Designer Vern Yip's Home Proves Kid-Friendly Can Still Be Stylish

Living room with black chairs and red rug
Photo: Emily Jenkins Followill

Although Vern Yip, the Atlanta-based designer and father of two frequently travels the planet, his favorite place is home, where memories of special places, times, and people surround him.

01 of 14

Kid-Friendly and Still Stylish

Room with wooden table and chandelier
Emily Jenkins Followill

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

Sure, there are a few rules. Some precious objects are off-limits, and there's no kicking balls inside 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 upholstery that can be hosed down. 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 screened front 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 modernist crystal-and-wire Baccarat chandelier drips red crystals. Asian artifacts set the tone for the house. "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." The center table belonged to Vern Yip's mother.

02 of 14

Family Influences

Stairwell with photos
Emily Jenkins Followill

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.

"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, a division of Fabricut.

03 of 14

A Collection of Style

Living room with tan couches and red rug
Emily Jenkins Followill

"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," says the designer, who recently wrote Vern Yip's Design Wise, a book to inspire others to 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 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.

04 of 14

Furniture with a Personal Touch

Living room with black chairs and red rug
Emily Jenkins Followill

Personal stories fill the interiors he and Craig have created. In the living room are the well-worn leather chairs modeled on Le Corbusier that were a splurge by Vern 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," he adds with a laugh, noting that he hauled 45 yards of Jim Thompson silk back from Bangkok, stuffing it in an airplane overhead bin. The deep red antique rug was found in Marrakech.

05 of 14

Decorating with Memories

Living room with textured red pillows and coffee table books
Emily Jenkins Followill

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 believes. "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, and offices, with a dog room on the main level. Upstairs is the primary suite.

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

06 of 14

Cool and Calm Library

Dining area with hanging lights and large artwork
Emily Jenkins Followill

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.

07 of 14

Elegant but Still Welcoming

Dining area with red and tan chairs
Emily Jenkins Followill

While rooms are filled with fine art and elegant furnishings, this is a family home, Vern insists. Draperies and dining chair upholstery are 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's warm and welcoming—a home that says who we are."

Spice-colored fabrics and trims for the draperies, upholstery, and a table runner are from Vern Yip for Trend. "I love fabric blends from the performance standpoint. They don't wrinkle and are colorfast and durable," he says.

08 of 14

A Charming, Playful Space

Living room with blue floral curtains
Emily Jenkins Followill

The playroom, 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.

09 of 14

Modern Primary Bedroom

Bedroom with gray and red color scheme
Emily Jenkins Followill

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

10 of 14

Pops of Color

Bathroom with two black counters
Emily Jenkins Followill

In the primary bath, two Kohler "Purist Wading Pool" sinks with gooseneck spouts, from Kallista, are flanked by Asian Foo dog statues from Bali.

11 of 14

Colorful Guest Room

Bedroom with colorful floral comforter
Emily Jenkins Followill

A blue "Paris Petal Pendant" by Vern Yip for Stonegate Designs hangs above the guest room 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.

12 of 14

Vibrant Orange Accents

Bedroom with brown and orange color scheme
Emily Jenkins Followill

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.

13 of 14

Fun Patterns

Bedroom with dog pillow and striped comforter
Emily Jenkins Followill

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.

14 of 14

A Family Home

Family sitting on outdoor furniture
Emily Jenkins Followill

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.

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.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles