Let there be Light

... Yea, that's not my kitchen. But a girl can dream, right?

I think it's pretty fair to say that I am less than in love with our kitchen. Awkward layout? Check. Odd jutting-out counter in front of the stove? Check. Smelly cupboards? Yup. Dim lighting? You betcha. For the past 1.5 years Evan and I have chopped many a veggie, washed many a dish, and fried many a fish with the dim lighting typically reserved for a date night. But romantic hide-all-imperfections lighting isn't exactly what you're going for in the kitchen. It'll result in many can-you-tell-if-the-chicken's-done and is-this-skillet-really-clean moments, let me tell you. Let's take a gander for a moment:

Not quite your dream dishwashing spot, is it? This is with the overhead light ON. Sorry for the blurriness. Apparently it's too dark for picture taking too (in fact, to capture most of my food photos - like the ones found in these recipes - I've had to drag in a lamp from another room).

Although Evan and I had grown accustomed to using our "night-vision" in our kitchen cove, we realized we needed a lighting upgrade this past Thanksgiving when we had eight of us together in that tiny dim-witted-litted kitchen preparing our turkey dinner. It was clear, something had to be done. But since we didn't really want to tackle the ceiling lighting at the moment since that was posing a whole new set of problems (more on that some other time), I didn't think we'd find a simple solution any time soon.

The following week when I returned from my education class around 10pm this is what the kitchen looked like:

My parents (yes, they stuck around for a while, which we loved!) and Evan were up to something ...

... that involved sticking metal pieces into outlets?

They were installing a light above the sink! When we moved in to the house there happened to be a broken light fixture dangling above the sink from that oddly placed outlet (although it wasn't an outlet at the time). It looked like a fire hazard so we trashed the light fixture, taped and capped off the wires, shoved them all back in the wall, and closed it off with a nice solid plate. But sometime on that November night, the Evan and Pearson-parents trio realized we could utilize that outlet without creating a fire hazard if we mounted a non-obtrusive light under the cupboards (as opposed to dangling dangerously near the sink from the wall). All they had to do (after turning off the power, of course) was take off the plate cover, uncoil the wires, take off the end caps and tape, and connect the wires to a new outlet! I'm always nervous messing with wires and electricity, but to scientists Pearson and Pierson (one physicist, the other chemistry teacher) it was quite the fun project. I think the hardest part was shoving all the wires back in the wall within the new outlet box, which proved to be quite a tight squeeze. I believe that's where the photo above comes in, of them filing out the metal box to make room for the wires.

Now we have this handy dandy light under the cupboard that we can flip on and off when we please. Granted, if you peer under the cupboard it doesn't look the most attractive, but thankfully we're pretty tall and can pretend we have professional recessed lighting under our cabinets. We just screwed the light strip in place, tacked the cord up there with some little wire-clamp nails and plugged it in to the new outlet! Ideally we'd renovate the whole kitchen with brand-spankin-new lighting, but this works for now and was super affordable.

And we're thrilled we now have an additional outlet in the kitchen! Before we were struggling to function with just one, which proves to be a bit of a challenge when you have a portable dishwasher that needs to be plugged in AND situated next to the sink. So for us, this little installation was a big upgrade that gave us a ton more function in our little kitchen.

Curious about the random rope lighting under there? That was our first attempt to brighten the kitchen. It actually does have a nice effect and works well when all you have to do is pour some wine and slice some cheese, but it just doesn't quite cut it when you are engaged in some serious dish cleaning or dinner prep.

Here it is, in all its glory - our new outlet:
See? Looks pretty clean and seamless from standing height. (Just ignore the soup pot in the sink!) We can live with a little white cord dangling down if it means we turn this:

into this:

and our soup-pot washing goes from this:

to this:
Notice how you can actually see the bottom of the pot?!

I'm thoroughly enjoying basking in the sun cooking and cleaning in the light. I'd say this late-night electrical project was quite the success and perhaps Evan and my parents should spring more random home improvement projects on me at 10pm!

We moved into our 1950s house July '09 and have already had a whole heap of adventures fixing it up. Click here to read about our home improvement projects -- and check back often for there's always more to come!

Beautiful kitchen photo taken from here, originally from House Beautiful.


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