TREE first planted its U.S. roots in fall 2017 and has grown to three Pacific Northwest locations, with a vision to bring together contemporary design and traditional hand-craftsmanship and create timeless furniture made to last lifetimes. From the seed of an idea, TREE has budded into a one-stop destination for sustainable style, offering naturally beautiful eco-chic furnishings and finishing touches lovingly made “from the heart.”
From their signature furniture collections crafted from reclaimed, salvaged teak, to clean, contemporary pieces made from sustainably-sourced, rich walnut and light oak wood, TREE has developed an extensive range of solid eco-wood furniture to suit every home interior. Precise lines, natural versatility and raw authenticity have become their calling card, bringing together bestselling classics which their clients return to time and again with fresh new introductions that become instant favorites.
I had the chance to interview TREE’s founder and curator, Nicole Wakley, to learn more about how TREE came to be!
Tell us about you! Where are you from, what was life like growing up?
I grew up in a small one-pub one-church town in rural England. The highlight of the village was an antique shop with a café inside, and since I was little my dream was to open a furniture store with a café just like that.
I know the simple wabi sabi lifestyle of a rustic Australian farm inspires you. Is there anything specifically about the Pacific Northwest lifestyle that reminds you of the time in your life?
I feel a similar tangible connection to the PNW for its greenery, consciousness, and love for sustainability. Everyone has such an appreciation for the beautiful surrounding landscapes and both TREE and my family feel right at home here.
What is it specifically that draws you to a piece you find on your travels?
I feel that what brings true beauty to a piece is its story: how it was made, its materials, and the tradition and craftsmanship of the people behind the work. Style wise, I love pieces that hold a sense of modern nostalgia, a little rustic and a little chic.
TREE sincerely resonates with the modern farmhouse aesthetic, which is all the trend right now! Our clients absolutely love it. With the pieces being made by hand, the story and sustainability behind their materials, and the warmth behind the look, pieces can be mixed and matched to fit into any home and aesthetic.
What made you decide to leave the corporate world and open TREE?
I had come to a point in my career as a young lawyer where the doors were just starting to open up for me. I was recognized in the Asia Legal 500 as one of the top young lawyers in my field, and from there I could continue on as a lawyer and have a successful career if that’s what I wanted. I had this reflective, sliding door moment where I had to ask myself, what did I really want to do? Then I remembered my dream of the little furniture boutique with the café, and even though I didn’t have any experience on how to even begin opening a furniture store, I took a leap – and here we are!
Tell us about the new store in Bellevue and why you decided to open there?
The Bellevue Store is in the Design Market, beside many other home improvement and decor stores. It is the perfect location to introduce TREE to the Bellevue/Seattle area and to homeowners and renters looking to update their home’s aesthetic. I love the Bellevue neighborhood and the people here. I’ve been so grateful for all the connections made so far.
What’s it like when you know that something you curated is now displayed in someone’s home?
It’s such an amazing feeling to see the client so happy. When we did the TREE Home Makeover for a sweet foster family in Tacoma this Spring, the husband was in awe at his home’s transformation. He said to me, “When we found out we won I was mostly happy for my wife. I didn’t think that things like this really mattered. But it DOES matter, I can feel that now.” A TREE inspired home is so much more than interior design, it’s about creating a space that is livable, sustainable, happy, healthy and heartwarming. I love to help people create that.
What are your favorite pieces in the store right now?
TREE’s extendable tables are becoming recognized as one of our signature pieces for their simplicity and true genius in design and structure. The beauty behind these tables is that our clients are extending their hearts and their homes to their guests. They have the practicality of a small table that then extends the heart of the home to friends and family. Some TREE favorites include our reclaimed pine tables with that modern farmhouse charm, timeless designs in oak and teak, and our signature Bok table.
Reclaimed pine extendable table in distressed white:
Bok oak extendable table:
Since this is What’s Up NW, what are your favorite Northwest places to hang out (eat, drink, chill, have fun, etc)?
Are there any charities that are near and dear to your heart that you work with and why?
TREE HK has a long history with Trees4Trees, a non-profit organization that plants trees globally. Since moving to the U.S., TREE has made new partnerships with local non-profits who are making a huge impact here locally. We partner with Forterra to plant trees in the local Pacific Northwest region. We’ve also partnered with NW Furniture Bank to donate lightly used furniture for families in need, as well as old mattresses which they break down and recycle.
Our team works closely with nonprofit organization Compass360, a Washington-based non-profit with a mission to advance the technology available to non-profits. Our partnership with them provides TREE with a best-in-class non-profit management software, and allows Compass to give the same software to non-profits nationally at no additional cost.
What are you looking forward to in the rest of 2018 and into 2019?
Making more connections with the lovely people here and spreading my love for sustainable style throughout the PNW!
You can find TREE’s collections at their Bellevue and Tacoma stores or online!