Julia Leach, a creative director and co-founder of Sublime, a branding consultancy, has lived in Venice, California, for six years. “This apartment has a bit of a speakeasy vibe,” says Julia. “You enter through an apartment complex and it doesn’t look like anything too special — you don’t expect the skylight and the sunshine.” Here’s a look inside (and the most incredible gallery wall!)…
On creating an epic gallery wall: I didn’t make a plan ahead of time. I just collected things and put it up, picture by picture. Over the years, I’ve collected pencil and charcoal figurative drawings from flea markets. Plus, there are drawings I love by Hugo Guinness and photography from 20×200, especially the horse prints. I was a big advocate of 20×200 from early on.
On seeing what’s there: Every once in a while, I’ll be having dinner with a friend, look up, and realize, wow, I really love those images so much.
On entertaining: The kitchen looks over the dining room, so I can be chopping onions and still chat with people on the couch. Half the fun of entertaining is putting it all together visually. I always do a spread of olives, marcona almonds and olive oil drizzled over Parmesan cheese.
On breathing room: I’m a tall person — just brushing six feet — and the first thing that drew me to this apartment is that the ceilings are 18’ tall. I love the generosity of the space. It’s incredibly open and intimate at the same time.
Candles: Hammer Museum gift shop, similar
On a favorite author: My pile of books has grown so much that now I need to slide books in sideways — they’re not fitting anymore! My favorite author is James Salter. His novels, including Light Years and A Sport and a Pastime, are etched in my memory. The book he wrote with his wife, Life Is Meals, is the perfect host gift.
On a passion for horses: When I was growing up, my dad lived on a farm, and he invited college students to come study pottery every summer. One summer, one student asked to bring her horse. I was five, and I fell in LOVE. I rode horses throughout my childhood, and when I moved to L.A., I was thrilled to be able to ride again. That’s my time when the world disappears. Horses are so elegant and peaceful, and I get strength from them. Feeling that sense of freedom while riding — it’s so good for my mental wellbeing. I’m happiest when I’m at the barn.
On putting art on the floor: I have a collection of black and white photos, and they feel like they want to live together on the ground. I also like a little breathing room on the walls. It creates more dimension — your eye is looking up and down as you walk through the space.
Bookshelves: Room & Board, similar.
On breaking it in: To me, a house isn’t a home until you have friends come over. People you love helps give a house its soul. Six months after I moved here, I had a housewarming party, and it really helped warm up the space.
Fruit art: Irving Penn, similar.
On crowd-pleasing meals: When friends come for dinner, I do a salmon with cumin brown sugar glaze, sautéed spinach with golden raisins, and pine nuts, which is always a hit. It’s not too complicated. I found the basic recipe years ago and have tweaked it to be my own.
And desserts: My friend turned me onto a Suzanne Goin recipe for a lemon tart. You make it with a really thin layer of dark chocolate between the crust and the lemon. It’s kind of like gilding the lily, you know? But it’s so delicious and a crowd pleaser.
On art that tells a story: This framed photograph shows a hill in Connecticut with fireworks going off. It captures a cinematic moment — there’s definitely a narrative going on, but you’re not quite sure what it is. Is it beautiful or is it dangerous? And what’s happening with the truck? But then you look at the top of the print and see fireworks. It’s mysterious but also celebratory.
On an inspiring space: I change my inspiration board yearly. It takes time and reflects the mood I’m in. When I first moved here, it was all blues and greens and nature and ocean and horses. But now the color palette has shifted. Last year, I became obsessed with pairing Yves Klein blues with pinks, and then the collecting began. I take things from old magazines, book covers, quotes I love… it’s a magpie approach.
Bedside table: Steven Sclaroff, similar.
On private space: I’m not a frilly romantic person, but the bedroom feels serene and quiet and just feminine enough. Because I live here alone, I don’t mind that the bedroom peers out over the living space. It’s still private.
On unwinding: I grew up without a TV, so I’m one of those oddballs who has been slow to embrace shows. I just watched The Sopranos, twenty years late. It stood the test of time! I have a projector and from time to time I’ll project a movie onto the wall, especially old movies.
Portrait on wall: flea market, similar.
On a décor mantra: My advice for people is: Collect, don’t decorate. I have things that I love from 20 years ago and from today. Find things that move you, and don’t feel that you need to rush.
White chair: Lawson Fenning, similar.
On a daily ritual: I have an outdoor area that gets light all day long. When I’m starting the day, I open up the double doors into the patio. One thing I didn’t appreciate before living here is the theater of the sky. In New York, you see slivers of blue, or outlines of the sky behind the buildings. In Venice, you get a different cloudscape every day — massive clouds, sunsets. I love watching it.
Thank you so much, Julia!
(Photos by The Ingalls for Cup of Jo.)