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Designer Vern Yip's Georgia Home

Designer Vern Yip travels the planet, but his favorite place is home, where memories of special places, times, and people surround him

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Friends warned Vern Yip that once he had children it would be “good-bye, beautiful home.” Not so, he says. “We haven’t done anything differently because we have kids,” says the Atlanta-based designer and father of two.

    Sure, there are a few rules. Some precious objects are off-limits, and there’s no ball kicking in the house. (“There’s a big backyard for that.”) Occasionally things get broken. (“They’re only things.”) But Vern and his husband, Craig Koch, prove that a kid- and pet-friendly house doesn’t have to mean barren tabletops and hose-down upholstery. The home they’ve created is filled with fine art, antiques, and artifacts collected from around the world.

    Vern and Craig bought the 1925 stucco house about seven years ago. They updated the mechanical systems, tore up carpeting, and refinished the oak floors. Next up was converting the front screen porch into a foyer and creating a gracious entry. The porch’s elegant arched openings were fitted with custom windows and French doors that flood the room with light.

    Red, a color associated with good fortune in China, dominates the palette, beginning with the foyer, where a chandelier drips red crystals. “Even though I’ve been in this country since I was two months old, when you grow up being exposed to something, it becomes a part of you,” Vern says. “You weave it through.”

    In the foyer, a modernist Baccarat crystal-and-wire chandelier and Asian artifacts set the tone for the house. The center table belonged to Vern Yip’s mother. 

    Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill
    Produced by Lisa Mowry

    Architectural and interior designer: Vern Yip,  

    Wall paint (“Amazing Gray” #SW 7044); ceiling and trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Chandelier (custom): Baccarat,
    Pedestal table: family heirloom.
    White circle ceramic column vase on tablegeometric concrete container: by Vern Yip.
    Scented candle in gold faceted glass dish (“Five Spice Faceted Glass Candle” #70676): Vern Yip for Boulevard Décor,
    Area rug: Designer Carpets,
    Red photograph: Harriet Leibowitz,
    Thai roof spires (purchased in Thailand); Chinese tall stands; bench: antique.
    Bench fabric (“Manhattan Texture”/Natural #03350); bench pillows (“Manhattan Texture”/Poppy #03350): Vern Yip for Trend,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Personal Touch

    “I was raised with lots of really beautiful things within my grasp and, believe me, I broke plenty,” Vern says. “But it was important to my mom that I understand what I could touch and what could be just visually appreciated. We decided to take that approach with our kids, and they’ve been great."

    A photo of Vern's mother sits on a console by the stairs. Table drapery fabric and trim are from Vern Yip for Trend. 

    Cabinet cover (“Rosemary Linen”/Linen #03351); trim (#03317 in Elephant): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Faus bois concrete container (“Tall Box Planter” #71452): by Vern Yip.
    Lamp: discontinued.
    Photograph on stair wall (after Horst P. Horst’s Jackie, from Muniz’ Diamond Divas Collection): Vik Muniz,
    Candlesticks: owner’s collection. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Collected Style

    “For me, growing up with beautiful things and seeing them every day was critical to me being who I am today and knowing what I know,” adds the designer, who recently wrote Vern Yip’s Design Wise, a book to help others beautify their homes.

    Even the couple’s five big dogs—including two Great Pyrenees—seem to understand the rules. “They know which rooms they can go into and what furniture they can climb on,” Vern says, though it’s not always easy. “We have 500 pounds of dog in our house.” Of course, it helps that Craig operates WAG-A-LOT dog-care facilities in Atlanta and is pretty adept at handling the big canines.

    Living room sofas from Donghia are covered in “Trellis” in Siamese Taupe from Jim Thompson. Walls are Sherwin-Williams’s “Worldly Gray.” An art photograph by Andrew Moore hangs behind a wooden Hindu Ganesh figure, which was purchased in India. The elegant fan-top French doors are original to the 1925 house.

