Rosemary Beach resident Vern Yip, one of the most celebrated interior designers in America who has helped thousands of people beautify their homes during his near-decade at HGTV, first discovered Rosemary Beach as an architecture intern.
“I was an architecture student during the emergence of Seaside and New Urbanism, which was a prominent topic that everyone in my field had been substantially exposed to. I even partially based my thesis on New Urbanism.” says Yip. “Naturally, we all had a fascination with Seaside and would put together group trips to visit each spring and fall. It was fun to ride our bikes at night, peeking into the interiors of homes, and walking through building sites. At that time, Seaside was still a developing, idyllic project with very little traffic.”
Yip became fascinated with the idea of the New Urbanist architectural code. He observed how famed architects would interpret and often try to subvert it. During one of the trips to Seaside, Yip and his friends decided to stop by Rosemary Beach, which was at the beginning stages of breaking ground. “Of course, we had all heard that Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) was involved with a second New Urbanist town on 30A and were eager to wrap our minds around the differences in the architectural codes and town plans between Seaside and Rosemary.”
When it comes to his passion for Rosemary Beach, the beloved designer doesn’t hold back, “It is an unparalleled community if you’re looking for a thoughtful, family-friendly beach town filled with interesting people, great architecture, walkable restaurants, and access to some of the best beaches anywhere. My family had a home in Maui for many years and I’ve been to beaches throughout the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa – so I know beaches well. The beaches at Rosemary are still my favorite. I’ve never been anywhere else with this magical balance of beach, culture, design, and people so perfectly woven into the fabric of the town.”
Now, in his debut design book VERN YIP’S DESIGN WISE: Your Smart Guide to a Beautiful Home (Running Press; September 2016; $27.50), Vern shares his secrets to smart, beautiful living with a “design by the numbers” approach, revealing the optimal measurements that are integral to making a room feel “right.” “Part of the book is filled with easy to access answers to people’s most frequently asked design questions -such as how high to hang artwork, how high to hang the chandelier over the dining table, how to properly size a rug for a room – and part of it is a beautifully shot visual tour through our three homes – in Atlanta, Manhattan, and of course, Rosemary Beach.”
Tell us about your first visit to Rosemary Beach. There was a really nice salesperson at the sales trailer that day when the ten of us walked in. We were all in our mid-to-late 20’s and obviously had no money, but she was still nice enough to tour us through the site model and briefly walk us around the property. She stood on a gulf front site at one point and told us that the tiny site we were standing on was a million dollars without the house – just the land. We were all blown away. Most of us were making about $24,000 a year while often working sixty-to-eighty-hour weeks. The idea of being able to afford a million-dollar lot that didn’t even include a home was mind-blowing. The architectural code, style, and colors of Rosemary immediately synced with me. I just had no idea how I would financially ever afford a lot at Rosemary Beach. I was barely making enough to cover rent, utilities, and food. It’s funny how both time and perspective can totally change a situation. Now, a million-dollar gulf front lot at Rosemary would be the bargain of the century.
Why did you decide to purchase a lot and build a home here? The first time you encounter a place really frames how you view it the rest of your life. As an architecture student, I loved the concept of New Urbanist towns and the simultaneous freedom and control an architectural code provided. I loved what had been set as the foundation for Rosemary’s architectural code. For me, purchasing a lot and building a home at Rosemary was really fulfilling a dream. Having kids, of course, really motivated me to make it happen. When you see how happy families are in Rosemary, you immediately want to provide that for your family.
What are your thoughts on the new urbanism and architecture in general? I’m a big fan. I love that New Urbanism has found a way to weave the word community back into our language. Suburban developments had kind of eviscerated that concept. Knowing your neighbors, shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and town in general is incredibly valuable. And being able to walk to those places, while interacting with people along the way, also has great value. Cars often strip us of the opportunity to engage with others. I love the ability of the DPZ architectural codes to provide a way for standards and visual organization while still allowing, and promoting, individuality. It’s both fun and interesting to see how different architects and designers have interpreted, stretched, and subverted the architectural code system.
When is your favorite time to be at Rosemary Beach?I love the spring and the fall. Late September through the end of November is the golden period in my opinion but there are positive aspects to each part of the year.
How did you spend the summer? I’m all over the map this summer. We also live part time in New York and we will be there for work-related matters. And the kids absolutely love Manhattan. I’ll also be spending a good part of the summer preparing for the launch of my book this fall, designing the second iteration of my fabric collection (one of my most popular fabrics from my first collection is called Rosemary Linen) due mid-2017, peppered with travel to Venice and Prague. It’s been a full summer!