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. kate mckinnon says:

    Thank you, Pam, what a surprise and a treat to see the corner of my kitchen on my daily read of Retro Renovation!

    It was really shocking to me to find the lighting, because not only had I lived with these lovely cabinets for four years, I’ve loved them, and cleaned them, and inspected and admired them, and stuck my head inside them, and looked underneath them. I’ve done everything but crawl inside them I love them so much.

    So to see such familiar and well-loved objects reveal a new exterior part that I had never managed to notice… well. It really made me wonder what else is right in front of me in life? What else am I missing?

    Seeing that lighting was a real reminder not to take life at face value.

    1. Steve says:

      Hi, Kate – I wonder if you have had to repair wiring for your under cabinet light. Ours blew out recently and we cannot figure out how to remove the bottom shelf so as to get to the wiring… And we can’t seem to find anything online. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

      1. kate mckinnon says:

        Steve, my shelves just lift out, but most of my bottom shelves run into the screws that hold the cabinets together side-to-side, and so I have to remove those screws before the bottom panels can pop out. They are held in with clips, in most cases.

        I haven’t had to find the wiring yet- maybe when you succeed you can post the info (and a photo) back in this thread, for those of us who will surely follow in your footsteps?

  2. Holley says:

    What an awesome experience and a wonderful find! I’m always looking for things in my house that I haven’t seen before; looking deep into the highest kitchen cabinets, looking far back into the attic when I muster up the courage to venture there, checking out the underside of a cabinet in the bathroom, that kind of thing. It’s fun! And even more so when you may a fabulous discovery!

    1. kate mckinnon says:

      From the inside, nothing is visible. The floor is smooth. You can see the underside of the exterior in the photo above- there is a recess only slightly larger than the fluorescent tube, and there is a chrome toggle off/on switch at one end of the fixture.

  3. MCM is Grand says:

    This is a wonderful find, a gift from retro gods delivered right to your kitchen! My only suggestion would be to make sure the wiring is up to date.

  4. Very cool. Miss Kate – in a very cool house! I sure enjoyed seeing those cabinets in person this past February! Wonder what other surprises you’ll uncover in your little corner of Tucson!!

    1. kate mckinnon says:

      I’m sure you can easily imagine how excited I was, just the IDEA that familiar and beloved objects hold surprise is so thrilling.

  5. Pete says:

    Hi Does anyone know the proper way to wire these cabinets together ? Im not sure if these can be connected with regular lamp wire or if I need a heavier duty wire. Id like all my st charles cabinet lights to be connected together and run powered from one switch of possible. thanks !

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