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How We Turned Dated Fluorescent Lights to European Charm.

Eight months ago we moved into a home that was about 17-18 years old. It’s not super old, but old enough to need some updating. One of the things that was first on our  list (it’s a long list!) was the kitchen, in particular the lighting.

It was fluorescent, big, flickered, buzzed and was dated. ….


Since we are keeping in line with the home’s style of an “Old World” look, I thought why not see what was underneath that plexiglass of windows? Sure enough there was three large fluorescent lights. The real blessing was the ceiling was coffer underneath, which was perfect for what I was picturing.

So, we removed all the previous lighting, capped off the electrical, and added some cross beams with new and pretty lighting. Talk about a relatively low cost project with big impact!

The beams were 4 X 6 Douglas Fir 8ft. long from Lowe’s and cost about $15.00 each.

I sanded them, then roughed them up by beating them with nails and a hammer and used a Dremel tool to create gouges. I wanted to give them a bit of character.

After vacuuming and wiping them down with a damp rag, I gave them a coat of this wood conditioner  so the wood would take the stain more evenly. I followed the directions, and then stained with Lenmar QuickStain Alkyd Wiping Stain in Spiced Maple and Special Walnut and mixed my own custom color.

With another larger beam over my breakfast nook  and the wood cabinets, both slightly different wood tones, I had to come up with something that would complement, and I think I found the recipe.

I gave them two coats of the stain mixture and then used a coat of polyurethane to seal.

The entire kitchen, not to mention almost the whole interior of the house, is painted in a heavy mustard yellow color. We wanted to lighten and brighten things up a bit and give it a “New Tuscan” look. Unlike the “Old Tuscan” look with heavy jewel tone colors and dark mustard yellow, reds, or cobalt blue, the New Tuscan look has off whites, creamy walls, lots of stone, wood, pops of European grey-blue color, and tons of texture mixed with character. I’m thinking European B & B or at least that’s the look I’m aiming for!

Before installing the beams, we primed and painted the ceiling a soft white-

Benjamin Moore’s Soft Chamois OC-13.

My Sweetheart of a husband handled the electrical and engineering and designed how to suspend those beams with no fear of them coming down upon our heads while chopping vegetables at the island! What a blessing he knows how to do that kind of thing, since I haven’t a clue!

He measured between the ceiling joists and cut beams to size. As for the outlet for the chandelier, he reamed out a circular hole to fit a circular metal outlet box.  He drilled a 3/4″ hole through the beams for the electrical wire. He then cut a rectangular size hole through the sheet rock and fed the beam to the supporting joist and attached it with lag screws. We painted inside the coffer ceiling before installing the beams and then touched up and caulked to finish things off. The chandelier was mounted to the beam and wiring was completed.


I love how  the creamy walls and new lighting subtly softens the heavy lines of the cabinetry and beams.

Another big project was ripping out the tile counter-tops and back-splash, and replacing it with solid surface, and more updated tile. Yes, after several months of waiting, our counters finally got installed!  It wasn’t for the holidays, but  at least the plywood counters were great for no stress spills and cleanup! That’s a whole other story for a future post.

Now, we’re  working on the tile back-splash, as slow as it may be, we are getting it done tile by tile, and one weekend at a time.

For now, I’m so thankful for my new lighting look and no more flickering, buzzing fluorescents!

  • Neither Lowes, Benjamin Moore, or Lenmar Stains have compensated me in any way for mentioning and using their products.

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