Ideas for Ugly Recessed Fluorescent Ceiling Fixtures in the Kitchen

Liza Hollis

A kitchen's design is only as elegant as its lighting elements. If your home has been the victim of the ugly recessed fluorescent ceiling fixtures that have been a budget-friendly mainstay of kitchens for decades, you may be looking for a way to make the most of this design challenge. There are ways to cover this recessed lighting to enhance the overall quality of the design that you can consider before opting to replace the fixture completely.

Decorative Molding

Fluorescent lighting fixtures are not ideal for bright kitchen spaces.

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to dress up a drab recessed lighting fixture is to frame it out with decorative molding. This will detract from the dullness of the lighting fixture while enhancing architectural interest. There is no shortage of different molding options available at many different home repair stores. If you already have decorative crown moldings, baseboard or any type of cornice in the kitchen, this can add to the ceiling space. First decide where you want to place your molding. Mark directly on your ceiling where you want to mount the frame. Make your measurements twice before cutting, just to be safe. Use a miter box to cut your molding at a 45 degree angle and allow it to be fit together, much like a picture frame. Mount the molding in place with a nail gun and cover the nail holes with woodfill. When the fill dries, sand and paint as necessary.

Drop Box

If the issue that concerns you about the ugly recessed lighting is simply that it is recessed. Consider bringing the interest down by framing it and forming a box around the lighting. This will create a modern-inspired chandelier. Having the lighting drop down into the kitchen space can add drama to the room while detracting from the fluorescence of the existing lighting fixture. Install wooden trim in a box shape around your recessed lighting. Mount it in place with a nail gun. Attach a sheet of plexiglass cut to the size of your box to the bottom of your wood trim. You may be able to screw it in place, but it is best to also add a bead of wood glue. Clamp the plexiglass to the frame until the glue dries. Add more trim or decorative molding to further dress up the lighting option. For easy access to the lighting to replace bulbs, do not screw or glue the plexiglass in place. Instead, use a router to create a lip in the wooden trim and slide the plexiglass through this lip.

Remove the Lighting

It might just be easier to remove the lighting fixture than to add a decorative finish. This can be simple to accomplish by removing any diffuser plates that are used to filter the fluorescent lighting. Uninstall the light fixtures and allow the wiring to hang loose. Frame out the ceiling with strips of plywood and mount a piece of drywall over the hole, cutting out room for the wiring to hang through. Paint and texturize the drywall as desired and install your new lighting fixture.