How designer Ariel Okin turned her interior design business into a full-scale business
Ariel Okin started designing in 2016 alongside her full-time job in communications, but when it started to take more of her time, she pivoted to founding Interiors by Ariel Okin in 2017 and, she says, “the rest is history.” The Westchester-based talent creates “spaces that truly reflect the owner’s wants and needs and will look great in 20 years. His distinctive blend of new and traditional has already earned him collaborations (with Society Social, The Mural Source and others) as well as a devoted Instagram.
As for what sets her designs apart from others, Okin says she always follows two goals when designing spaces for clients: “to ensure that the space is livable and functional for the client on a day-to-day basis, and try to make sure it will stand the test of time”. .” Ultimately, Okin says she wants to “create spaces that truly reflect the wants and needs of their owners, and how they live in their homes, and I also want to create spaces that (hopefully!) will have look great in twenty years.”
“I tend to steer clear of trends and keep things classic but still fresh,” she says, whether it’s with contemporary lighting, artwork or greenery, or finding an unusual combination of textures. and colors.
Despite his love of the classics (grandmillennials love its use of antiques and rattan), Okin never turns stiff. “I never want anything to be difficult or overdone,” she says. “This tension between old and new is key to our work.”
Get to know Ariel Okin:
How did you come to interior design?
I started creating for friends next door; I was working in public affairs after grad school, and friends would come to my house and ask me to help them with theirs. After helping out a few friends and realizing that I was spending more time preparing mock presentations for free than at my day job, I realized this was something I wanted to do for a career.
Which project are you most proud of and why?
I was really proud and happy when my own house appeared in Beautiful house in 2021, because this project is such a clear representation of my personal tastes and how I design when I’m the ‘client’ – it was a pleasure to see it featured. I am also very proud of our Fifth Avenue project which was featured in Elle Decor last year, which was a total renovation of a pre-war apartment in a historic building; it was such a joy to work on it.
What sets your work apart?
My main goal when designing spaces is two-fold: to make sure the space is livable and functional for the client’s day-to-day and to try to make sure it will stand the test of time.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I actually got this advice from Bunny Williams in a Business of Home podcast, but she says to outsource the things you’re not the best at (like say accounting or CAD) to make room for creativity or the things you really excel at. When I took this approach to my business, it really helped me grow and expand the business in so many positive ways. Jill Cohen also always tells me to prioritize photography and shoot the kinds of projects I want to get more done, which is just great advice that I always take with me on every project. From my mother, the best advice I received was to be nice to everyone!
How do you want your customers to feel in their space?
Comfortable! Comfort is always key – I always want soft padding, somewhere everyone can put a drink, books in the house, comfy pillows and throws to sink into. Timeless spaces are always welcoming and comfortable, and this philosophy is something I really want to instill in our work.
What or who was your first crush on design?
Judy Kling of JK Kling and Associates was the first big influence on my perception of design; she designed the house I grew up in and I think she is the most chic woman in the world!
Your favorite design of the moment?
I always come back to the classics: Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley, Mark Hampton. From a contemporary perspective, I absolutely fell in love with Noel Pittman’s Hancock Park home in Los Angeles, which was recently featured in Veranda. It’s a great start!
What is your favorite room, anywhere, of all time, and why?
Veere Grenney’s living room in London, nestled within walls of deep emerald green velvet, with Aurora Chintz side chairs and a gorgeous ivory geometric rug, is one of my all-time favorite rooms. It’s such an elegant, bold, yet understated piece with just the right amount of colors, patterns, antiques, and more. iconic silhouette, an entire wall of books in a built-in bookcase, pleated shades on sconces for added warmth, and a neutral sofa — it still feels as fresh today as it did then. I am an avid collector of design books, so I often draw inspiration from them!
For less than $100 — or even free! — which decoration trick has the most impact?
On the exterior, mount your roman shades just below the crown molding or as high as possible, then overlap the exterior mounted romans with drapery panels on either side and the rod just above the roman (if applicable) creates automatic warmth by layering different textures and heights in a room. This technique raises the eye upwards, making the windows appear taller and larger, and the ceilings much larger. This is a free hack that can modify a room in the best way! That, and oversizing furniture and rugs is always better than undersizing!
What’s overrated in decoration?
What’s underrated in decorating?
What is your favorite and why?
Royal Copenhagen China in the Blue Fluted Half Lace pattern (my wedding pattern!) And design books (I obsessively collect design books from all eras.)
Period/style of design:
Art Deco (especially Jean Michel-Frank and Frances Elkins) and Billy Baldwin/Albert Hadley from the 1960s and 1970s. I love how these eras still seem crisp and timeless; there’s a modified eye to these spaces and styles that transcend time, but they still feel ‘decorated’, warm and pleasant, not austere.
Borrowed Light, Farrow & Ball is such a beautiful pale blue; it reflects light beautifully and when lacquered on the ceiling it really takes on the dimension of an expansive sky.
Artist or work of art:
I love Pissarro’s street scenes, they are so painterly and beautiful. Boulevard Montmartre, Paris is a favorite for color schemes and perspective. It also has an interesting ownership history!
Local shopping destination:
KRB on the Upper East Side – such a treasure trove of beautiful items. Kate has such an amazing eye.
Goop’s store always has fun new brands, especially for food and beauty, and I love Chairish and 1stDibs so much for all things home.
Palm Beach and Capri.
Decorative item you buy on Amazon:
Wicker storage baskets
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