Tuesday, August 20, 2013
HOW WE MADE THE KITCHEN LANTERN PENDANTS WORK
I've always wanted some additional statement lighting in our kitchen, but with the way our current lighting was configured it just wasn't going to work. Today I'm sharing how we went about working around that and installing the new lights. This turned in to quite a lengthy post, but I wanted to show our process in case anyone else has a similar problem.
We had great lighting, but our ceiling looked like swiss cheese...there were lots and lots of recessed can lights (22 altogether in our open kitchen/living/dining!). The biggest problem in adding lighting over the island was that none of the current lighting was centered. It was centered for the room as a whole, but the island is off center and none of the can lights were where they needed to be. So, we knew that if we bit this project off it would not be quick and easy.
Thankfully, my soon-to-be-brother-in-law knows a thing or two about electrical work, and agreed to help us out. We decided to remove the entire center row of can lights in order to install the pendants there. However, this left the lights on the other two sides unbalanced, so we moved two of them over allowing both sides of cans to be an equal distance from the pendants in the center.
I got everything measured and marked. To determine the exact position of the new lights, I made a mark with painters tape on the island right below where I wanted the lights to be. Then, I cut a long string, tied a pen to the end of it, and attached the other end with a thumbtack to the ceiling. I kept adjusting the thumbtack slightly until the pen on the bottom hung exactly over the mark on the island. Then, we had our spot for the new lights! I also measured and marked where the lights on the right side needed to go, and the lights with the green tape are the ones we removed.
In the mean time Ray and Micah worked together in the attic to pull the old lights out, move the 2 cans over, put in ceiling patches where needed, and install the wiring and ceiling braces for the new pendants. I wish I could give you a how-to on that, but I didn't even try to figure out what they were doing! Micah even installed a completely new dimmer switch for the lanterns, so they could operate separately from the can lights.
On a side note, while the boys were working my sister and I were doing fun stuff...like make-up shopping and framing artwork for her bedroom.
After a long afternoon of work, Micah left us with 2 recessed lights in a new spot, 2 places wired and ready to install the new pendants, and lots of ceiling holes to finish patching. He did the hard part, the rest we could handle.
To repair the seams left around the patches that Micah put in, I filled the edges with spackling paste, let it dry and lightly sanded. Then I used some texturing compound and feathered around the seams to try to blend eveything in, and hand sanded when it dried.
After painting, it looked terrible! The patched spots were very obvious! I decided that I hadn't sanded nearly enough, and knew it was going to take more than sanding by hand. So, I taped plastic around the area as much as I could, plugged in my palm sander, and got after it. Yes, it was messy and dust still got everywhere, but it had to be done!
It worked! Everything was nice and smooth and the filled patches were undetectable. Even without any additional texturing, everything blended right in. Now, unless you stare really hard and the lighting is just right, you can't tell where the old lights were.
With the lighting from this angle you can see the places that were repaired, but I'm sure that's a paint issue more than anything, and someday when we get around to repainting the entire ceiling everything will be completely undetectable. (Years ago when we painted the ceiling, we used a Satin finish. I've since learned that is a big no-no on ceilings...if it had been flat paint I'm sure none of these spots would have showed.)
Once the ceiling repair work was done, Ray was able to easily install the lights. First, we hung the light cage up without the glass, just to make sure the height was right. Those are heavy...it helped not to have the glass in until the last minute.
Now, because I don't want to lead anyone astray, I have one problem to share with you that I didn't think about before putting these lights up. With our cooktop being out in the open on the island, we don't have any kind of vent for the stove. SO... after cooking for a few weeks with the lights up I noticed some splatters and residue on the glass. I don't want to be cleaning these lights all the time. Honestly it's a little tricky to clean the glass on the inside-it's a tight squeeze to get in there and I don't want to be rocking the light around a lot. I came up with a little solution that's not the prettiest, but it helps. When I'm cooking something particularly messy, like frying something, I stretch a shower cap over the bottom of the light!
Yeah, I know, SUPER classy...but it works! Some particles still get on the outside of the glass, but I don't mind cleaning that part as much. Even with that problem, I still think it's totally worth it to have the lights there.
One more tid-bit in the lighting saga, remember I bought these at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore last year. They were brand new in a sealed box, so it never crossed my mind to open it up and check them out. Well, sure enough, one of the panes of glass was cracked when I opened the box, and the store wouldn't do anything about it. These panes are beveled, so to replace one would have cost me about $40. Crazy...I only paid $50 for the whole light! Needless to say, I decided to go with a regular piece of glass for that one pane, for about $10, and turned that side to the back. I really don't think anyone would ever even notice, so we'll just let that be our little secret, o.k.? :)
So, I guess the moral of this story is don't let
a little something like lights being in the wrong place stop you from doing something you really want to do! (And kudos to you if you actually read this novel of a post!)