    Wall paint (“Worldly Gray” #SW 7043); ceiling and trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Pendant lights (“Pearson,” discontinued): Restoration Hardware,
    Area rug (from Marrakech): antique.
    Sofas (“Noble” #04603-001); coffee tables (“Torrey,” discontinued): Donghia,
    Sofa fabric (“Trellis”/Siamese Taupe #3324/07): Jim Thompson Fabrics,
    Pillows on sofa (discontinued); trim (discontinued); side table (custom design): Vern Yip,
    Hurricane lamps (“Burton Hurricane” #145517, by Porta Forma): Frontgate,
    Camel on sofa side table (from Koh Samui, Thailand); large lacquer temple bowl (purchased in Myanmar); wooden Ganesh on pedestal (purchased in Varanasi, India): owner’s collection.
    Pedestal: custom.
    Figure on top of left bookcase (from Cortona, Italy); figure on top of right bookcase (from Thimpu, Bhutan): antique.
    Chinese horse by bookcase; concrete dog: antique.
    Table under Chinese horse (“Mahogany and Verdigris Brass Center Table,” Althorp Collection, discontinued): Theodore Alexander,
    Photograph by bookcase (Approaching Shadow, 1954): by Fan Ho,
    Photograph behind dog (Ukrainian Pavilion, 2003): by Andrew Moore,
    Wooden chair by Ganesh figure: owner’s collection. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Storied Furniture

    Vern was born in Hong Kong to Chinese parents. When he was an infant, the family moved to the United States, and he grew up in the Washington, D.C., area. The family traveled extensively, so he was exposed to many cultures, including his own Asian heritage.

    Today Vern travels around the globe as a UNICEF ambassador, as a columnist for The Washington Post, and to oversee the manufacture of his home furnishings products, including fabrics and accessories. Often the children join Craig and Vern on the global jaunts, enjoying the same kinds of adventures Vern experienced as a child.

    Personal stories fill the interiors he and Craig have created. In the living room are the well-worn leather chairs that Vern splurged on when he was a low-paid intern at an architectural firm. “I ate ramen noodles for three months straight after that because I had no money,” he says. “Even the fabric on the sofa has a story,” Vern says with a laugh, noting that he hauled 45 yards of Jim Thompson silk back from Bangkok, stuffing it in an airplane overhead bin.

    A deep red antique rug was found in Marrakech. Vern splurged on two used leather chairs modeled on Le Corbusier, which were being removed from a lobby his firm was renovating. 

    Chinese cabinet: antique.
    Pedestals: custom.
    Burmese angel figure (Mandalay period); Burmese figure with deer headdress (Mandalay period); teak spirit horse on Chinese cabinet; paintings: purchased in Thailand.
    Photographs on mantel: by Arno Rafael-Minkkinen,
    Pair of chairs (from office building lobby, modeled after Le Corbusier’s “Grand Confort” chairs): owner’s collection.
    Side table (“Clover Occasional Table”): Frontgate,
    Red bowl holding orchids (from China): antique.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Family Room

    Trips to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos have yielded treasures such as wooden roof spires and antique statuary that are displayed on pedestals throughout the house. Furnishing a home with objects that are reminders of journeys or loved ones makes it timeless, Vern says. “When you have a home that reflects you and your family, you create spaces that last a lifetime,” he says. “I really love being able to walk through a room and see objects that remind me of parts of my life. Surrounding yourself with things that have special memories makes your home yours.”

    In addition to a new entry, as the couple updated their home, they also added a two-story wing for a family room, library, bathroom, offices, and a dog room on the main level. Upstairs is the master suite.  

    A large photograph occupies one wall of the family room, where red leather sofas from RH offer ample seating.

    Wall paint (“Intellectual Gray” #SW 7045); ceiling and trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Chandelier (for similar, “Welles Clear Crystal Chandelier”); leather sofas (“Maxwell Leather Three-Seat Cushion Sofa”): Restoration Hardware,
    Silver-and-black pillows; red Ikat silk velvet pillows (from Lisbon, Portugal); wool throw (from Lisbon, Portugal); wool rug (from Jaipur, India); white horse on coffee table (antique): owner’s collection.
    Coffee tables (“Barcelona”): Design Within Reach,
    Lounge (“Barcelona”): Knoll,
    Black-and-white stools (“Cadiz”); polished chrome hurricanes (“Burton”): Frontgate,
    Black Chinese wedding cabinet:
    Stainless steel nesting tables
    (“Marker”): Donghia,
    Figure on wedding cabinet (Chinese, family heirloom): antique.
    Round sofa side tables: Erdos At Home,
    Floor lamp (for similar, “Modern Open Floor Lamp” #Sk1008, by Suzanne Kasler): Circa Lighting,
    Photograph beind sofa (by Richard Misrach): Fraenkel Gallery,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Cool Library

    Vern and Craig also collect contemporary art and photography, which mix comfortably with their Asian antiques and add a vitality and modern attitude to the spaces. 

