OT Maybe...How to underlight onyx counter top???

igloochicOctober 15, 2008

I'm struggling with a good lighting plan for my honey onyx counter top (ok I'll be honest, it's not in the kitchen...it's our headboard in the master bedroom). It's installed in our bay window and our bed butts up to the edge of it.

I tried just sticking a lamp under it (it's installed at about 3' high) but that just gave me one bright spot above the lamp. I then tried rope lighting, strung around the edges (attached to the support bars) but that only lit the premiters (primreters...primaterays??? ok the outside edges). And I currently have it roped a bit with stick up hooks mounted to the bottom side, but any way I do it I get light spots, not a nice soft glow that highlights the entire piece. I really want to highlight it because it looks like floating clouds...and the view is floating cloads and a lake :)

I wondered today if a plant uplight might work? I was hoping to keep the lighting higher up since I want to use the space for storage, but I can let the storage go for good lighting...so, anyone have underlit onyx and want to share their tips???

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Never done it but here's a suggestion anyway. ;) Try lighting it with reflected light instead of direct lighting. Maybe an aquarium light hood mounted kinda' cock-eyed in the back corner of the cabinet with the light bouncing off the bottom of the cabinet and up thru the onyx?? Might need to paint the top of the hood a light color so it bounces light better...

This, of course, is cheesey and you did say that you wanted to get some nice little tropical fishies, I'm just sure. Anyways, look at it like it's an experiment & if it looks like it might be the right approach, then you can engineer something more elegant.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 6:18AM
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a series of puck lights?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 6:23AM
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How about the undercabinet strip lights that have the built in diffusers?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 7:42AM
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www.ccrane.com has LED undercabinet light bars and LED DIY parts. I want, but have not purchased yet, so I don't know how bright the light is. They also have LED bulbs. The advantage would be long life once installed and low heat to safely use for lighting and a storage space.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 7:51AM
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I don't have any suggestions for you....I just want to see a picture!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 7:55AM
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Who was it that had an onyx return on a kitchen island that was backlit? It looked spectacular!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 7:57AM
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Oh, I meant to say, adding mirror inside to bounce the reflective light around will help even it through out.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 8:12AM
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Pharaoh has the backlit onyx. I seem to remember it being lit by bunches of rope lighting?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 8:24AM
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Igloochic: Pharoah's kitchen has a backlit onyx panel (among many other beautiful elements) and may have some answers for you. Photos on the FKB.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 8:28AM
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Examples of the idea?
Backlit onynx at Quail Lodge;

Backlit nightstands Hotel Vitale
    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 9:01AM
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Oh, that nightstand is perfect! I am going to build one like that someday. VERY interesting and cool.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 9:11AM
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It looks like that hotel bar is backlit with a strip of lights (I think I can see them in the middle). Maybe I'm trying to hard to difuse the light :o)

I actually think the fish light is a great idea....I could easily mount it to the wall underneeth on a little shelf or something (the cabinet is just a face with doors...no back because the back was such crazy angles). I want to store Christmas stuff in the cabinet because it's accessible, but not a place I want to move often (our bed is backed up to it).

Last night the rope lighting didn't look bad at all though. It think my issue is trying to light it during the day...which I should probably give up on given tht it is surrounded with windows. But when the sky turned dark, the rope lights were actually quite nice, and they didn't get hot. I may need to do a combo of a couple types of lighting...maybe fish and ropes :oP

I can't use under cabinet lighting because of the heat issue. There's also nothing to attach it to without building a structure in the middle of the cabinet, which defeats the purpose of the cabinet. And even my xenon strips get too hot to be under a closed cabinet. Do floresents get hot???? (Someone from California will know that LOL).

I'll take pics as soon as I dresss the bed (that means after I unpack) because right now it's a bit of a hodge podge of bedding that is not so elegant! But it's the same color as the lovely bar above, and looks like fluffy clouds. I tried to take day pics and it's nearly impossible bcause the light of the windows reflects too much on the shiny onyx.

Thanks all :o) You've given me some shopping ideas!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 1:29PM
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OH!! Igloo, you never need shopping ideas, just live with it for a few days, and I know the answer will come to you.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 3:05PM
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Flourescents and L.E.D.s both stay pretty cool.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 3:51PM
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The onyx bar was impossible to photograph accurately as the stone is highly polished and what looks like how it's lite is actually the reflection from the overhead lights. In person, it is a beautiful glow!
The C Crane lights I mentioned above are LED which are low heat and would be safe. They can be mounted in any direction, any where. The DIY kit is most flexable. C Crane and other brands also make low heat LED standard screw in bulbs you could use in any lamp or bulb socket and they make ambient low regular and extra bright, warm or cool. Have a look at the website to read more about LED's. They make night lights too and are even working on LED Chandelier bulbs.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 4:05PM
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You can also diffuse the light as photographers do, using white glass, plexiglass, plastic, sheeting, etc. between the onxy and the light source. Eager to see your pictures, it sound like a spectacular setting, very romantic! There are many ways, you absolutely can do this perfectly and still have the space functional for storage! Have Fun!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 4:15PM
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For my kitchen onyx island panel, we tested MANY different lighting sources that would work in a small amount of space. This is what I ended up doing.
the panel is about 3'x6'.

