Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kitchen Remodel: Affordable DIY Undercabinet Lighting

Remember when my parents visited a couple of weeks ago? They came, and they came ready to work!

One thing we really needed in the kitchen was more light. Sure, we'd swapped out an old ugly fluorescent for a track lighting ceiling fan combo, and converted an electrical outlet to a pendant light, but we still had problems actually seeing what we were doing while cooking in the kitchen. Since the bright lights on the ceiling fan were behind/above us, we were always working in our own dark shadow.

The kitchen gets plenty of light during the day, but at night it's a different story...
It was not ideal.

And considering that for several months out of the year it's only light from 10am-3pm, well, we really needed some better lighting.

So we decided to say HELLO to some fancy under-cabinet lighting!

How to Get Under-Cabinet Lighting

1) Take stock of your electrical outlets. There should be an outlet behind your microwave and refrigerator, but check to make sure. You can use either of these (or both) to draw power from.

2) Go buy some under-cabinet lighting kits from your local home improvement store. There's lots of choices out there. We wound up with 2 packs of the Utilitech 120-V 3-Light Xenon Accent kits, which ran about $30 a pack (roughly $60 total).

3) Drill holes in the backs/sides/underneath the cabinets to allow for the cords.

4) Put up the lights!

Of course nothing is perfect with an old home with old cabinets... we had to "rig" our lights so the screws wouldn't go completely through the thin wood on the bottom of the cabinets!

5) Nail in little cord-hider-stay-put-things.

We had to get a little creative with hiding the cord on our open storage cabinet...

6) Mount the light adjuster/on-and-off switch. (Note: We did things a little differently. Since my dad is pretty much an electrician, he worked some wirey-magic in there and somehow installed us some dimmer switches on the walls!)

7) Enjoy!

Let's just say we're more than pleased with our DIY undercabinet lighting installation. For less than $100 we added major ambiance, but more importantly the all-important-prep-lighting, to our little kitchen. We can't get over how much it truly adds to the space! The dimmer switches are incredible for setting the right light level (like if we have company over and want them lower, as opposed to if we're actually prepping food), and we love that both the switches are on the wall as opposed to hidden under the cabinets - thanks to my Dad! And major kudos to my Mom as well, who ran all over town with me while we frantically tried to find some "special" nuts and bolts to rig up the undercabinet lighting so it would work with the super-thin wood under the cabinets. Mom and Dad, we LOVE the lights!

So, what do you think? Will you be adding undercabinet lighting to your own kitchen anytime soon? Do you like the lights as much as we do - or maybe you're just wondering what-the-heck is up with that nasty drywall that we've managed to highlight with the new fancy undercabinet lighting? Stay tuned for that little (err, big) adventure!
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  1. It looks great!! I love under-cabinet lighting... I bought some to put up at our old house and then we moved. Hopefully we'll be able to put it up in our new kitchen, whenever that happens. :) You guys make it look so easy.

  2. Thanks, Anne! We love it. And don't tutorials always make everything look so easy? In real life it took us a whole day to do! But it was totally worth it. :)


  3. Love what you've been doing. I found your blog through Remodeholic. I have to know where you got the fan/light unit for your kitchen. Only because I live in Texas am I asking the question--it's so hot here. Anyway, I would love the deets, thanks!

  4. Hi Eve,

    Thanks for stopping by! We bought the ceiling fan at Home Depot awhile back, but it looks like they still have it - it's the Hampton Bay FAST ATTACH 52 In. Click in Fan with Brushed Nickel Finish. A word of caution though - those lights do get hot (and tend to heat up our un-ventilated kitchen pretty quickly), so I'd recommend it for a higher ceiling if you'll be using the lights alot or for a long amount of time, if you live in a warm climate. Otherwise, we totally love the fan! (and it installed really easily too!)

    Hope it helps!

  5. Thanks for getting back to me and so quickly! I'm excited about the concept of the fan but we do have low ceilings in the kitchen, maybe 8ft? That is a bummer because the price is right on your particular model. So, I'll have to look into it more but you definitely have got me thinking in that direction :) Thanks!

  6. It's looks fan-tastic. I love it! Can't wait to see the finished result!

  7. I really want to do this! I love the dimmer functionality as well! I bet it makes your granite really sparkle too!!! Great job!

  8. Do they all connect together sorry just trying to understand better. We want to do this in our new house

  9. I'm trying to do some affordable remodeling in Knoxville. This would be a great addition, thanks for the idea!


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