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Catching up with TV designer Vern Yip

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Vern Yip, host of HGTV's "Deserving Design."

Vern Yip, host of HGTV’s “Deserving Design.”

On "Trading Spaces," Vern Yip was the nice designer — the one who wouldn't rip out your beloved ceiling fan or BeDazzle your countertops just for fun.

The TLC reality show, which gave neighbors two days and $1,000 to transform a room in each other's homes, ended last year after eight seasons. But Yip's design cred and nice-guy reputation have followed him to his recent gigs, including "Deserving Design," HGTV's version of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Yip, 41, also just finished shooting Season Five of "Design Star," which airs this summer on HGTV.

The nice-guy image extends off-screen, too, with Yip spending much of his free time doing charity work. He lives in Atlanta, where he runs his design practice and lives with his partner, Craig Koch, and their 4-month-old son, Gavin.

A phone interview:

Q: Are you a big Ikea guy?

A: I think that they've really taken the art of giving design affordability to another level. I love that. I think everybody should have access to great design. The one thing that I'd like to emphasize with everyone is you should buy quality. There are quality items at Ikea. There usually are quality items at most retailers.

Q: At Ikea, it's dangerous because you see it, and you can probably afford it.

A: Exactly. But you know what? "Can you really afford it?" is always the question that I want to pose to people. Because you might be able to afford it right at this moment, but are you going to be able to afford it if you have to keep buying it year after year because it doesn't sustain itself, it doesn't hold up, it doesn't last?

Q: What's something about "Trading Spaces" viewers never knew?

A: Even though technically the show was "$1,000 in 48 hours," we typically got closer to 30 hours. That's a comprehensive, all-inclusive 30 hours, including any time that you'd want to eat, use the restroom, sleep. So on all four seasons of "Trading Spaces" that I was on, I only slept on one show. I would do my scene where I'd say goodbye to the homeowners and "Good luck. Here's your homework assignment tonight." Then once that was wrapped and the crew went home, I was back at it, working. ... I would tile a full fireplace wall or lay new flooring. And you just can't expect people who've never done that before — you just can't assign that as homework and expect them to figure it out and do it.

Q: What's your favorite room in your house?

A: Probably the nursery. ... It has artifacts from travels around the world that we've collected specifically for the nursery for the past four or five years.

Q: It sounds like a nursery that's not too babyish. What's the key to achieving that?

A: Think about using that room for the next three years, or four years, or 10 years. It's only in this country that people are so married to the idea that a nursery can only be three colors — apple green if you don't know the sex, or pink if it's a girl, or if it's blue it's a boy. And ... everybody wants to have a theme: " ... My theme is airplanes. My theme is ballerinas." I don't get that at all. You wouldn't do that for your room, I don't think. Why would you do that for your kid's room? Certainly your kid isn't going to be lying in the crib thinking, "It's nice that there's an airplane theme that's been coordinated throughout the entire place."

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.