Tired Fluorescents? How to Give Your Kitchen a Lighting Overhaul

If your kitchen is still illuminated by the stark, cold lighting of fluorescent fixtures, it’s likely feeling outdated and dull. While fluorescent lighting has served utilitarian purposes for decades, modern options provide so much more warmth, style, and aesthetic appeal. The good news is that with some simple upgrades, you can easily overhaul the lighting in your kitchen to feel fresh and current.

Why Fluorescent Kitchen Lighting Gets Dated

Fluorescent kitchen lighting gained popularity years ago because the tubes disperse light evenly and provide bright illumination for countertop tasks. But standard fluorescent lighting gives off a very clinical, impersonal vibe that lacks ambiance. The typically cool hued lighting doesn’t provide the warm, inviting atmosphere that options like pendant lights or recessed cans offer. And when fluorescent tubes get situated inside utilitarian rectangular boxes, the recessed areas end up looking lifeless and plain if the diffuser panels become discolored over time.

Assessing Your Current Kitchen Lighting

Take Note of Fixtures and Layout

Before determining what needs updating, take stock of your existing kitchen lighting layout. Note where you have fluorescent lighting fixtures installed – are they recessed into the ceiling or simple strip boxes? Identify where fixtures are located in relation to countertops, sinks, islands, and other areas where task lighting is needed. This will help you formulate a plan for upgrades.

Consider Visual Appeal

Analyze if the color temperature of the fluorescent tubes looks outdated, or if they clash with your decor. Often the lighting is very stark and cool-toned, giving the kitchen an unwelcoming sterile feel. Consider if the diffuser panels on recessed fluorescent boxes have become discolored or yellowed over time, making the space feel dingy and dark.

Functionality Factors

Examine if the existing fluorescent lighting provides adequate illumination for common kitchen tasks like food preparation and cooking. Are there areas that seem darker than others? Note zones that could benefit from increased lighting. Also consider if the location of fixtures casts unflattering shadows when you’re cooking or causes eye strain.

Updating Simple Fluorescent Fixtures

Steps to Replace Entire Fixture

If you have basic fluorescent lighting fixtures mounted directly to your kitchen ceiling, updating them is a straightforward project. Start by shutting off power to the fixture at the circuit breaker. Then remove the fixture housing by unscrewing it from the ceiling. Take out the old fluorescent tube and disconnect the wiring. Install your new light fixture by connecting wires securely using wire nuts and mount the new fixture base to the ceiling with provided screws according to instructions. Patch any holes and touch up paint on the ceiling so the area blends seamlessly once the new fixture is mounted.

Options to Brighten Kitchen

For a clean, classic look, consider a flush mount ceiling fixture with white glass that emits bright, neutral light. Or for a slightly more decorative option, try a white glass semi-flush ceiling light. If you have pendants over a kitchen island or sink area, swap out old fixtures for new pendant lights to refresh those spaces.

how to update fluorescent lighting in kitchen

Addressing Recessed Fluorescent Lighting

Converting Recessed Areas with Covers

If your kitchen has fluorescent tubes recessed into the ceiling, a lighting upgrade gets slightly more complex but offers ample room for creativity. As with simpler fixtures, you’ll need to switch off power and remove the old fluorescent tubes and wiring. Replace fluorescent tube fixtures with basic recessed cans to provide brighter, whiter light. After doing so, you’ll likely have a visible rectangular or square hole left behind in the ceiling where fluorescent boxes used to be. But instead of leaving an eyesore, you can transform these openings into beautiful focal points by installing decorative light covers.

Measure the size of the recessed spaces and shop for light covers that will completely cover openings. Light covers come in square, rectangular, and circular shapes with colored, patterned, or even custom printed designs. Install covers over recessed spaces for an artistic element that completely masks outdated fluorescent boxes.

Creative Light Cover Choices

Opt for light covers made from colored glass or plexiglass to add pops of vibrant hue to your kitchen’s light scheme. Try bold digitally printed graphics with funky patterns, photographic images, or modern textures for an artistic element. For a simulated skylight effect, install covers with cloud, sky, or sun designs over recessed cans.

Incorporating Decorative Light Panels

Placement Options for Maximum Impact

In addition to converting recessed spaces, you can install decorative light diffuser panels on their own without replacing existing fluorescent fixtures. Tailor placement of panels above areas where task lighting is most needed – try positioning over the kitchen sink, stove, and sections of counter space used for food prep and cooking. For accent uplighting, install panels along the top of kitchen cabinetry pointed toward the ceiling. Or make a bold artistic statement by covering an entire wall with light panels for a functional art installation.

Mixing Light Cover Shapes and Sizes

Have fun playing with different light cover shapes and dimensions to highlight architectural details or features in your kitchen. Use circles over a kitchen peninsula, wide rectangles over the sink and stove, and small squares spaced along the tops of cabinetry. Combining an assortment of sizes and shapes adds appealing visual dimension.

Customizing With Printed Images

Services That Print Light Covers

For a truly custom kitchen lighting scheme, order light covers printed with imagery meaningful to you. Services like Octo Lights enable you to upload photos to have images directly printed onto rigid light covers. You simply provide your images then configure size, coloring effects, and order quantities.

Get Inspiration From Kitchen Style

Pull inspiration from existing design details in your kitchen when selecting custom images for printing. Use photos depicting materials already found in the space, like images of brick, wood planking, marble, or encaustic tile patterns. Supplement those with pictures of kitchen utensils, ingredients, or family photos capturing memorable meals for a personalized element.

By taking a few simple steps to update fluorescent kitchen lighting – whether replacing basic fixtures, installing decorative light covers, or printing custom panels – you can easily achieve a fresh modern aesthetic. Warmer, more stylish lighting choices create an ambient glow that makes the kitchen much more inviting. New fixtures and artistic light covers transform into conversation-starting focal points. And custom printed panels enable you to incorporate meaningful flair. Give your kitchen a lighting overhaul to take the space from tired to completely revived.

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