It’s Electric

The electric in the kitchen/dining room has been, well, a larger project than I expected.

Going into this kitchen project, I knew there would be some electrical work to do but I completely underestimated just how much it would be. Par for the course, with this house.

Before I can tell you about the electric, I need to back up for a minute and talk about the island.

This is how the kitchen looked before demo (and the plan).

kitchen, before with plan

There was a fixed, permanent island separating the kitchen from the dining room. I originally planned to keep the island (basically) because the layout honestly wasn’t that bad, even though it was a little tight.

The whole house only 18′ wide – on the outside. Using 2′ of that width for an island and allowing for easy passage around it didn’t seem worth is. After demo and seeing how open everything was with no island, I decided to ditch the concept of a permanent island and go for a more flexible rolling island.

You’re aware of the Domino Affect right? One change causes another, which causes another, and so on.

This kitchen project has been FULL of them. The island was only the start.

The original, permanent island was home to several different switches and outlets.

  • The ceiling fixture for the kitchen was operated by a switch located on one side of the island.
  • The light for the back porch was on the other side.
  • Three sets of outlets for small appliances were located inside the island and on the back.

These were all functions I needed to keep but, obviously, they couldn’t stay in the island.

And while I was on the topic of changing the electric, I decided to add some recessed cans in the dining room & kitchen. Because:

  1. Why not?
  2. More light is ALWAYS good!
  3. Lets just do it while everything is all open
  4. How hard can it be?

First off, next time I say, “How hard can it be?” just punch me in the face.

“How hard can it be?” ALWAYS takes forever and ALWAYS is way more challenging than it initially seems.

Installing typical retrofit cans in a typical house where you could easily run wires through an attic would probably be relatively easy.

Installing retrofit cans in 130-ish year old row home is a PITA. And I’ll tell you why.

  1. None of the joists are evenly spaced.
    I spent a good 2.5 hours mapping out where each of the cans would be. Making sure they were centered evenly around the dining room chandelier and relatively evenly spaced. My existing joists, however, had other plans. Now they’re not perfectly spaced. It’s not SO bad that most people would notice but you & I will know.
  2. Plasterboard + Lath = Hard as hell & thick too
    Retrofit cans are made to go in normal drywall.

After it was all said and done, I’ve ended up with a plan that looks something like this:

kitchen electric

Clearly I didn’t go into this with a professional electrical wiring diagram or help with a professional lighting designer. If I had, you’d have something more fancy than Word AutoShapes to convey my plan. {Nothing but the best here in Brick City!} You might also have had a more accurate floor plan to work with too but I’m making do with what I’ve got.

Things to keep in mind when looking at this diagram:

  1. It’s not actually to scale.
    I don’t know who did these blueprints but they’re not 100% accurate. More of an idea than something to actually make hard plans by.
  2. It doesn’t show the blind.
    To the left of the kitchen sink the wall actually recesses into the closet about 14″. The switches & outlets and the under cabinet lighting that will be there will be in that blind.
  3. The kitchen wall (where the sink & stove are drawn) is bigger than drawn.
    Either it’s bigger than these plans show or I’m just cramming more stuff in. On that one LONG kitchen wall will go (from left to right):
  4. There will be no fixed island.
    Cause, remember, I’m going with a smaller rolling island instead.

While the kitchen & dining room are really the whole back half of the house, it’s important to me that they be two separate spaces.

I want a kitchen & a dining room.

I don’t plan on painting the two areas different colors or anything crazy but I wanted there to be a distinction between the spaces. I felt the best way to do that would be with lighting, specifically the recessed cans.

I’ll have the kitchen cans & dining room cans.

kitchen electric zones

They’re controlled separately. The kitchen cans are controlled above the dishwasher (eventually, speaking). The dining room cans are controlled over by the fireplace. They’re all on dimmers. The chandelier is already controlled by a switch on the left wall of the pocket door.

The cans are actually already in but the installation deserves it’s own post. They add SO much light and were – in the end – very much worth it.



Now, if I could just pick which light bulb I like best, we’d really be in business.

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7 Responses to It’s Electric

  1. Steve says:

    Can lights are a really good light source for a kitchen. And what is it with old house floor joists anyway?! Mine are all off too. Even if the original builders had just eyeballed them, they should have turned out more even. Maybe it was part of some sort of feng shui theory of the time.

  2. I want to add can lights in our living room, but I’m afraid to because of all the issues you mentioned.

  3. Amanda says:

    It’s been a while since you’ve posted, how’s the kitchen renovation coming?

  4. Hey guys, hope you are doing okay after the storm. Just thinking about you and your awesome house and checking in to see how you’re doing.

  5. mary says:

    I was so excited to have you back……
    and now you’re gone again!

  6. Leah says:

    Hey 🙂 Just noticed you haven’t blogged in a while and hope all is well. Would love to see some updates!

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