    Wall paint (“Intellectual Gray” #SW 7045); ceiling and trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Chandelier (“Crystal Ball Pendant, Clear, ” hung in a row on LBL Lighting Monorail): LBL Lighting,
    Area rug (from Istanbul): antique.
    Bookcases (product line varies): Williams-Sonoma Home,
    Library table (“Simposio,” designed by Antonio Citterio for Maxalto): Architonic,
    Chairs (“Olly Tango”/Ebonized, by Philippe Starck, discontinued): Driade,
    Bronze figure (from Rome): antique.
    Table runner (#03358 in Charcoal): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Horse painting: by James McLaughlin Way,
    Winged figures on bookcases (Griffin statues, product line varies): Mecox,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Dining Room

    While rooms are filled with fine art and elegant furnishings, this is a family home, Vern insists. Draperies and dining chair seats are made with easy-care synthetic blends from Vern’s fabric collections. “I have to be practical. We have kids and dogs. We need things to be beautiful and low-maintenance,” he says. “I want a home that is warm and welcoming—a home that says who we are.”

    Spice-colored fabrics and trims for the draperies, chair upholstery, and table runner are from Vern Yip for Trend, a division of Fabricut. “I love fabric blends from the performance standpoint. They don’t wrinkle and are colorfast and durable,” he says. 

    Wall paint (“Porpoise” #SW 7047); ceiling and trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Hanging lights (“Top SI Coax, Clear”): LBL Lighting,
    Area rug: Designer Carpets, Dining table: antique.
    Host chairs (Hudson Parsons Collection): Restoration Hardware,
    Side chairs (“Sasha Upholstered Dining Side Chair”): Crate & Barrel,
    Host-chair fabric (#03370 in Charcoal); host-chair trim (#03315 in Poppy); pillows on host chairs (#03373 in Gray); pillow trim (#03315 in Poppy); side-chair fabric (“Rosemary Linen”/Brick #03351); side-chair trim (#03315 in Spice); table runner (#03366 in Spice); trim on table runner (#03324 in Orange Poppy); drapery (#03352 in Spice); drapery trim (#03324 in Orange Poppy): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Drapery hardware (“Custom Estate Silver Rods”); finials (“Custom Estate Newel Finials”): Restoration Hardware,
    Tall candlesticks flanking mantel: antique.
    Art over mantel (Chinese); Chinese cabinet left of mantel: antique.
    Cabinet to right of mantel (custom design): Vern Yip,
    Figure on cabinet (from Chiang Mai, Thailand): antique.  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Playful Space

    The play room, just as well appointed as every other room in the house, is a vision in blue. Miniature versions of Philippe Starck's classic ghost chair circle around a driftwood table.

    Wall paint (“Blue Horizon” #SW 6497); trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Chandelier (“Raimond Zafu”): Moooi,
    Area rug (cut and bound carpet by Couristan in wool-toned stripe): Myers Carpet,
    Round table (“Driftwood Cocktail Table” #25519): Uttermost,
    Ghost chairs (“Lou Lou Ghost”): Philippe Starck for Kartell,
    Chairs around cocktail table (“Lou Lou Ghost Child’s Chair” #KTL1238, by Philippe Starck for Kartell): All Modern,
    Bear rocker (“Polar Bear Rocker”): Kid Crave,
    Sofa (custom design): Vern Yip,
    Chair: owner’s collection.
    Sofa fabric (#03357 in Navy); trim (#03314 in Blue);  pair of pillows on sofa (#03366 in Blue); pillow second from left (#03374 in Blue); long lumbar pillow (#03356 in Navy); trim on lumbar pillow (#03320 in Navy); pillow on chair (#03186 in Cobalt); drapery (#03364 in Blue); drapery trim (#03324 in Cobalt): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Photograph behind sofa (Vik Muniz, after Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses): Vik Muniz,
    Floor lamp (“Paris”): by Vern Yip for Stonegate Designs,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Master Bedroom

    The bold master bedroom features a “Modern Metropolis Bed” from Ralph Lauren Home layered with duvets made with Jim Thompson’s “Kosa Pan” print and Vern Yip for Trend “Manhattan Texture” in charcoal. The red pillow sham is from Marrakech. 

