DIY Network

How to Install Kitchen Cabinet Lights

These steps for installing lights in kitchen cabinets can brighten dark kitchen cabinets and also serve as party decor.

More in Kitchen

  • Time

    1 hour

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Prepare the Cabinets

Empty the cabinets completely. Storing items safely in cardboard boxes will give you the clearest amount of space for installation, and will protect your dishes and food items.

Remove any shelves. Then with a measuring tape, measure the outline of the back of each cabinet where you'll hang your string or rope lights. Double check all of your measurements.

Critical step: Measure the distance from the bottom of the cabinet to the outlet. This will ensure that enough lighting is purchased to reach the plug.

Step 2: Purchase the Materials

At your local home or hardware store, purchase the string/rope lights. Make sure to select lights with an electrical plug that are a good fit for your measurements. Helpful hint: Buy an extra strand of lights as backup.

Purchase plastic clips to snap the string lights into. Get extra screws or nails that match those in the kit. Estimate three to four clips per side of the cabinet when determining the total number of clips needed for this project. Buy extras as backup.

Step 3: Mark and Drill the Holes

Wipe down the cabinets and shelves.

In the cabinets identify all locations where you'll need to drill holes for the lights to run through.

Double check the total length of the string lights purchased to make sure they'll fit within the cabinet and reach the outlet.

Check to see if you'll need to drill a circular notch in the corners of the shelves so that the lights can run behind them.

Mark all drill locations in advance.

Double check the appropriate size hole saw bit you'll need to use. Make sure it's large enough for the ends of the rope lights to run through.

With a hole saw bit and adaptor, drill all necessary holes for string lights to pass through the cabinets.

Step 4: Attach String Lights and Clips

Run your string lights through the holes and into the cabinet frames.

Attach plastic clips into place and snap the string light rope into them. Make sure you install enough clips so your rope lights are snug and straight. Three or four per side should be enough.

Plug in the string lights to see how well they're installed. Unplug and readjust as necessary.

Step 5: Finish the Installation

Drill a circular notch in the corners of all shelves where necessary so the string lights run smoothly behind the shelf.

Place the shelves back into the cabinet. Helpful hint: Most cabinets allow you to adjust the height of the shelves. This is the perfect time to see if all of the shelves allow enough clearance for your display and cooking items.

Wipe down the cabinets and clean the glass doors. Sawing creates dust.

Restock the shelves with dishes, food items and decorative elements. Remember to keep clutter at a minimum and arrange items in an attractive way.

Plug the lights back in, step back and enjoy your new look.