decor stops at one tree, you'd be mistaken. Instead, his home in Atlanta is decked out for the holidays as festively as anything Clark Griswold could ever imagine, but with better symmetry and more white space than the home in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

As for Yip's kids, Gavin and Vera, Christmas seems like a magical time that includes tons of wintry events, globetrotting travel, and presents (let's not forget the presents). Even the family's furry friends seem to enjoy the holiday hullabaloo, as they lounge happily in photo after photo, draped comfortably across couches and relaxing on a thoughtfully placed rugs that make holidays at the Koch-Yips' seem oh-so-inviting. 

The designer is a proud UNICEF ambassador

The United Nations Children's Fund has been advocating for the world's children since its creation in 1946. Since that time, the charity has worked tirelessly to bring immunizations, clean water, and other resources to children and families in 190 areas around the globe. Vern Yip became a UNICEF ambassador in 2010 and has never looked back. 

When asked why he chose to focus his time and energy on UNICEF, he spoke movingly about his family's emigration from China to America when Yip and his sister were still very young. "My parents fled China during the Cultural Revolution and landed in Hong Kong briefly before committing to moving to the U.S.," he told NBC News. "They made that decision in order to afford me and my sister the best possible life." Yip shared that he sees children every day who aren't afforded the same opportunities he was and who lack even the most basic of needs. Ultimately, he chose UNICEF because the charity is aggressive in its fight to advocate for all children, regardless of where they are in the world. 

Yip's volunteer work has included designing the annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball for several years in a row. The Snowflake Ball, UNICEF's largest annual event, has raised more than $38 million for charity over its lifetime. Though the ball was replaced by a virtual event in 2020, Yip says he has no plans of giving up his ambassadorship anytime soon. 

He takes at least some of his design inspiration from nature

In fall 2022, Vern Yip posted a photo to his Facebook feed that revealed a portion of his design inspiration. The post featured the profile of a dainty, colorful bird that had apparently collided with his glass door. Though the bird was christened "Hulk" and then promptly released back into the wild, after rescuing the feathered friend, Yip expounded on its colors and shape, musing about how both might someday find their way into a future collection. In fact, if you study many of Yip's designs, it's easy to see how they mimic elements in nature. 

Travel is another source of inspiration for the accomplished designer, who wrote on Instagram, "The gift of travel is truly the mind-and-eye-opening experiences!" Fans might wonder whether it's the work he does as a designer that allows Yip to take frequent trips to faraway lands, or if the travel itself sets the stage for his beautiful designs. All we can say is that we're inspired now too!