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New Avenue store hosts HGTV star Yip

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

SNELLVILLE -- Glenda Vaughn assuredly wasn't the only one who felt like she was being reunited with an old friend when Vern Yip met with dozens of fans in Snellville on Tuesday evening.

Yip, the Atlanta-based interior designer and HGTV mega-star, was at The Avenue Webb Gin for the opening of the home furnishings store I.O. Metro, welcoming locals and doling out advice.

"I told him, we feel like he's a good friend," said Vaughn, a Lawrenceville resident. "He's on in my home three or four times a week. So we just really enjoy watching him and we're so proud that he's from Atlanta."

Technically, Yip is from Virginia by way of Hong Kong, but he earned his architecture degree from Georgia Tech and got his start in the design business in midtown Atlanta.

About 100 fans lined up outside of I.O. Metro's doors prior to its grand opening Tuesday night, waiting for a chance to be the first of their friends to get a glimpse inside the store's high-end look at a low-end-cost furnishings.

And, of course, get a little help from their favorite star of "Trading Spaces."

"Even in an economy like this, people still want their homes to be nice," he said. "Because when times are tough, guess what? You spend a lot more time at home. You want your home to be nice, and you want to be comfortable when you're at home."

A quick-hitter of some of Yip's quickest design tips:

* Be an informed consumer -- "If you buy poorly crafted furniture that's inexpensive, it just ends up in a trash dump ... You're better off buying quality furniture that's reasonably priced and holding onto it."

* Eclectic is in -- "It's really about having things that you love, having things that are going to be useful for you, and that often means having an eclectic environment."

* Reclaim it -- "Anything that's recycled, reclaimed, especially wood, is huge right now."

* Plan to love -- "Always plan, make sure you do a space plan first. And make sure you buy things that you love and are going to hold on to for a lifetime."

I.O. Metro, which begin with its initial location in Arkansas just a few years ago, simultaneously opened three metro Atlanta stores at The Avenue locations in Snellville, Forsyth and West Cobb this week.

Yip will be at all three, getting back to his roots and reaching out to fans.

"I always relish the opportunity to be able to work in the Atlanta area because I'm on the road so much," Yip said. "I do this all over the country, talk to folks all over the place about design. But I so rarely get to do that here."

Vaughn, the fan from Lawrenceville, said she didn't ask Yip for any specific home design advice -- but she was glad she got to meet the man she sees on TV so often.

"I could have taken a long time," she said, laughing. "We don't get to meet stars very often."