    Wall paint (“Functional Gray” #SW 7024); ceiling and trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Chandelier (discontinued): Restoration Hardware,
    Area rug (from Jaipur, India): owner’s collection.
    Drapery: Silk Trading Co.,
    Drapery rods (“Custom Estate Extension Rods”/Silver); finials (“Custom Estate Crystal Square Finials”): Restoration Hardware,
    Bed (“Modern Metropolis Bed”); bed fabric (leather): Ralph Lauren Home,
    Pillow sham (red wedding pillow from Marrakech): antique.
    Duvet, print (“Kosa Pan”/Espresso #3379/01): Jim Thompson fabrics,
    Duvet, solid (“Manhattan Texture”/Granite #03350); tape trim on duvet (“Manhattan Texture”/Charcoal #03324): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Italian glass lamp (“Vaso,” discontinued); chairs (“Berlin Club Chair” #00501-001); chair fabric (“Nicholas,” discontinued); leather ottoman (“Hassock Hexagon” #OTF-09006-001-2012-5151); ottoman fabric (“Lucky Leather” #L0008): Donghia,
    Cashmere pillows (from Mongolia); geometric pillows on chairs (from Istanbul, Turkey): owner’s collection.
    Photograph above bed (Immortal #14 (Rie), 2010, by Vee Speers);  photograph above mantel (by Mona Kuhn); photograph to right of window (Ton’s Creation, 1999, by Mona Kuhn): Jackson Fine Art,
    Tables by window: Stanton Home Furnishings,
    Urns on tables (“English-made Horn of Plenty urns): Detroit Garden Works,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Master Bathroom

    Two Kohler “Purist Wading Pool” sinks with gooseneck spouts from Kallista are flanked by Asian Foo dog statues from Bali in the master bath. 

    Wall paint (“Anew Gray” #SW 7030): Sherwin-Williams,
    Wall tile (“Studio Italia Orte-P2”); flooring (Mocha Brown Limestone, honed): Ceramic Technics,
    Hanging light (“Victorian Hotel Pendant, Large”); wall sconces (“Nolan Single Sconce”): Restoration Hardware,
    Rug runner (wool, from Jaipur, India); antique temple lacquer bowl (from Myanmar); table under temple bowl; foo dogs (from Ubud, Bali); antique wood figure on towel cabinet (from Myanmar): owner’s collection.
    Bathtub (“Andrea”): MTI Baths,
    Tub faucet (“Purist Floor-Mount Bath Filler with Handshower” #K-T97328-4): Kohler,
    Vanity (“Hutton Extra-Wide Single Washstand”/Dark Espresso); mirror (“Modern Traditional Pivot Mirror”): Restoration Hardware,
    Vanity sink (“Purist Wading Pool Sink,” Three Hole, White): Kohler,
    Vanity faucet (“One Basin Faucet Set, Gooseneck Spout, Cross Handles” #P24490): Kallista,
    Chinese ceramic bud vases: Metropolitan Museum of Art,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Guest Room

    A blue “Paris Petal Pendant” by Vern Yip for Stonegate Designs hangs above the bed. Fabrics from the Vern Yip for Trend collection were used to make the colorful “Exotic Sky” duvet, bed and settee pillows, and the mustard-hue “Manhattan Texture” draperies. 

    Wall paint (“Dorset Gold” #HC-8): Benjamin Moore,
    Pendant light (“Paris Petal Pendant”): by Vern Yip for Stonegate Designs,
    Bed: antique.
    Concentric circles Eurosham fabric (#03353 in Umber); trim (#03315
     in Spice); blue pillow sham (“Manhattan Texture”/Capri #03350); flange trim on blue sham (“Manhattan Texture”/Mustard #03350); patterned trim on blue sham (#03321 in Gold); orange bolster pillow (“Rosemary Linen”/Spice #03351); trim on bolster pillow (#03317 in Orange); duvet fabric (“Exotic Sky” #03373); drapery (“Manhattan Texture”/Mustard #03350); drapery trim (#03321 in Mist): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Drapery rods (“Custom Estate Antique Nickel Rods”); finials (“Custom Estate Metal Ball Finials”): Restoration Hardware,
    Chinese bamboo altar table: antique.
    Lamps on altar table (discontinued): Circa Lighting,
    Blue-and-white wave glass vase on altar table (“Hand-Dipped Glass Vase” #71393); aqua-and-white wave glass vase on altar table (“Hand-Dipped Glass Vase” #71395): by Vern Yip.
    Armoire; area rug; sofa: owner’s collection.
    Art behind bed (from Hong Kong): antique prints.
    Pillow at left on sofa (“Rosemary Linen”/Linen #03351); center pillow (#03357 in Gold); pillow at right (“Manhattan Texture”/Capri #03350); pillow trim (#03320 in Orange): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Table in front of sofa (Chinese, family heirloom): antique.  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Daughter's Room

