Before and After Cabin

The Cabin Dining Nook Update: An IKEA Table And A Noguchi Akari

October 19, 2020

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[ Pendant Shade | Cord Kit | Dining Table | Floor Lamp | Flooring | Slippers ]

Although the cabin kitchen remodel is still on hold, I’ve got some small cabin updates up my sleeve to tide us over. We had hoped to include the dining nook in the overall kitchen project but asked ourselves, why wait? We’ve been spending every weekend at the cabin and really enjoy our quiet breakfasts together. At home in Pittsburgh, we tend to eat our meals at our coffee table in front of the TV, but at the cabin, we put on music and make a whole special moment out of breakfast and dinner. Not relevant but if you’re curious about what we do for lunch, we eat what we call “snack lunch” which is pickles and honey habanero hummus and pita chips and whatever other snacks we have around while standing at the kitchen island.

The purchase of the cabin included all of the furniture within, so we’ve had almost a year now to have the use of it and see what makes sense for us to keep and what to part ways with. We did a large furniture donation earlier this month that made way for some new pieces that better suit the vision for the cabin.


IKEA MOCKELBY with Noguchi Akari 21A

I’ve had IKEA’s MOCKELBY in mind since we first bought the cabin. I have a special file in my brain where I stash specific pieces of furniture that I love and hope to have a spot for someday, and this dining table is one of them. It’s perfect for the cabin’s style (slightly rustic modern Scandinavian) and goes so well with our floors. My favorite furniture to buy from IKEA is the kind with real wood veneer, and even better if it has a real wood core (this table has a particleboard core in the tabletop but a wood core in the legs/base).

The surface is nice and smooth and this table is HEAVY. Very solid and easy to put together, but you’ll definitely need two people to get it done.

Noguchi Akari 21A

Noguchi Akari 21A

While the dining table decision was easy, choosing the right light fixture was not, and sifting through all the world’s chairs isn’t either. I knew I wanted something airy and cloud-like for the dining nook, the windows are the showstoppers here so I wanted something that would be simple and add a natural touch.

Isamu Noguchi and Akari Light Sculptures

Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese American sculptor, artist, and designer whose work is some of the most iconic of the 20th century. If you aren’t familiar with his name, you’ve certainly seen his work like the Noguchi Table, and you’ve probably seen his Akari Light Sculptures maybe without even knowing who designed them. Akari Light Sculptures are essential mid-century design pieces made from washi paper with bamboo ribbing and supported by metal frames in a beautiful assortment of pendant, table, and floor light fixtures. Each design has a simple name comprised of numbers and letters – the fixture I purchased is the Akari 21A. The term Akari means both “light as illumination” and weightlessness.

Where to Buy a Noguchi Akari 21A

I purchased the 21A shade from an eBay seller in Japan. It shipped quickly and arrived safely and was exactly as pictured. Next, I needed to find a cord set that was long enough for the pitched ceiling in the dining nook and went with this set. If you’re looking for similar cord sets but don’t need 108″ of cord, try the HEMMA from IKEA or this one from Amazon.

Noguchi Akari 21A Alternatives

I heavily considered a few paper lantern alternatives, so if you’re looking for something similar, these are great options:

How High to Hang a Pendant Light Above a Dining Table

The correct height to hang a pendant light or chandelier above a dining table is between 30 and 36 inches. We went with 30-ish inches. To figure out how long to make our cord, I first needed a few key measurements: distance from the floor to the ceiling, the height of the dining table, and the desired height above the dining table. For us, the floor to ceiling distance is 154 inches and the table is 29 1/8 high. I decided to round that up to 30 to make things easier SO if we add up a table height of 30 inches and another 30 inches for the distance from the tabletop to the pendant, that’s 60 inches. 154 – 60 = 94 inches as our total cord and pendant length. Wow, math!

Attaching the Akari Shade Frame to the Cord Kit

Attaching Akari Shade Frame to Cord Kit

Before taking final measurements of the cord for installation, I attached the paper shade’s frame so we could get an accurate measurement. The metal frame was super easy to attach, I just unscrewed the plastic cord keeper on the cord kit, slid the notch in the frame around the threaded area above the bulb holder, and then twisted the cord keeper back into place. One of the things I was most nervous about when ordering the Noguchi shade and a cord kit separately was how the two would actually connect – so hopefully this visual helps if you’re nervous about it too!

Shade Frame Attached to Cord Kit

Here it is securely attached.

How to Customize a Cord Kit

Measuring Cord Kit

Once we knew that we wanted the fixture to be 94 inches long from where it connected at the ceiling to the very bottom of the shade, we laid the cord it out on the floor beside a tape measure. To make sure we were considering where the shade would fall, we attached the metal frame that goes inside the shade first so we could include it in our measurements. In the picture above, it looks like we’re falling an inch short, but when we pulled the cable taut (pull the cord, not the frame because you’ll stretch it in the wrong way), we hit 94 inches.

Extra Cord in Fixture Canopy

You can easily trim the excess cord with wire cutters or stash it away in the canopy if there’s room.

Use a Sharpie to Hide Silver Screw

The screws on this cord kit’s canopy were shiny silver, so I used a sharpie to make them blend a bit better. Andy touched them up when he installed the fixture and was also able to apply Sharpie ink to the silver locking washer behind the screw.

Stretching the Paper Shade onto the Wire Frame

Noguchi Akari 21A in Box

Once the cord kit was installed, I carefully removed the shade from its packaging. Since the shade is paper, make sure you have nice clean hands before touching the bare shade. As you can see in the photo above, the shade has two wire loops at the top, those loops hook onto the raised nubs on the metal frame. Attach the shade to the frame from bottom to top by hooking the smaller bottom hole on the shade to the bottom of the metal base, then expand the shade by gently pulling it up over the metal frame and locking it in place by putting the metal loops on the shade over the frame’s nubs. Done!

Noguchi Shade Detail

The Dining Nook Before

Cabin Dining Room With Pine Planks

If we really want to go back to where we started, this is the cabin’s dining nook before we installed the Stuga Studio flooring. Anyone remember that diagonal transition?

Cabin nook before

The Dining Nook After

ikea mockelby with noguchi akari 21a

Cabin view with mockelby dining table and noguchi pendant

What’s next for the nook? Chairs! We can’t wait to actually be able to sit here and eat. It’s been a bit of a challenge to find inexpensive and durable chairs – an age-old problem, I know. Let me know if you have any leads on some stylish chairs that will hold up well to any future short term rental guests. Also on my list – new shades! I dream of remote-controlled roller or Roman shades for this area as this side of the house faces the road and is the only place where we open and close the shades frequently.

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  • Reply Brittany October 19, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    I have white molded plastic mid-century chairs in my dining area. They are actually so comfortable for a long dinner party. They’re also very durable! I found mine on Craigslist, so I’m not sure the best place to buy new. But I think the black ones could be cool in your space. I am excited to see what you pick!

    • Reply thesweetbeast October 27, 2020 at 9:35 am

      Thank you and yes! I’ve paired the same molded plastic mid-century chairs with IKEA tables in the past and you just can’t go wrong.

  • Reply Megan October 20, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    I know you already have a bunch of pieces from Article at the cabin and may not want more, but their Svelti chairs are inexpensive, sturdy and beautiful.

    • Reply thesweetbeast October 27, 2020 at 9:33 am

      Thank so much for the recommendation, those were definitely on my list and it’s great to hear that you like them and that they’re sturdy!

  • Reply Alexandra Ballard May 15, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Hi there! Your cabin looks amazing! I recently purchased the Akari 21A (also from a seller on ebay!) for above my dining room table as well, but didn’t consider the amount of light (or rather, the potential lack of light) that it would give. I saw that you also had a six-bulb chandelier in the same spot, which is what we’d be replacing. How did you handle the reduction in light? I purchased a couple of plug-in sconces for the wall, but they didn’t look right. Our dining area is also open to the living room, but there are no other overhead light fixtures, so I’m hesitant to install it because I’m worried the single bulb won’t be enough. We are pretty dependent on our current chandelier for light. Have you found the Akari to be pretty bright? Thank you so much!

    • Reply thesweetbeast May 15, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      Hi and thank you! We put a dimmable 100 watt bulb in the light so it does pretty well but it’s definitely not super bright. It works well for dinners and is supplemented by other lights. I never really thought about the light it puts off but I asked my husband and he said it is on the dim side. Hope that helps!

      • Reply Alexandra Ballard July 18, 2021 at 2:14 pm

        Thanks so much for responding! I’m going to install it and give it a try…maybe the dim light will add a little extra romance to our lives!

  • Reply Robin Lovelady July 7, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    Hello! I was wondering if you were able to make sure the Akari light was real and not a knock off? I’m also tempted to buy off eBay because normally this exact light is $400. Any tips would be appreciated

    • Reply thesweetbeast July 18, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Robin,

      I have not been able to verify if it’s authentic or not, unfortunately. The packaging seemed real to me but without a for-sure real one to compare it to or a good online guide, I can’t say. I will say I am pleased with it, either way!

  • Reply Yael August 22, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    Hello, your space is beautiful and I’m modeling my own after yours. Can you tell me where your stunning couch is from?
    Thank you! Yael

    • Reply thesweetbeast September 1, 2021 at 8:05 pm

      Hi there and thank you so much! The leather sectional is from Article.

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