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Other than her books, Thelma has little art. Partly, that's practicality. The very same skylights and windows that attracted her to the apartment could ruin a painting or a drawing in a few months. More important, she adds, is a psychological reason: "For me, white space is a real necessity. If I had a lot of art at home, I'd be curating it constantly."

Rich fabrics and patterns decorate her white-walled bedroom instead. Dutch designer Tord Boontje's Garland lights add a fanciful touch to a bed made with linens from Dwell and Designers Guild.

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