Kitchen Pendant Lights on a Budget: Reinvent Your Space

Adding these kitchen pendant lights cost a grand total of $235.21 and they reinvented the space.

  • Total Price: $235.21 (Includes Pendant Lights, Pendant Shades, Bulbs, and various electrical components)
  • Time to Complete: About 3 days.  Mostly waiting for drywall topping compound to dry.
  • Level of Project Complexity: Medium, some electrical work required, otherwise, very simple.
  • Overall Rating: (5.0 of 5.0) Excellent.  All the materials used were very high quality for the price.  For more detail, see Project Overview, Materials.

Design & Planning

For design ideas I like www.Houzz.com to get the juices flowing,  however, most of the projects there are not cheap.  We wanted something simple and within our budget.  As a result, we had to get creative.  We were able to piece our pendant lights together using parts from three sources.  The result?  Great look on a budget.

Kitchen Pendant Lights Before

The before picture.

Our design objectives:

  1. Illuminate the bar top and provide a design element to the kitchen.  We were willing to sacrifice two of the six can lights in the kitchen to accommodate the pendants.
  2. Have the three pendant lights on a separate dimmer switch for mood or accent lighting.
  3. Use warm colored and interesting looking light bulbs (since they are visible through the lenses).

Based on the design ideas we liked, we decided to center the lighting over the bar top.  We used blue painter’s tape to mark the locations for each light and then set the lights out over those marks.  This was a very helpful step since we ended up moving them around after we saw the initial layout.  Once you’ve finalized your locations on the work surface you can transfer these locations up to the ceiling using a plumb bob.

Project Overview

Kitchen Pendant Lights Materials

The materials.

Step 1:  The Materials.  Our design requires only a few items and most of them can be bought online.  The most time consuming component of the project was finding all the pieces for the pendant lights.  If you choose to buy complete pendant light sets you can do so but expect to pay significantly more.  Below is a list of parts we used.

  • Lenses @ $93.92 (for 3) from West Elm – West Elm Glass Pendant Shade
  • Pendant Light Kit @ $54.00 (for 3) from Lowe’s – Pendant Light Kit in Bronze
  • Bulbs @ 32.86 (for 3) from Home Depot – Feit Original Warm Incandescent Vintage Bulbs
  • Electrical Parts @ $54.43 from Home Depot – (switch, three junction boxes, 14-2 cable,)Step 2:  Design Review & Transfer Marks to Ceiling.  I think it’s always a good idea to give the design one final look before you start cutting holes.  Make adjustments as necessary.  Once a placement decision is made it is time to transfer the marks to the ceiling.  The easiest way to accomplish this is with a plumb bob.  Simply drop a plumb from the ceiling until it lines up exactly with the mark on the surface of the counter and make a mark on the ceiling.  Repeat for all the other lights.  (see the plumb bob picture in the gallery below).

Step 3:  Cut Your Holes, Remove Old Lighting.  Using a small drywall saw, cut the holes for the three pendant light electrical boxes.  I always tape the drywall in place so that the blow in insulation doesn’t spill out onto the work surface.  From the attic, remove any unwanted lighting and rewire it appropriately.  Since we were removing the first can light in the series I had to reconfigure the electrical slightly.  Not difficult work but it requires a bit of attic crawling.

Step 4:  Install New Electrical Boxes.  In order to provide a firm base for fastening the electrical boxes, rip some scrap 2×4  and place it across the ceiling joists.  Try to center the 2×4 directly over the hole you cut for the electrical box.  Even though these pendant lights are fairly light, I put four 3.5″ teflon screws into each supporting 2×4  scrap so that down the road you will have the option of hanging heavier lights.

Kitchen Pendant Lights Mounts

Pendant light mounts.

Step 5:  Electrical Work.  Make sure  to turn power OFF before working on your project.  Double check with a power detector.

On this project I got lucky since there was an unused hot lead that ran into the attic.  It had been used for the light feature of a ceiling fan and was no longer needed.  Using a toning device (make sure power is off!!) I traced the cable down and re-purposed it for this new pendant lighting.  If you don’t already having wiring in place, you will need to fish a new 14/2 Romex down the wall and into the electrical box.  Note:  I built the whole wiring harness before crawling up into the attic.  Huge time saver since working in the attic is hot, cramped and difficult.

Step 6:  Patch & Paint.  My least favorite part of any project.  After a couple of passes of topping compound, a light sand and some paint and you cannot tell where those two removed can lights were.  Note:  This picture was taken before sanding and painting and is the reason you can still see the remnants of the can lighting.

Step 7:  Install Your New Pendant Lights.  This is my favorite part of the project because it means you are almost done.  I would recommend having someone with you as you decide how high or low to hang the lights.  You can adjust on the fly and your co-worker can give you an idea of what looks best.  Simply loosen the strain relieve at the top of the pendant light and re-tighten.   Once you have one pendant hung, measure and adjust the remaining two pendants to match the first one before hanging them.

That’s it!  You’re done.  Enjoy your new pendant lighting on a budget.