Kitchen lighting trends change regularly, and some have certainly seen better days. In fact, one of those long-ago fads that makes your kitchen look really dated is the so-called Sunshine Ceiling. While it was meant to provide lots of light in a space where you definitely need as much as possible, the Sunshine Ceiling is old and tired, and there are so many better ways to light that all-important room these days.

What is a Sunshine Ceiling?

A Sunshine Ceiling is basically a large box or boxes that hang down from the ceiling that contain fluorescent lights. They were supposed to “light up” your kitchen like the sun. Sometimes, these boxes covered a good portion of the ceiling or, at least, most of the center section.

Quite popular in the 70s and 80s, they now make your kitchen look super outdated. In addition, there are much more energy-efficient ways to light a kitchen nowadays, as well as lighting options that are so much more attractive than this old-fashioned trend.

Options for replacing your Sunshine Ceiling

While removing your not-so-fab Sunshine Ceiling may require some work and some additional painting, there are a number of interesting options for replacing these large, unattractive boxes while still maintaining plenty of light for cooking, socializing, and more.

Pendant lights are a wonderful option, especially if your sunshine ceiling was centered over the kitchen island or other work surfaces. Pendant lights can hang at whatever height you wish and come in a huge variety of styles, colors, and textures. Choose something chic for your French Country kitchen or perhaps something made of brass or copper to match your industrial décor. The possibilities are endless! And because they shine down directly onto your work surface, they provide plenty of light where it’s needed most.

If your fluorescent light boxes dominated a large part of the ceiling, take them down and cover the area with tin ceiling tiles or something else with an interesting look and texture. Then add one (or two) modern hanging fixtures or even a traditional chandelier in that spot. The light will reflect nicely off the tin tiles and give your kitchen a whole new look.

Or how about some track lighting? Flexible track lighting, which can be bent to different shapes rather than installed in a straight line, will look great where those fluorescent boxes once hung. Most come with about 12 feet of track and 4 to 6 heads that accommodate bulbs of a variety of wattages. You can even install two tracks if you need more light. These can also be wired independently so that one can be turned off or dimmed while the other is on.

You can also remove your old fluorescent “sunshine” fixtures and install recessed lighting instead. Updating a flat ceiling to recessed lighting is actually fairly simple and won’t take your lighting contractor a long time to complete. If you have a soffit ceiling with a raised portion in the center (which typically accommodated fluorescent tube lights), you can frame the soffit opening and cover it with drywall, making it flat, or you can leave the soffit open and install the recessed lighting inside the raised soffit ceiling. Both look great and give your kitchen a much-updated look.

If you still like the idea of panels on the ceiling, you can find some modern rectangular lights to install on the ceiling, either flush or semi-flush, that are true works of art. Check out your local lighting store or look online for options that will give your kitchen some extra pizzazz.


At Stapleton Electric, we can help take your kitchen from drab to delightful with just a few changes in lighting. We’d be happy to speak to you about options for removing your old “sunshine ceiling” and replacing it with modern fixtures that bring your kitchen into the 21st century. For more information or for a no-obligation consultation, call us at 778-985-9395 or fill out the contact form on this website.