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Kirsten had honed her eye for design while living in Switzerland—her husband works for a Swiss-owned company—with her family for three years. "I knew it would be good for our son and us to experience another culture," she says.

It also jump-started a new obsession: Northern European design. Visiting Swiss friends' homes, Kirsten studied how they seamlessly melded the modern with the old and appreciated the merits of small spaces. Along with that education, she acquired some major souvenirs: a giant Swiss armoire, an antique sofa and zinc lanterns from Europe, and a motley assortment of vintage floral paintings and wood-framed mirrors. "Let me put it this way," she says. "We arrived in Switzerland with a 20-foot crate and left with a 40-foot crate."

The difference between stuff on a shelf and an eye-catching vignette? A little careful curating. Butterflies and a bird painting keep with Kirsten's nature theme. Notice how Kirsten repeats colors and shapes, and sticks to objects with a nature theme. The urn full of seashells gets added punch, thanks to the surprise of two cherub heads wearing Madonna crowns.
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