Vern Yip’s Dramatic Tenderloin Renovation


From ground-up green buildings to rehabbed community rooms, architects and designers are enthusiastically embracing community-serving projects that hardily disprove the assumption that beautifully designed spaces are a luxury afforded only to the wealthy.

When I put a call out that I was writing a story about a designers and architects who were working on projects for people and neighborhoods in need, I was overwhelmed by the response. In addition to the three projects I cover in Building a Better Tomorrow, here’s one more that I thought deserved some attention.

HGTV design star Vern Yip (who, after four seasons on the network’s hit show Trading Spaces, is now starring in his very own program, Deserving Design) spent some time in San Francisco for a very worthy cause. Thanks to financing from Bank of America, Vern was able to give an extreme and much-needed makeover to the Tenderloin Family Apartments’ community room.

“When I first saw the room I felt that it looked very corporate and institutional. It wasn’t a very welcoming space,” says Vern, who decided he wanted to bring in a bold color palette that reflected the various cultures of the residents. “I decided on reds, oranges and golds.”

Along with the color update, Vern’s team replaced the gray wall-to-wall carpeting with easy-to-clean floors decked out in bright stripes, created a variety of seating areas with white Bubble Club sofas and armchairs by Philippe Starck for Kartell and hung George Nelson Bubble lamps from the ceiling. “I wanted to create a space that felt warm, safe, inviting and really joyful,” says Vern. 

“But design isn’t just about being pretty; design can transform your life,” says Vern, who made sure a completely updated kitchen with brand-new stainless steel appliances was part of the plan, so residents could easily throw parties, meetings and other events. “Someone has already reserved the new space so they can renew their vows. This room is ready to serve this community in a whole new way.” 

Vern was present at the room’s reveal and ribbon cutting, along with city officials and representatives from Bank of America, who spearheaded the makeover (as well as one for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland, also designed by Vern) in celebration of the renovation of many of their Bay Area bank branches. 

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