Did you hear that?

So, I’ve got a pretty decent looking kitchen. I mean, I’m not complaining or anything.

{This photo was intentionally taken at night without the flash. You’ll find out why in a microsecond. In fact, you could have already found out if you hadn’t wasted your time reading this parenthesis.}

There’s really only one complaint that I have. Can you guess what it is? Maybe I shouldn’t have you guessing. You might start pointing out stuff that I didn’t realize should be bugging me. And then of course it would totally bug me.

Want a little hint about what makes me crazy in here?


If you guessed “horrible lighting” then holy cow, you are good! That is exactly what I was going to say. Give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a “lots-of-light-or-I-will-go-crazy” kind a’ gal. I need light. I’m cranky if I don’t have tons of bright light. The blinds stay open in my house 24/7 because I JUST NEED BRIGHT LIGHT dangit!

So I put this little lamp in the kitchen. You know, like a temporary thing until I can get me some great built-in under cabinet lighting?


Except, it doesn’t fit and it hasn’t been temporary. It’s been a year and a half. With no end in sight. The under-mount light kits are expensive, even when you DIY it, so it’s been really low on my to-do list. I guess I’d rather throw my plastic at paint and moulding and new furniture.

So I’m walking through my favorite store last week, you know, the big bright orange one?… and the heavens parted and I stumbled upon these:


For ten bucks a pop they are much cheaper than the custom stuff I want, and they would look a lot better than that hand-me-down lamp from my sister’s goodwill pile. They would still be a temporary solution, but with my track record “temporary” could mean up to 5 years or more. Good thing I don’t run a prison.

I scoop up as many as I can justify buying (three) and head to the register feeling pretty dang proud of how smart I am.


I raced home and had the first package open lickity-split, only to realize each light needs EIGHT (yes, I said eight) batteries. Say wha? I barely scrounged up eight, but at least I could install one light before I had to head out and purchase more batteries.


The light was a big ol’ piece of chocolate cake to install. Before I knew it I turned it on and stepped back to marvel at my cleverness.


And then I heard it. Was it a buzz? Did the TV get left on?

I was all…

(not really me)

…and the kids were like…

(not really my kid)

And Ben, who never hears high pitched noises was like…

(not really Ben)

That’s when I realized. Realized all my hopes and dreams of having a well-lit kitchen for only thirty smackaroos was a complete and utter fail.

A “FAIL” people! A complete fail.


It produced the most wretched, gut wrenching, ear piercing, headache inducing high pitched humming I’ve ever heard. EVER.

And that’s saying a lot because these ears are to sound what a German Shepherd is to a dead body. Or worse, drugs.

Fortunately good ol’ Home Depot returned the three lights without any hassle. They did look at me weird though when I said it made the most horrible high pitched noise that would kill a dog.

I can hear from another room if the TV gets left on, but paused or on DVD mode. I can hear if the microwave is running from across the house. I can hear those high-pitched phone apps that are suppose to allow teenagers to text in class without the teacher hearing. I can probably hear a dog whistle.

Sometimes I think I have the hearing of a bitch.

And there it is! Snap.


Thank you. Thank you very much. Tip your waitress, try the veal, I’ll be here all week.

So now I guess I’m back to square A. Or is it square 1? Ya, square 1.


It’s all cool though. At least I have the random little lamp and the light on the vent hood. Maybe I’ll give the light situation another go. Ya, probably not. I’m already over it.

Have a great night folks!

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  1. I made the same mistake about 4 years ago….awful! I don’t recall if mine made the horrible sound but they looked terrible, waaaay too bright, not at all the mood setting lights I was hoping for. I haven’t found anything better yet. Sarah (TDC) tried rope lighting above her cabinets, may still have that….I thought about it but couldn’t come up with a solution to having to climb up on a ladder (yes, I’m a shorty) and plug them into the outlet above my microwave, every night. So…don’t give up….I’m counting on you to come up with a solution!! 🙂

  2. I have the same problem with the lighting in my kitchen— it literally kills me. Many cuss words are thrown out on a nightly basis. It is funny you posted this tonight, because my boyfriend said we needed some under the cabinet lights.

  3. I have a lamp in my kitchen too! I’m not a fan of dimness and since I live in an apartment, I can’t change the lighting. The light went out one night and I was too lazy to get out a ladder to change it. I grabbed the new lamp I had bought earlier that day, plugged it in, and loved the extra light so much that it’s stayed in the kitchen ever since.
    Sorry I don’t have another solution, but I do love your kitchen!

