DESIGN TALK 09/03/21
Interior designer Ariel Okin recently partnered with our Westport Design Shop to revamp her New York home. Get the inside scoop on her updated-traditional look, what inspires her, and her expert styling tips (hint: there’s always a touch of rattan).
Let’s start with a bit about where you're from and how you got started.
I’m from the suburbs of Philadelphia, an area called the Main Line. I always grew up with a love for interiors and an appreciation for art and design, but it wasn't until I started designing on the side for friends that I realized this could be a full-time job. I took the plunge and opened my firm in 2016, and I'm so glad I did. We've grown from a one-woman show to a six-person team with projects all over the country, and I feel so grateful to get to do what I love every day.
What inspired this home refresh?
We moved into this house at the height of the pandemic last year, and it really needed a face-lift. The house is about 15 years old, and it had been rented out by the previous owners for the past seven years, so it was a bit dated and needed some love. I have so many fond memories of the house I grew up in, which was very traditional but well edited and clean lined, so I used that as a guide.
What drew you to Serena & Lily’s designs?
I have been a fan since the beginning, and we use Serena & Lily in all of our projects. The S&L ethos really fits our firm's ethos, which is to make beautiful, livable spaces that feel fresh, inviting, and timeless.
If you had to choose a favorite room or design moment from this revamp, which is it and why?
Our bedroom is definitely a favorite space. It’s so serene and relaxing, but still layered and unique. I never like when a space feels one-note, so I love the way our bedroom feels very textured and patterned, but still soothing since it’s all tone on tone. I also love our screened in porch – it's such a happy space.
Your spaces almost always include great color. What do you love most about playing with color?
I think color makes people happy. And isn't that how your home is supposed to make you feel? Especially during the past year and a half, there's something really restorative and special about feeling at peace and joyful because of the space that you live in, and I think certain colors can really evoke positive feelings.
How do you choose a palette? Any tips?
I often start with what I want the mood of a space to be, and the function, and then I walk backwards from there into a color palette. Though sometimes I'll find a gorgeous scrap of fabric from somewhere, and that will set off the scheme for an entire room.
Any favorite materials to layer?
I love mixing natural materials like rattan and wicker with beautiful upholstery and vintage textiles (I collect antique suzanis). I also like to layer fabrics with a lot of texture, like mohair, wool, and bouclé, against items that feel a bit tighter and sturdier, like a classic linen weave.
Which pieces are the most worth investing in?
I think a dining table is always a nice piece to invest in, there's something special about handing that down to your children and creating memories on it that are passed down from generation to generation. I also think sofas and beds are investment items.
What are your favorite accents to add to a room?
I love adding a pop of natural material like wicker or rattan, no matter what the space is. It automatically brings the intensity down a bit. I also love to add layered vintage textiles, plaster pottery, sisal rugs, bone inlay accessories...the list goes on!
You’ve said your signature style can be interpreted as “traditional with a twist.” What’s your best advice for others hoping to achieve that look?
We like to have the anchors in the room, like sofas or beds, fit the traditional silhouette (think: roll arm, cushy upholstery, tufting). But we give that an edge with contemporary artwork or lighting that freshens it up.
Are there any trends that you're loving right now?
I am not a trend person, but I'm really happy that people are starting to appreciate the beauty of rattan and wicker again.
What Serena & Lily products are on your must-have list?
So hard to choose. The Miramar Sofa is always a favorite. The Balboa Collection we use a lot, too. I love the Harbour Cane Collection, and all the rugs. It's really hard to pick just a few!
What would be your dream project?
Any project where the client really trusts us and we have their full support to bring our creative ideas to fruition – that trust is how the most beautiful spaces are made.
Join our list to receive 15% off your first purchase.
Drop by your nearest location or schedule a virtual appointment to see what’s new.