I love design / decor as well as LED lighting, so I’ve been including LED lights in various places throughout my house. However, they have always been small accents which are either remote controlled or attached to battery packs. At many home shows, I have seen brilliant examples of cove lighting, but what if your house is older and some of your spaces are smaller?

The Basic Plan

I started by researching websites and some YouTube videos. Much of what’s out there are from companies showing how easy it is to use their product or promotional material for contractors. I did find a few helpful resources such as

Due to the small size of the room (5′ x 8′) I needed to use small sized crown molding and have it fairly high towards the ceiling. Since I couldn’t find any small scale molding that I liked I decided to create my own. My choice was a decorative trim piece that was about 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ with a solid back & top and then add a 1″ x 2″ rectangular piece to hide & deflect the LED lights. Since I hate doing miter cuts I picked up four corner blocks which also added some extra style to the project.

Initially, I had planned on installing the cove about 2″ from the ceiling, but I needed extra room for the outlet. This distance grew larger when I discovered that there was a header block below the ceiling line. Eventually, I settled on the cove being 5″ below the ceiling. Another issue was that the transformer would be visible within the room. I had planned on keeping this hidden, but given the constraints of the project I decided that having part of it showing would be acceptable.

Hooking up the Power

Old Lightswitch LookSince I wanted to control the lighting via a light switch I had to do a bit of electrical work. The LED lights operate on a different (voltage) than the regular wiring so you need to plug in a transformer. This meant not only did I need to add another wall switch, but I also had to hook it up to an outlet. I liked my current wall switch configuration so I opted for a stacked lightswitch.

Stacked Lightswitch

Fishing the wire up the wall to the new outlet was fairly easy and attaching everything was very basic. At this point all of my electrical was complete.

Fishing Wire Through Wall
New Outlet in Wall

Creating the Cove

To create the cove I needed to build a custom crown molding section for each wall. To make sure everything was a close to the ceiling as possible I mocked up a small section of the cove and then measured the maximum height it could be taking to account the electrical outlet. At that point I measured the location points of the four corner blocks. After having those locations set I measured off the total cove length for each wall.

Then began the process of cutting the lengths of wood to create the cove. I decided to do a two part solution, with one piece of 1″x2″ and the other being a decorative trim piece. After everything was cut to the proper lengths and numbered, so installation would be easier, I set all the pieces out to be painted.

Painting Cove Lighting Crown Molding

I only did one coat of paint before I then took to nailing the two pieces of each cove together. Once all the pieces were created I made sure everything lined up and all of the nail holes filled I then added a second coat of paint. At this point, I took everything inside to see make sure I had measured correctly. One thing that I noticed is that I would have to notch the corners so that I could run the LED strip lighting in one full run.

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Once everything was dry I first attached each of the corners to the wall where they were marked, taking care to keep everything level.

front2pThen I added the cove runners to connect each of the corners. Three pieces matched fine, but one was about 3/4″ too short. So, I cut some of the extra wood and created a small gap filler.

front4pThe next step was to caulk all of the seams so that there would be a smooth professional look and to fill in the nail holes. After the caulking dried I sanded all of the seams to remove any build up.

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Installing the Lighting

Once everything was in place it was time to work on installing the lights. The light installation was very straightforward. Basically, you just start the roll near your power transformer where it will plug in and start to lay down the adhesive tape to the surface. I decided to run my LED lights along the inner lip of the outside ridge so that they would reflect off the wall and ceiling.

LED Strip LightingI ran the whole spool around until I was back at the transformer and clipped the strand at the nearest stop point. From there it was just a matter of attaching the plugs and making sure the IR sensor would be slightly visible.

Finished Cove Lighting

Finishing Up

My final step was to add a touch-up coat of paint to all of the areas where I had caulked and sanded. This was fairly easy to determine and was a quick job.

The Results

Finished Cove Lighting ProjectAs you can see the results speak for themselves. I definitely learned a few things and now feel way more comfortable about adding, even more cove lighting to my house.
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