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Should I paint or clad underside of upper cabinets?

last month

We will be installing only 4 upper cabinets in the remodeled kitchen, on one 10’ wall only. All new cabinets are SW Extra White. Two of the cabinets have glass doors, so they were painted white throughout, inside, top and bottom (at the factory). The other two cabinets have a natural wood finish underneath, and will have bright led lights installed underneath. I don’t know if the finish is poly or melamine - I’m guessing poly. (The interiors of all cabinets are this natural wood look finish.)

The photo shows one of the white led lights under the existing old brown cabinet. The color temperature will be set to bright white which might be around 4000K. The entire kitchen will have close to 4000K light.

The cabinets with lights will be installed high, maybe 6’ above the floor. I know this is not ideal, but I ALWAYS hit my head on upper cabinet doors and they won’t be used much anyway. (The only way I would agree to upper cabinets is if they are out of range of my head.) There will be a coordinating white wood valance in front of the light. We have control over the height of that valance, and I may even make it an L shape to hide the glare of the light. Any suggestions as to how that valance should be designed and sized are welcome. The light can be positioned near the wall or near the front cabinet edge or anywhere in the middle. The two cabinets are 33” wide with room for up to 6” wide filler.

The main question is:

  1. Should I paint the bottoms of those two cabinets with the lights?
  2. Or should I make a thin piece of plywood and paint it white and tack it to the bottom of each cabinet? The light installation screws can reinforce the fasteners, and if necessary, I can use a thin moulding to secure the thin plywood sheet to the bottom of each cabinet. Any suggestions on a good way to clad the bottom of the cabinets? The bottoms are recessed from the frame maybe 7/8” which would leave plenty of room for 1/4” - 3/8” thick plywood cladding.
  3. Or should I leave the bottoms of the cabinets alone? There is a significant perimeter around the light that would show the natural finish. I’m not sure how much it would show when using the counter under the cabinets, or how much it would affect the color of the light produced. Most of the finishes in this area are white. The floor will be a natural wood color (or light-medium brown) and the sink will be black. There will be other natural wood in the room but I don’t want it to dominate. In general, I dislike warm colors and warm light. Wall paint on the opposite walls will be blue, like a light blue-gray denim.

Here is one of the light fixtures which I installed temporarily under the old existing cabinet:


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