Inside Designer Julia Leach’s Stylish Venice Beach Home
Julia Leach is known for her six-year-old clothing line, Chance—a goldmine for classic striped shirts and handmade accessories— and also, in a smaller way, for her beautiful farmer’s market hauls on Instagram (she’s a must-follow). Julia is also a creative leader in the advertising world and a life-long equestrienne. That she lives in the dreamiest, sun-drenched loft in Venice Beach is just icing on the cool-girl cake. Julia’s just one of those women who exudes style and creativity in every possible way. For that reason, I couldn’t wait to interview her and share photos of her inspiring, minimalist-chic space here on Rip & Tan. I hope her home, and thoughtful words on style, beauty and career, inspire you too. XXJKE
Rip & Tan: What inspired you to relocate to Los Angeles?
Julia Leach: Love, horses, nature, the spirit of Chance (seaside living), and a professional opportunity. All these things combined prompted me to try living in LA full-time after many years of being bi-coastal.
Rip & Tan: What do you love about living here? Do you miss anything about New York?
JL: Even though I’d spent a lot of time in LA over the years, it wasn’t until putting down roots here that I appreciated the vast open sky. The sunrises, cloudscapes, and sunsets are like theater every day, and as someone who’s very independent, I love the sense of freedom and openness that the sky represents. I also love that I can pursue my passion for horses more easily in LA than in New York. All my thoughts about work and to-do lists disappear when I’m riding, and it’s an important part of my life here. All this said, to be honest, I miss New York a lot! Walking, the galleries and museums, my haunts (restaurants, shops, even the local newsstand), the energy. It still feels like home. Ultimately, I’m grateful that I have a life on both coasts, even though my mailing address is now in Venice. I have deep professional and personal networks in both places, and I still have a house in upstate New York, so I’m finding it’s all about balancing what I love about both cities.
Rip & Tan: What drew you to the space or neighborhood you chose for your first home in LA?
JL: Since I travel a lot, I thought it would be easiest to initially land a stone’s throw from LAX in Venice, and I also appreciate that it’s a walking community and close to the beach. My plan was to rent a bungalow while exploring where to buy and also so that I could have outdoor space, but I fell in love with this loft space, again, for the light and sense of openness it provides. My favorite neighborhood is Los Feliz though, and when I buy, it will be on the East Side. I love long walks in Griffith Park, along with quick access to downtown culture and the barn in Burbank where I ride.
Rip & Tan: How would you describe the décor? How is it different than your former New York spaces?
JL: This may sound like an oxymoron, but I’d say the décor is layered minimalism. I prefer to live without clutter, yet there are stacks of books and artwork on every surface. Creating environments that have a sense of warmth, history, and curiosity along with a sense of serenity is a great creative outlet for me. I brought most of the furniture from my former apartment in New York, along with a few pieces from my country house, so the space feels familiar, yet much more open and light, in part, thanks to the 20 foot ceiling and nearly bottom to top windows.
Rip & Tan: What’s your favorite room or space in your house? Where do you spend the most time?
JL: I love the central living room area, which is airy and flooded with light, but the reality is that I spend most of my time at my desk. The spaces flow together nicely and even though it’s essentially a loft space, the way the furniture and stairway are configured, it feels as though there are different rooms.
Rip & Tan: What are some of your favorite places to buy home items?
JL: LA has such a fantastic design community and wonderful home and lifestyle shops. I love Nickey-Kehoe, Merchant, and Hammer and Spear for furniture and rugs; Garde, Turpan, Lawson Fenning, Tortoise, and Object (which has an especially unique selection of vintage items) for smaller items and gifts. And Galerie Half for dreaming…plotting for the eventual East Side house I mentioned above… Oh, and finally, Restoration Hardware for their linen sheets and bedding.
Rip & Tan: How do you tend to entertain at home? What kind of gatherings do you host?
JL: Bringing together a small group of 4-6 friends is my favorite type of entertaining. There are so many opportunities to indulge as a creative director when pulling a gathering together…the flowers, the food and drinks, the music, the little special touches…it’s super satisfying, when I have the time. Of course, the best part about it is having new and old friends come together to share conversation, ideas, travel tips, and stories.
