Rümi's Guide to Better Home Office Lighting
Whether you’ve always worked from home, or if the desk in your den is a new addition, you’ve likely noticed how homes and workplaces have very different lighting. Because home offices are in rooms often originally designed for another use, your workspace might benefit from a lighting makeover.
Why? For most folks, light is no big deal. However, lighting, or the application of light, should be. By knowing just a few basics, you can control colour, relative distribution of brightness, and light level. More importantly, you can support productivity and comfort while visually creating a place where you want to work.
Follow these tips for putting your best bulb forward. Adopt a home office lighting scheme that’s comfortable, productive, energy-efficient, and flexible.
Light sources offer a choice of colours, from visually warm (orangish-white) like traditional incandescent to visually neutral (white) like halogen to visually cool (bluish-white) like compact fluorescent or very cool like daylight. With LED, you have a choice of these, sometimes in the same bulb if it’s a colour-changing type.
In a home, warm light rules as it’s cozy and relaxing, but cool light promotes alertness and work. It’s the kind of light that says, “Let’s get to it!” For your ultra-productive work space, consider choosing bulbs with a colour tone that is a little cooler than the rest of the house—around 3500K in colour temperature, or neutral-white.
With today’s lighting tech, though, you can have it both ways. Smart bulbs allow you to say choose cool-white during the day and warm-night when working afterhours without climbing up on a ladder to swap the bulb. Some smart LED bulbs even go beyond shade of white to enable a multitude of playful saturated colours, such as the Sengled Smart LED Element Colour Plus A19.
LAYER THE LIGHT
No matter what room you’re in, the secret to pro lighting design is layering and focal points, noting that different tasks require different light levels and that areas of high brightness attract attention. There are three layers in a room: ambient, task, and accent.
The ambient layer lights the entire room, which could be anything from an overhead fixture to downlights. Ideally, this light will be soft and diffuse to minimize the kind of harsh shadows that can be tiring on the eyes and make you look less than your best on a Zoom call. Ideally, it will place some light on the walls and even the ceiling and provide relatively uniform illumination across the room.
The task layer lights task areas such as a desk. Its job is not to brighten the room but provide focused light to make the task easier to see. This might be a fixed or adjustable desk lamp, or a clip-on or wall-mounted light if desk space is limited.
The accent layer makes a nice option when your home office has features you want to visually highlight with brightness, such as framed professional certificates or art and books on shelves. Options range from track lighting to shelf puck lights.
CHOOSING YOUR LIGHTS
The best light of all is free as it comes to you each day from the sun. A skylight or window generally makes an efficient and healthy ambient light source, as long as the light is diffuse and not glaring. If needed, consider shading such as blinds and moving the desk until the light is just right.
For electric lighting, LED is today’s top choice. It offers numerous advantages over traditional lighting, including longer life, much higher energy efficiency, cooler operation, more rugged construction, and expansive controllability that may include colour changing and programmable schedules. LEDs pay for themselves in energy savings, but you’ll gain just as much value from this tech’s other benefits.
Aesthetically, lighting is your oyster. Choose light fixtures that blend into the architecture or stand out, present a modern look or something more decorative—whichever makes you feel comfortable, productive, and proud of your space.
Whatever lights you go for, make sure they are visually comfortable to work with, placed where you need them, and produce no unwanted shadows or annoying flicker.
What a difference even a few simple dimmer switches make, as dimming allows you to set the light intensity of each layer until the scene is visually just right. The key is to make sure the control and bulb are specifically rated as compatible.
More advanced controls are now available that allow push-button scene programming and recall, colour control including algorithms designed to be circadian-friendly, integration with other home systems, and wireless and voice-activated control using personal home assistants like Siri and Alexa.
LIGHT IT RIGHT
Home offices are where you spend many hours earning a living and managing your affairs, and as such these important spaces deserve to be shown in their best light.