Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mood lighting in the kitchen

Well hello! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! My stepdaughter came home for fall break and we had a blast! The Bub was so thrilled…the two of them are 16 years apart, but you would never know it -- they play (and fight) like they are only a year apart.  ;)

I finally finished up a project last week that was about five months past due. I installed under cabinet lighting in our kitchen years ago – it was just the kind you mount under the cabs and plug in. It worked great for us because of the old black backsplash:

See the cord plugged in? I know…if you’ve read this blog for two hot seconds, you know I loathe cords. BLECH. Hate them.

But the black cords blended right in…even I didn’t notice them. ;)

But when I installed the new, white, beadboard backsplash, those black cords could be no more. I mean…are you kidding me? I would quite literally just pass out from it. Black cords on white?

No way Joe-say!

So the lighting sat in the basement for months while I tried to figure out what I was going to do. My first though was to have an electrician run connections from the outlets in the backsplash into the cabinets…but that just sounded like a mess (and not cheap).

Then I decided to try the battery-operated LED lights, similar to this one:

I liked that they were dimmable. But I wasn’t thrilled with their bright white light. (I know, I know…I’m supposed to love the energy-efficient lights but I am a warm white kind of girl – the LED is so harsh!)

I was living with them for a while, and then one night they were left on all night long, and by morning every. single. one. needed three new batteries. I knew it wouldn’t be the first time that would happen, so they went back to Home Depot. :)

So I kept thinkin’…and finally figured out what I was going to do. Last week I decided to just make a (HUGE) mess and finally git er done!! (Or is that “dun?”)

I figured I had three hidden outlets throughout the kitchen I could use – one behind the fridge, one in the appliance garage and one in the cabinet above the microwave. I only needed to plug in five under cabinet lights and knew I could get to all the outlets needed by going through the cabinets.

I used my 1 1/2 drill bit and started drilling holes under the cabinets for the cords to go through:

I drilled through the sides of the cabinets too, till I got to where the outlet was. To make the cords stay put, I covered them with my handy dandy cord covers:

Then I installed the lights under the cabinets, which is done by simply using a screw:

This part pretty much stinks. You have to contort your body under the cabs just so. I used a small drill bit to make a hole first, then drilled them in – otherwise the screws go flying and you may or may not say a cuss word.


Because I positioned the lights so the cords would barely be showing underneath, I could have just left them alone. But I HATE CORDS (remember?), so I used my cord covers again:

In the past, I used these little jobbies to wind the cord around under the cabinet:

The cord fits in there and you nail it up into the cabinet so they are secured safely.

On that side of the room, I put two of the lights into the appliance garage, and I was going to put the third into the outlet behind the fridge. To operate it, I planned on using a remote to turn it on and off – but the box you plug in wouldn’t fit into the outlet because of the honkin’ cord from the fridge. So I just took it through to the appliance garage too.

The lights around the stove went to the outlet above the microwave, and while I was up above the microwave drilling, I had quite the mishap. :)

I (knock on wood) rarely have accidents…but this one had the potential to be a doozy. I was standing on a chair (first bad idea), and while I was drilling, I leaned against the front of the stove (second bad idea).

It started getting SO HOT all the sudden…and I’m such a fruit loop my first throught was DANG, two drills in one week are burning up on me! (The first one happened when we installed the new pantry door.)

I was so mad! But it just kept getting hotter…and hotter. Then I looked down and saw flames coming from the stovetop. (Within inches of my legs.)

Yeah…I had turned on the gas with my knee.


In the process I melted the cord of one of my lights – so this free project turned into a $15 one (for a replacement) pretty fast.

But at least I realized it was ME that was almost burning, and not the drill.

Good Lord. Fruit loop, I tell you.

Oh yeah…and I have to warn you. This is easily the messiest project I’ve ever done:

An insane amount of sawdust. Crazy. Use eye protection.

I’ve had lighting above our cabinets for years now too, and I just drilled a hole through the top of the cabinet and used the plug:

On the other side, it’s simply snaked down behind the corner cabinet into the appliance garage.

I use rope lights for soft light:

Everything is plugged into a surge protector with a switch, so all of the lighting in the room is turned on with two switches. Which is WAY better than going around and switching on each and every light as I had it before. ;)

I missed our soft kitchen mood lighting so!:

under cabinet lighting

I have them on every. single. night. Most nights, they are the only lights on in the kitchen.

rope lights in kitchen

Like I mentioned, this project was almost free – I’ve had the lights for some time. But if you’re interested in doing this in your kitchen, the small, (about ten inches?) lights are about $10. The medium size (20 inches) is about $15. I know they have a larger size and I think it’s $20.

I use the incandscent version because I like the warm light:

But they have a ton of options! I’ve purchased them at both Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Ideally I’d love to have them all wired and flip one switch…but for now, they take approximately four seconds to turn on and it was just a couple hours covered in sawdust to make it happen. 

I have noticed lately that I can see the reflection of the rope lights in some of my accesories above the cabs, so I think I’m going to try moving them behind everything to see how that works:

(Ignore the placement and accessories…most of it is changing.)

Oh, and I’ve mentioned my luscious dimmers (yes. I called them luscious.) before – I have them on almost every light fixture in our house:

They save money and the low light just plain lovely in any room!

Have you installed mood lighting in your kitchen? Did you do it the real way or the pretend way like me? ;) (If you’ve blogged about it, please link to it!)

DIY disclaimer: Again…I am no electrician – putting cords through cabinets is probably not the way an expert would accomplish this project. Be sure to watch rough edges so the cords to do not rub against them. (I have put duct tape around the edges of the holes I drilled just to make sure everything is smooth.)

OK…I promise to blog about something other than the kitchen this week! (But I’m on a ROLL!!)


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