To-Do List: Kitchen Lighting Redesign

For the Second Time...

The original plan was to hang a dozen pendant lamps over the kitchen countertops. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but after living with the arrangement for over a year, I decided it was a bit much—all of those downrods made it seem like a metallic, upside-down forest. Not to mention that it would have been an utter nightmare to sheetrock.

So I elected to remove all of the fixtures, and install track lighting instead. I'd planned to convert some (but not all) of the pendant lamps into track lights, which was a pretty trivial process, and supplement the arrangement with small spots or floods. But after the ceilings were sheetrocked, it became clear this wouldn't work, because the ceilings were too uneven (due to the fact that the ceiling joists warped after having sat unprotected for two years) for the tracks to conform.

Somewhere along the line I came up with the idea of suspending the tracks from the ceiling, and hanging all of the lights from the lowered tracks (which conceptually is not at all original—example above). This was pretty easy to do since each pendant lamp came with a downrod made up of four one-foot lengths, so I could easily split them up and use the spare parts to suspend the tracks.

By 8 May 2019 I was in a position to put this idea to the test, and there followed a number of experiments—as well as compromises. On paper it all worked, but in practice there were issues, most notably how to energize the tracks. My initial thought was to run the supply lines down one of the suspension rods. However, this became problematic because the ceiling boxes were not located where any of the suspension rods would be (they were located at the ends of the tracks if they were mounted to the ceiling). I'd have to move the boxes, and that was waaay more work than I cared to do. Ultimately I elected to install separate supply wires, using coiled cables.

Much of the work involved rebuilding the pendant fixtures to replace the canopies with track heads (above), cleaning up the rust—a consequence of sitting in an unprotected space for nearly three years—as best as possible (below left, before; below right, after), and rewiring them to replace the halogen bulbs with LEDs (bottom).

On 16 May I installed the tracks; a laser level made short work of finding the suspension points (the two extra plates are where the supply wires will descend).

By 22 May 2019, the kitchen was transformed by the completion of the lighting.


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