Designers Go Ballard: decorator Ariel Okin’s expert mix

New York interior designer Ariel Okin shares her favorite Ballard designs pieces with us

Photo: Seth Caplan

As the founder of her eponymous firm, Ariel Okin designs luxury residential and unique commercial properties.  When designing spaces, she expertly mixes high and low pieces to create a look that’s sophisticated, polished, and youthful. We love seeing Ballard Designs pieces in Ariel’s spaces, so we’re excited to share her design work with you. Learn more about Ariel and her signature style below:


Ballard Designs: Where are you from?

Ariel Okin: I grew up in the suburban Main Line area of Philadelphia, and I now live in Manhattan on the Upper East Side.

BD: How would you describe your style?

AO: Classic and well-edited with a twist.

BD: What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on?

AO: I love so many! Each project becomes an opportunity to really get to know my clients and create a beautiful backdrop for them to live their lives in. One of my first projects, a pied-a-terre on Park Avenue for a couple primarily based in California, still remains one of my favorite projects, because it was my first large scale space and the client and I have remained close to this day.


BD: Who is your dream client?

AO: Nancy Meyers and Ina Garten!

BD: What do you like to collect?

AO: I collect shelter magazines – primarily Architectural Digest, Veranda and Domino. A good friend of mine gave me her entire collection of Domino Magazines before she moved to Texas last year, and now I have every issue since its inception. I also collect Royal Copenhagen China in the blue fluted half lace pattern, which is my wedding china.


BD: What do you find yourself drawn to?

AO: I am always drawn to anything creative, be it design, fashion, art, cooking or music. I have always been a very right-brained person, so any creative pursuit is always up my alley.

BD: What influences your design?

AO: So many different elements combine to influence my design. I find so much inspiration in old reference images from shelter magazines of iconic spaces, as well as on Instagram from contemporaries. I love that the design community is so welcoming and supportive of one another. I also try to infuse a client’s personality into their homes – the client and their lifestyle is always my primary influence when designing. I always want the spaces I create to feel wholly like those who are inhabiting it.


BD: What is/are your favorite Ballard piece(s)? Why?

AO: I love the classic Chippendale Dayna Chairs, which never go out of style. I have so many favorites from both Suzanne Kasler and Bunny Williams’ collections. There are really so many pieces to love at Ballard Designs, it’s hard to choose!

BD: What are some projects you’re working on in your own house?

AO: My firm is about to move into its own office space outside of my apartment, so I am busy thinking of ways we will repurpose the office in our home. My husband and I will each have a desk in the space, and I have lots of ideas for all the other fun multipurpose ways we could utilize the (very tiny) room.


BD: Who inspires you?

My mother, my grandmother, so many female interior designers who run their own firms and also are raising young children at the same time – I have a seven-month-old, so seeing others do it and succeed is such an inspiration. I am in awe of Sarah Bartholomew, who is the founder and principal of the most gorgeous firm, and also has four kids! I’m also always continually inspired by Mark Sikes and his work; he has such an appreciation for all the fine details and has the most tremendous eye.

BD: What is your current color crush?

I’ve been majorly crushing on yellow lately – pale yellow, deep buttery yellow. I think since it’s such a crazy time, a cheerful color really lifts the mood. An icy pale blue mixed with a buttery yellow and a bright, spring green has been a palette I’ve been loving lately. Also pale yellow and a rich chocolate brown –please, someone let me use chocolate brown in their home!

To learn more from some of our favorite Design Experts, check out these posts:

Don’t forget to listen to our weekly podcast How to Decorate where we interview interior designers and answer your most difficult decorating dilemmas. And to stay up to date with all things How to Decorate, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.