An Electrical Switch Upgrade That Makes A Big Difference

I originally expected that many of the improvements I was making to my mid-century kitchen would be subtle; changing the paint color would refresh the dingy wallpaper, and swapping the fan will eventually modernize the lighting situation in the room. I hadn’t really considered how impactful an electrical upgrade would be, but let it be known here and now that swapping out light switches is my favorite improvement effort (that also happens to be inexpensive, and only takes a little bit of know-how and time on the clock).

An easy upgrade to paddle switches.

Paddle switches are undeniably wonderful, a nice upgrade if you’re going to make one throughout your home. Clearly, the switches in the kitchen had seen better days, what with their off-white, always dirty, pretty gross state. Given the opportunity to make changes, I went the paddle switch route.

I ran into a unique situation with that above set of switches: The original switches pictured left (the right set of the left photo) managed the outdoor spotlights, and as a way to simplify turning on and off those outdoor fixtures, I chose to wire them to a single paddle switch. Not only does this upgrade look like a million bucks — thank you, clean white wall plate with hidden cover screws— but the new switch on the far right operates in a way that better suits how we control those outdoor lights. It doesn’t help that the wall plates aren’t on these photos to remind you how dingy they looked before, but the switches that control most of the kitchen lights went from looking bad:

Removing an old 3-gang switch.

To beautiful:

Much improved electrical with a set of three paddle switches.

In addition to dropping in those new switches, I also painted the ceiling recently, which made a big difference in the brightness and finish of the room. It seemed really apparent how tan the ceiling was once the walls were white, but rolling on the paint made it really obvious how different this room would look with a fresh ceiling.

New paint on the kitchen ceiling.

I used a short-handled roller and a short step stool for the job; an extender isn’t something that I’ve invested in yet (maybe someday if I ever need to paint a much larger area). The paint I chose was a semi-gloss white right out of the can.

Semi-gloss, like for the walls, is especially recommended in the kitchen where you’re dealing with moisture from steam (or smoothie splatters from when the blender lid flies off, or the occasional pasta sauce explosion, whatever). If it’s semi-glossy, all of that excess will wipe off easily, and protect the underlying drywall or plaster from moisture damage.

Kitchen ceiling painted; walls and ceiling are a crisp, clean white semi-gloss paint.

There’s still a lot of work to be done in the kitchen. The biggest of projects is refinishing the cabinets and doors, and that will be taking place in the coming months as the weather outdoors improves. Also, finishing the painting of the window trim is high on my list, something that I’ll be able to conquer once the weather in New York is consistently warm enough to keep the windows open daily for painting the detail in the panes.

Anyone else out there in the midst of a kitchen upgrade? Share your progress in the comments! And for inspiration, check out the kitchen facelifts section of


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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17 Responses

  1. Nathaniel says:

    Now a days there are lot of colorful and well organized switches are available in the market but all of them are not good. Before buying switches for home need to get some sort of suggestion from the expert electrician because they always work with those and knows which one is good and which one is bad. Thanks

  2. Schewartz says:

    Well said, if you are adding any new appliances that may need a great deal of electricity then that would be the perfect time to upgrade your electrical system and switches. Next, talk with any licensed electrician, and see whether your house needs any additional grounded outlets or an upgraded electrical panel etc. This is not simple, but with a little upfront planning you can minimize the hindrances and helps to add features that will increase the value of your house.

  3. says:

    asdfasdsdfsdv as

  4. Frank B says:

    My son was going to sell his house and he had good switches and plug sockets that were cream colored and some had paint on the plate coves or sockets and switches. so I replaced all the switches, sockets and plates for new white ones. Its amazing the difference it made to each room and the new owners could be assured of safety.It may not have been necessary for safety, but well worth the effort and expense.

  5. Seriously? says:

    It's like a bad translation of a poorly conceived comment

  6. susan says:

    I am going to get some of the outlets that have USB ports in them for my bedrooms. 2 for the master and one each for the other 2. And we are also in the process of switching to these nice paddle switches as well. One room at a time. We have lots of switches and outlets in this house.

  7. Electrical switch always play very vital role in the whole electrical system and that's why it is very much essential to use the right and quality electrical switch to maintain the whole programs correctly. Thanks :)

  8. Elven mark says:

    If your house all switch is the old model then it need to upgrade and install upgradeable electrical switch. I have liked the discussion which is very informative to me as well because my house switch will update.

  9. Dark Mark says:

    The electrician department is always upgrade the electrical switch always so, we should change the upgradeable switch that's we don't face any problem.

  10. CannotUnderstand says:

    Why do half of these comments defy the use of proper English? I can't ascertain whether they were written by people with limited use of English, or whether they are filler comments.

  11. Devid says:

    When electrical sectors will invented or upgraded electric switch while everyone should upgrade their old electric switch. It give you the electric safety.

  12. Malia says:

    Our house was built in 1980 and we made the same changes not only in the kitchen but all over the house. I hate those yellowish switches so all have been replaced with white. We used black around the kitchen counter area with stainless colored covers because our counters are black granite. I am a dimmer fan so we used the switches with the slide dimmer all over the house. Even my front porch lights are on dimmer. Its great to have them on brighter in the evening and then turn down to a night light level at bed time. We also had a ceiling fan in the kitchen that we removed and put up a light fixture. We removed a floursescent fixture also. All of the electrical outlets, ceiling fans and light fixtures throughout the house have been replaced. And yes…we found potential issues. Now they look updated and we know they are safe. Worth every dime!

  13. electrician says:

    The electrical switch are very old then it cases make a dangerous moment so, it is need to upgrade after happen dangerous.

  14. If you don't install your house switch then it is make you electrical problem or should upgrade the switch. i must upgrade the new switch.

  15. Watson says:

    We should upgrade the electrical supplies to take the electric safety. Nowadays the electric department is discover the new electric switch and all kinds of accessories if you have the old accessories then you have to change and upgrade.

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