Meet the Mastermind Interior Designer Behind Lena Dunham's "Granny Chic" West Village Apartment

Ariel Okin's take on the actress's new space will give you all the pastel vibes.

Lena Dunham West Village apartment
Courtesy of Domino

The award-winning actress, director, and producer Lena Dunham is officially gracing the cover of Domino's Fall Issue where we get an inside look at her newly designed West Village apartment in New York City. Lena's taste is eclectic—this we know—and we were able to speak with the mastermind interior designer behind the project, Ariel Okin. She opened up to us about her use of vintage pieces, incorporating personal items into the decor, and even how Lena's tattoo artist played a role in a very special design surprise.

"Lena's directive was basically "grandma chic", which is kind of a really fun theme to play with," Ariel Okin, the actress's interior designer for her new West Village apartment, said. "We started with a color palette of pinks and greens and teals so it was like a funky vibe."

lena dunham apartment
Lena Dunham’s entryway, designed by Ariel Okin.
Photos by Alberto Zanetti, courtesy of Domino.

To keep the fun "granny chic" theme alive and well in the apartment, Ariel wanted to find a ton of unique antique pieces for the home—one of them in question was the magnificent mirror Lena Dunham is standing in on Domino's cover by Ettore Sottsas that gives off a neon pink light. Another upcycled item that stuck out to the designer was the enormous white table located in the living room.

"The vintage coffee table is kind of amazing," Ariel said. "It's like a 70s concrete slab that weighs a billion pounds and was impossible to get inside, but it's really beautiful."

Aside from her vintage furniture stash, it's no secret that Lena Dunham has a great collection of art—her own mother is an artist, after all, and she's recently come out with her own watercolor paintings—so Ariel made sure to display her collection in a way that felt natural throughout the West Village apartment.

lena dunham apartment
Ariel Okin, Lena Dunham’s interior designer.
Allaire Bartel

"We took a lot of inspiration from the artwork that she has and we kind of created a rotating gallery [she can] swap out, depending on what she's feeling," the designer revealed. "So that was a fun place to sort of start and get inspiration from. She also has lots of little tchotchkies that we used as accessories."

The use of her client's personal belongings as centerpieces in her home isn't a first for Ariel—it's something the designer often likes doing for her clients to make their houses feel more like a home.

"I always think that it's nice to use a client's personal items to make the home feel collected and really feel like it's their home and not so staged," Ariel said. "Lena definitely had that vibe. She has some pretty cool stuff."

Since the only directive Lena gave the design team was that she wanted her home to have a that classic grandma-but-make-it-chic vibe, Ariel and her team were given almost free creative reign over the space. The designer said that they'd create and send over mood boards to Lena that she would approve, and then Ariel would move forward with the design process.

"Lena was wonderful in that sense," Ariel said. "She really respected the creative process and let us do our thing."

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Lena’s living room with the vintage white coffee table.
Photos by Alberto Zanetti, courtesy of Domino.

As for what Lena thinks of her newly designed space, it's obvious that Ariel has done a phenomenal job transforming her new home.

"I hired interior designer Ariel Okin to do what my mother had done for me and what I tried to do for her: arrange the things I’ve accumulated in an inventive and loving way," Lena said. "Ariel did all that and more. The towels have my initials and the pillows bear embroidery of my cats. The books are color-coded. My Lisa Yuskavage and Penelope Gazin pieces are framed beside a photo of the best dog I ever knew.”

The custom pillows Lena speaks of was another fun aspect of the project for Ariel—she had Lena's tattoo artist create illustrations of her cats and surprised her with the embroidered design. Her three hairless cats aren't the only animals to make an appearance throughout the home—one of the things Ariel loved creating the most was in the dark green kitchen, where neon orange bunnies were printed on the window treatment for a fun surprise.

"There were a lot of fun moments, it was a really fun project to work on because we were under kind of fast turnaround," Ariel explained. "We did a lot of vintage and a lot of CB2 and things like that."

The Fall Issue of Domino is available on newsstands September 3rd.

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