Remedies for a Kitchen Light Fixture Box

Shirl Snyder

Dump that old fluorescent light fixture in the middle of your kitchen ceiling, and eliminate the hiding space for bugs that accumulate on the lenses. Old fashioned, often yellowed with age and generally unsightly, those light boxes are a DIY project waiting to happen.

Flourescent lights are efficient but not attractive in the kitchen.

Redo or eliminate the entire fixture to change the look of your kitchen and get an update without the time and expense of a complete kitchen remodel.

Remove It

Make the ceiling a focal point in the kitchen.

Turn off all power to the fixture using the circuit breaker or fuse. Remove the plastic light lenses, all the wooden trim, the fluorescent bulbs and finally the light fixtures themselves. Reroute the wires to a location convenient to the new fixtures. Repair the holes in the ceiling drywall using topping compound or drywall hole patch material and sand the ceiling to a smooth finish. Recess the fixture with wooden trim or flush mount the fixtures to leave a recess that is ideal for adding drama to the kitchen.

Paint the recess a bold and interesting color. Use red, black or blue paint for a dramatic statement on the ceiling. Adding a dark color to the inside of the recess will change the color of the light from the fixture. Paint a large section of paper, and tack the paper inside the recess before making the decision to use a bold or dark color. Paint with silver paint for a more contemporary stainless steel or chrome look. This paint will show flaws in the drywall finish. Sand as smooth as possible, and prime twice with an alkyd enamel under coater primer. Wallpaper the recess with a woven bamboo vinyl paper or a blue sky with clouds for a serene and natural look. Install pendant lights with multiple lamps to create an interesting focal point for the kitchen. Chandeliers in kitchens add an old-world look and are very effective lighting over kitchen islands or bar tops.

Keep It but Change It

Update the look of the existing fixture.

Repaint the metal grids on the light box in a metallic silver, gold, copper or oiled bronze color, or paint the entire ceiling one color. Change the fixture lenses to a pattern style to coordinate with your kitchen style. Use materials that are rated properly for the heat generated from the bulbs.

Add crown molding or detail molding to the outside edge of a fixture. Leave an overhang to the inside of the recess. Secure a rope light around the perimeter, and switch the perimeter lights separately from the main lights. Add decorative trim pieces to the corners of the light recess using wooden or metal L-brackets. Brackets with openwork carving or stamped aluminum allow the light through and create an interesting shadow.

Attach Light Boxes to the Ceiling

Rethink the kitchen ceiling to make a bold statement.

Replace the square fixture with an oval fluorescent fixture to update without needing to repair or change the existing wiring. Track lighting mounts in the same way as the light box and allows specific task lighting to work areas of the kitchen. Keep the existing light box, but add decorative wooden or resin moldings to the outside edges of the light box to create a more custom cabinet look. Repaint the fixture one color to integrate the new pieces to the design. Add upholstery tacks, rope trim, decorative molding or strips of bamboo to completely customize a box light. Change the lens to a clear prism or an open egg crate design to increase the light from the fixture. Add a painted circle or square around the fixture in a contrasting color. Make a feature out of the existing light.