  4. We got little lights from IKEA, but I don’t remember the name. They’re little round lights with a plastic surround, and they come in packs of 2. It took some rigging, and they by no means look professional, but my not so handy hubby was able to make it so that they cords don’t show. I loved them. Then the bulbs burned out and every time we go to IKEA we forget to look for more.

  5. Booo! I was waiting for the punch line at the end of the post where you magically fixed it! We rent our place and have horrible lighting in the kitchen and I’ve already tried battery under cabinet lights from the hardware store. They, of course, didn’t work. It makes me not want to cook in the winter.

  6. We had rope lighting above our cabinets at our last house and I loved the soft light at night, but wouldn’t help your need for task lighting. I wonder if there would be a way to attach it under the cabinets. Don’t know if it’s any cheaper, though, Some help I am!

  7. Even when your idea doesn’t turn out you still have a fun way of making me wanna read all about it. I triple dog dare you to duct tape your white Christmas lights under the cabs. 😉 Classy!

  8. That is too funny. Well, not for you. I am totally feeling you on the need of light and the low tolerance for noise. Have you thought about those rope lights under the cabinets? Don’t know anything about thhem personally but thhought I’d throw it out there anyway. 😉

  9. Allison, you never cease to crack me up 🙂 Seriously though, so sorry the lights didn’t work out! Our overhead kitchen lights make that noise and it drives me NUTS. I can’t wait to tear them out of the ceiling.

    On a good note, Kinsey’s room is looking fantastic!

  10. oh.my.word…I have the same bitch ears! my husband, kindly, calls them dog ears….I hear the tv all the time and get so frustrated…I will wake up at 3 am and hear the tv that was left on in the office (opposite side of the house than the master bedroom)…UGH…turn off your tv before going to bed (and it’s an old-before-they-had-invented-auto-turn-off-tv’s!)…and then clocks that tick…and I love clocks so very much, but why, oh why, for all that is holy, do they tick so very loud…

    and on a not-so-bitchy topic…the lights…
    my not-so-diy husband and father-in-law installed some under counter lights in our old house (OLD…falling down around us…house) and they were totally cheap and easy for them to install and did not buzz…they were the little round ones that you can get like 6 all on a circuit together…I can’t imagine we paid more that $30 for the 6 of them (from that place with the orange sign)…and they put out great light, they got hot, but no biggie, just don’t leave anything on the counter that you don’t wanted melted (like butter!)….

    good luck on the light thing….

  11. im totally laughing cause i can hear the tv left on in another room too my husband thinks im lying but i can totally hear anything high pitch. he says i have mouse ears or bat ears since im blind as a bat but can hear a mouse fart up the street

  12. Give me light too!! Lots of it! Sorry your new lights turned you off! Ha!! Sorry just had to say that!
    I am looking for a temp fix too!! So I will keep looking and if I find anything, I will share.

  13. Hysterical! Even Steven did mention that terrible lighting when we stopped by… 🙂 Hope you get better lighting soon – and then share what you did – because I need some too!

  14. Rope lights are going to be the easiest way to go and I have a simple wiring solution for you as well… http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=solar+powered+rope+lights&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=10716478693827067241&sa=X&ei=XHIVT9WFKsqsgweqlM2oBg&ved=0CHIQ8wIwAA
    Yep solar powered rope lights and you can mount them under your cabinets with staples or if you want to do it the right way they do make a small plastic bracket for them (think small clamp with two brad nails). Or if you want to no leave marks on your cabinets possibly try double sided tape. Other than that you are going to have to call in a professional whom would be more than happy to take all your hard saved DYI money. Let us all know if you find a solution that works for you. 🙂

  15. Well I think the laugh I got was well worth the $30 and time it took you to buy, try and return them!

  16. Oh my! You have such a knack for nailing those things that nobody talks about but so many of us experience! I have had the same struggle in my kitchen with under cabinet lighting that doesn’t cost a fortune. I will be following to see if you find a decent solution because obviously I haven’t yet (though these annoying problems get put on the back burner alot).

  17. wow-after joyfully reading what i thought was a solution to my lighting challenge,it all came to a ‘screeching’ halt…a power surge wiped out the light in the vent system and i am still trying o figure out how to remove the melted bulb and fixture…end of my whine…………….

  18. Hi! Maybe this would do the trick
    good luck and greetings from Germany!

  19. What about those small, round puck lights? I’ve seen them at Lowe’s and I think they are battery powered. I’ve thought about trying one under the cabinet, over the sink in my laundry room.

  20. Lois Lane W says:

    Oh heck fire! I was looking for a couple mice or maybe a really big roach flying through your kitchen….

