Touring The Fearlessly Fun Home Of Julie Howard

Colorful paper string lights

Julie & Her Home

It’s pretty safe to claim it as common knowlege that encouraging our children to be artistic is a must. We’ve all heard the rumors that cultivating those creative muscles and instincts from an early age is paramount to setting kids up for a life filled with imagination and the ability to cleverly problem solve. One mom who seems to be taking this sentiment to an all new, oh-so-sweet level is Leo Kids shop owner Julie Howard.

Our team here at Glitter Guide have been long-time fans of Julie and nearly everything she does. We’ve followed along with the creative mama through her time as a brick-and-mortor shop owner, to her role now as online retailer extraordinaire. To say we’re smitten is clearly an understatement as we soak up her fearlessly fun aesthetic every day of the week.

In case you, too, are looking for a little pick-me-up this transitional season, we invite you to step inside the colorful Victorian home of Julie below. Whether you find yourself taken in by her handmade woven wall hangings or the free-form artwork done by her kids, you’re sure to find some excuse to be whisked away into the Howards’ ultra-whimsical world below.

Colorful woven wall hangings

Tell us about your home!

I live in a beautiful Victorian in downtown Santa Cruz. It was built in 1902, so it has beautiful period detailing throughout. It’s quirky, but we love it!

We love all of the colorful kids’ artwork you have displayed throughout your house! How do you encourage creativity in your children’s daily lives?

For a while, we had a complete art room in our basement fully stocked with every art supply you could imagine. The kids and their friends were allowed to play freely in there, working with neon paint, glitter, glue, paper scraps, beads, feathers, clay—you name it. They always came up with really amazing creations that I have displayed  througout the house.

I work from my dining room table, which is a central room in our home. So, there is always yarn and pom poms, sewing needles and tassels everywhere. The kids will sporadically join me at the table and invent their own little projects. The other day, Fischer covered the entire table in a neon pink yarn that he called “a giant spider web trap.”

Vintage white kitchen backsplash tile

Displaying children's art

Tell us about your business, Leo Kids!

I opened a small toy boutique called Leo Kids in 2013. It was a dream come true! In 2016, I decided to move the shop online and I really wanted to focus on building my own brand (which was always my real passion). Some people may think I did this backwards, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Running a small business was wonderful, but it was a massive amount of work! Moving the business online is wildly different and works better for me and my family. That said, the experience of owning a brick-and-mortar shop was essential to how I run my online business now. I’ve learned a lot and am so thankful for the direction Leo is going in now! 

Touring The Fearlessly Fun Home Of Julie Howard

Girls' black and white striped leggings

Kids in general are very playful and colorful creatures, which is how I like my house to look! It doesn’t need to be a birthday party for there to be balloons or garlands strung around.

Hanging macrame planter

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts out crazy and ends crazy! I have two kids (Fischer is in first grade and Lucy is in kindergarten), so the mornings are filled with eating breakfast, getting dressed, packing lunches, repeating myself, maybe eating and then carpooling. After that, I usually get right to work on orders. It’s like a mini marathon between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. I make everything by hand, which I find very therapeutic. I usually work right up until 2:30 p.m. when it’s time to grab the kids from school!

Wall-mounted magnetic knife rack

Oh Joy! ice bucket

What influences have your children had on how you decorate your home?

Kids in general are very playful and colorful creatures, which is how I like my house to look! It doesn’t need to be a birthday party for there to be balloons or garlands strung around. I say, why not keep balloons around for fun? Everyone loves parties and party décor, so why put it away when the party is over? Keep your living space playful and festive!

Gold Victorian wallpaper

Paper honeycomb party decor

White kitchen cabinets

Snowflake glassware // Coffee mug // Bellow lamp

Did your kids help decorate their rooms?

No! They did, however, choose all of their own stuffed animals and dolls that are on their beds! I kept their rooms really simple. I did let Lucy pick the beautiful butterfly print above her bed from Banquet, which I am in love with!

Where are your favorite places to shop for home décor? Art supplies?

We have lots of local gems here in Santa Cruz. I have some amazing art prints from Cameron Marks boutique, colorful home décor from Home/Work, Agency and StripeChildish toy boutique has everything from Tad Lapin lamps to Whoopee Cushions! Those are all of my go-to local shops.

White faux fur blanket

Tasseled wall hangings

Colorful wooden children's blocks

What is the most prized piece of artwork in your home?

I have a few! The Molly M Designs laser cut print from Cameron Marks, which I love. It has all my favorite colors in it and it comes framed! I also have a super fond love for my colorful lucky horseshoes from Home/Work. They are simple, yet add the perfect pop of color. They make great gifts, too.

White children's bookshelf

Children's paintings art display

The kids will sporadically join me at the table and invent their own little projects. The other day, Fischer covered the entire table in a neon pink yarn that he called “a giant spider web trap.”

Colorful yarn crafts

What’s your favorite way to add color to a room?

To be honest, I use my kids’ artwork, my weavings and garlands and little décor goodies. My house is fairly neutral otherwise. I have a white sofa and all of our beds are white. So, there is lots of room to play with color, like the oversized canvas pom-pom tote in Lucy’s bedroom, which came from Agency. It has the perfect amount of color to add to an otherwise neutral room. It feels light and airy, and not overloaded or crowded. Lots of colorful tchotchkes on our shelves and fireplace mantle also help. Lots of neon pink!

Reclaimed wood dining room table

Bunny chair // Kids’ dishware // Tassel pom-pom garland // Yarn-wrapped lucky horseshoe

White living room couch

How would you describe your personal style? What are three of your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?

Disheveled? I have no shame in going to CVS or Rite Aid in my pajamas (it’s not a good thing). But when I do get dressed, I’m really into oversized blouses and jeans. I’m obsessed with all my Blank Verse Jewelry, too!

Vintage wood twin bed frame

Pom-pom storage bin basket

Butterfly wall art print

Butterfly print // Pom-pom garland // Pom-pom storage bin // Weaving

What’s the best way to end your day?

A cocktail and watching “Shark Tank”! After all the craziness of the day has settled down, my husband and I grab some sort of snack and sit on the sofa watching entrepreneurs pitch their inventions to investors. It’s a totally addicting show, and it doesn’t have all the lights, camera and action of something like “The Voice.” It’s rather quiet and calming. You should watch it!

Honeycomb paper party decor

Honeycomb décor // Spirit Line earrings

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Author: Carrie Waller

Carrie is the writer, stylist and photographer behind Dream Green DIY, and also is the features editor for Glitter Guide. Follow along on Instagram!