Rip & Tan: You’ve found much success in your career. How did you get your start?
JL: My initial interest was in graphic design, but then in my teens I discovered advertising and the power of ideas and storytelling, so wound up in that field straight out of college. I feel exceptionally fortunate to have had a mentor, Jay Chiat, who was supportive when I was so young. I had certain creative instincts, but he really sent me on my way. It’s nice to be at a point in my career where I can look back and appreciate the great experiences and relationships I’ve had, but also look forward and still see so much potential in the opportunities ahead.
Rip & Tan: What important career lessons did you learn while you were Creative Director of Kate Spade?
JL: Kate and Andy gave me an amazing amount of freedom in every facet of my role, but the area in which I grew the most was mentorship. I love both the creative and strategic aspects of what I do, but it’s leadership—identifying talent, building teams, giving people an opportunity to realize their potential, inspiring people to do great work—this is what’s most satisfying for me now, and those lessons were learned and skills were honed during my years at Kate Spade.
Rip & Tan: Chance has been thriving for some years, too. What are working on for the brand right now?
JL: When I started Chance, the product, point-of-view, and tonality were all driven by my love of travel. The ultimate manifestation of the brand’s values–effortless style, design, simplicity, and adventure– would be in the form of a hotel. Needless to say, that’s a capital-intensive undertaking, so we’re exploring partnerships with hospitality brands and hoteliers where there could be a mutually inspired and rewarding collaboration.
Rip & Tan: Do you find the work culture different in Los Angeles? Is it better or worse?
JL: My observation has been that the work cultures are more similar than different. People work hard in both cities, the hours are long, and the worlds of fashion, advertising, media, design, publishing, and entertainment…they’re all demanding and competitive, but also creatively rewarding. In New York, cultural inspiration is right outside your front door after work, and in LA, inspiration from nature and the great outdoors is right at your fingertips after work. For me, there are advantages to both.
Rip & Tan: What beauty brands or products do you swear by?
JL: I have a no fuss approach to beauty and have long been loyal to a core set of products. It takes me about a minute in the morning to apply Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Powder, Shiseido brow pencil, Maybelline Great Lash mascara, and YSL Sheer Candy lipstick. I also love Serge Lutens A la Nuit fragrance and have a serious stash of Burt’s Bees Pomegranate lip balms.
Rip & Tan: What beauty or wellness ritual do you cherish?
JL: Horseback riding, without compare. It’s all about wellness, mind and body.
Rip & Tan: How do you stay fit and healthy?
JL: In addition to riding, long bike rides along the beach from Venice up to nearly Malibu several mornings a week and long walks are my fitness rituals. Whether in LA, NYC, or in a foreign city, walking is the type of workout that appeals to me most as I’m not crazy about exercising indoors.
Rip & Tan: What do you wear when you want to feel comfortable? What’s your uniform?
JL: Old cut-off Levi’s jean shorts that I’ve had since college, a white Pima cotton tank top or one of my boyfriend’s old Turnbull & Asser button-down shirts, a vintage zip front Fisherman’s sweater that I adore and wear constantly, leather sandals that I bought in Greece, and a stack of silver jewelry – each piece a keepsake, whether a gift or a special find from a memorable trip.
Rip & Tan: What do you wear when you want to feel glamorous?
JL: Black YSL silk crepe de chine button front shirt, Levi’s with cut fringe hem, favorite Gianvito Rossi high heel sandals, mix of Ted Muehling and Kendall Conrad brass jewelry, and vintage gold Rolex bracelet watch with a short Marni fur coat over the shoulders.
Rip & Tan: What’s the best style advice you’ve ever received or come to realize on your own?
JL: “Less is more, but the less has to be more.” I’m happy to keep my clothing classic and effortless, preferring to make the “more” all about a great pair of shoes or bold statement jewelry…this philosophy suits my personality and also makes it easy to pack light.
Photos: Darcy Hemley