  21. Jennifer beat me to it–ribbon or tape led lights! These things have a very low profile (think good ol’ fashioned scotch tape). You can find some that will work outside too.

  22. Ohmigosh! I always thought I was crazy because I could hear the tv and dvd player and such and no one else could! I’m so glad I’m not the only one in the whole world. Thanks for sharing your “adventure”! 🙂 And Good luck with your lighting!

  23. Allison! Too funny about the prison….your kitchen looks a lot like mine, except I have 2 pendants over the island. But. I live in the gray drizzle of Seattle, and I always need more light. But. My dear husband hates the electric bill. So. When I turn on those overhead can lights and 7 lights come on at once, I’m happy, but he is close behind me turning them off, telling me I only need the 2 pendants. Constant struggle, I tell ya….

  24. The IKEA option was my suggestion. It seems to be the best. I tried what you did but the smaller ones. Only FOUR batteries. lol.

    Anyway – would love to know if you ever figure this out!

  25. I went to the same big box store and purchased the under the cabinet lights in black and stapled the cords to the underside of my cabinets. They work great and add tons of light. Plus there is no “buzz”sound with them.

  26. Bummer…that would have been awesome if it worked for you. Our new house has the built in under cabinet lights so we scored there, but at our old house, I bought some little guys and for the life of me can’t remember where. Ever thought of trying rope lighting under there?

  27. Oh my gosh, I know exactly what you mean – I can hear when my cell phone is *about* to start ringing, because it makes this high-pitched buzzy hum noise for about two seconds before the call actually comes through.
    Humming lights would drive me crazy, too. Sorry your lighting situation didn’t work out – I was all ready to head to the big orange store to get some for myself too!

  28. Oh how I needed to smile today. Thank you for delivering!! Great post!

  29. You crack me up! I bought similar lights for our old house. They had a peel and stick back and I don’t know whay they thought it would hold a light and 8 batteries up. We’d be sitting in the other room and would suddenly hear a bang….the lights would randomly fall onto the counter when the sticky stuff lost it’s sticky. Hubby said enough of them after one fell in the open crock pot!

  30. I know exactly what you mean! I asked my hubby for under cabinet lighting (installed!) for Christmas last year. This is what he got me: http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ12kxZ12kyZ12kz/R-100384834/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

    We ran one cord through a cabinet to the plug over the built-in microwave and another one to the plug behind the fridge. Totally worth it and it didn’t take long (or cost much)! Here’s my post about it, if you want to look at it: http://allthingscreativeaz.blogspot.com/2011/02/kitchen-lighting.html

    Good luck! I know how much a dark kitchen bugs me! I feel your pain!

  31. 1. I have the same ears.
    2. I’ve had a lamp on my counter for twenty years. Still waiting on that under cabinet lighting, so good luck with that.

  32. Funny I found this post now. We (my wife and I) just installed under cabinet lighting this past weekend. We went with the most expensive LED ones at Lowes and let me tell you…it was totally worth it. I was able to get away with only 1 hole drilled, the one where I ran the power. Our kitchen is only about 4 years old and I didn’t want to drill tons of holes into the wood. My wife came up with the perfect solution, velcro strips. I bought a 10′ roll of 1.5″ industrial strength velcro.
    We had just enough space between underneath to tuck each little bit of slack. You literally see 1 tiny hint of a wire over the range, but that’s it. The light is not at all blue/harsh, it’s very bright, each light fixture has it’s own on/off switch and they are fully dimmable. It is now more enjoyable to cook or make the kid’s lunches because our lighting issues have been solved. Yes, it was pretty darn costly, but we did it ourselves, I am sure the labor costs would have made it ridiculous. Plus the LED lights are good for 20-25 years! and they don’t generate an any heat at all. Good luck and by the way…your lamp looks fine.

  33. I’ve been coveting these ultra-low-profile Super Bright LED under-cabinet lights ever since I discovered this website a few months ago:


    Now if I could just figure out how to bridge the gap between the cabinets over the sink to get all of them on the same circuit, I might take the pricey plunge…

  34. I almost bought the same thing just a couple of days ago. Thanks for the heads up, I guess I won’t be buying those. 🙂

  35. Crap.

    I was getting so excited at the beginning of your post, seeing as I would really like some sort of slam-dunk under-cabinet lighting.

    Thanks for saving me the headache.

    So sad in a decor-blogging kind of way.

  36. Kitchen lighting is a bit chmutch if ya know what i mean. I found some great LED low profile lights i put under my cabinets. Just a thought good luck.


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