Lighting

IKEA HACK: easy DIY pendant lamp with ALANG lamp shade

My home office is very small and also happens to be in a rather dark corner of my apartment, so having proper lighting was very  important. I considered a desk lamp but given how small  my desk is, I decided to go with a pendant lamp instead. 

Finished-office-closer-view

Since I didn’t any more money in my budget to buy a lamp, I looked around the house to find something I could use to make one. I already had an extra HEMMA IKEA pendant lamp kit left over from another project and I also had an IKEA ALANG lamp I wasn’t using, and that’s when I got the idea to combine the two to make a pendant lamp. It literally took minutes to make and install!

IKEA-hack-ALANG-lamp-and-pendant-kit

First, I cut two pieces of wire, about 12 inches long, and bent them in half around the neck of the pendant lamp kit.  Then I placed the wires facing each other, under the lip on the socket and twisted the wires together.

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire

Next, I passed the cord of the pendant lamp kit through the hole in the middle of the lamp shade and twisted the 2 wire ends around the wire frame (this is to stabilize the lamp kit so it stays in place).

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire-to-shade

You could leave the pendant lamp like this but I didn’t want to look at the bulb from underneath so I cut out a light diffuser from a flexible chopping mat I got at the dollar store. I traced the outside and inside outline of the lamp shade onto the chopping mat and then cut it slightly inside the outside line so it could rest on the rim of the lamp shade. 

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-making-the-diffuser

To hang the lamp, I used the hook provided with the lamp kit and an anchor (I used a plumb bob to make sure it was centered above my desk – you can see how to use the plumb bob in this video where I share quick tips for hanging things).

hanging-hardware

The pendant lamp kit didn’t come with a switch so to turn the light on and off, I use a dimmer light switch that you can plug the lamp into. 

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp

This couldn’t have been easier to do and the pendant lamp brightens up my office all day long, without having taking up any of my precious desk space! You can see more of my office DIY projects in this video, including how I turned my IKEA desk legs into a cat scratching post!:

 

My home office is very small and also happens to be in a rather dark corner of my apartment, so having proper lighting was very  important. I considered a desk lamp but given how small  my desk is, I decided to go with a pendant lamp instead. 

Finished-office-closer-view

Since I didn’t any more money in my budget to buy a lamp, I looked around the house to find something I could use to make one. I already had an extra HEMMA IKEA pendant lamp kit left over from another project and I also had an IKEA ALANG lamp I wasn’t using, and that’s when I got the idea to combine the two to make a pendant lamp. It literally took minutes to make and install!

IKEA-hack-ALANG-lamp-and-pendant-kit

First, I cut two pieces of wire, about 12 inches long, and bent them in half around the neck of the pendant lamp kit.  Then I placed the wires facing each other, under the lip on the socket and twisted the wires together.

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire

Next, I passed the cord of the pendant lamp kit through the hole in the middle of the lamp shade and twisted the 2 wire ends around the wire frame (this is to stabilize the lamp kit so it stays in place).

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-pendant-lamp-twisting-wire-to-shade

You could leave the pendant lamp like this but I didn’t want to look at the bulb from underneath so I cut out a light diffuser from a flexible chopping mat I got at the dollar store. I traced the outside and inside outline of the lamp shade onto the chopping mat and then cut it slightly inside the outside line so it could rest on the rim of the lamp shade. 

IKEA-hack-lamp-shade-making-the-diffuser

To hang the lamp, I used the hook provided with the lamp kit and an anchor (I used a plumb bob to make sure it was centered above my desk – you can see how to use the plumb bob in this video where I share quick tips for hanging things).

hanging-hardware

The pendant lamp kit didn’t come with a switch so to turn the light on and off, I use a dimmer light switch that you can plug the lamp into. 

