Emily Winters: Update Your Kitchen Lighting the DIY Way

As a home improvement junkie, a big part of what I do on a day-to-day basis involves trying to source fun new goodies for my home. I love the DIY work, if you haven’t caught on in the first few posts I’ve written, but it’s not always entirely about literal projects, often it’s more about the overall vision and what goes into making it happen. Whether I’m considering adding new paint colors to the palette, finding new fabrics to sew with, discovering new plants to brighten and refresh rooms, and finding new furniture to incorporate, I’m always looking for a good deal and the perfect-for-me solution.

Today, I’m here to unveil a sensitive issue. A home decor snafu that I’ve never acknowledged: my kitchen lighting situation.

Kitchen, current state.

The light above the sink is the real stinker. It’s big. It’s florescent. And it’s naked.

A bad, bad recessed light.

Here’s the gist of it, to get you up to speed… 

Once upon a time about 1-year ago, I eliminated 7 upper cabinets in my kitchen to make way for open shelving. In doing so, a piece of trim that was disguising the florescent light was also removed, and in a fit of fury, I also removed and discarded the encasement that hid the florescent bulb itself.

Before and In Progress Kitchen

I guess I thought I’d be getting around to replacing sooner than I really am.

Anyways, I was on a shopping spree during this past month of November, hoping to find something that would be a suitable replacement for my exposed florescent. I saw it as an opportunity to try a new look. Stray from the expected. Take my kitchen in the direction I really see it heading. Make. It. Mine. Hear me roar.

I started with local shops. All four of these fixtures from the Allen + Roth Collection at Lowe’s made me gaga at first light (get it?), although I wasn’t sold yet on the style. I’ve actually had a hard time finding close-to-ceiling lights that I adore, so I’ve filed this away in my “remember-me-when-you’re-in-a-tight-ceiling’d-situation” folder.

Allen + Roth collection at Lowe's.

Moving my search online (in hopes of finding excellent holiday deals), I started with Etsy and found a stunning piece sold by the FiligreeCreations shop. If you haven’t browsed Etsy before, I think you’ll be floored at the craftsmanship available by the talent artists, and this shop in particular has really beautiful, delicate pieces that are compatible with Ikea lighting kits (how cool!). This globe would have really distinguished above the sink. But too classy for my simple kitchen?

Lighting options from Etsy's FiligreeCreations.

Another striking option was this model from West Elm. Its clean lines make me ooh and ahh, but while it would have allowed a lot of light directly onto the sink and surrounding countertop, it’s a little too big. The 12″ x 13″ measurements made me worried that we’d be smacking our faces into it while doing dishes. (But for the price, I have to say I seriously considered buying it for the living room or the master bedroom.)

A West Elm Small Wire Pendant. Winner!

Growing more frustrated that I couldn’t find “the perfect light,” I had an idea. Over my dining room table hang two matching IKEA pendants (pleated glass, the 365+ LUNTA model, you can catch a glimpse of them here). I recalled that Ikea had also produced a much smaller model of my already-owned pendants, and matched it with a great price to boot. The Ikea 365+ LUNTA models that hang in my dining room are on a track system, but I began to remember that they could also be hardwired, meaning that I could easily buy a single penant and put it in place of the florescent bulb. $29.99 for a glass pendant, seriously.

There was happy-dancing involved when I made the realization that this would work wonderfully in the space without competing with the other pendants in the house.

Ding, ding, ding! An IKEA pendant!

Spoiler alert: I bought it. They don’t ship this product from the website (and my nearest Ikea is 2 hours away over the Canadian border), but I found someone with Ikea access to ship me one in the good ol’ mail. Keep your friends close, keep your Ikea friends closer.

Looking forward for its delivery next week to see if it really is the perfect piece!


Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

10 Responses

  1. gtvr6 says:

    Should look nice and fit the style of the kitchen. Another thought (if you don't like the pendants), I'm not sure what the soffits are hiding, but you can do one or two high-hats…would be hidden from sight and not interrupt the lines of the kitchen. Also looks like there are some high-hats so it fits.

    Just a thought – good luck on the project.

  2. [...] flourescent light that I revealed last week came down over the weekend. It was a happy day, although like many “easy fixes” I [...]

  3. knack says:

    My kitchen was remodeled by my husband in 1967. Not a handyman. We are seniors now and he is in ill health and going blind and I'm in good health with lots of cooking in my future, especially with grandsons that love to eat. I love cooking and especially baking. IF I had a tool box, I would probably gut the room and then I don't know what I would do but I would not have to deal with this discusting kitchen. Is there a sweepstake for new, updated kitchens? A new kitchen is a dream for us. Love your shows.

    • emilywinters says:

      I know that both DIY and HGTV run giveaways and sweepstakes throughout the year – I wish you the best.

  4. Kathy Sweatman says:

    Your project is coming along great! I started a simple lighting update in March…not completed yet!!! I hate the thought of messing with anything electrical but I am slowly building courage to put in a few recessed lights myself. I have watched a ton of programs on DIY projects and hope to be able to get some pointers here.

    Please post pictures of your pendant dining lights. My dining room is open to my kitchen so I am going to try to match the kitchen lighting but have not been able to find anything I LOVE (love Etsy but never thought of checking there for lighting items, will do that!) so have been thinking of the same pendants over the table as I put above the kitchen island so I would really like to see how yours turn out.

    I am looking forward to your updates! Good luck!!

    • emilywinters says:

      Thanks for the nice comment, Kathy! Electrical is definitely tricky, and I don't like to take on anymore more than a "simple" hardwiring job or a light switch switcheroo, but I'm always on high-alert when working with wires and toying with my fuse box. I'll be installing the light this weekend and taking plenty of photos so that I can share tips for you right here!

      Would love to see pictures of your lighting when it's finished!

  5. margiemark says:

    Can't wait to see it in your kitchen! That's going to look great!

  6. emilywinters says:

    Now that you mention it, I believe that it was! I'd have to look at it again up close, but I don't believe it was plain/clear. Pretty, right?

  7. Cait says:

    Great choice!

    I also love the one in the lower right of the Lowe's picture. Is that seeded glass? I love me some seeded glass…

  8. [...] over to The Pegboard to read my newest post; see what lighting options I considered, and what I ended up ordering! If you like it, share it: [...]


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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