The attention to detail in Italian design is unparalleled and nowhere more than in fashion (Forenza 80s mall wear notwithstanding). The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has an exhibit this spring that celebrates Italian fashion that looks fantastic. Thankfully, there's the interwebs.
Here's a giant generalization: Europeans have beautifully "un" styled homes that make me want to read esoteric books and drink wine. Excepting the over the top baroque stuff you sometimes see in shelter mags, they seem to have an effortless talent for making a home feel sophisticated, yet pulled together over decades. Family heirlooms and sleek current pieces comfortably co-existing for a most un-fussy, cool vibe. Exhibit: The Rome apartment of Ginevra Elkmann- the privileged granddaughter of the Agnelli family (Fiat). Her place doesn't scream money or pretense as much sophistication and the possibility of putting your feet up on the coffee table. I find this so much more appealing than the trendy, showy, shiny quality you see in a lot of American interiors. Maybe it's the history. Maybe it's that the average European home is smaller (apt!) and therefore more carefully edited. Maybe it's the wine. All I know is life in this apt. looks dolce.
I am lukewarm on the current kitchen trend of having lower cabinets one color and upper cabinets another. It's a way to inject color/interest, but it's also everywhere and therefore soon to be dated. This twist, however, makes me smile. It's simple and unique. Not crazy about the weird mini salami links hanging about, but whatevs.