Flip the switch to new kitchen lights

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

Being the youngest of three, I have always looked up to my older siblings. My older sister, Suzanne, has been my go-to person for help with fashion, decorating and parenting advice. My brother, Raymond, has been my source for technology, books and fixing things.

Raymond has always been the type of person who enjoys seeing how things work and then doing what he can to improve them. It is no wonder, then, that when he bought a house last year, he quickly learned some basics in electric work and other handyman-type duties.

When I visited him recently, I was quite impressed at the kitchen pendant light he had just installed. He quickly recounted how he did it and just how easy it was. If you are feeling handy and want to take on the challenge yourself, consider some of these tips for hanging a kitchen pendant light:

Take pictures. Most often, homeowners replace pendant lights not because they are broken, but because they no longer match their style. If you plan to sell your old pendant, take pictures before you take it down. This will help potential buyers to envision the pendant much better than seeing a photo of it sitting on the floor.

Work in the daylight. You will want to shut off power at the breaker for obvious reasons. Use the sun to keep the room lit while you work.

Measure twice (or more). Raymond’s pendant hangs over his kitchen table. If you plan to do the same, remember that you will need room underneath, but not so much that the functionality of the task lighting is lost. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 30 to 36 inches above the table/ counter. Keep in mind that you want to be able to eat or work underneath the pendant, and you also want to keep your views unobstructed.

Bring in a friend. An extra set of hands can help you to hold the pendant while you are doing the wiring, and he/she can also help you to eyeball or measure how far the light is hanging.

Go long. When initially hanging your pendant, start by leaving some extra slack in the cord. It is always safer to leave some extra and cut later, if needed.

Be confident. The wiring for most pendant lights is relatively simple. For Raymond, he recalls only two wires and says it was the easiest fixture he changed in the house. Follow manufacturer instructions, and if you ever feel too intimidated, contact a professional.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisin@gmail.com.