Need help with lights and counters!

Ashe42May 15, 2013

Hi--I'm in the midst of remodeling my kitchen and have made every mistake you can make. The worst is that I went cheap on the cabinets--I was trying to keep my budget appropriate to the house. We wanted white cabinets so I went with Woodmark Reading linen white. Not happy, but it's done; the cabinets are being installed. The floor is maple hardwood. I've painted the walls a moss green but that could change. Still struggling with the countertop decision; the builder strongly recommends Ikea butcher block but I'm wondering if the combo of cheap and cheap is yet another mistake! I like dark grey (slate) tile countertops but everyone advises against them. Can't afford granite etc. Does anyone have any great ideas that will make the cabinets look better?

Also, we set up for direct wire under cabinets lights. I'd wanted LED (for coolness in summer) but they're $1400 to buy. Does anyone have good ideas about UCL? Thanks! Wish I'd spent more time on this forum before getting started!!

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I found that LED comes in two flavors.

Very expensive, but it will light a whole office room from a concealed ceiling.

Very cheap, but all it will do is light a small area 2 feet away.

It sounds like you are looking at type one instead of type two.

for $1400 we would have been able to light our entire living room to something like 250-500 lumens per square meter, if I recall correctly. (We were looking at a $700 dollar system and decided it was too much light for what we wanted.)

Also, the expensive piece in the LED system is the transformer. But one transformer will drive *all* your LEDs. Given the price you are describing, it sounds like you are putting one transformer under each cabinet, which is a very inefficient way to do it. You should be able to put a transformer at one end, run a short run of LED cable under each cabinet, and run jumpers between the LED runs, and get all your lighting much, much cheaper. (This does require you to buy LED tape and jumpers and a transformer and look up specs and not just buy preboxed LED lights and slap them on, but the saving is worth it.)

ETA: sigh, I'm having trouble with units and conversions this morning, and I can't find my notes so I'm having to recalculate stuff in my head. The point is that for $1000 you should be able to light the whole kitchen, not just the under counter.

This post was edited by Fynite on Wed, May 15, 13 at 13:19

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Wow, thanks for your input--the electrician is doing it so I have no idea about the transformers! He put the wiring in before we drywalled, so there's just wire hanging out. He told me to make sure I got direct wire if I bought them myself; he told me they'd be about $1400 if he bought them, so that's all I know. Sounds like I'd better have a conversation with him.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 1:28PM
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Is there one wire hanging out under each cabinet? or only one wire per each bank of cabinets? If it is one wire under each, then he is thinking the preboxed route, which is really expensive.

I recently bought, for about $40 dollars, a LED tape strip / transformer for an under shelf light in my garage. It's not the best, I really just got it to play with. That said, it is lighting about 5' x 1.5' of under cabinet space at least as well as I would want for kitchen under cabinet lighting, if not better. And that's after I just slapped it up there and didn't bother to space it out or do anything clever with it. I don't think it's what you want, but you should be able to get what you want for a lot less than 1400

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:07PM
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Have you thought of cement counters? look online for a local company & get a price, it can be stained a varietly of colors, textures imprinted or embed with details i.e. beach glass, (stained to look like slate/polished or not to look like soap stone) Ikea butcher block through out- yikes! Maybe in a designated spot to break up the counter top, flanking the stove top or on an island-prep area. I'd suggest to call local fabricator's, ask what remnants they have available- better yet go to them & look for yourself. If your kitchen has breaks in the run of the counter ???? sometimes you can use a variety of remnants not from the same slab but same series of slabs. A fabricator might have two or three pieces of different sizes that could all work together if they don't have to be butt up next to one another. I.E. small piece of counter-stove-next piece- piece of butcher as built in cutting board. next piece of granite for sink area. You could also mix it up by using the butcher in the cooking area & granite/stone/or tile in the wet/sink area.
Another option is granite tiles, you'll need a sub-counter made to tile on but granite tiles could give you the feeling your looking for on a budget. In addition you'll need an edging for the counter. I think the home stores or some sites on line actually offer a granite edge tile now. Or If you are most thrilled with slate, consider the largest tiles offered. There are are some FAB porcelain tile's (through color) too. But there'll always be the grout lines to contend with - fortified/stain blocker grout recommended. Just my opinion but if using granite tiles - personally it'll always look like you couldn't afford solid slabs & went the granite tile route. Again Just my opinions, & some idea's. Lastly, check out a metal shop for a galvanized metal counter. Could be really neat! Mix it up with a butcher cutting counter piece & or /granite remnant. One unique kitchen. No cookie cutter look. Add in a fun back splash maybe a combo pattern of slate & glass tile for a little shimmer, texture & pop, BTW LED lighting should not be costing you 1400.00-for the product alone! Unless - how big is your kitchen?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 7:42PM
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