Updating Kitchen Lighting on a Small Budget

Does updating your kitchen lighting sound like a big expense? Let me show you how to make the most of your existing lighting with a small budget.

“Updating Kitchen Lighting” is part four of the Budget-friendly Kitchen Makeover series.

In case you’ve missed the previous three, you can find them here:

  1. How to Prep Cabinets for Painting
  2. Painted Kitchen Cabinets
  3. Replacing a Kitchen Faucet

The Kitchen Before Recent Updates

Hutch makeover before and after

In this photo of the kitchen, before any updates, you can see the two types of lighting: pod lights and pendant lights over the island.

Updating Ugly Old Pod Lights

With their beige rims, these pod lights are even more ugly now that we have a super smooth, super white ceiling!

I always assumed the rims used to be white, and the beige was due to discoloration over the years. Nope! As I took them out, I realized it’s metal, and that yucky color was intentional! (it shows much lighter in the photo.)

Updating kitchen lighting by removing old pod lights
Updating old pod lighting in a kitchen

They are super easy to remove. With the light bulb removed, you unhook two tiny spring brackets, and the whole outer part comes right out. The big cylinder that remains inside the ceiling is what limits your options for an alternative.

Luckily, I am not the first person with this problem. While searching for a solution, I came across these LED retrofit fixtures. They are made especially to fit these old pod light openings!

As shown on the packaging, the wiring is attached to a socket that screws into the old fixture instead of a light bulb.

Updating kitchen lighting with led retrofit lights
Led retrofit lights - the easiest way to update o;d ugly pod lights

Inside the old casing, you will find two pairs of brackets. The new units have bendable wire brackets that fit securely into the brackets inside the pod. Once both are hooked in, you can push the new unit in to sit flush with the ceiling.

I have to be honest and tell you that they do not all sit 100% flush and snug. Well, my friend, by now, you might already know that I am too uptight to let that tiny imperfection slide! ( no pun intended).

It was an easy fix, and all I did was apply a dab or two “No More Nails” (adhesive) to keep them in place. Just enough to not be a hassle one day when the lights need to be replaced. I also caulked around the rim for a more polished look.

It’s a huge improvement and looks so much better! (see photos lower down with the updated pendants.) It was a fairly inexpensive update. I will link all products at the bottom of the post.

Updating Kitchen Pendant Lights

Kitchen pendant lights taken down to be upgraded

These pendant lights are already an upgrade from what we had when we moved in. I ordered them online and picked the cheapest cute option. Somehow, I didn’t realize they were this shiny chrome finish. I must have selected the wrong finish before checking out. I’m not sure why I didn’t return them, but here they are.

Since I’m trying to keep costs to a minimum, I decided to zhoosh the chrome up with a bit of spray paint.

The easiest way was to take them down or uninstall them, take the glass covers off and mask off the electrical bits.

I used upside-down disposable cups with tiny holes to keep the side screws up to easily spray all sides evenly.

To make sure the paint formed a strong bond with the chrome, I first sprayed all pieces with a primer. After one coat of primer, I sprayed two coats of shiny metallic gold. It is not as shiny and reflective as claimed, but not as flat as regular gold spray paint. This is exactly the look I was aiming for. It matches the new cabinet hardware really well.

Reassembling the updated kitchen lighting

I left it to dry overnight before putting all the pieces back together. Wear disposable gloves to avoid fingerprints since metallic paint is notorious for showing fingerprints!

Updated kitchen lighting being installed

Time to re-install the pendants! Usually, my husband is in charge of all things electrical, but this was an easy task that I could do myself.

Updated kitchen pendant lights

I really like the pendants in gold! It also goes much better with the color of the Edison bulbs.

We are one step closer to finishing the kitchen makeover!

The New Look After Updating the Kitchen Lighting

The new look after updating the kitchen lighting

Here, you can see both the pendants and the LED recessed lights. What an improvement! And can we take a minute to appreciate this gorgeous smooth ceiling?! (If you noticed the darker area in the corner, don’t worry; that space above the cabinets is on the list to be closed up, so stay tuned!)

Complete view of the kitchen updates  so far

This photo is especially for those of you who said I don’t show enough of the rest of the kitchen. I tried to avoid showing the unfinished areas, but I already love this view and could not wait to share it with you!

I love hearing from you! Let me know what you think.

Products used in this project

Click on the image for details or to purchase. These are affiliate links from which I can earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Updating kitchen lighting on a small budget

You have to see this!

A few weeks ago, I found an interesting article by Family Handyman:

Cheap Kitchen Upgrades to Make Your Kitchen Look More Expensive.

It lists every single thing in my budget-friendly kitchen makeover! It almost looks as if I am copying this list!

Number one on the list? Updating the lighting! It’s a good read. Enjoy!

Next In The Budget-Friendly Kitchen Makeover Series:

Replacing Kitchen Cabinets With Open Shelving