IKEA-hack-pendant-lamp

This couldn’t have been easier to do and the pendant lamp brightens up my office all day long, without having taking up any of my precious desk space! You can see more of my office DIY projects in this video, including how I turned my IKEA desk legs into a cat scratching post!:

 

DIY Bathroom lighting fixture makeover

I really wish I could renovate my bathroom, but being a renter, doing a complete gut job and rebuilding from scratch wasn’t a possibility. The lighting, however, was definitely something that I could upgrade without changing out the existing lighting fixture. So I came up with a plan to change out the shades and to make my fixture more energy efficient.

'Before'-web.jpg

The first thing I did was swap out the incandescent light bulbs for ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs.

                 'Incandescent-bulb'-web.jpg'LED-bulb'-web.jpg

When you consider that a single ENERGY STAR LED bulb can save $75 in electricity costs over its lifetime, it makes the initial investment worth it. The cost of LEDs has dropped in recent years and there are many rebates are available – so they are more affordable than ever.

To select my new light bulbs, I first looked for the ENERGY STAR mark on the packaging or in the description online: or in the description online:

This mark means that the bulbs have undergone extensive testing for things like light quality and color plus they have a warranty of a minimum of 3 years, longer than most electronics!

With so many choices, choosing lightbulbs can be confusing, but looking for the ENERGY STAR helps me know which bulbs are a better investment. I ended up choosing candelabra bulbs to go with the long and narrow shape of the lampshades I designed. Even though I don’t have a dimmer for this fixture, I still purchased dimmable light bulbs, that way if I ever install a dimmer in the future, I’ll still be able to use the same light bulbs. You’ll know that the ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs you’re purchasing are dimmable when you see the word “dimmable” on the packaging:

'Dimmable-package'-web.jpg

The second part of the makeover was to replace the old shades with new ones. You can buy ready-made replacement shades at Home Depot or Lowe’s but I couldn’t find anything I liked so I designed my own mini drum shades. Since I’m using LEDs, the good thing is they give off a lot less heat, so I’m able to make my own shades with a plastic cutting mat, and not worry about burning the shades.

'New-shade'-web.jpg

I made them with 4” wooden embroidery hoops (7), 3/4” and 2” wide iron-on edging (birch) and flexible chopping mats, which came out to about $ 15 per shade. I made the drum shades in 2 parts: 1) the rings and 2) the shade.

Part 1: Rings

To make the rings, I glued the inner hoops of the embroidery rings together using wood glue to make 2 stacks of 2 hoops and 1 stack of 3 hoops. Then I used an iron to cover the outside of the rings with iron-on wood edging and I sanded the edges and the inside of the rings.

'Step-1'-web.jpg

'Step-2'-web.jpg

'Step-3'-web.jpg

I chose to finish the rings with a grey wood stain from Plaid, giving a couple of coats. I let that dry for a couple of hours and then sealed in the finish with white wax, wiping off the excess wax with a clean, lint-free rag.

'Step-4'-web.jpg

'Step-5'-web.jpg

The last thing to do with the rings was to drill 3 holes with a 1/8” drill bit, equally spaced out, at the top of the wider rings. This is for the screws that will attach the shade to the existing fixture.

'Step-6'-web.jpg

Part 2: The shade

To make the shade, I cut the chopping mat in half horizontally and cut it again so that it’s about 1/2” longer than the circumference of the inside of the rings. Then I added masking tape to mark the location of the middle ring and added clear double sided tape to the seam and where the bottom and middle rings will go.

'Step-7'-web.jpg

The last step was to form the shade and put on the rings. Then it was just a matter of drilling holes in the shade material, putting in the machine screws and then attaching the shades to the existing fixture.

'Step-8'-web.jpg

'Step-9'-web.jpg

'Step-10'-web.jpg

I love the way the new shades turned out and the new ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs are perfect to light up my bathroom.

'After'-web.jpg

'After-lit'-web.jpg

Whether you own or rent your home, upgrading the lighting with ENERGY STAR certified fixtures and LED light bulbs is a great way to give a space an updated look when you’re renovating and it can save you money on your electrical bills for years to come.

