Once you see this fairly easy display-cabinet makeover, your plain one will never seem the same – NOLA.com
Here’s the problem with being a home design columnist who talks to a lot of creative people with good taste and good ideas: Once you know what’s possible, you can’t unknow. It can drive you nuts.
Such was the case with my kitchen hutch, a plain, pine, country French workhorse with open shelves above and ample cabinet space below. We’d been living together without complaint for 15 years, since I bought her for a steal from a shop going out of business.
That is until a few months ago when, while interviewing Dallas interior designer John Phifer Marrs about his new book, “Interiors for Collectors” (Gibbs Smith, September 2021), he mentioned that open shelving units or cabinets you can see into look far nicer and showcase their contents much better when they are well lit and have colorfully painted interiors. The book’s many photos amplified the message.
This pine hutch was long on function, but short on form. She did her job, but not with flair.
That did it. To my newly educated eyes, my humble hutch was no longer OK as she was. And I could not unknow that. However, when I considered how to light and paint the shelves, I froze. If I put a light on the ceiling of the upper section, it would not shine through the wood shelves below. Lower sections would still be dark. Lights in every bay seemed excessive, and switching out wood shelves for glass ones would not fit the hutch’s rustic style. Then what about the cords? And what color would I paint the background?
And so, as with so many good creative ideas that die on the road between Vision Street and Execution Avenue, my inspiration almost ended there.
Until last week. An electrician was at the house working outside. I showed him the hutch, and asked what it would take to light the shelves top to bottom.
“Oh, easy,” he said. (Watch for the word ‘just.’) “You just run LED strip lights vertically down the inside of the front door frames. Then you just drill small holes in the shelves to pass the light strip through. Then you just put a transformer on the top of the cabinet and run a cord down the back.”
Strips of LED lighting can be installed to illuminate each wooden shelf.
“You lost me at transformer,” I said.
“You could do this or just get a handyman.”
“How about you?”
“I really don’t do furniture.”
I looked at him, in a way he correctly understood to mean that wasn’t the answer I …….