Tips on Sustainable Decorating with James Treble

Many of you will know James Treble, Interior Designer and TV presenter. What you may not know is that he has been working in the building and design arena for over 25 years in some form. In between presenting Design Challenges on Channel TEN’s The Living Room for seven seasons so far, he has been been looking after private clients, which he says is always lots of fun! He also gets to share his acquired knowledge and love of all things houses every Saturday for 6 hours LIVE, on Foxtel channel 602, co-hosting Sky News Real Estate show. I had a chat with James recently on the show which is a fabulous resource for all things homes, decorating and real estate. Today we are having a chat with James about sustainable decorating, his role with Planet Ark & why buying quality handmade items for your home matters.James Treble Interior Designer The Living Room - tips on sustainable decorating
How did you first start in the design/real estate business and what inspired you to where you are now? Do you have memories of loving design as a child?
I may be known as an Interior Designer, but my love for homes started many years ago when I first entered the home industry as a Real Estate Agent. Since then I’ve specialised in Kitchen Design, Bathroom Design, Building and Interior Design, and worked with some of the largest builders in the country. I refined my love for homes by studying Colour Theory, Landscape Design, and I am a qualified Interior Designer and Colour Consultant. I also travel overseas as often as I can to keep up-to-date with all there is to know in colour trends and material finishes. And with no moment of hesitation I can say that it all started with LEGO bricks! I know it may sound cheesy, but it is true. Building homes was my favourite childhood  game, and my two children gave me the perfect excuse to go back and play again with those colourful bricks, which I still have. Yes, I LOVE everything about houses, inside and out, looking at them, walking through them, designing them and styling them; I can’t get enough! I’m sadly the one that gets beeped from behind when the traffic lights turn green, as I’m staring out the window at a house… at least I’m not on my mobile phone!

Can you tell us about your role with Planet Ark and why you are so passionate about this?
I was invited to become an Ambassador for Planet Ark in 2015 and I have enjoyed every venture I partake in with them – from Plant A Tree Day, National Wood Day, Recycling Week and all the activities they organize to inform and empower adults and children. I am very proud to be able to use my presence in TV and media to bring attention to this important environmental activity. To anyone out there that wishes to contribute, I suggest you go ahead and check out what they are up to, and find the often simple things we can all be doing to make this world a better place. This is not only a duty, trust me, it’s also a pleasure, and guess what – you can even save money, as well as the planet.

James Treble Interior Designer The Living Room - tips on sustainable decorating

One of James’s Before and After upcycle projects on channel 10’s The Living Room

What are your thoughts on sustainability and how is this part of your business and own home?
The building products we use, the furniture we add to our homes… where our Energy comes from and where it goes … Water, Gas… I encourage all my clients to be aware of sustainability, to be curious, search, ask questions and expect satisfying answers! Our responsibility is not only to our home and our family… there is a whole world around us and believe it or not, it is struggling to stay standing. It can be as simple as buying quality items which will last; buying good materials, many of which can be from recycled content. Of course timber is one material which is renewable and beautiful to look at – the added bonus is that it stores carbon for its lifetime, which is extensive because it’s a completely recyclable material to boot!

What are your top 3 tips for people wanting to create a more sustainable home?

  1. Shopping is not a past-time;
  2. Buy less; and
  3. Buy quality.

Sensible shopping may cost you more on the spot, but will make you happier and save you money in the long term. From bedding to appliances, to furniture and flooring, buying sustainable products in the first place is always a good start. The range available is growing daily because it is common sense for businesses to use sustainable materials which boosts their positive marketing. In the savvy world of the purchaser, many of us want to be environmentally conscious where we can, and therefore, this becomes an important element in the manufacture and marketing of most goods – we all want to look after the planet and feel like we’re making a difference, don’t we?

James Treble Interior Designer The Living Room - tips on sustainable decorating

One of James’s projects on the Living Room – before

James Treble Interior Designer The Living Room - tips on sustainable decorating

And After!

What do you think are the biggest challenges we face in creating a more sustainable interiors industry?
We seem to be continuously searching for cheaper prices, instead of aiming towards quality. And quality usually coincides with better homes and a better living environment. The challenge for everyone is to be informed about what you purchase and welcome into your home, and it’s this ‘drop in the ocean’ effect that enables our combined purchasing voices to force change. If the company that builds with sustainable products sells more houses, what do you think the other companies are going to do? It’s simple!

What is your Interior Design for Profit Course all about and how can people get involved?
Interior Design For Profit is the celebration of decades of experience in the Real Estate and Design industries. What I have created is an online course aimed at adding value to homes by sharing my knowledge through 12 modules, starting with the elements and principles of design, to colour theory and the fundamentals of placement, materials and finishes… there are bathrooms and kitchen layouts, design ideology, and a step by step, room by room guide to styling, creating the sense of space and highlighting the best aspects of your individual home. When it comes to selling – a well styled home can achieve a minimum of 7% more than its expected selling price. That can translate into lots of money, and it’s achieved by simply understanding the market you sell in, and applying appropriate design and styling technique to it. It’s practical information for anyone that wishes to understand and improve any living space. It’s actually easy, once you know what to do and how.

In James’s Studio: A solid armchair becomes new again with a coat of paint.

I stress, this is not a qualification, and does not take the place of study and certified courses, which I myself have undertaken and 100% support. I created this course for the many people out there who do not want to become Interior Designers, but do want to apply practical knowledge in their own homes. In the course I share over 25 years of my own experience, compacted into a time and cost effective course.

In James's Studio: Sofa being up-cycled with wheel once the legs gave way

In James’s Studio: Sofa being up-cycled with wheel once the legs gave way

What is currently on your agenda for your own home?
I am in between selling and buying, having sold our principle residence as well as a vacation property down the south coast of NSW. Due to my demanding workload we were simply not using or enjoying it. I have a large studio space which I share with my artist partner Sandro Nocentini. This has also become a space for workshops I run with The International School of Colour and Design, as the students love coming to a true working studio, an ‘Atelier’. We also film in here, so you will have seen into my studio space as it’s the set for my creative builds for The Living Room. I spend about 50% of my time in my studio. Therefor in my new home, rather than a conventional home, I want it to be the perfect space to become a combination work and live dwelling.

In James’s Studio: A quality office chair updated with stylish fabric

In James's Studio: Recycled tyres for pots, from Weylandts Store in Melbourne

In James’s Studio: Recycled tyres for pots, from Weylandts Store in Melbourne

What is something you are loving in interiors at the moment – perhaps a product, brand or trend?
There is a lot of talk about recycling and upcycling generally and in the design and furniture world. Therefore there is more attention to building new furniture using recycled and recyclable materials. I particularly like the use of timber furniture because as I mentioned above, the qualities of timber outshine many other materials. I am also a huge fan of handmade traditional crafts, and have many items in my own home. This is such an important process to support as many handmade techniques and processes are being lost around the world, due the low cost of mass production. However the beauty of something unique and individually handmade cannot be replaced. Many beautiful handmade items such as weaving, carving and metal works, seem to come from parts of Asia and Africa.  By including some of these items in your home you are supporting these makers, who can pass on their techniques to the next generation and create quality sustainable lives themselves. Always ensure you support only companies who have appropriate certification and fair treatment of workers. In Australia, Aboriginal people have their own unique handmade crafts and techniques. By supporting these we can all enjoy beautiful sustainable objects of art, decor and furniture in our homes, whilst supporting a community as it yearns to value its traditions. Again I stress the importance of buying from certified companies who ensure the fair sustainable practices of valuing and supporting the maker, and their techniques.
You can find James and all of his work on his website here 

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