To find out more about ENERGY STAR, you can visit ENERGYSTAR.gov – it’s a great resource provided by the Environmental Protection Agency where you’ll find all kinds of good information on how to choose and use ENERGY STAR products in your home. You can also visit ENERGYSTAR.gov/rebate-finder – the costs of LED bulbs has come down but you’ll find rebates on this site that can help keep costs down even more. 

You can also see the whole project in this video. Thanks to ENERGY STAR for helping make this project possible!

 
I really wish I could renovate my bathroom, but being a renter, doing a complete gut job and rebuilding from scratch wasn’t a possibility. The lighting, however, was definitely something that I could upgrade without changing out the existing lighting fixture. So I came up with a plan to change out the shades and to make my fixture more energy efficient.

'Before'-web.jpg

The first thing I did was swap out the incandescent light bulbs for ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs.

                 'Incandescent-bulb'-web.jpg'LED-bulb'-web.jpg

When you consider that a single ENERGY STAR LED bulb can save $75 in electricity costs over its lifetime, it makes the initial investment worth it. The cost of LEDs has dropped in recent years and there are many rebates are available – so they are more affordable than ever.

To select my new light bulbs, I first looked for the ENERGY STAR mark on the packaging or in the description online: or in the description online:

This mark means that the bulbs have undergone extensive testing for things like light quality and color plus they have a warranty of a minimum of 3 years, longer than most electronics!

With so many choices, choosing lightbulbs can be confusing, but looking for the ENERGY STAR helps me know which bulbs are a better investment. I ended up choosing candelabra bulbs to go with the long and narrow shape of the lampshades I designed. Even though I don’t have a dimmer for this fixture, I still purchased dimmable light bulbs, that way if I ever install a dimmer in the future, I’ll still be able to use the same light bulbs. You’ll know that the ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs you’re purchasing are dimmable when you see the word “dimmable” on the packaging:

'Dimmable-package'-web.jpg

The second part of the makeover was to replace the old shades with new ones. You can buy ready-made replacement shades at Home Depot or Lowe’s but I couldn’t find anything I liked so I designed my own mini drum shades. Since I’m using LEDs, the good thing is they give off a lot less heat, so I’m able to make my own shades with a plastic cutting mat, and not worry about burning the shades.

'New-shade'-web.jpg

I made them with 4” wooden embroidery hoops (7), 3/4” and 2” wide iron-on edging (birch) and flexible chopping mats, which came out to about $ 15 per shade. I made the drum shades in 2 parts: 1) the rings and 2) the shade.

Part 1: Rings

To make the rings, I glued the inner hoops of the embroidery rings together using wood glue to make 2 stacks of 2 hoops and 1 stack of 3 hoops. Then I used an iron to cover the outside of the rings with iron-on wood edging and I sanded the edges and the inside of the rings.

'Step-1'-web.jpg

'Step-2'-web.jpg

'Step-3'-web.jpg

I chose to finish the rings with a grey wood stain from Plaid, giving a couple of coats. I let that dry for a couple of hours and then sealed in the finish with white wax, wiping off the excess wax with a clean, lint-free rag.

'Step-4'-web.jpg

'Step-5'-web.jpg

The last thing to do with the rings was to drill 3 holes with a 1/8” drill bit, equally spaced out, at the top of the wider rings. This is for the screws that will attach the shade to the existing fixture.

'Step-6'-web.jpg

Part 2: The shade

To make the shade, I cut the chopping mat in half horizontally and cut it again so that it’s about 1/2” longer than the circumference of the inside of the rings. Then I added masking tape to mark the location of the middle ring and added clear double sided tape to the seam and where the bottom and middle rings will go.

'Step-7'-web.jpg

The last step was to form the shade and put on the rings. Then it was just a matter of drilling holes in the shade material, putting in the machine screws and then attaching the shades to the existing fixture.

