Ariel Okin didn’t necessarily plan on moving to Westchester last year. But, after she and her husband and young daughter moved in with his parents as the COVID pandemic was raging in New York City, they found they loved it there so much they decided to relocate. Fast forward a year and a half, and Okin has created the family home of her dreams—and a perfect representation of her eponymous design firm, which is now headquartered here.
When the Okins moved in, they pretty much had a blank—if unexciting—slate: “Our house had been rented out for about seven years when we bought it, so the owners were not keen on doing much to it design-wise except maintenance,” explains the designer. “They were really excited about the idea of a young family living in this house again and giving it a new lease on life.”
And that’s just what Okin planned, bringing her fresh, cheerful take on classic designs to a space that felt “dark and dated.”
“The house definitely had a dated beige kitchen and a lot of beige wallpaper; it also had some dark red toile wallpaper in the dining room, so my main goal was to lighten it up and make it feel like us and let the light in,” she explains.
Underneath it all, though, she effuses, “the bones were great,” so Okin’s task became peeling back the dated additions of the last 15 years and replacing them with the mix of classic textile patterns, soft colors, and natural textures that defines her style. “My main goal was to make it feel really cozy and lived in, like we’d been here for a few years, but to also feel fresh,” she says. Read on to see how she pulled it off.
Though Okin says this may be her favorite room in the house, it was probably the most unassuming space when they bought it. “When we walked through the house for the first time, there was nothing in that room—not a stitch of furniture, nothing," she says. "It made me so sad; I was like, this could be the best room in the whole house! I was so excited to do a screened in porch, because we don’t really have a backyard, only a deck and then this room, so I wanted to make the most of them both and maximize any outdoor space we do have."
One of the main perks of the home was that the Okins didn't have to fully gut the kitchen (a big plus with their quick timeline). “The kitchen was an original Christopher Peacock kitchen with beautiful hardware, and there were Waterworks fixtures throughout, so we got lucky in that respect," says the designer. "But it really needed a face lift to feel fresh and new and vibrant again."
"I removed the kitchen countertops and backsplash and replaced those with Carrara countertops and clean white subway tile from Clé Tile in the kitchen, which instantly updated it, and I repainted the kitchen cabinets in a bright white," says Okin.
The result is both pretty and functional: "My husband and I both love to cook, so we spend a ton of time in the kitchen," she shares.
“Our biggest splurge was painting and wallpapering the house, but it really made such a difference,” Okin says. “It honestly turned the house into a completely new space.” In the dining room, Okin debuted her upcoming line with The Mural Source, launching this fall. It's offset by a graphic rug from designer Caroline Gidiere's collection for King's House that's meant to mimic the look of painted floors.
The sideboard (sourced from Paloma & Co.) and table are antique, as are the dining chairs, which are covered in a performance velvet from Fabricut. "We saved by repurposing furniture we already had and reupholstering it with our workroom, Kaiser Décor, who are just the absolute best," she says.
“I looked at a lot of photos of English country homes for inspiration,” Okin says of the feel she wanted to elicit. “I love the ‘sink into the sofa and read a book’ feel of those spaces, and I wanted our house to feel timeless and inviting and cozy."
Luckily, Okin's personal style lent itself well to this. "I always tend to gravitate toward blues, whites and greens, but I’m also a magpie and hoard vintage textiles, so there’s always something new draped over a sofa, whether it’s a vintage suzani with some pomegranates embroidered on it [like over the Serena & Lily sectional here], or a random pink throw I found; I’m constantly changing the accessories up. Design is never done!" A wicker coffee table from her own Society Social line and rattan chairs from Kenian Home keep the space from feeling too formal.
The living room's bookshelves add texture and color. “I am an avid book collector, especially design books, so it was really exciting for me to finally have space for all of them (especially after hiding books in the city in my closet, under the bed, in the bathroom—basically in every nook and cranny and crevice of our old apartment!)," laughs Okin.
She hung her collection of vintage plates to fill out the space between the shelves and the mantel over the mirror.
"My favorite piece in the house arguably is our armoire bar, which is a faux tortoise, hand painted, that I got at auction from an estate sale in Greenwich at Town & Sea," Okin says. "No one wanted it and I was shocked! I got it for $137."
“We spend 90% of our time here,” says Okin of the space, where, at various points throughout the day, Okin can be found working, her husband taking Zoom calls, and their daughter watching Daniel Tiger. The banquette and chairs are from Serena & Lily with pillows from Okin's collaboration with Dawn Wolfe and One Kings Lane.
“Moving during the height of the pandemic certainly placed a premium on outdoor space; and since we don’t have a backyard, it was crucial that the outdoor spaces and the deck were functional for entertaining," says Okin. "I really wanted both space to lounge, and space to have dinner and entertain, so I created separate zones."
The lounging area, here, features furniture from Serena & Lily; there's also a dining space buttressed by a raised bed Okin uses as a cutting garden.
When they moved in, the mudroom “had nothing in it,” Okin recalls. The addition of wallpaper and millwork by NYC Fine Finishes “made it feel like a completely different space."
“Our office was a tricky space to design because it houses my entire fabric library, serves as a guest bedroom, and my husband and I both work from there—so it had to be organized, cozy and inviting, and also practical," Okin says.
The Casa Branca wallpaper checks the inviting box; meanwhile a daybed by Serena & Lily allows the space to house guests (the practical). Okin worked with The Neat Method to organize all of her samples, and installed window treatments from The Shade Store to help the 10-foot-tall space feel cozy.
Okin’s daughter’s room is covered in another wallpaper from the designer’s collection with The Mural Source. “I started with the paper as the anchor, and then built around it,” she says. The chair and ottoman are form CB2 and the crib from ducduc.
“I look at pattern and color every single day, so for our bedroom I really wanted a space that was relaxing, calming, and grounding,” Okin says. She continued a quiet palette of soft blues across the bed, nightstands, chaise, chair, lamps, bedding, mirror, all sourced from Serena & Lily. “One thing I always try to avoid though, when things are tone on tone, is having anything feel boring, so I layered lots of texture and pattern all in the same colorway to keep things from feeling too one note.”
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