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Thinking about installing recessed lights?

great tips you need to know to install recessed lights

Today my topic is about lighting, recessed lighting. And I have to tell you that my notions about electricity are less than the basic. I'm trying to learn the most I can while updating my home. 

As I usually say, I am far from being an expert, I just want to share with you the experience we went through while installing recessed lighting in our kitchen.

So, here I go --->

The picture below shows you the lights we began with, one fluorescent fixture in the middle of the kitchen right on top of the island, one pendant light above the kitchen table, and one recessed light fixture above the sink.  

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
fluorescent light in kitchen

My lighting plan was this simple one:
how to install recessed lights

  1. Install four recessed lights. Connecting them to the same circuit as the recessed light above the sink.
  2. Change the fluorescent fixture for a pendant one.
  3. Move the fixture above the kitchen table further away from the fluorescent one (this had to be done because we were adding a side shelf to the kitchen island), and update the fixture.
Not too many things, right?! Well, let me tell you, those three things gave us a whole lot of work! I now understand why electricians charge those fees. There are obstacles along the way that with their experience, they can easily foresee, fixing things way faster than we as DIYers can.

Our most important source of information at this point was this great article:

by The Family Handyman

A very well detailed article for DIYers that know the basics of connecting wires and installing electrical boxes (I really don't know much about this but the hubby does)  ;) 
We got each our own copy to study all the steps they show with well-explained pictures. This is a keeper.
Some of the things you'll find there are: How to draw a lighting plan, how to find the circuit to provide power, and how to fish the cables.

We began tackling the recessed lights but our first stumbling block was right there even before we started.

The circuit that we were thinking of top-on, to connect the recessed lights was completely FULL!  We found out about that by mapping the circuits and indexing the service panel, you can read how to do that HERE.

We had to fish the cable from an electrical box on the opposite wall from where the kitchen sink is located, which means it had to be done by bringing the cable through the unfinished basement and up this wall.
fishing the electrical cables thru the wall

Then we daisy-chained the fixtures.
can lights being installed in kitchen
The blue tape marks the ceiling joints and stud locations
recessed lights fo insulated ceilings
Similar - 6" Aluminum Recessed IC Remodel Housing

We installed 5-in, remodel housings (this type of fixtures are designed to be installed by the bottom up when you have no access from above to install them), IC (for insulated ceilings)
can lights

With the corresponding 5-in. trim.
Recessed Trim

One of the hardest and most awkward parts of the installation was working around the ceiling joists. There were places where they were attached together (side by side),  making it hard to drill the holes to pass the cable.

We found out after making the drawings for the openings on the ceiling that we couldn't install one of the lights in that position because of the joists being way too close. That made us change the position of the other lights since they all had to be aligned.

Having a right-angle drill attachment plus a pretty long drill bit to drill the holes on the joists is indispensable.

The size of the holes and where they have to be done on the joist is information you will find in The Family Handyman article above.

Something that gave us a good headache after connecting the electrical was placing the housings flush to the ceiling.  Those little legs were crumbling the Sheetrock.  As good rookies, we didn't know that you have to spread them apart to make them fit properly.  Just to get that answer we had to make a trip to our closest home improvement center. :/
legs damaging the sheetrock

Changing the light fixtures above the island and kitchen table was not that big of a problem.  Moving the pendant light meant we had to go through ceiling joists again. :/  A lot of repair to the Sheetrock afterwords.

This next link is a DIY Network video with Amy Matthews on how to make that kind of repair.

If you are interested in installing recessed lights and you have open space above them (like an attic) for you to install them from there. This DIY Network link with Paul Ryan shows you how to do it.

practical information
6 in. Aluminum Recessed IC New Construction  Airtight Housing

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts about recessed lighting is deciding what kind of fixture is the one you need in your space. This next link will give you a peek at the many possibilities you have at hand.

By Home Style Choices 

We did it! 

We stayed within budget because we did it ourselves. It wasn't that easy, but for sure it's something you can DIY if you gather the right information and put some elbow grease.

The best part is the end result and the experience you gain while going through it all.
how to install recessed lights
Firefly Pendant Light  |  Eden White Pendant Light  |  Roman Shade

Have you installed them as a DIY project?  Do you have any piece of advice?


For more about this DIY Kitchen, check these out:

More KITCHEN Projects here:

*This post contains affiliate links.


  1. I did almost the exact same thing in my kitchen.. I used the little LED cans, and although they are about 5x more expensive, they are a lot easier to install than the big cans. ( ) I agree with you, it is quite a job but it is really satisfying to do it yourself AND you do save a lot of money.

    I honestly think the worst part (for my textured ceiling) was the sheetrock repair. The wiring and hooking up fixtures wasn't a big deal.

    Yours look great!

  2. We did this in our last kitchen, too...and so did my daughter. It makes a world of difference! Great job- and great tutorial- xo Diana

  3. Hi Christina! We are doing this in the kitchen, have everything to get started but just got back from Cabo and both of us are so tired! Your lights look wonderful!

  4. Absolutely LOVE the light fixture over the island! I recently had some recessed lighting added to my family room and kitchen, but I did not DIY! I HID (hired it done!) Nice work!

  5. I have no advise, just a compliment. Your kitchen makeover is gorgeous!!! I love everything that you did and your lights are perfectly beautiful.

  6. I want a light fixture over my bar JUST LIKE YOURS. Would you share where you purchased it?
    Ya'll did an awesome job on this little kitchen. Really nice.

  7. So impressed that you put those in yourselves! My sister has that same multi-pendant fixture, I love it.

  8. What a great tutorial! Your kitchen is really beautiful. :)

  9. I love the multi globe light, where did you get it? Beautiful job!!

  10. That is the Firefly Pendant light from CB2. For all I used in the kitchen you can check my Resources Tab at the top of this page.

  11. What a difference the lighting has made to an already fabulous make over.

  12. Wow! I admit to scanning the how-to parts, but that's a serious wealth of knowledge! The only way I know how to deal with lighting is to ask my husband to do it for me. :) Your after pictures look amazing and I'm heading over to check out that link!

  13. Fabulous project. I need to do this to get rid of those huge track lights. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  14. It is amazing what you can do. I went and looked at your kitchen post and wow. What a transformation. Looks like the work of a professional. Thanks for sharing at wow.

  15. What a great job you did with this kitchen. Love the lighting, range hood, and the backsplash! Great work! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  16. That makes a huge difference! What a great tutorial too!

  17. Great job! We did the same thing (and accidentally cut up into the hardwood floor in the room above - oops). Your lighting (and entire kitchen) look amazing!

  18. Christina, were did you purchase the beautiful the color.

  19. Wow that makes all the difference in the world! Soooo pretty!
    Came over from the Uncommon Designs Party :)

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