'Step-8'-web.jpg

'Step-9'-web.jpg

'Step-10'-web.jpg

I love the way the new shades turned out and the new ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs are perfect to light up my bathroom.

'After'-web.jpg

'After-lit'-web.jpg

Whether you own or rent your home, upgrading the lighting with ENERGY STAR certified fixtures and LED light bulbs is a great way to give a space an updated look when you’re renovating and it can save you money on your electrical bills for years to come.

To find out more about ENERGY STAR, you can visit ENERGYSTAR.gov – it’s a great resource provided by the Environmental Protection Agency where you’ll find all kinds of good information on how to choose and use ENERGY STAR products in your home. You can also visit ENERGYSTAR.gov/rebate-finder – the costs of LED bulbs has come down but you’ll find rebates on this site that can help keep costs down even more. 

You can also see the whole project in this video. Thanks to ENERGY STAR for helping make this project possible!

 

Easy removable lighting for closets

I’m very lucky to have three closets in my current apartment so I was able to dedicate one entirely to all my tools and materials. This was most definitely a wonderful upgrade from the closet situation in my tiny NYC studio! But the one thing that was missing in the closet was some lighting. After a quick search online, I found the perfect solution: LED battery-operated lights (affiliate link)!

They are very inexpensive at around $15 and can be installed anywhere. They are a great solution for renters like myself to brighten up a closet or a dark cabinet. To make mine even easier to remove later, I installed the LED lights (affiliate link) with a new product I discovered recently at the Home Hardware Show in Las Vegas: repositionable double-sided sheets from Glue Dots. I was given some samples to try and this project was perfect to see how it works.

A full sheet will hold about 2 lbs and the lights are extremely lightweight, so I cut one sheet in half and it was more than enough to hold one light in place. You simply remove the top liner, stick to the back of the LED light,  peel off the remaining liner and you can place your lights anywhere. The great thing about this adhesive is that you can easily reposition it if you need to and it’s easy to remove completely without leaving any residue on the wall.

It took no time at all and was so easy, I wish I had done this sooner. I love having lights in my closet and I think I’ll be doing this in my other closets too!

It took no time at all and was so easy, I wish I had done this sooner. I love having lights in my closet and I think I’ll be doing this in my other closets too!

If you want to give Glue Dots® a try, I’m happy to announce that Glue Dots® set up a giveaway just for EYS fans! Connect with us on social media through the widget below to enter the giveaway (this giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 years to enter). One lucky winner will be selected and notified on Monday, June 30th.  If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected. Don’t forget to check your junk email after we announce the winner!  Good Luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m very lucky to have three closets in my current apartment so I was able to dedicate one entirely to all my tools and materials. This was most definitely a wonderful upgrade from the closet situation in my tiny NYC studio! But the one thing that was missing in the closet was some lighting. After a quick search online, I found the perfect solution: LED battery-operated lights (affiliate link)!

They are very inexpensive at around $15 and can be installed anywhere. They are a great solution for renters like myself to brighten up a closet or a dark cabinet. To make mine even easier to remove later, I installed the LED lights (affiliate link) with a new product I discovered recently at the Home Hardware Show in Las Vegas: repositionable double-sided sheets from Glue Dots. I was given some samples to try and this project was perfect to see how it works.

A full sheet will hold about 2 lbs and the lights are extremely lightweight, so I cut one sheet in half and it was more than enough to hold one light in place. You simply remove the top liner, stick to the back of the LED light,  peel off the remaining liner and you can place your lights anywhere. The great thing about this adhesive is that you can easily reposition it if you need to and it’s easy to remove completely without leaving any residue on the wall.

It took no time at all and was so easy, I wish I had done this sooner. I love having lights in my closet and I think I’ll be doing this in my other closets too!

It took no time at all and was so easy, I wish I had done this sooner. I love having lights in my closet and I think I’ll be doing this in my other closets too!