    In daughter Vera's room, bright orange provides a cheerful contrast to deep brown walls. Floral motifs appear on the bedspread, drapery hardware, and even the playful light fixture overhead.

    Wall paint (“Turkish Coffee” #SW 6076); Ceiling and trim paint (Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Blinds: Peachtree Blinds of Atlanta,
    Drapery (“Rosemary Linen”/Spice #03351); drapery trim (“Rosemary Linen”/Chocolate #03351): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Flower buttons on drapery: Mood Fabrics,
    Drapery hardware (“Custom Estate Silver Rods”); finials (“Estate Metal Newel Finials”): Restoration Hardware,
    Ceiling fixture (“Discocó”): Marset,
    Custom painted ceiling medallion: by Michael Boudreault, Artisan Rooms,
    Area rug (cut and bound carpet from Momeni in Heatherly): Myers Carpet,
    Bed (“Astin”): Restoration Hardware,
    Dresser (“Niche 6-Drawer Dresser”/Chocolate): West Elm,
    White angel lamp (from Cortona, Italy); wooden lamb on dresser (from Madrid, Spain): antique.
    Painted glass light boxes above bed: vintage.
    Duvet: owner’s collection.
    Orange-and-tan striped shams (#03356 in Spice); cherry-blossom sham fabric (#03355 in Spice); trim (#03315 in Tobacco); orange bolster pillow (“Rosemary Linen”/Spice #03351); trim (#03317 in Orange): Vern Yip for Trend,
    (custom design): by Vern Yip,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Son's Room

    Cool gray stripes on the wall set the tone in Gavin's bedroom. Red pillow shams with a dog pattern are a fun touch of color.

    Wall paint, darker shade (“Adaptive Shade” #SW 7053); wall paint, lighter shade (“Analytical Gray” #SW 7051): Sherwin-Williams,
    Drapery (from Thailand): Jim Thompson Fabrics,
    Blinds: Peachtree Blinds of Atlanta,
    Bed (“Archer,” discontinued): Crate & Barrel,
    Chevron Euro shams (#03358 in Poppy); trim (#03315 in Tobacco); dog sham (#03342 in Red); trim (#03315 in Tobacco): Vern Yip for Trend,
    Duvet: owner’s collection.
    Side table (discontinued); lamp (discontinued): Restoration Hardware,
    Horse on side table (“Zuny Horse Bookend”/Brown): Baby Braithwaite,
    Art behind bed (Nakazora #613, by Masao Yamamoto): Jackson Fine Art,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Outdoor Pavilion

    Craig Koch, left, and Vern sit in the pavilion with their children, Gavin, 6, and Vera, 5. All the furniture as well as the rug and draperies are from Frontgate; Vern designed the ceramic dogs. 

    Sofa, chair, and ottoman (“Palermo”/Bronze); ottoman, double chaises (“Palermo”); coffee table (“Metropolitan”/Panther by Porta Forma); black-and-white stool/side table (“Cadiz”); throw pillow (“Safari Graphic Outdoor,” discontinued); throw pillow (“Trellis Jade Outdoor,” discontinued, for similar, “Dynasty Monogram Jade Outdoor Pillow” #149912); throw pillow (“Zebra Outdoor,” discontinued, for similar, “Embroidered Zebra Pillow” #114804); rug (“Labyrinth Outdoor Rug” #149637, colorway discontinued); drapery (“Outdoor Drapery Panel”/Sand): Frontgate,
    Light fixture (“Wine Barrel Chandelier”): Restoration Hardware,
    Candlesticks (concrete); foo dogs (white ceramic): by Vern Yip.    

  • John Bessler