DIY lotus lamp

I’ve wanted one of those Ikea Knappa lamps for a while. I realize they’re rather ubiquitous, but they have a neat look and the price is more than right. One issue: they’re not available at Ikea Canada. I’m not quite sure why there’s a discrepancy between the American and Canadian stores, but alas, the lamp and I were not meant to be

That is, until I found this instructable. With nothing more than a bunch of plastic file folders, scissors, a drill, some wire and a lot of patience, I now have one of my very own. I warn you that since I had to buy the ceiling fixture separate, the cost of the lamp is probably equal to that of the ikea one, but it’s still much cheaper than anything else that I was able to find.

One small warning about the instructable – it makes a very small lamp. I doubled the bigger template to get a lamp that is just over a foot in diameter.


Work in progress


Apparently there was confusion about which part of the kitchen was being done over. Not the cabinets, we already painted those this summer and being lowly students we aren’t rolling in the dough enough to change all the cabinets. Luckily for us (or unluckily) we have a very very tiny amount of counter space. While this is a pain most of the time (like when we’re trying to cook), it makes for a much cheaper update.

I don’t want to post the finished pictures yet, but here’s the one with the counters ripped up.

Tree Skirt

I’ve been lucky enough to have a classmate lend me her sewing machine for a little bit so I’m on a Christmas sewing bender. Last weekend Mike and I went on a fabric reconnaissance mission and left with a good chunk of all sort of fabric (felt, flanel, oh so much patterned cotton twill).

My mission was simple:

  • Stockings for Mike and I
  • Tree skirt
  • Fabric advent calendar like the one I grew up with

One week later, I’ve almost completed all of these things. First up, tree skirt:

My modern aesthetic doesn’t extend to Christmas trees, I like them multicoloured

I didn’t have to do a whole lot for this one, cut out a circle using my awesome math skills and then pin all the bias tape around it (which took forever), then sew.

Light fixture!

I think it was the previous owners of this unit trying to make me feel at home, but when I moved in there was a light fixture in the entrance way that was exactly the same as the one my parents had had since 1989 when they moved into their then new house. Ironically, they had gotten rid of this fixture around March, and I moved in to my place in August, which makes me think that somehow karma moved this one ugly light from there place to mine.

The funny this is that despite its hideousness, my height (5’2″, maybe 5’3″ when I first wake up in the morning) kept me from noticing it all the time. Of course when I did I would shudder and say that we really need to get rid of it. Today was the day. I’m not sure if was just impulsiveness due to the fact that our cabinet doors have taken over the living room (which is why there have been a distinct lack of posts this week) but Mike and I rushed out to Rona and then spent over half an hour trying to pick a light.

And while Mike was out tonight, I changed it!

The new light fixture

Almost all by myself! Though I needed my next door neighbour’s help to screw it to the ceiling on account of the height thing, but everything else was all me.

Kitchen: before

This is our kitchen “before”:

Kitchen before

The before is in quotation marks because the real before is from before we moved in and tiled the floors. They were originally off-white linoleum (as I mentioned before). Tonight Mike and I installed under cabinet lighting, it was his one request for the kitchen update and we scored a set of three little lights at Ikea for 30$. Bizarrely they didn’t come with the screws to mount them, which seems off for Ikea, fortunately screws are not the toughest nor the most expensive piece of hardware to track down. Besides, if we had screws in it we might have gotten even more flack from the airport security people who made us check our cabinet handles due to the (blunt) screws in the package.

This photo was taken yesterday, pre-fancy lighting. Notice the yellowness of the cabinets compared to the oven and the odd direction of the handles on the drawers.

Part one of the kitchen cabinet update

So when we moved into our place the kitchen was all “white”. Unfortunately none of these whites were the same. The floors were a yellowy white linoleum, the walls were a light beige colour, the counter tops and appliances were white white and the cabinet doors were the sort of yellow white that old computer towers turn. In November we ripped out the linoleum, and now we’re planning on tackling the cabinet doors. So far we have the new handles.

Ikea Lansa cabinet handlesIkea Lansa cabinet handles

From Ikea, which we visited while visiting one of our friends in Toronto (we don’t have an Ikea around here). Perhaps a little ubiquitous right now in the modern cabinet world, but we like them and they’ll be a definite update from the ones that we had before

Generic handles

image from Ikea, I’m not sure if that’s where the handles are originally from (20 years ago) but it’s possible

Stretched “canvas”

For almost as long as I’ve had the scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images, I’ve wanted to get one printed on canvas really big to show off in my house. This dream was somewhat squashed by the reality of just how much it costs to get an image printed on canvas and stretched onto a frame (upwards of 200$ for the size I wanted). And so, for a year and a half, I went micrograph-less. It was a hard time. With only my periodic shower curtain and rhinovirus soap dispenser to show off my true geekiness to all who visited me.

