PT II of the Kitchen Chronicles
The next step in our fabulous kitchen makeover was to install the under cabinet lighting. The flooring upgrade was remarkable. The appliance swap out was exciting, and made the cabinets look much better…not to mention the energy savings! I even tried to float the idea that we needn’t go any further in our little renovation.
“Wow, these appliances actually make the cabinets look good. Much better!” I said.
“Not good enough,” Cori was quick to respond.
So, in comes Jim Venuti, our trusted electrician, to install the under cabinet lights. Originally, this was something I was planning to tackle on my own. I know my way around the black/white/ground of your basic 12/2 or 14/2 wire. I figured I’d pull the power from existing outlets in the kitchen for the switches, and I’d be good. Problem was that we have three separate blocks of upper cabinets. So that means three different switches. Sure, you could snake the wires down the wall and into the basement (which I attempt later in the proceedings), but who wants to bother with that? It couldn’t be that annoying to flip three switches every time you want to turn the lights on and off, could it? Jim wouldn’t here of that.
“What, you wanna buy some of those big chunky lights from Home Depot? Maybe just get the plug-in type and call it a day?” he asked.
“You’d see them from every angle. You’d even see them from the living room for Pete’s sake!” Jim exclaimed
Then he did a very smart thing. He had me bring Cori along when I went over to his house to re-sign him for another advertising contract on The Handyman Hotline. One look at his under cabinet lighting on one dimmer switch was all it took. It wasn’t a few days before he was cutting into our walls to snake the wires (which he makes look very easy). Jim ran the wires into the basement where he connected them to a small transformer (this one looks like a race car!) so the power can be scaled back for these low level lights. Maybe four hours to run the wiring, and a couple of hours the next day to install and bingo! We had gorgeous and continuous lighting on a dimmer that made the cabinets look even better! These tiny lights are about an inch long and are on a continuous cord that attaches to the front lip of the upper cabinets. You would have to lean over your counter and wrench your neck to look up in order to see these little beauties. Even if you’re completely happy with your kitchen as it is, under cabinet lighting just takes it to a whole new level. There does need to be minimal disruptions to the backsplash. Jim needed to cut in a few small holes to fish the wires through, but we were planning on tiling the backsplash after he was done anyway. It worked out in our case, but if you want to keep your backsplash painted, you’d need to do some patching. The holes in question were maybe the size of a half dollar. I cannot recommend this upgrade or Jim Venuti highly enough (again, only with the right product…don’t go shopping at Cheapo Depot and expect to like the results.)
The next step of the electrical process was to install an outlet in the pantry closet so we’d be able to move our big, clunky microwave off the counter and out of sight. Jim had made the snaking of wires look so easy that I figured I’d do it myself for this little step. I cut the opening in the closet for the electrical box…piece of cake. I then went downstairs and proceeded to impale my hands and head on the nails protruding through the sub floor above while I drilled good sized holes up through the floor from the basement. The string of profanities I hurled at those little nails was long and creative. Apparently they were born out of wedlock, they treated their mothers abhorrently and engaged in risky behavior that left them vulnerable to disease.
After licking my wounds, I fed the snake up through the wall far enough to certainly pass by the outlet that I’d connect to for the power. I go upstairs and search for the snake, which is a wire maybe ¼” wide. That little sucker sure can be hard to find. Harder still when it’s in the wrong bay between studs…oof. Back downstairs to drill another hole 3 inches to the right (after I bent those F*&@in’ nails and hammered them flat against the plywood). Second time’s the charm! I successfully pulled the wire down through the wall, into the basement, and attempted to send it back up to the new closet outlet. Pulling wire down is a heck of a lot easier that pushing it up, I found. However, after more than a few starts and stops, I reached not only my goal of snaking the wire through the wall but also a new level of respect for Jim Venuti. All that was left was to connect the wires and we’d have ourselves a microwave hidden away in the closet! In the process, we gained over 2 feet of counter space. It doesn’t sound like much but, boy, it makes a big difference.
By this time it was late in the day. Dusk had settled in, and the new under cabinet lights were casting their warm glow upon the newly expanded microwave-less countertop. But the counter wasn’t the only thing to benefit from the radiance.
“I really like the look of these lights,” I uttered. “They really warm up the cabinets. Don’t you think, honey?”
“Not enough,” She said, as she could see right through my attempts to avoid the inevitable.
Thoughts coming too fast: Sand paper…sore arms…dust…more sand paper…gnashing of teeth…even more dust…aching bones…a steady flow of tears…what the hell is with all this dust!…
Next Chapter: Kiss That Countertop Goodbye!!