Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Interior Motive

Lei ChicIt's late. You're sprawled in front of the TV, channel surfing until something on HGTV catches your eye. Four designers raid a candy store, then transform bare white rooms into dreamy works of confection.


If only you could get one of those designers to salvage your slightly-less-cool cell block white room with Wal-Mart picnic table and floral couch your Mom no longer wanted.

Lei ChicOh wait, you can. Meet Melissa Rivera-Torres, a Honolulu-based designer competing in tonight's episode of "The White Room Challenge" on HGTV. The Rhode Island School of Design graduate is known for her industrial design - she's the genius behind I AM.'s urban retail space on Kapiolani Blvd., and helped create Hifi's Coop at Ward Warehouse.

Her secret? Repurposing industrial objects into unique design elements, like a shipping container dog house or skateboard magazine rack. Here, she shares a few inspirational ways to refresh a room with unexpected edge.

Lei ChicIndustrial ladders. Inexpensive, durable and made to hold a lot of weight, ladders can be used vertically as a frame or horizontally as a floating shelf or hanging rack. Rivera-Torres welds them together to create storage units with adjustable plexiglass inserts.

Boat fenders. Designed to protect hulls while docking, these inflatable guys also make surprisingly comfortable cushions. Rivera-Torres uses fitted brackets to keep them in place. Bonus: their heavy-duty marine-grade vinyl is easy to wipe clean.

Boat cleats. Rivera-Torres used concrete screws to anchor them to the ground as the base of her shelving units. But they also make great drawer handles and, when attached to the wall, perfect hooks for bags, hats and scarves.

"The White Room Challenge" airs tonight at 9 p.m. and again at midnight on HGTV. Select pieces by Rivera-Torres are available at Fishcake, 307C Kamani St., (808) 593-1231. To order custom furniture or set up a design consultation, visit Unleash Studio's Web site and Facebook page. Photo courtesy: John Hook.

Posted on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in Permalink

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About Lei Chic

Lei Chic is a daily email and shopping blog that plugs you into Hawaii's newest and hottest boutiques, designers, trends, spas and salons, and more. You'll also discover all the cool events, dinners and sales happening around town in our Weekend Picks every Thursday. With Lei Chic, you'll get the inside scoop on what everyone will be talking about tomorrow – in your inbox today.

Lei Chic associate editor Natalie Schack has been a cultural anthropology student,museum worker bee and dabbler in graphic design. When she isn't scouting new fashion, compiling to-do lists or crafting puns, Natalie spends her free time dreaming up elaborate picnic ideas; "researching" via YouTube tutorials, blogs and Instagram; and dusting off her pith helmet for the next adventure life throws her way.

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