2.27.2010

Recessed Lights in the Kitchen - Day 1

We've been talking about putting recessed lights in the kitchen for weeks now. When we moved in there was a massive florescent light that cast a ton of light, but was pretty unsightly, especially in an otherwise renovated kitchen. We took it out one morning and put up our first Ikea hack, which we planned to use as our upstairs hall light.
This morning we woke up and decided it was recessed light weekend.

I mapped out our kitchen to scale on graph paper and attempted to make a best-case scenario layout. Because our bathroom is directly above the kitchen I also marked the tub and where we think the tub drain runs. The drawing was a good exercise and it's really pretty, but in all honestly, we accomplished much more standing on stools in the kitchen with rulers, tape measures and our laser level.

I dug into our wedding supplies and pulled out the huge hole punch that we used a bunch last year (although I can't remember what for). We punched a dozen pink cardstock circles and set to work sticking them in equidistant spots on the kitchen ceiling.
The first thing we decided is that we do not need a dozen lights; nine would do. Then S took a shoe lace, made a big loop and taped it in front of the window where we'd like to hang a pendant light. We stepped back and decided that we did not need a recessed light less than a foot from the pendant, so we took down another pink circle.

Once we had a layout we were happy with on the ceiling, we left to buy the recessed housing and reflective trim pieces that we picked out a few weeks ago. We chose to use a local supplier of Lightolier products. Unfortunately the sales person who helped us choose the lights a few weeks ago sold us the wrong sized housing for our application. I'm pretty pissed since we spent over an hour with her explaining the exact conditions for the installation. And of course they're not open on a Sunday to get the right sized housing. I won't mention the shop's name since I think this may have been an anomaly. Plus, we discovered later that we have more than enough work to keep us busy on Sunday without the housing.

To say that we were precise in our measurements of the "ideal" layout is an understatement. The pink circles are measured to a sixteenth of an inch and everything is spaced perfectly. We knew we had joists to contend with, but we chose to plan and precisely measure our ideal layout first. I guess all our dots and marks will help us in the long-run, but when S moved on to the next step, pulling out the existing junction box:
 it was like a kick in the pants to see a joist smack dab above our center pink circle. As in a big piece of wood right where we wanted to shove this big thing in the ceiling:
S pulled out the reciprocating saw and cut out the metal bracket in the ceiling to which the junction box was attached and prepared the hole for the recessed light housing. It was at this point when we stuck the tape measure in the new hole that we discovered we bought the wrong housing. Learn from our mistake, if you're installing your lights in an existing home withOUT access from above, go for the shallow housing option. And if your housing is going to touch insulation or be in a potentially damp space, please make sure you buy the IC rated housing.
Thankfully this light hole is centered in relation to the window and the shoelace pendant light, but it's two inches to the right of where we wanted it to be in relation to the microwave/stove area. I just spent a half hour sitting on a stool with the flood light shining on the ceiling as I tried to figure out our next-to-ideal layout.

As they're laid out now, the lights would be centered on the double cabinet above the microwave and the muntins in the glass door cabinets on either side of the stove. Given the joist issue our options are: 1. to move the center line of lights to the right two inches, which would mean that the space between the lights would be larger to the left of the center line v. the right; 2. move the center and the left line of lights over two inches, but then the left row would not be lined up with the vertical muntins of the glass cabinet doors; 3. or we could use only five lights total in the center and four corners of the existing 3x3 grid. This last option would probably look the best on the ceiling, but I don't think it would provide us with enough light.

At this point I'm leaning toward option 2. S wants to wake up early tomorrow so we can move the pink circles around and "live" with the layout for an hour or so before we start cutting into the ceiling. I also need to decide on a pendant fixture since the firefly pendant from CB2 may be too busy for the small space.
The reviews say it's smaller than it appears on the CB2 website and I would just order it to hold up in our space, if the shipping weren't so ridiculously expensive. It would make things so much easier if CB2 just had a store in DC!

Do you have any better ideas for the recessed light layout or any pendant light suggestions?

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