75' of rope light (ebay) that winds back and forth.
The rope light is installed about 3" away from the stone so that you dont see hot spots.

The panel is evenly lit and very bright. This also depends on the thickness of the stone. (here is a secret - I used onyx tiles 3/8" glued to tempered glass! This is the best way to reveal the beauty of red/green onyx). Had I used slabs, I would have had to use a flood light to get to penetrate the 3/4" slab :) Most backlit onyx I see is too dull because of the thickness of the stone and the inadequate lighting.

If you have white onyx, then you would be able to illuminate it with rope light and not too much wattage.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 6:13PM
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Pharaoh, what a fabulous tip!!! That could also work for the shower walls discussed in the bath forum, tempered glass for easy cleaning and safety in the shower side and privacy plus light source from the exterior side?
The bar onyx is one long slab but I do not know the thickness.
Did you use LED or old fashion rope? I have found our older ropes have yellowed and darkened conciderably.
Love all your creativity and ease to think outside the box!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 9:22PM
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thanks, I used old fashioned rope light. Next time I do something similar I will look at LED, I think there are many more choices in LED ropes now and at a cheaper price.

In my master bath, I am planning on using solid glass for all four sides of the shower! One will be a wall that will separate it from the bedroom with sliding shoji screens for privacy. The idea is that when the bathroom is not in use, it will be open to the bedroom :) talk about having no box to think inside or outside of ;)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 11:15PM
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    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 12:59AM
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you are all such a great wealth of advice. I'll shop and give a couple of tries to different ideas. I did have a thought about having the carpenter build me a shelf type space between the onyx and the door opening (which would be about 4" deep). I could then lay the ropes right on that shelf and they wouldn't be in the way. This of course will make my carpenter crazy...

Bodacia....thanks for sharing the heat issues (or lack there of) of the lighting you posted. It's so hard to find cooler lighting for under counter areas. I can't do anything that's hard wired in because frankly...I'm out of spaces in the box LOL and if the artist doing my son's room (where the box is) is asked to move a monkey or lion so I can cut hole in their walls...well they'd probably hurt me more than my carpenter will want to when we talk about a shelf for the onyx cabinet LOL

It is honey onxy in 2cm thickness. Honey was the only onyx that I could do for a slab over 3' deep without additional support (the reds are to die for...but cn't span an area that far). It was important to me to not have lines running down the legnth of the onyx because they'd show when back lit.

I tell you...between designing a safari tent, a crocdile shower, chicken haven, and this freaking cabinet....I'm designed out :oP And have just one more house to finish LOL

And mommy??? That's you right? I hope you've packed some woolies. It's been snowing and it's a mess of slush and goober outside!!! Oh and I sure hope you love monkeys :oP You'll see why soon!!! (the mommy 1 is my mother who rarely posts unless I really inspire her with some crazy idea LOL) Smooches mommy!!!

Pharoah....you've inspired me you know :) Your kitchen onyx made me sick with envy LOL I just had to have onyx somewhere in this new house. I can't wait to show how wonderful it is in our room. It flows so well with the work the artist did on the walls (in a soft bronze leather finish) and the antique lighting.

I just won't do it today because I have a purple (temporary) bedspread on the bed LOL and it's a horrible combination LOL

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 1:37AM
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Dawn you and your Mom are a hoot! I bet ya'll have great time together up in the wilds!
So hurry up and dress that bed! lets see pics! sheesh

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Pharaoh, that sounds fabulous, hope you share photos! I love asian style and shoji screen, traditional and also with Japanese silk art.
igloochic, would solar or battery powered help you? Beyond the onyx headboard, can a wire run outside, under the window? Or is there a crawlspace or basement below? LOL, I'm determined to make this work for you!
Pharaoh, have you done any work with optic lighting?
Igloochic, you home truely sounds amazing! All of the attention to various details are fascinating.....a croc shower? Wow, can't wait to see more!
"Hello" to themommy1, also! My Mommy is 97, Pc savy, my best friend and loads of fun too!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 2:59PM
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you should use led panels from :

I'm currently doing a onyx shower slab that is backlit.
you can read about my research and installation at :


you can view the installation pics at:



    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 4:20PM
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