Your favorite 'Trading Spaces' designer is back in TLC's reboot – and he's coming to Raleigh

Designer Vern Yip will be on the "Trading Spaces" reboot, which starts April 7 on TLC, and he'll be a guest at the Southern Women's Show in Raleigh April 13-15.
Designer Vern Yip will be on the "Trading Spaces" reboot, which starts April 7 on TLC, and he'll be a guest at the Southern Women's Show in Raleigh April 13-15. TLC / DISCOVERY

We could see a lot more of "Trading Spaces" favorite Vern Yip over the next few weeks.

Yip, one of the most popular designers from the original run of the TLC show, is not only featured in the reboot of the series (which debuts at 8 p.m. April 7 on TLC), but he'll also be a featured guest at the Southern Women's Show in Raleigh on April 13-14.

"Trading Spaces" fans will remember Yip as the designer who delivered the best rooms — the ones that homeowners participating in the show prayed they'd end up with. They knew Yip would pay attention to their wishes, adorn their well-constructed rooms with gorgeous linens and candles, and at the very least, not glue straw to the walls or attach their furniture to the ceiling (cough cough, Hildi, cough).

Yip says the return of "Trading Spaces," which ran from 2000 to 2008, is exciting because it now takes place in a time of more advanced technology.

"When 'Trading Spaces' was last on, there was no such thing as Pinterest, no such thing as ordering something online and getting it a day or two later," Yip said in a recent phone interview. "You couldn’t buy things online. It’s very, very different now."

The designer, who also appeared on HGTV's "Design Time" and is the author of "Design Wise," says viewers are more savvy about design these days — something "Trading Spaces" can take a little credit for.

"People are much more educated about design than they were during the initial run of 'Trading Spaces' because of Pinterest and because of all the information that’s online — and because 'Trading Spaces' really kind of sparked the whole movement where people all of a sudden felt like it was really OK to have something in their home that reflected them.

"Eclectic design really became a term, and having your space tailored to you really became something people began to understand and embrace."

There's risk involved

Yip is too modest to comment outright on the fact that his thoughtful designs made him a fan-favorite, but he will acknowledge the risk homeowners took and that some other designers were, well, feared.

"There's a risky element to it, sure," Yip said. "I think people were scared to get Hildi (Santo-Tomas), they were scared to get Doug (Wilson). I just feel like when they cast the show they deliberately cast it to have lots of different points of view represented."

(The infamous, creative-minded Hildi, dreaded by homeowners but catnip for viewers, is a Raleigh native and graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. She's also back for the "Trading Spaces" reboot.)

Hildi Santo-Tomas, a designer on the show "Trading Spaces" on TLC, is a native of Raleigh and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. File photo

If a homeowner got something they didn't like — like the aforementioned hay on the walls or circus themed furniture — it was and still is on them to fix it.

"Whatever room you get on the show, that's the room you get," Yip said. "The flip-side of that is that there are shows out there where you see the big reveal and when the big reveal is over, all the furniture leaves and the accessories leave. You don’t get to really keep what’s in the room, whereas our show is, you get what you get. What you see is what you keep, and that works both ways."

Yip doesn't treat lightly the responsibility of having someone's home in his hands — and that is at the heart of why viewers love him.

"For many people it’s the biggest investment they’ll make in their lifetime," Yip said. "I take that very seriously. I look at it from that perspective. I look at it through the lens of what it means to me to have a home, what it means to me to have my home treated respectfully, what it means for me to have my home taken care of. I’m fastidious about how I take care of my home, so I’m certainly going to be fastidious taking care of somebody else’s."

You can meet Yip in Raleigh

Yip will give a presentation at the Southern Women's Show on Saturday, April 14, followed by a Q&A and meet-and-greet, where he'll sign copies of his book and take photos.

He said he always gives "universal design tips" that work for people no matter the size or type of home — rules he said can "help everybody get out of design paralysis and transform their homes into what I always think should be the most special places for them."

And what's the No. 1 question Yip is asked at these types of events? How high to hang pictures.

"People think the answer is 'eye level' but everybody’s eye level is different," he said. "We say that measurement is 60 inches from finished floor to the center of the picture, center of the mirror, center of the grouping of pictures — unless it’s over a headboard or fireplace mantle."

Similarly, a light fixture over a dining room table should be 66 inches from finished floor to the underside of the fixture, he said.

"Sixty-six inches is low enough to illuminate the surface, but high enough that people can still see each other across the table."

These tips — and others like them found in his book — help guide people toward creating homes that they love, Yip said.

"And it frees them up to focus on the things most people want to focus on, like color and style."

Yip's tips for creating a gallery wall

Gallery walls look great but can be frustrating to put together. If you follow Yip's advice, it'll go much smoother.

1. Do the layout on the floor.

"It's always easier to lay it out on the floor first. Measure the amount of wall space that you have to work with and lay it out on the floor."

2. Observe the two-inch rule.

"You should never have two adjacent pictures closer than two inches. So you want to maintain a minimum of two-inch spacing between adjacent images."

3. Measure from the center

"You want to hang that grouping 60 inches from finished floor to the center of that grouping."

Southern Women's Show

When: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday (April 13), 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday (April 14), 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday (April 15)

Where: N.C. State Fairgrounds Exposition Center, 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh

Cost: Adults $12 at the door ($10 in advance online); $6 for ages 6-12; free for children under the age of 6

Info: southernshows.com/wra

  • Vern Yip will appear on the Fashion & Entertainment Stage at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. A private meet-and-greet with Yip is $45.
  • Savannah Chrisley of the USA TV show "Chrisley Knows Best" will appear on the Fashion & Entertainment Stage at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. A private meet-and-greet with Chrisley is $35.