What happens when a designer redesigns his own home? Floor Trendswas invited to the New York City apartment of nationally known interior design Vern Yip to find out.
Part of Yip redecorating of his entire apartment included having new flooring installed. For this project he chose to go with cork floors from Wicanders as part of his new partnership as a national spokesperson for the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR), which is hoping Yip’s large following among consumers will translate into more sales of the product at the retail level.
Along with being a nationally known interior designer from his shows on HGTV to his column in the Washington Post, he is also no stranger to the flooring world as he has been a spokesperson for numerous brands and types of flooring over the years, and has even given seminars and speeches at national events such as the Atlanta International Area Rug Market.
As he walked into his apartment to inspect the work being done, he said when it comes to cork flooring, “I’ve been a big fan of it for years. That’s why I’m am very excited for this opportunity to promote the product because it has so many wonderful qualities—from its aesthetics to its performance to its environmental attributes. As a designer and a parent of small kids all these are really important factors to me when choosing a product, especially one as important as the floor, as it is the foundation of a room’s design. And for us, we walk around without our shoes so I also wanted a floor that was comfortable.”
Though Yip has admired cork for a long time, before he could go around the U.S. and Canada promoting it as APCOR’s spokesperson, he first needed to use it himself, so what better place than where he lives. “I always do things in my homes first before going on TV or speaking about them,” he explained. “This allows me to better understand the product when it comes to designing with it as well as how it performs.
“Basically,” he laughs, “my home is a lab for me. Plus it is always good to refresh and renew your living space once in a while.”
Besides the fact he likes cork himself, one of the reasons why Yip is doing this is the feeling “people are not really aware of the wide variety of styles that are now available—from realistic woods to stone and tile to dark and light colors—it’s not just that pin board look most associate it with.”
And, that doesn’t even take into account the ability to mix and match designs, something Yip did, in order to create a custom, one-of-a-kind look. “You can really personalize the style to hit your own tastes and do so without having to pay a premium because these are existing styles.”
In discussing the products he chose for his apartment, Yip said it was “not an easy decision.” And not because he was being picky in what he wanted, rather, “there were just so many designs and patterns from which to choose. Plus, there are so many technological developments to go with the designs—such as the ability to install it without glue. The offering is just tremendous.”
In the end, though, Yip decided to go with two new styles from Wicanders’ Corkcomfort collection—President Chocolate and Reed Meridian. Both items are 5½ x 48-inches and are installed utilizing a Valinge locking system so the new floor did not damage the old wooden floor it was covering up.
And, in true design fashion, in the entryway and moving into the living room he called for the product to be installed in a way that had two of the Dark Chocolate planks side-by-side then one plank of the Reed Meridian.
“I wanted the floor to be the feature look when people walk in,” he explained. “For this design I was inspired by the vintage surf wagons that had alternating colors of wood.”
He also had the planks installed running the length of the area as a way to “elongate the space. That’s something you are always trying to do with a New York apartment—make it look bigger,” Yip laughed. “But this did it and it looks fabulous.”
Tim Tompkins, national marketing director for Amorim Flooring North America, which makes the Wicanders brand, said Yip “blew our minds from a design standpoint in the way he choose two completely different designs and then tied them together into a really contemporary, beautiful space.”
Picking out the right floor and creating the pattern you want is one thing, but getting it to become a reality means you need to have a quality, professional installer—even with a product that has a “click” system to make it simple to install.
As Yip noted, “Having a good installer is so important; it’s always great to have a professional on board, especially one who is licensed and insured, but more importantly one who understands what it is you are trying to create.”
For this project, Yip and APCOR turned to veteran, certified installer Skip Marsh, who has been dong this for 50 years. He toldFloor Trendswhile the lock-and-fold locking system made it easier to install, he and his partner still needed to be aware of the design Yip wanted and make sure the entire space was laid out in that fashion—and that is where both experience and education/knowledge about the products he’s working with come into play.
He joked the hardest part of the installation was working with Yip as “designers tend to be more detailed oriented. Usually they are looking everything over from start to finish. But Vern has been wonderful to work with, as he knows what he wants, knows how to explain it and then trusts us with doing it correctly. It’s been a real pleasure.”
When his apartment was finished, Yip said he couldn’t be more pleased with how the floor came out, noting, “it’s so beautiful, but it is still warm and comfortable and inviting—and that’s what I wanted because it also has to be lived on.”
Tompkins said having Yip as APCOR’s national spokesperson is an extension of a campaign the organization started in 2010. “Up until now it’s been about what cork is and its benefits. This time we specifically want to promote cork flooring and we felt Vern was the perfect person to help us. He is well-known within the flooring world, he’s well-known and respected by consumers; he has a good social media following and he very much understands the design, performance and environmental benefits of cork so we felt he would make the perfect person to help us promote this great product.”
Yip couldn’t agree more. With his home done and the opportunity see and live with cork complete, he told Floor Trendshow much he would “love to talk with retailers about the product. Cork is really popular in Europe and I’m hoping it will become that way here. As people see more projects like this hopefully they’ll be inspired and start asking for it at their local flooring store.”