Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fresh Starts!

Before I decided to pursue interior design, my former career was in retail window display and visual merchandising. Every January my former vocation seems to come to mind. After all the work of decorating a large retail store for Christmas it was almost painful to think of eradicating any signs of it from the premises. To abandon all the red, sparkle and luxe the look of Christmas defines; the New Year was usually met with a different visual approach.

This visual language usually consisted of tones of blue, aqua and indigo while incorporating natural textures like linen and burlap. The textiles used were usually of an exotic nature like paisley, ikat or batik. The merchandising theme to accompany this departure was usually called “Fresh Starts”, or some related variation. This was meant to quite literally represent the visual equivalent to the “Anti-Christmas”. Depending on what retail establishment you worked for you might or might not be promoting Valentines Day which might or might not mean using more red as a display device so a firm demarcation was required to erase the former holiday away.

I’ve been thinking about this idea since ringing in 2011 and trying to apply it to an interior design context. What would “Fresh Starts”, or the “Anti-Christmas” look like in an interior? I’m thinking light, airy spaces that feel like a vacation. Some good examples might be some of the legendary Michael Taylor’s later work, a Moroccan Riad, or perhaps the work of Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. The possibilities are endless.

What are your “Fresh Starts”? Whatever this means for you, just breathe and let the holidays become a memory!

David Hansen

Photographs from top:

1) Bergdorf Goodman window display May 23, 2008 photographed by Rudy Panzano for

2) The Mondrian Hotel with interior by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz.

3) Dixneuf La Ksour Riad from Hoosta magazine.

4) Michael Taylor interior photographed by Russell MacMasters from Architectural Digest.

5) Nacho Polo interior photographed by Andrea Satini from

Sunday, January 2, 2011


New Year’s Day…. A day filled with the promise of good will and good fortune in the coming year. For me it’s opening the last gift of the holiday season. I always seem to be full of joy on this day, as if all I have to do is wish for what I hope for in the coming year and it will magically happen.

For the last 10 years, give or take a year or two, I’ve chosen to spend New Years Day with my dad at the beach. Typically we venture out in the early afternoon and head over the hill to glorious Half Moon Bay. For the last 2 years we’ve lunched at Sam’s Chowder House where, when the weather permits, we sit outside in big Adirondack chairs around a cracking fire and get lost in a couple of hours of conversation or sometimes just silence while taking in the beautiful view before us. The ocean has such an ethereal and calming effect.

The crowning moment of New Year’s Day is when I toss an apple into the ocean on which I’ve written my wishes for the new year. I got this idea from a friend years ago and it’s stayed with me ever since. For what it’s worth, I’ve been both lucky AND fortunate, as many of my dreams and wishes have come true.

I wish you a year filled with promise and good fortune.

Barbara Ashfield


Top photo of my Dad on the beach

Second photo of the harbor at Princeton By The Sea

All photos by Barbara Ashfield for Ashfield Hansen Design Inc.