DIYdiy projects

diy project: knotted lamp cord by raina kattelson

by Kate Pruitt

With all the attention we’ve been giving to rope and pendant lights, this DIY tutorial from stylist Raina Kattelson couldn’t have come at a better time. We featured Raina’s gorgeous Hudson Valley home a couple years ago, and we loved the palette so much that we also created a Simply Color inspired by Raina’s kitchen.

Recently, Raina finished fully renovating a rental home that she purchased a while back. There are many lovely details, including this awesome hack for a simple Ikea Foto lamp that hangs over the kitchen table. The rough, textural cord is a stunning complement to the well-worn chairs and the mottled metal table base. She was kind enough to share the whole process with us, and it’s actually quite easy, especially if you have a helping hand.

See the full instructions for how to make the lamp cord after the jump, and you can view more of Raina’s newly renovated rental home, which was captured beautifully by photographer Emily Anderson, in the current issue of Rue Magazine. Thanks for sharing this awesome lamp project, Raina! — Kate


  • pendant lamp (I used the Ikea Foto lamp, but any lamp with a bare cord would work.)
  • 1/2″ sisal rope
  • 3-ply jute twine
  • bar clamp
  • 2 hand clamps
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun


Note: This project works best with two people, one to keep things steady and one to do the knotting.

1. Stretch the cord between two fixed points. There are several ways to do this. If you have the tools, the easier way to hold the cord is by making a jig with two pieces of wood. Another way is to clamp a bar clamp to a table, and then using two smaller clamps, secure the cord to the bar clamp.

2. With the jute twine, start with a common whipstitch for the first 2″, pull the knot tight and then continue tightly wrapping the twine around the cord until you have the length you need. Tie off the end using two clove hitches.

3. At this point, I adjusted the twisted rope a bit and pulled it tight to ensure that it covered the cord and looked even.

4. Because the jute tends to have a lot of little hairs, I simply trimmed the longer ones off with scissors to neaten it up.

5. Using the sisal, make an overhand knot and continue with the Chinese Staircase knot (see here for a how-to). Be sure to tighten each knot down evenly. This knot will twist around as you are working; it looks messy at first but will soon form an interesting pattern. Continue until you reach the other end.

6. At this point, I adjusted the knots, positioning them evenly. Then I could tell if I needed to continue with any additional knots.

7. Cut the end, leaving about 1/4″. A small dab of hot glue at both ends will keep the ends from fraying.


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  • I assume those (divine) chairs are vintage, but what’s the source of the table? WANT.

    • My husband, who is a master electrician, says that this is not a fire hazard at all. Cords don’t put out enough heat to set the jute on fire. All is safe lol

  • I just finished a rope woven lampshade and was wondering how to camp the cord. This great!

  • Thank you for sharing, looks awesome.

    Many years ago I attended a workshop where we used this exact technique to create nets to hang pots. The result is very pleasing to the eye and your instructions are very good.

    I have a question, though. I remember the handling of sisal feeling really uncomfortable, do you have any suggestions to soothe the skin of the hands in the meantime and after you work?

    Thank you!

  • Christine, The lamp is only 10″ in diameter, a doable size for almost anyone. I think the image and depth of field make it look larger than it actually is. What I like most about it is that the design is timeless and would work in almost any style room.

  • I’m trying to understand why you switched from the jute at the beginning of the cord, to sisal. Is there a reason for not wrapping the cord for its entire length in jute and then creating the sisal knots on top of that, rather than leaving the unsightly cord to show through the wide knots of the sisal?

  • Christine, The lamp comes in 3 sizes 10″, 15″ and 20″ . we used the largest but in reality does not look out of proportion.
    Julia, The sisal was not bad to handle, but you could always wear work gloves.
    Kerry, We recreated the how to after the orginal lamp was done. We did in fact cover the entire cord in jute and then went back over with the sisal. I’m sorry if the picture made it confusing.

  • So you need to know how long/short the cord will be before installing, right? I love this idea and want to try this but won’t know the cord length until the electrician shows up to put the 3 lights in. Suggestions?

  • Raina, would you share your source for the table? I’ve been looking for one just like this!

  • I’m wondering what the ceiling plate looks like… What color? I’m inspired by this project, and want to spray paint my cheap, white pendant with a stainless finish, and then wrap the cord as you’ve shown. I’m just not sure what to do with the small white plate attached to the ceiling.

  • i was not able to disassemble the lamp…how do you unscrew the socket? it seams to be glued. PLEASE HELP! :)

  • This site is so amazing! For a DIY/recycle fan like me, all tutorials and ideas like this brighten up any day! I have some ideas for shabby chic weddings in my blog, if you’re interested :)

  • Oh my! Very timely! Appreciated as I’m trying to navigate a DIY antler lamp. Found the hanging lamp at IKEA yesterday. Started putting it together until I accidentally broke the antler. It’ll be fine, but unan inconvenience waiting for it to “set” from epoxy. Thank you for tutorial❣️