Factory-installed undercabinet lighting in vintage St. Charles kitchen cabinets — lucky Kate McKinnon

factory installed undercabinet lighting in kate mckinnons kitchen

Reader Kate McKinnon lived with her vintage St. Charles kitchen cabinets for four years before discovering that there were two factory-installed undercabinet lights. Each with their own integral on-off switch. I totally understand how she missed them. They’re integral … your head has to get in there at an odd angle — and who would really expect this level of technology on vintage cabinets! Similarly, it took me two years to realize there was fantabulous vintage 6″ vinyl tiles — with ravishing coral streaks running through them — underneath the discount carpet in the hallway. For some reason, I had it in my head that there was plywood subfloor under that carpet. As Kate says on her blog:

All I know is that I want to stay in this universe, the one in which my St. Charles cabinets have factory-installed undercabinet lighting.

Thank you, Kate.

  1. George Zawacki says:

    Yes to Joan’s question regarding under cabinet light fixtures. I have five of seven cabinets with under counter lights that were installed in 1973. All of them have needed replacement ballasts at one time or another. The ballasts are available at large lighting stores that have parts departments. An electrician is needed because the colored wires may not match up to what is being sold today. I replaced some of them myself but had to call in an electrician for the last one because of the wiring colors.

    To get to the light fixture, you need to remove the inset bottom shelf which will have a finger hold to help leverage it up. They are snugly fit so it may take a little effort. Remember you are dealing with a well fitting St. Charles product. My finger holds are at the left rear.

    This shelf looks permanent when you look at it but it is removable by working it up. At the front, you are actually looking at the lead edge of the shelf. You will need to also remove one or two shelves above the bottom to allow complete removal of the bottom. When you do get it out, you will see the hollow bottom and the light fixture and ballast as well as the pins at each end of the fixtures. All parts are replaceable. If the cabinets were painted inside, it may take a little extra effort. You may need to score the edges of the inset shelf to break them free.

  2. George Zawacki says:

    I have a question about the nylon latches. Most of mine are broken. I have been experimenting with magnets. Has this issue been broached before?

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