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Interior Designer Ariel Okin Talks Local Treasure Hunting, Inspiration and Travel

New York-based interior design darling Ariel Okin is in high demand for her warm, livable and elegant spaces rooted in classicism – with a playful twist and, always, a hint of the unexpected. Her deft use of color, clean lines and mix of bespoke and antique items has magazine editors naming her among the top new design talent in the country. An arbiter of taste, Okin’s lifestyle website, Fenimore Lane, is a curation of fashion and design finds, travel and interviews with fellow designers. She’s launched multiple capsule collections, including wallpaper lines with Chasing Paper and The Mural Source, accessories with One Kings Lane, a lighting line with Mitzi and an upcoming textile line with Jordan Connelly – and her first interior design book will debut with Rizzoli in Fall 2025. In May, Okin will host Fenimore Lane’s first-annual design summit at The Mayflower Inn & Spa, featuring over 30 designers spanning from interior design and fashion to art and antiques.

The summit will be a convivial gathering of like-minded design enthusiasts who are there to celebrate, shop and have a great time. I am excited to see people discover new brands they love and experience an array of workshops from flower arranging to mixology.
– Ariel Okin
Photo credit: Abby Ward

What are some brands you have selected to be part of Fenimore Lane's first-annual design summit at the Mayflower Inn & Spa?

We have over thirty vendors participating, including interior design studios like Casa Branca, Noel Pittman and Sharland England. There will also be a selection of luxury fashion brands such as One/Of, Rose Room Collection and a curated assortment from Over The Moon. Artists like Erin Tice Fine Art will participate, in addition to vintage and antique dealers including The Sleepy Flea and Six Bells. And gardenware with Dundee Gardens will be within the mix as well. This is the first bazaar I’ve ever done and I’m really excited because I think there’s a big need for a design event of this kind in the Northeast.

(Image credit: Abby Ward)

What would be a great item or gift to take home?

I think you can always find something fun and exciting when vintage shopping, and we’ve got great brands to choose from. A potted topiary from Dundee Gardens is always a good idea. Or some small chic gifts from Persay for your next dinner party. I can’t wait to see what people will choose!

As a designer, what do you love most about the Mayflower Inn & Spa’s interiors?

I love everything interior designer Celerie Kemble did at Mayflower Inn & Spa. The pattern play, beautiful lattice work in the Garden Room, natural beauty of the grounds and the warmth of all the layered vintage and antique furniture with the happy color palette all makes for such a visual feast for the eyes. 

Each nook and corner of the Mayflower is thoughtfully considered, and it feels like a stay at your most stylish friend’s country house (with a cheeky sense of humor).
– Ariel Okin

What are some of your favorite memories staying at the Mayflower Inn & Spa?

Recently, my husband and I visited for a few nights to recharge after a particularly long winter of toddler sniffles and a busy season of work. One evening, we enjoyed a romantic fireside dinner for two in the candlelit Library Room. It was an exceptional six-course meal with different wine pairings curated to our personal preferences and favorite foods. It was an experience that my husband and I will always remember and cherish dearly.

I love how Auberge’s exceptional service and hospitality are ingrained into even the littlest things, like leaving salted caramels and oHHo chocolates by the nightstands before bedtime, or sending personalized texts to make sure we didn’t need a dinner reservation when they saw we had nothing booked on one night of our itinerary. That attention to detail is truly unmatched!

Are there any experiences one shouldn't miss while in the Litchfield, Connecticut area?

At the hotel, we love getting a lazy brunch in the Garden Room (the bacon and sourdough bread are not to be missed!) and ending the evening with a burger in the Tap Room and a cocktail – the latest favorite of mine is a spin on a salty Paloma with salt foam, tequila and blood orange. We also always make time to work out at the gym in THE WELL and indulge in a divine spa treatment. I love getting a 90-minute Swedish massage and adding reflexology to the treatment! We’ve also hiked the property several times, which is so beautiful and peaceful.

Off-property, we love shopping in New Preston for the incredible array of antiques, vintage, fashion and other treats. Plain Goods is a must-visit, as is getting the dark chocolate caramels with sea salt at the candy shop, SWEEETS, afterward. Pergola, DK Schulman and Privet House are great stops, followed by dinner at Community Table. In Kent, RT Facts is also fantastic for antiques and vintage.

What are some essentials to pack in your suitcase for a stay at the Mayflower Inn & Spa?

A great face mask to do while you’re relaxing in bed with a cozy Mayflower Inn robe (a personal favorite is the goop Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliating Mask); an engaging new book to dive into (right now I’m reading Good Material by Dolly Alderton) and a journal to jot down any bright ideas that spring from the calmness of relaxing in the Connecticut countryside.

Are there any DIY projects inspired by Mayflower Inn & Spa that people could try at home?

One of the most recognizable rooms in the hotel is the Garden Room, distinguished by its beautiful mirrored latticework. To bring this look into your own home, you can buy lattice panels at Home Depot and incorporate this motif into any space in your home. Make a day out of it! Paint it white to add a pop to backyard or use it as a decorative element on the walls in your dining room and attach interesting, vintage-found oil paintings – just as they have it styled in the Garden Room!