The flourescent light that I revealed last week came down over the weekend. It was a happy day, although like many “easy fixes” I decide to take on, there was a surprising amount of repair that needed to be done before the light could actually go up. Cue the dramatic music.
The process of installing the new pendant light was going to be quite easy after a little of ceiling repair work was finished.
For one thing, the obvious absence of an electrical box meant that I needed to install one to contain the wiring; it’s only right for electrical safety to contain sparks and properly anchor the wires. Fortunately for me, all other wiring has passed previous inspections, and aside from carving out a little round hole for the existing construction box to pop into, new holes needed to be made and no new wires needed to be run, so I called it an easy day.
What you also probably noticed in the ceiling were an abundance of holes (those were left by the florescent fixture’s toggle bolts). Patching those is what has been consuming me all week. If you’ve played with drywall compound before, you’ll appreciate the patience required in watching skim-coated compound dry (not once, but three times in this case, repeatedly sanding and coating the ceiling to perfection).
The paint obviously needed to be touched up too; when I painted the kitchen a few years ago, I had edged around the light and avoided taking it down to do the job well (the whole fixture was actually hidden at that time, only exposed when I removed the kitchen cabinets), but once the compound had been dried and smoothed, I finished off the soffit with a nice coat of flat white ceiling paint.
Ceiling repairs checked off the list, the actual light installation was quite a breeze.
I had stopped into Ikea to pick up my new pendant, an 365+ LUNTA (glass pleated model, not to be confused with the smooth metal model that I accidentally bought first – long story), and was ready to begin the install. I happen to love these pendants (glass, pleated, so pretty, and so affordable at $30 for the whole kit – plus, it’s the smaller version of the pendants I have hung in the adjacent dining room, so the whole first floor of the house would feel a little more cohesive with the new addition in the kitchen).
Step 1: Power OFF. Breaker OFF. If you’re really nervous, turn the main power switch OFF too.
Step 2: Before wiring the light, consider the length of the pendant. My Ikea purchase came with a wire six-feet long, which I decided to shorten to 10-inches so that the pendant would hang about this far down. With some pendants, you’ll have to actually cut the cord to length and re-strip the wires before you install, but with mine, the excess cord will tuck into a ceiling encasement.
Step 3: Follow your own fixture’s instruction manual. Ikea’s graphic tutorial guided me through matching up the wires that would sit within the ceiling box, and also instructed me how to affix the supporting pieces of the pendant directly to the box. I always use marretts to secure the hardwired connection, and then wrap the connection with black electrical tape to further reinforce.
Step 4: At this point, jump off the countertop or the sink or wherever you’re balancing on your kneepads, and turn the power back ON to that room. Turn on the light switch. Make sure that it works before you finish the install (it’s always a little easier to find out before you complete the install, in my experience). If it works, go turn the power back OFF at the breaker box just to be safe while you finish the install. If it doesn’t, double check your connections and/or consult with an electrician.
Step 5: The Ikea fixture has a nice built-in hook system that distributes the weight of the light over the wire so it’s not pulling straight from the wire in the box. It’s also designed to be capped right off by an encasement that screws right into place, so the hard work has already been done.
What I like best about this encasement is that you can actually leave yourself a little wiggle room in pendant length and hide extra cord inside the encasement easily, so if next week I decide it needs to be lowered three inches, it’s an easy update. Like I mentioned in Step 2, if your pendant doesn’t have a substantial encasement, you’ll have to trim your cord to length.
Step 6: Install the shade. Don’t accidentally drop and shatter it in the sink (just something I always imagine happening). Turn the power back ON (you can leave it on this time).
You’re done. What’s next? Rejoice. If your pendant is over the kitchen sink, maybe follow that urge to hand wash your dishes more often. And consider adding a dimmer switch to make your new pendant act a little moody – it’s always a nice touch.