Not surprisingly, it was science that presented me with an alternative. While attending a poster session at a conference a couple weeks ago, Mike and I noticed that one of the posters was printed on vinyl and not paper. Turns out that Kinkos had a promotion on that made printing on vinyl only 6$/square foot. Slowly, the gears in my head started churning. Surely vinyl could be stretched over a frame much the same way canvas is, and was I not currently in possession of staple gun? I then decided that I would get one of my micrographs printed on vinyl and then stretch it myself.

So I took my image, enlarged it to 48″x30″ (4 feet by 2/5 feet) and took it to Kinkos to get printed. I then went to the local art supply store and bought the pieces for a frame in 44 and 26 inch pieces. It was about 70$ for the print (taxes in) and 15$ for the frame. I then brought it home and with a handy dandy tutorial, began to assemble the whole thing. Besides the fact that I had to use the mechanical staple gun again and ran out of staple halfway through, it wasn’t too bad. Turns out stapling pine is a lot easier than MDF with a thick layer of foam, but it still hurt my hands.

It turned out great and you can’t even tell that it is printed on vinyl and not canvas when you look at it. And now I get to sleep with an image of a retina above my head (you can even see the rods and cones).

Stretched vinyl micrograph


Making a headboard has been on the to do list since about the time I moved in. I inherited a box spring and fram from my family, but being just a frame, it was really plain. I’d seen lots of cool ones online and figured “it can’t be that hard.” I even borrowed a staple gun from my parents (this was about 4 months ago). So finalllllly I got around to getting the rest of the supplies this weekend and Mike and I set about the creation of our masterpiece. It’s made out of MDF, with thick polyester upholstery foam and dark brown vinyl covering it. The buttons I bought and covered myself. For the project we also bought a drill and I must say, I’ve taken quite the liking to the drill. I can see how men people get very attached to their power tools. Though the mechanical staple gun was not easy to use. In fact, I was unable to use it, so it’s a good thing I had Mike around, because I obviously seem to be lacking the upper body strength to use such a tool.

Unlike most of the instructions I found on the interweb, we didn’t attach it to the wall because the metal frame had holes in it to attach a headboard. So we just drilled corresponding holes and then bolted it together. It’s crazy how much of a difference it makes in the room.

HeadboardHeadboard + Brenda modelling on the bed

Best way to display a torch

Back in November Mike was part of the torch relay for the winter olympics (!!!). He decided that it was enough of a momentous occasion that he bought the torch. Turns out you only pass the flame, not the torch itself. But we had no idea how to display it. The organizers were selling a stand that you could put on a shelf or table or whatever but

  1. We didn’t like the design
  2. We had no where to put it
  3. Even if we liked it and had a place to put it, it is almost guaranteed that our gremlins cats would knock it over

So we knew we wanted to put it on the wall, and we were envisioning some sort of hook or whatever, but we didn’t know what would fill this duty or what such a thing would be sold as (since no one really sells “torch hooks”). This past weekend though, we came across the perfect thing while looking for castors – rubberized hooks for hanging tools in the garage. Not only was the rubberized bit almost the exact same colour as our walls, they were only 0.89$ a hook! Compared to the 50+ dollars that the stand would have cost us. It was super easy to mount (screw hooks into wall) and we only needed two.

Masterful mounting job

Somewhere to sit

We are still sorely lacking furniture in the new place. We have a bed, we have an awesome entertainment stand and we now have a nice large coffee table. We are lacking places to sit though. Right now we have this

The futon

Why yes, it is a futon. This poor futon has seen better days. I did not get it new (like most/all of my furniture). I picked it up from someone who lived across the street two apartments ago. It’s comfy to sit on and great for napping because it has two mattresses but it doesn’t fold down. Well, it folds down, it just doesn’t fold back up. So after battling with it extensively during the move we were told point blank that we should find a “real place to sit”. One could point out that the floor is also a “real place to sit” but being a smart ass never helps. 

Thus began the search for a proper couch (or sofa as they appeared to be called more often). The problem with couches, like the majority of modern design is that you pay for for clean lines. I think it’s a little funny since you are getting less material in total, but obviously there is a high premium for coming up with the idea.

Mike and I are also burdened with the issue of being short. I’m only about 5’2″ (5’3″ on a good day) and he’s about 5’9″, so it was important to find a couch that wasn’t crazy deep.

We lucked out however and found this

The new couch


Not the height of modern design, but not too bad and despite the photo with nothing to reference the size, the couch is the right size and most definitely the right price. It’s not actually leather, but bonded leather, which I discovered in my couch quest for knowledge is somewhere between vinyl and “real” leather. They take all the leather scraps made from other furniture and then mash it up and make a new material. Sounds good to me. We also got the matching chair.

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