If you want to give Glue Dots® a try, I’m happy to announce that Glue Dots® set up a giveaway just for EYS fans! Connect with us on social media through the widget below to enter the giveaway (this giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 years to enter). One lucky winner will be selected and notified on Monday, June 30th.  If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected. Don’t forget to check your junk email after we announce the winner!  Good Luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

International Builders Show: New Products for the DIY’er

I’m always on the lookout for new products that might help me with my DIY projects and also work for rental apartments. So when I had the opportunity to attend the International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas this week, I thought why not? The show is mainly for builders and contractors, but by meandering through the aisles with an open mind, I ended up discovering some amazing products.

1) SPAX screws

These have been around for a while but they were new to me. How I wish I had discovered them earlier! The SPAX product line includes MDF/wood screws that are just amazing: they don’t require pre-drilling to prevent splitting, AND the screw head can either stay flush with the material or countersink into it. I can’t wait to try these out on some of the projects I’m working on! SPAX screws are currently available at hardware stores, including Home Depot, and online.

2) Swanson GripLine tape measure:

If you’re like me and often work alone on DIY projects, it can be frustrating trying to get the end of the tape measure to stay put while taking measurements, especially if the surface the end of the tape is grabbing onto is round or slippery. Well, the new GripLine tape measure solves this problem – it is designed to catch, hold and measure multiple types of materials. This tape measure was just launched last November so look for it in hardware stores soon.

3) SnapRays

Lighting is a big challenge in rentals and I’m always searching for lighting products that can easily be integrated in a rental home without messing around with electrical wiring. That’s why SnapRays caught my attention  – it is essentially a nightlight incorporated into the faceplate of a electrical outlet. To install, you simply remove the existing cover plate, “snap” the SnapRays onto the outlet receptacle and the light will turn on when it gets dark. Perfect for rental homes! According to the manufacturer, the product will be available sometime in March 2014.

Let me know what you think of these products in the comments below – which one are you most excited about?

 

I’m always on the lookout for new products that might help me with my DIY projects and also work for rental apartments. So when I had the opportunity to attend the International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas this week, I thought why not? The show is mainly for builders and contractors, but by meandering through the aisles with an open mind, I ended up discovering some amazing products.

1) SPAX screws

These have been around for a while but they were new to me. How I wish I had discovered them earlier! The SPAX product line includes MDF/wood screws that are just amazing: they don’t require pre-drilling to prevent splitting, AND the screw head can either stay flush with the material or countersink into it. I can’t wait to try these out on some of the projects I’m working on! SPAX screws are currently available at hardware stores, including Home Depot, and online.

2) Swanson GripLine tape measure:

If you’re like me and often work alone on DIY projects, it can be frustrating trying to get the end of the tape measure to stay put while taking measurements, especially if the surface the end of the tape is grabbing onto is round or slippery. Well, the new GripLine tape measure solves this problem – it is designed to catch, hold and measure multiple types of materials. This tape measure was just launched last November so look for it in hardware stores soon.

3) SnapRays

Lighting is a big challenge in rentals and I’m always searching for lighting products that can easily be integrated in a rental home without messing around with electrical wiring. That’s why SnapRays caught my attention  – it is essentially a nightlight incorporated into the faceplate of a electrical outlet. To install, you simply remove the existing cover plate, “snap” the SnapRays onto the outlet receptacle and the light will turn on when it gets dark. Perfect for rental homes! According to the manufacturer, the product will be available sometime in March 2014.

Let me know what you think of these products in the comments below – which one are you most excited about?

 

Solar LED lights for balconies

Want to add some ambiance on your balcony with lights but don’t have an electrical outlet? Let the sun provide the power you need! There are many solar powered LED lights out there that work really well – I found mine at Walmart (20 LED lights for about $15) but you can probably find them online for a lot less.

I tucked the lights through the reed fence I have attached to my balcony railing instead of hanging them the traditional way – I really like the “twinkling” effect it gives at night!

