If you head to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (now through May 15), chances are you’ll spot an HGTV personality. The star-studded lineup includes Genevieve Gorder, Lisa LaPorta, Kim Myles, Brian Patrick Flynn, Taniya Nayak, Ahmed Hassan, Patti Moreno, Michele Beschen, John Gidding, Frank Fontana and Vern Yip.
I recently caught up with Yip, HGTV Design Star judge and award-winning interior designer and got his take on the festival. Here’s what he had to say:
Can you give us a little sneak preview of your presentation at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival? What can guests look forward to?
I’ll focus on exciting trends that are happening in the world of interior design today and how to access and implement them affordably. My experience over the past couple of years has definitely shown that people — more so now than ever — are using their homes to entertain, hang out with family and friends and as a respite from the hectic work week. They want their homes to be wonderful destinations that are well thought out and well designed, but they just don’t want to spend unnecessarily to get to that point. During the presentation, I’ll be talking about the top trends, showing images that translate these trends to actual rooms from both Deserving Design and HGTV Urban Oasis and discussing exactly how the audience can do the same thing in their own homes.
What do you enjoy most about the festival?
The Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is really a sight to behold. It’s so organized, well thought out and well designed. It really speaks to me. Anytime you can get a topiary to look like a Disney character, you’ve won me over! I’m always looking for inspiration and new ideas, and the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival certainly offers up inspiration and new ideas in spades!
When did you realize that you wanted to be a designer?
I’ve known that I wanted to design the built environment ever since I was a little kid. My favorite toys always involved construction of some kind, and my interests were always geared towards building houses, office buildings and furniture. By the time I was eight, my Mom had me redesigning the bathrooms in the house. At ten, she had me design the addition to our house on paper and actually got the county to approve the plans and elevations! It was a wonderful experience, but she probably should’ve given me a few more years to grow as an architectural designer! I certainly wouldn’t count it amongst my best work ever. By 12, she had me design furniture for my new bedroom (in the addition that I had designed) and had it made. It was all chrome and glass. My sister thought my bedroom looked like a bank vault, but I still have many of those pieces today and still use them in my house.
What are a few of your favorite design trends for spring?
The use of exuberant colors. Honeysuckle pink is supposed to be the big color this year, and vibrant tones of orange, purple, and blue are certainly still very much at the forefront of what is happening. Paired with warm grays, which are really considered the new neutral standard, they can be wonderful and refreshing. I also really like the move toward eclectic environments. It allows everyone to express their personality in their homes. The use of reclaimed wood is also a wonderful spring trend that happens to also be environmentally friendly. The lighter wood tones of reclaimed pieces go nicely with the bursts of bright color that are so in right now. Zebra is the animal print of the year this year. It happens to be everywhere, and it really spices up a room. Remember, a little zebra print can go a long way!
What is one of the simplest things you can do to change the look of a room?
Move your furniture around! Most people get stuck in a rut with their stuff. If you start off with a solid space plan to begin with, the rest of the room is a piece of cake. Also, don’t be afraid to look at the entire collection of furniture that you own for the whole house, not just for the room that you are working on at the moment. Sometimes an old dining room table makes a great desk, or an old trunk can make a great family room coffee table. Also, one of the best things you can do to any room is to get your mirrors and art hung at the right height. This will perform miracles for the spaces you are working on. These elements, with a few exceptions, should be hung 60” from finished floor to their middles. This will allow a common center that will bring harmony and balance to your room instantly!
Are there any specific design elements you really dig at Epcot?
I love how impeccably thought out all of the venues are. It really is a feat to marvel at. One of my favorite things to experience is the 360-degree movie experience at several of the venues. I remember my jaw dropping the first time I saw the movies at China and Canada. It is such a wonderful way to experience a different culture if you can’t actually travel there. I also love the light show at the end of the night! It never ceases to astonish me and turn me into a kid. I’m a global traveler, so Epcot is a dream-like place for me where I can go from country to country in a matter of hours versus months! My children will be joining me at the festival and experiencing the magic of Disney for the first time, and I can’t wait to see their eyes light up! It will be magical for all of us.
The HGTV celebrity lineup includes:
John Gidding, Curb Appeal: The Block
April 29 –30
The Design Process: Curb Appeal Projects
from Concept to Construction
Frank Fontana, Design on a Dime
May 6 – 8
Beautiful on a Budget: High Style, Low-Cost Secrets
to Bringing Indoor Styling Outside
Vern Yip, HGTV Design Star
May 13 – 15
Top Design Trends Made Affordable and Accessible