What kind of lights can I put in this kitchen?

emily928August 18, 2010

We're doing a kitchen "refresh" and one of my priorities is getting rid of these hideous light fixtures! (And the green counters, but that's a different thread...) Unfortunately we can't get rid of the soffit and redo the cabinets. Do we have any options that would look a little less hideous than these big boxes? I don't even know where to start. Thanks!

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LED light panels are one possibility - low profile, but still rectangular or square like office lighting.

Exposed surface mount lights or recessed cans are other possibilities.

Alternatively, you could bide your time and plan a more extensive remodel, fixing things to your taste. There will be more options as LED lighting becomes more affordable and designers realize that they are no longer constrained by bulb shapes and sizes.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 12:21AM
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Thanks! Do you have any pictures you could point me to for those different light types? I really know nothing about lighting. We probably won't be doing a more extensive remodel since we won't be in this house for too many more years, but I really would like to improve the kitchen somewhat, and I know there's got to be something less hideous than these lights!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 11:48PM
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LED molding and light panel examples


The main issue would be whether you have sufficient lighting in the kitchen now.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 1:09AM
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    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 1:13AM
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For starters, I like the white cabinets, that does a lot to lighten up a kitchen.

An inexpensive and simple way I've found to do under-cabinet lights: Go to one of the big box stores and get light strips that are about $25 each. They contain a strip of tiny lights (like white Christmas tree lights) that are housed in an extremely low profile long strip/box. You screw this to the underside of your upper cabinets. Do it at the very front, otherwise you can see the lights and it looks like a movie marquis. Then you can have it hardwired into the existing outlets on the wall, or if you are really looking to go inexpensive, just plug it into them. Believe it or not this adds a lot of light to the kitchen.

An alternative (and what I'm doing right now while I'm deciding how much to spend in my kitchen) is to put a couple small good-looking lamps on the countertops, which cheers things up a lot.

I would then just put a lot of can lights in the ceiling. If this is too expensive, and again if you want to go really inexpensive, I'd break the "it's no longer in style" rule and install some strip spotlights.

Is there a place for a chandelier? An island? Or is there enough vertical space over the sink? If so, I'd hang a chandelier and put some white chandelier shades on it. That provides a very nice soft but bright glow.

If some of your upper cabinet tops were exposed you could put rope lights on top of them, sort of snake them around so they cast a nice ambient lighting upwards. But it looks like you don't have that. Alternatively, if you wanted to spend the money to put crown mouldings at the top of the cabinets, you could hide rope lights in them (not snaked of course, just straight), which would be a lot less expensive than LEDs but still give some upward glow. Rope lights also are inexpensive and can be purchased at big box.

Wall sconces would be good too (with chandelier shades) but I don't see any opportunity for that in the photo.

Some nicer lighting and snazzy countertops and that kitchen will be looking great.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 10:05PM
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"you can have it hardwired into the existing outlets on the wall."

Warning: it's a code violation to wire undercabinet lights into the general appliance circuits that feed your counter receptacles. You will need to feed them from some other circuit, such as the lighting circuit, or else fish a new homerun to the panel.

You may think this is no big deal, but wait until you go to sell your house and the purchaser's inspector dings you for it. Then you have to find an electrician on short notice to set it right - and that can cost big bucks.

Also, if I correctly understand the nature of the lights you're suggesting - series strings of small lamps, either in strips or as rope light - these are grossly inefficient. This kind of product seems much more suited to decoration than to task or even ambient lighting.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 1:46PM
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I appreciate all the advice. The kitchen does seem to have enough light right now - we hardly ever turn on the one that's right above the sink. So I'd like to keep the same level of light, just not those big boxy things. Maybe the recessed lighting is the way to go - something simple. I wonder how much those cost to have someone put them in though. I guess if we removed the current lighting, someone would have to patch up the ceiling anyway though. I don't think there's enough space overhead anywhere to do a chandelier-type light.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 10:53AM
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Some rough estimates I've heard ~150 per can.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 1:08PM
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I found a good online source for those under-cabinet strip lights, and they will do it to measure.

davidr, I will look into the code violation before doing this to my house here. Thank you for your alertness in pointing this out. I don't find them grossly inefficient at all. They work beautifully for me. Plus these are the only kind of lights I like under my cabinets. Fluorescents of any kind - no, never, no matter how forcefully the government shoves them down my throat. The other new types all cast too harsh a light, and I have heard that halogens actually get too hot for the area. I have found these to be perfect for my needs and that includes task lighting. It is all a matter of personal taste and opinion, and I don't see that a string of mini lights is going to break the budget. In my personal opinion, all the hype over the so-called green efficient eco-friendly stuff is just that, hype. Yeah, right, spend $300 on a single under counter fixture (times how ever many of them you need) and then save $5/month on electricity! Just an opinion and just taste, mind you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Incandescent under-cabinet strip of mini-lights

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 11:23AM
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In new construction with attic overhead, we decided against recessed cans. We have broken with the standard trend and have installed two 3-bulb general purpose round ceiling lights about 6 feet apart down the center of our G-shaped kitchen. They coordinate with ones running alongside the kitchen in an L-shaped corridor. These globes screw on and off a neck ring without a center button screw, avoiding the nipple effect--I can change bulbs by myself, unlike my old flush mount ones that had a pinch wire connector but snuggled closer to the ceiling.

We have plenty of general light this way, plus pendants on two sides of the space and undercab fluorescents at each corner and a light over the range within the hood. We're just getting used to the new kitchen and we've been using it in different ways. Last night we particularly enjoyed having the general ceiling lights for dinner party prep as the sun went down from the west.

The link won't work for some reason, but try this. This is the 2-bulb size Besa Carerra fixture

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 2:33PM
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