HowTo: Make a Shoji Table Lamp

8 10 2008

Shoji lamps are basically light boxes which house the bulb(s) in an encasement made of bamboo and rice paper coverings. The rice paper diffuses the light hence throws a calm/serene lighting effect on its surroundings. Some Shoji lamps can get extremely pricey as they are carefully hand constructed with intricate bamboo designs and high quality handmade papers which when lit can show of the paper grain’s complex patterns.

I found a great instructable on how to make a Shoji style table lamp using wooden chopsticks for dirt cheap. Click here to read Atarax’s instructable and save you heaps of $$$ by DIY-ing this.

Too simple? Try this – a more complex instructable by PKM. This instructable was awarded 2nd prize in the ‘Let it Glow’ contest and 4th prize for the ‘Green Science Fair’ contest. The instructable is extremely detailed and well written so there should be no problems following it from start to end. Click here to read the instructable.

Don’t like Shoji lamps? Fancy a Sun Jar instead? Click here to read my post on HowTo: Make a Sun Jar

What You Need to Know About Contractors

1 10 2008

Quite a few people have asked me about contractors and how to get a good one. Here a some tips I’ve compiled which hopefully will provide you with a bit of a heads up looking for a contractor and handling him afterwards.

1. I am not a licensed contractor. License? What license? Who’s a licensed contractor anyway? So really, how do you know if you’ve gotten a good contractor? Your best bet is to get recommendations from friends or colleagues who themselves have used the contractor and are personally happy with his work. I’d recommend that you visit your friend’s or colleague’s place to get a feel of the quality of the workmanship of the contractor. If all’s to your liking, arrange a meet up with the contractor for a quick chat to size him up.

2. Please sign on the dotted line. Contract? What contract? You don’t sign legally binding contracts with your contractor. No local contractor would ever agree to that. This is why it’s important to engage contractors with a good historical record and is highly recommended by those you know.

3. My prices are already the best in town. Never believe your contractor if he says that. There are only several factors in which they can really cut down on the price quotation – number of resources/workers, quality of materials used, how pushy the customer is in asking for a discount. You are in control of the third factor! And to some extent, the second factor. Make sure you push for discounts – never settle on the initial quote.

4. I work as hard even when you’re not looking. Most of the time, the contractor isn’t around to supervise works at your place. He usually tells the workers what needs to be done and they get their hands dirty doing it. Occasionally, there are miscommunications or even the occasionaly (frequent) ‘curi tulang’ (cutting corners) tactics used by the workers to minimise their efforts in completing a job, which could end up compromising the final delivery or output. If it’s possible, take some leave to supervise them or have sporadic spot checks on them during the work day to make sure they don’t cut corners. Remember, it’s you who has to live with their mistakes, every day.

5. I accept installment paybacks. I’d be somewhat wary if a contractor accepts installment paybacks. Most contractors which are reputable or have a good constant flow of business don’t usually offer this option. Why would they when they can get cash up front instead of forking out the money to buy raw materials, pay the workers and wait half a year to a year before you pay them back completely? Unless, they’re desperate for your business or they’re just not very good at their day job. Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule.

6. I respect timelines- my timelines. Get fussy and pushy… else, expect delays and rework. Don’t feel bad about pushing your contractor or his workers. Make sure they get their jobs done or push them to work extra time. If you keep a close eye on them, you will minimise any need for rework.


Lampshade Makeovers 2

25 09 2008

Welcome to part2 of the Lampshade Makeover series. If you missed part 1, click here to read the article. Moving along, we’re going to higher difficulty makeovers now.

The first one comes from the creative and environmental friendly crafting blog, NU2U – displaying steps on how to create silhouettes in your lampshade using transparencies. Click here to read NU2U’s article. Unfortunately, the folks at NU2U did not post any images on the before or after but I’m pretty interested to try this one out someday. shows you how to get a dirt cheap DIY lampshade makeover done. The article uses the IKEA GRUNDTAL lamp base and a SKIMRA shade and some simple creative cutting techniques to transform a simple lamp owned by thousands the world over to one that’s totally unique. Here’s what your end product could look like:

If you like sewing and lace, then check out Threadbanger’s YouTube video on how to create a DIY lace lampshade below:

Lampshade Makeovers 1

24 09 2008

Let’s face it. Lampshades aren’t cheap. And most of us are unwilling to fork out the money to buy something that looks like it costs nothing to make. This got me thinking on how we could save money when our lampshades look old, drab and weary one day. Naturally, I scoured the net… and found these useful useful tips.

Apartment Therapy’s Lampshade Makeover – features a great (and very pictorial) DIY on how you can transform your old lampshades to look like a designer lampshade. For several dollars, you could have your lampshade looking like this:

Too much work? Brilliant Asylum has the perfect answer for a lampshade makeover – a simple and elegant tutorial on using ribbons to frame the top and bottom of your lampshade to add more character to it, getting it to look like…

to looking like this:

Steven & Chris’s lampshade makeover article covers four ways that you can makeover any drum-shaped lampshade. Of the four DIY tutorials, these are my favoured two – the first, using ribbons and the latter, using wallpaper for motifs.

More lampshade makeovers tomorrow…

Imagesource (from top): Apartment Therapy, Brilliant Asylum, Steven & Chris

The New OneLessDesk

23 09 2008

Good news for fans of Heckler Design’s OneLessDesk (read about my original post on the OneLessDesk here)! Dean Heckler recently emailed me to inform me of his latest release – aptly named the ‘New OneLessDesk’.

Wait a minute… how is this different from the original OneLessDesk (which has now been given a status promotion to the ‘Limited Edition OneLessDesk’)? FIrst off, the New OneLessDesk comes in a choice of 2 colours- white or silver/grey and best of all, it is now half the price of its predecessor (originally USD1,199), now USD649. In case you’re wondering, the cost is inclusive of intercontinental shipping charges.

A great pat on the back for Dean who has managed to continue to manufacture a thing of beauty and bring down the cost to half the price of the original OneLessDesk. Really, you can’t help but love this table for it’s clean, sleek and elegant design. It certainly is great and functional for small living spaces. I’m so tempted now…


The StairCase

18 09 2008

I should’ve noticed this on to add into yesterday’s post (Staircase Storage Solutions). It’s called the StairCase by Danny Kuo. The Staircase is currently in prototype phase but it sure excites me with the fact that it is built as a very tall shelving system which ingeniously utilises the bottom 3 shelves to double as a pull out stepladder to access the top shelves. Click here to read more about this at

For those of you who are planning to build custom cabinets/shelving systems, this sure is an uber cool concept you could try to get your local contractors to get done. Else, you’ll have to wait to see if Danny ever gets the beyond the prototype phase and mass produces the StairCase to market.

Staircase Storage Solutions

17 09 2008

Now this has to be one of the coolest ideas ever… another one of those ‘why didn’t I think of it’ designs – a storage solution which utilises the underside of your stairs! I stumbled upon this on Unclutterer – a brilliant website which is totally anal about staying organised.

For those of you who might be doing major renoworks which could involve relocating or rebuilding your stairs, this would certainly charm your guests and allow you extra storage space. For the woman with too many shoes, this solution could be ideal. In our home, I am only given the bottom tier of our taller-than-me shoe rack. Click here to read about the under stair storage solution on Unclutterer

Now here’s another under stair storage alternative from Freshome – something a little more robust to allow more flexibility in configuring your drawer and shelf size to fit items taller than 6″ vertically. Click here to read more about Freshome’s alternative under stair storage solution

Imagesource (from top):,


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