Sunday, April 14, 2013

light is right.

Out-of-control with the house purging and organizing this week. More on that soon, but let's step back in the kitchen for a moment...which is looking a lot lighter these days:

Right. Remember the kitchen? When I last left off (of my ridiculously-late kitchen updates), I'd revealed the cabinetry, flooring, appliances, extra storage, countertops, and backsplash. Lighting was next on my list, with my hopes being that I could make the room brighter in general.

As you can tell from this picture - taken on moving day, I believe, and excuse J.J.'s tush on the couch - the kitchen doesn't always get a lot of light. True, the adjacent family room gets a decent amount from the sliding doorwall and two large windows, but that light doesn't always translate to the kitchen itself, with its one measly north-facing window.

Being prepped for paint in December 2009

We'd already taken a couple measures to brighten up the room, such as painting the walls a cheery blue and deciding to paint the cabinets white. Still, the room's light sources - i.e., two boob lights on the ceiling and dingy fluorescent under-cabinet lights - left a lot to be desired.

For the two ceiling lights, I wanted something (a) more modern, and (b) brighter. I tossed around the idea of having can lights installed, but that was definitely out of the budget, since it wasn't something we could really do on our own (no access to the other side of the ceiling). Then I thought maybe track lighting of some sort would have a similar effect - especially after I ran across this at Home Depot:

Image: homedepot.com

I hesitated on pulling the trigger, though (shocking, I know), because it didn't seem quite right. And on an April trip to Ikea, I figured out why: because THESE were infinitely better.
Image: ikea.com
Hellooo, Ikea Alang Ceiling Lamp! Don't let the picture fool you; in real life, it's bright white. I grabbed two of the larger (18") size for $40 each and brought them home, where they promptly sat on my hearth until OCTOBER. So, like, six months. Whatever.

J.J. did the un-installation (unstallation?) of the boob lights...

...while I prepped the Alang lights to be installed. Unfortunately, we had to add a couple hours and a few surprise trips to the hardware store (&*S*#^!!%), because the ceiling cans weren't the right size for the new lights. J.J. took on the challenge of fixing the issue, which was good, since I'm more likely to hook the originals back up, return the Ikea lights, and cry in my car. But yes, it's a good thing he persevered, because:

AWHHHH! (Obviously, that's the sound of angels singing as they stand in awe of the new lights.) What can I say, I freaking love them. They are decidedly more modern, they offer some spice without being too in-your-face, and they're way brighter. Honestly, after they were installed, the kitchen had a totally different look to it. Even the paint seemed brighter.

But we weren't done yet. The new range hood offered another great source of light that we didn't previously have...

...but I wanted some more under-cabinet lighting - other than the sorry excuses that were there:

(I'd already removed the plug-in strip light from that left-side cabinet in this shot.)

Those. Fluorescent. Lights. Sucked. A LOT. They poked out from under the cabinets, one had to be plugged in to work, and their light was harsh and...dumb. They were just dumb. I researched lots of different choices, but it was hard to find an option that didn't require hard-wiring (which was super intimidating, not to mention way more work than I thought necessary - plus it was going to be tricky to hide the wires). Then, Lowe's and behold, I practically tripped over the solution: Utilitech's Battery Operated LED puck light kits. At $25 for two puck lights, these adhesive-attachment, battery-operated, touch-button lights were EXACTLY what I was looking for. Bonus? It took about ten minutes to stick the five lights (I have one left over) to their new homes.

Again with the loooooove. They're bright, they're easy to turn on and off, and they turn off automatically after thirty minutes to save the batteries. (We've had them for about six months now and haven't had to replace any batteries.)

But...again with the BUT...there was still more lighting to tackle. When the kitchen was painted blue in December 2009, the fluorescent light over the sink was removed - and never re-installed.

Green indecision = blue end result.
See it there, peeking out from under the sexy wave moulding? Yep. In any case, we'd had no light over the sink for about three years...just a hole with capped-off wires dangling out. (Don't try this at home, kids.) It was high time to replace the fixture - but with what? I didn't want to significantly block the window, and, as with everything else, I wanted something more modern. I thought about a chandelier of sorts, but everything I looked at seemed like it would block the window too much. Plus, they were usually pretty expensive. Again, Lowe's held the answer, this time in the form of allen + roth's 3-Head Decorative Track Light for $53 with my Lowe's card:
Image: lowes.com
I believe I also snagged this back in the spring, only for it to languish in the basement for about six months before we installed it. The major hang-up was the ceiling over the sink, which was in dire need of some repairs and repainting.

Removing the wavy moulding had left an uneven line in the drywall, and try as I might to fix it, I could NOT get it looking good. I spackled and sanded, spackled and sanded, spackled and freakin' sanded until my hands nearly fell off - but it was still uneven and funky-looking. I fixed the wall next to the new corner cabinet, and I painted everything blue with the leftover paint from December '09, but it was still a bad situation.

Good news/bad news was that I eventually realized we were going to have to call in a handyman for a couple of odd kitchen jobs - fixing a bunk outlet, for one - and I figured I could have him help out. Until then, though, I decided just to install the fixture...maybe just so I could have one more thing crossed off the never-ending kitchen to-do list.

Success. And a surprise bonus is that the shape of the light heads is hexagonal, which unintentionally echoes the backsplash! I seriously hadn't even looked at the light fixture since early summer, and I chose the backsplash in the fall, so when I unpacked the fixture and started assembling it, I realized the happy accident. Awesome.

The end result is a much brighter, lighter, happier kitchen, for about $200.

And you get a little sneak peek of the new console table by the fridge in that last picture! Next time, Gadget...

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