For graphic designer Julie Betters, travel informs and inspires both her work and the interior of the large South Boston loft she shares with her fiance. Throughout, there are treasures large and small that they’ve collected on their many far-flung adventures. The map of the world in their office delineates the places they’ve been with pins in different colors—blue and yellow for places each has visited alone, red for the places they’ve been together—and they’re starting to run out of room.
The loft, however, offers plenty of space, and despite the open floor plan, it still gives the impression of “having rooms,” as Betters puts it, because it’s divided into a raised seating area, a dining room (that seats 10), a kitchen they expanded to accommodate Betters’ penchant for cooking and another seating area leading out to the deck. “And we still have a little dance floor, in the form of this hallway area,” Betters points out.
However, one of her favorite design elements is tucked away in the guest bathroom, where the wallpaper sports a very graphic print of trees. “I’m probably the only person in the U.S. with this wallpaper, because it’s made by a firm in the U.K. and they refuse to ship it overseas,” Betters says. “I had to have a friend in England buy it and then get it to me.”
She hauled other treasures home herself. Along one wall flanking a dramatic seating area that consists of two large sofas and a pair of camel bone inlay tables, custom-built shelving displays Makonde carvings from East Africa and masks from Zambia, Mali and Indonesia, as well as more abstract contemporary works. A collection of Buddhas presides over it all, and exotic touches, like the antique wall bracket from an Indian temple on the stairway, are deployed throughout.
In one of the seating areas, pillows are made from the textiles Betters has been collecting for 25 years, while the accent wall features what she calls “The Installation,” an assortment of paintings and art objects surrounding a contemporary starburst mirror that Betters arranged using computer software and a life-size stencil. “For me, everything has to have a visual appeal,” she says. “But in art school, I had a Japanese instructor who stressed balance and rhythm, which I think comes into play in everything I do.” Beyond graphic and interior design, her talents extend to the extravagant floral arrangements that are a constant, as well as whimsical things like her jewelry box: a Craftsman tool case that she had fitted with a custom marble top. “When I’m leaving on a trip, I just lock it up and go.”