Traditional construction, home improvement and interior design are fraught with waste, chemicals and carbon release. But they don’t have to be. Erica Reiner, an eco-friendly interior designer in Los Angeles and founder of Eco Method Interiors, has built her business around creating beautiful, welcoming spaces that are healthy for people and the planet.
Reiner brings an interesting background to the profession, with educational and practical experience in interior decorating as well as a degree in environmental science and a Master’s of Marine Science and Management. At first, Reiner says she kept the two practices separate until she found a focus on the environment and the indoors could go hand in hand.
Reiner told Inhabitat, “I studied, worked, and lectured all in the environmental field prior to this business. I did a decorating certificate for fun between environmental degrees before realizing I could start a business. At first, I offered sustainability consulting and design separately while building my portfolio, before realizing how dirty the industry was, and realizing that I could marry the two pieces of my identity and passions together in one business.”
Now well established in L.A. and across the country, Reiner provides virtual consulting, event decorating and full-service interior design with a specialty in removing toxic cleaning supplies and finding sustainable, eco-friendly furniture and textile options. She also hosts a popular podcast called “Green By Design,” which focuses on ways clients and design professionals can create sustainable design.
Although Reiner has worked in the business for several years, she shared her excitement over the increasing awareness of and interest in environmentally-friendly products. “In [the past] 5-7 years there’s been a huge increase in overall awareness, self-education and concern. For reference, in 2006 when I finished my prerequisites and chose my major in environmental studies for undergrad, most of the population I came across didn’t even understand what that meant,” she said.
For Reiner, projects naturally come together after seeing the space and talking with the clients. She vets vendors for greenwashing saying, “We do everything from reading their website, emailing them for clarity, asking for their certification documentation or anything I feel we need for clarity. I don’t have a simple process for detecting greenwashing. It’s often just a little alarm that goes off in the way the product or material is described. Often legit companies who are proud of their efforts go into detail and have clear information accessible. Some companies, even if they don’t promote their practices, once asked can provide clear information. Companies that greenwash often use language to try to sound good, but with my background in ES academia I know it doesn’t make sense.”
Reiner’s current project is a complete 9,000-square-foot house in Brentwood for a Hollywood family concerned about toxicities in the home. With this in mind, Reiner and the owners have relied on green manufacturing to custom-build sofas, beds, rugs and even wallpaper.
Her portfolio is varied, with large and small projects, residential and commercial spaces, and geographically dispersed locations. A few are highlighted below.
Office and clubhouse in San Antonio, TX
This project incorporated recycled paper countertops, furniture and art pieces made from reclaimed wood, non-toxic wallpaper, recycled PET area rugs and pre-loved books and accessories.
Master bedroom and entryway in West Los Angeles, CA
To make the space cozy and environmentally friendly, Reiner included striking tables made from recycled wood beams. She also created a statement wall with FSC wallpaper free of toxins and made using low-impact dye. The rooms are accented with artwork, rugs, bedding and baskets made from natural fibers and organic materials. It also features vegetable-tanned leather chairs, recycled glass vases and energy-efficient lighting.
Nursery in Manhattan Beach, CA
This small, 168-square-foot nursery creates a big visual impact but a small environmental footprint with the use of organic bedding and a GOTS-certified area rug. The client chose to forgo the chemical-laden fire retardant in the nursing chairs and had a crib custom built to ensure it was made with FSC wood and low-toxin adhesives and finishes.
Playroom, Los Angeles, CA
Kids need space to play. While these clients wanted to look out for the health of children in the space, they also wanted to pay attention to the health of the planet by avoiding waste and upcycling where possible. To this end, they selected non-toxic throw pillow inserts, an upcycled cotton scrap area rug and a pre-owned, vintage coffee table. The space is also adorned with VOC-free paint and 100% linen curtains.
Apartment, Austin, TX
Recycled materials, especially those from the local area, give this apartment high ratings for low impact. To accomplish this, Reiner included pre-loved furniture and pieces with GreenGuard Certification. The space also features pillows and a rug made from recycled plastic and a wall specifically for locally sourced art.
While Eco Method Interiors can help you sustainably makeover your space, Reiner mentions that there are fewer barriers than ever in creating a space you love without hurting the environment. She recommends researching online, reading books on sustainable interior design, of course listening to her podcast, and perhaps setting up an online e-design session to see how she can help.
Images via Eco Method Interiors