Centering a Fixture With an Off-Center J-Box

 Q: The center light in our dining room is not over the table because we now have a large shelving unit against the wall. What suggestions do you have regarding lighting over the table?

A: This is a challenge, because moving the existing junction box might be tricky. Anytime you have an electrical connection made, it needs to be housed in an accessible box, as per code. For example, if the fixture over the dining room table is 12 to 18 inches off center because of the wall unit, a cover plate would need to be installed over the old junction box when the wiring is extended to the new fixture location. This is not very attractive.

In order to avoid this, an electrician would need to pull new wiring that is long enough to go from the existing switch or dimmer to the new fixture location. If the ceiling joists are going in the right way, it is pretty easy to pull new wiring with a minimum of fuss. If the joists are going in the wrong direction, the electricians can use a technique where they cut a ¾-inch-wide slot in the sheetrock and loop the Romex under the joists. They cover the slot with a narrow metal plate, which is then plastered over, meeting code. Here’s another, less-involved option.

Depending how far off the new fixture location is from center, you could cover the old junction box with a large-enough plaster medallion or rosette. As long as the medallion is screwed in and not glued to the ceiling, it acts as overscaled junction box cover. These medallions come in all sizes and styles. An oval one might just be the ticket.

Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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Submitted by Cecilia B (not verified) on Sat, 02/04/2017 - 13:10

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Hello Randall,

We are doing a remodel and we know the dining room table will be moved when not in use. It is on one side of a walk way. It is 120 x 44. I would like to scooch it over toward the windows when not having ten for dinner. However, this walk way leads directly to the kitchen so it is very visible.

Once I scooch it back towards the wall of windows, the chandeliers above will then be off center. Is there a way to move them on a track or something about a foot or so so I can avoid that?

Any help would be appreciated.

Cecilia