There are lots of tall trees near my east-facing kitchen window which are great for shade but make the kitchen dark. Since I do home-schooling, the two 25-year old track light strips are kept on a lot. The window can't be enlarged. What's the most cost effective way to do a kitchen remodeling of just the lighting?
Irina P. ~ Monroe, Louisiana
Hi Irina, What I usually recommend for kitchens is a series of recessed single bulb fixtures on different switches. A lot of it depends on the size of your kitchen and how it's situated, but I usually have the overhead lights controlled by three switches. I have a single light over the sink area that can be left on even when the kitchen isn't being used so if someone happens to walk into the kitchen during the evening hours they have light to get to the refrigerator or sink. It can even be left on as a sort of night light if you want.
The remaining lights I divide in half so you can either have half the lights on for general use or turn them all on for something you need a lot of light for such as your home schooling. My rule of thumb for houses is to have more than enough light for anything you might need, but have the ability to regulate its use. I also recommend dimmers on the switches so you can adjust the lighting even further.
Cost is going to vary depending on how easy your kitchen is to wire, but having the track lighting already there is a good starting point. The electrician should be about to use the track lighting boxes as junction boxes and wire to the recessed fixtures from there. Electricians are pretty good at installing new wiring with a minimum of sheetrock damage, but a lot can depend on how your ceiling joists run and whether they have to run any wires to your breaker panel. You can figure about $70 to $100 for each recessed fixture depending on the trim you choose. I suggest you have a few electrical contractors from around Monroe come out and give you some estimates. It's not a difficult project and you should be able to get a good price, but make sure you have an experienced electrician with the proper licenses do the work as electrical work done incorrectly can cause big problems.
It's hard to give an estimate without seeing your kitchen as I don't know how many lights you need, but I would guess the project would be in the $1,200 to $1,500 range. A less expensive option you might want to consider would be removing the track lighting and installing two four bulb fluorescent lights. I didn't suggest if first as many people don't like reading or working under fluorescent lighting and it might make your kitchen look like an exam room, but it would definitely be a lot cheaper. You might even be able to purchase the lights from an electrical distributor around Louisiana and just have an electrician wire them using the same ceiling boxes as the track lighting. Doing it that way you may be able to get by with only spending around $300 to $500.