Want to add some ambiance on your balcony with lights but don’t have an electrical outlet? Let the sun provide the power you need! There are many solar powered LED lights out there that work really well – I found mine at Walmart (20 LED lights for about $15) but you can probably find them online for a lot less.

I tucked the lights through the reed fence I have attached to my balcony railing instead of hanging them the traditional way – I really like the “twinkling” effect it gives at night!

Out with the old, in with the new

Have you switched over to LED light bulbs yet? I found this great article outlining the planned phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, including a very good comparison of the more energy efficient options like LED bulbs. I’ve personally tried the Phillips AmbientLED bulbs and just love them – they give off a beautiful warm light, very similar to incandescent lighting and they work with dimmers. They are a bit pricey at approximately $25 per bulb but I’m still glad I got them: they consume less energy, last for about 20 years and because they hardly give off any heat, I’ll be spending a little bit less on A/C this summer. In the long run, good for the pocketbook and the environment.

Have you switched over to LED light bulbs yet? I found this great article outlining the planned phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, including a very good comparison of the more energy efficient options like LED bulbs. I’ve personally tried the Phillips AmbientLED bulbs and just love them – they give off a beautiful warm light, very similar to incandescent lighting and they work with dimmers. They are a bit pricey at approximately $25 per bulb but I’m still glad I got them: they consume less energy, last for about 20 years and because they hardly give off any heat, I’ll be spending a little bit less on A/C this summer. In the long run, good for the pocketbook and the environment.

Easy DIY dimmer switch

Wish your lamp had a dimmer? All you need is a dimmer switch – no need to touch electrical wiring. You plug the lamp into the switch, plug the switch into an outlet and you’re done! Dimmer switches are available in models for both incandescent and LED light bulbs and cost about $15. I used them on pendant lamps that didn’t come with a switch – perfect solution!

 

Wish your lamp had a dimmer? All you need is a dimmer switch – no need to touch electrical wiring. You plug the lamp into the switch, plug the switch into an outlet and you’re done! Dimmer switches are available in models for both incandescent and LED light bulbs and cost about $15. I used them on pendant lamps that didn’t come with a switch – perfect solution!

 

DIY recessed can light makeover

If you have recessed can lights for regular incandescent bulbs, you can easily convert them into an outlet with an adapter (less than $2) and plug in a pendant lamp. Just make sure the pendant lamp doesn’t hang directly from the outlet. It’s a great budget-friendly way to change up your lighting, especially if you’re a renter and can’t make any permanent changes.

 

If you have recessed can lights for regular incandescent bulbs, you can easily convert them into an outlet with an adapter (less than $2) and plug in a pendant lamp. Just make sure the pendant lamp doesn’t hang directly from the outlet. It’s a great budget-friendly way to change up your lighting, especially if you’re a renter and can’t make any permanent changes.

 

DIY lighting switch – no electrician needed

Wish you had a wall switch to control a lamp? Try a wireless remote control system: plug the receiver into the outlet, plug the lamp into the receiver, and that’s it – you’re ready to turn the light on/off with the wall mounted battery operated switch. With no electrical wiring needed, it’s a perfect DIY lighting solution for renters!

Wish you had a wall switch to control a lamp? Try a wireless remote control system: plug the receiver into the outlet, plug the lamp into the receiver, and that’s it – you’re ready to turn the light on/off with the wall mounted battery operated switch. With no electrical wiring needed, it’s a perfect DIY lighting solution for renters!

Easy extra electrical outlets

Wish you had more electrical outlets near your desk? Try these lampholder/electrical outlet adapters that go into lamp sockets. They’re perfect for plugging in extra things like your glue gun. If you want the outlets to work with the lamp off, get the kind with a pull chain…not bad for under $5!

 

Wish you had more electrical outlets near your desk? Try these lampholder/electrical outlet adapters that go into lamp sockets. They’re perfect for plugging in extra things like your glue gun. If you want the outlets to work with the lamp off, get the kind with a pull chain…not bad for under $5!