This display shelf provides lighting that is both good looking and practical. Designer Iris Harrell created a light bridge for the shelf with two sets of lights: uplights, to show off the homeowners' collection of glass and ceramics, and downlights, to illuminate the island's work surface.

The wood soffit looks deceptively simple, Harrell says, but it was difficult to hide the fittings and screws. "We have metal behind the drywall that's screwed onto the ceiling joists or blocking of the flat-roofed house. Drywall comes up and covers the metal, so you don't see it as it attaches to the top of the wood posts," explains the owner of Harrell Remodeling in Mountain View, Calif. "It takes a fine finish carpenter to install this."

Harrell's crew made one of the six supports hollow so they could run conduit through it to wire the lights. The upper rope lights were placed in grooves to make them invisible from below. Harrell's cabinetmaker used a spray-on finish on the shelf to eliminate brush marks and painted it the same color as the concrete countertop.