Delicate Diagonals in Brooklyn

My friends Amy and Jesse moved into their fantastic apartment in Fort Green, Brooklyn, less than a year ago, so this is the first chance they’ve had to put their large shared back yard to use over Sukkot. Check out their first year sukkah, with its dreamy fairy lights and living skach. Amy mentioned that they were on a tight timeline this year, and plans for the future include experimenting with wall materials, “all the better to showcase the delicate diagonals that form the wall supports.” Later today, we’ll be back with some ideas for wall materials Amy and Jessie could try in Year 2.

imageCan we talk about how gorgeous green, living skach is? It brings in so much life, and bridges the indoor/outdoor quality of the space. Especially combined with the bright string lights, which are one of my favorite ways to light a sukkah.

image(2)Amy’s favorite part of the sukkah is the “delicate diagonal” pattern created by the wooden support beams. I also love that she brought in a low glass coffee table from her living room to help make the space feel finished.

Thanks, Amy and Jessie!

Check back later today for a roundup of wall materials that don’t suck for Amy and Jessie to try next year.

Got a tip on a Sukkah that doesn’t suck? We want it at


A Magical Fort

A friend of mine shared some wisdom about sukkot:

“A sukkah is a magical fort to play in with your friends.”

Happy holiday, friends! Thanks for playing in ours.

10 Sukkah Lights That Don’t Suck

Lighting can make your sukkah magical. Choose simple colors, clusters of repeating shapes, and varying heights for a soft glow that fills your space. If you’re worried about something catching on fire that shouldn’t, try flameless LED tea lights. And  please promise me that you will not use scented candles anywhere near where you’re serving food, ok? I dislike almost all scented things, but it particularly interferes with how you (and your guests) taste food, so stick to unscented or beeswax candles for the sukkah.

Here are 10 great options:

1. Mason Jar and Jute Lanterns

Mason jars are an obvious choice for outdoor lighting. They’re popular for a reason–cheap, classic, and readily available most places in the U.S.–but they can come off a little too twee. To do it well, choose uniform jars, and use just a few.This is a great example of a simple version, made with recycled jars and jute cord. Beautiful clustered together in groups of three.

This macrame variation could be done with the same materials.

Click here for the tutorial.

2. Tea Light Chandelier

I love the look of this tea light chandelier made of tulip-shaped jars, ball chain, and an upcycled cooling rack. The white pebbles in the bottom of each jar make them look more substantial and reflect the glowy light.

Click here for the tea light chandelier tutorial.

3. Leather and Glass Jar Lantern

One last example of a mason jar light done well. The leather and glass look beautiful and there’s a really lovely rivet detail (click here for the full tutorial and more pics).

4. Colorful Cubes

Perfect if you like happy colors and modern lines. Plus, it’s easier to pull off than it looks. These would work great hung from the roof, or on a tabletop like they are here.

Click here for the colorful cubes tutorial.

5. Super Simple Wire Tea Lights

No tutorial required. So simple, so functional. I can imagine these look a lot like Harry Potter-style floating candles at night. The wire coil could even keep young hands away from the flame.

6. Glowing Grapevine Orbs

I’ve seen a few versions of this idea, and I think it’s got a great work-to-final-product ratio going for it. This arrangement of 5 in two different sizes looks fantastic. Also one of them wanted you to make your own grapevine balls. Like, out of your extra grapevines. I did not include that one. You’re welcome.

Tutorials are linked under the photos, but the gist is: buy grapevine balls at a craft store, and wrap with string lights. If you can’t run an extension cord out to your sukkah, try solar-powered LED string lights. They charge during the day and then turn on automatically at night. We string them across the top of our sukkah and love the effect.

7. Succulent Chandelier

I have a thing for succulents. When we lived in Jerusalem, my partner would surprise me with succulents from the plant store down the street every once in a while. At some point he thought it was funny to call them Social Justice Succulents. I don’t know why. But I do love succulents, and I love social justice, so if you make this amazing chandelier–the base used to be a potrack, FYI, and be sure you have a strong support beam to hang it from–please call it your Social Justice Succulent Chandelier. Thank you.

Tutorial here.

(Note: You could also use air plants for this project, but they don’t give a shit about social justice, so screw those guys.)

8. Hula Hoop Chandelier

Ingenious. Try spray painting your hula hoop white or silver if you can’t find one in a color you like, and again, think about solar LED string lights for this project–I think they come in icicle style too.

Full hula hoop chandelier tutorial here.

9. Sweet Ribbon Lanterns

These look like simple hanging tea light holders from a big box store, made sweet and colorful with bold colored ribbon in shades of pink, plum, and lilac. No tutorial needed, just pick any three shades of a single color for a cohesive look.

10. Beaded Chandelier

OK, so this one doesn’t actually include lighting, but it would be so easy to add string lights here that I’m including it anyway. This could have gone terribly, terribly wrong. But the streamlined shape and big white beads really work. And it’s another one that’s easier than it looks.

Check out the full tutorial here.

Got a tip for sukkah lighting that doesn’t suck? Leave it in the comments, or send it to

Feel at home.

I love this beautiful sukkah, with its colorful fabric walls, decorative lighting, and natural elements, submitted by an American reader in Jerusalem. I love its ethos even more. The cozy furniture and cushions make it warm and inviting. Plus, check out that beautiful blown glass and etrog chandelier! Got a tip on a sukkah that doesn’t suck? Or want to share your own?


Dear More Sukkah:

A number of years ago, an interior design-minded Israeli friend led me to this Eureka moment: building a sukkah is like building an extension to your house. A living room. In other words, feel at home.
So I dragged a small bookshelf into the sukkah and stacked it with books. I covered the floor with a carpet, brought in a low coffee table and some pillows to sit on, Bedouin style.
sukkah at night2
The schach roof is palm tree leaves, dragged home from a Jerusalem yeshiva’s backyard. One year it was olive tree branches found on the side of the road. I hang pomegranates and one etrog from the roof beams, and string Christmas lights on top, too. One time I dragged in parts of a couch and a lamp and lots of candles.
We build it on the outdoor deck, so when you open the living room’s door to enter the deck, you walk right into the sukkah. It’s three walls of fabric on thin wooden beams nailed together, with the door acting as the invisible fourth wall. I keep one wall of the fabric half open to keep a breeze in the sukkah if it’s warm. The central fabric is purple with pink stripes, because, why not. The fabric sukkah was an inspiration from friends who have since moved to Boston.
inside sukkah looking out
We’re taking a Shmita year off from building a sukkah. Frankly, we just don’t have the energy this year. We’ll enjoy other sukkot.
An American in Jerusalem
P.S. No plastic fruit? Fine. But one year we hung up a string of plastic oranges that lit up, bought in a market in Cairo, because it felt right.

DIY Balcony Sukkah

Last year, my partner and I decided we wanted to start our own celebration of Sukkot.


We’re city people, and we had finally found an apartment with a balcony large enough to accommodate a sukkah you could reasonably sit and eat in at the same time. But we’re also fans of great design, and while we wanted something simple and easy, we did not want to attach a PVC-and-shower-curtain blight to our apartment.

Growing up, my suburbanite parents had an amazing sukkah. It was made of thick bamboo poles, lashed together with rope by my former boyscout father. My mom purchased big sheets of burlap fabric for the walls from an old tobacco factory near our house. It was beautiful. And totally impossible for a city-dweller to replicate.

So here’s what we came up with, using some of the same principles, but with city-friendly solutions.


What you need for a 6×11 balcony sukkah like ours:

  • (4) 2×2 pressure-treated wooden poles, 8 ft – zip-tie these to the 4 corners of the balcony railing as supports.
  • (2) 1×2 pressure-treated wooden poles, 8 ft – zip-tie these to the center of the longer sides as additional supports
  • (2) 1×2 pressure-treated wooden poles, cut to 7 ft – these are the top rails of the 6-foot sides
  • (4) 1×2 pressure-treated wooden poles, cut to 6 ft- connect them together in sets of 2 at the top rails on the 11-foot sides
  • 1/4-inch nylon rope – use this to lash together the poles at the top corners
  • 1 pack of very strong zipties
  • 6 cheap Ikea curtains – thread these onto your poles first, then lash together at the top

We created a space that feels celebratory and special, that we’re excited to have guests in, and that makes us look forward to the holiday. And that’s why I started this blog.

Sukkot is an amazing excuse to build something beautiful. It’s the one holiday dedicated to interior design. Please say no to plastic fruit.


Got a tip on a sukkah that doesn’t suck? Send ’em right here: