Home Office Lighting
By Craig DiLouie, LC
One in five Americans work from home, according to the Telework Research Network. As lighting can support well being, good home office lighting design is essential to performing at your best. Lighting the home office can certainly have it’s benefits. Read this article to learn how you can apply these lighting techniques.
The design approach is similar to other spaces. Evaluate the space and lighting needs and develop a layered solution incorporating ambient, task and accent lighting as needed.
Home Office Lighting Design
Visual comfort—avoiding direct glare (e.g., overly bright light source such as direct sunlight), indirect glare (e.g., glare on a computer monitor), source flicker and heavy shadows—is essential. The color tone of the white light should be a little cooler than the rest of the house—around 3500K (neutral-white) instead of 2800K (typical incandescent light).
Aesthetically, the lighting may be modern for an office look, more decorative, or a tasteful combination of the two. It all depends on whatever satisfies the occupant.
Ambient lighting should be soft (diffuse to avoid glare and unwanted shadows), reduce contrast around the computer monitor, place some light on walls and ideally the ceiling, and provide relatively uniform illumination across the space.
Daylight is an ideal ambient light source that can be supplemented with electric lighting. If direct sunlight enters a window and creates glare, consider window shading such as blinds or sheer curtains.
Many home offices are in spaces originally designed for another purpose. Many are not in dedicated rooms but instead incorporated into a living space. Noting this may limit what’s possible with electric ambient lighting, here are some options.
The overhead electric ambient lighting can be wholly indirect, such as an indirect pendant suspended from the ceiling. Or it can be direct/indirect or omnidirectional, such as a suspended pendant that emits light up as well as down. If overhead lighting is not an option, wall sconces and floor-mounted torchieres and other luminaires may work. The luminaire should be dimmable to allow the occupant to tune optimal lighting conditions. Additionally, simple shaded table lamps, otherwise used for task lighting, can contribute to ambient illumination.
Task lighting is an important supplementary layer that provides illumination on the work area itself. Its purpose isn’t to make the space brighter but instead to provide concentrated illumination on the task to make it more visible. The task light may have a dimmer option allowing the user to adjust light output according to need.
Daylight, if available, will contribute to task light levels. Electric task lighting can be fixed, such as a typical table lamp, or flexible, such as an adjustable task light. The light output can be omnidirectional or directional depending on what’s needed. Many directional adjustable task lights typically convey a modern look, although some designs are more playful, while shaded table lamps offer a greater range of aesthetic possibilities. Direct lighting from an overhead pendant may also produce task lighting.
The key is location, particularly with directional lighting. The task light should not be located such that it produces shadows that obscure the task being performed. For example, if the light is aimed at the back of a hand writing on paper, an irritating shadow may be cast across what’s being written. Task light mounting options include freestanding on the desktop, clipping onto the desk, or mounting on a nearby wall if desk space is at a premium.
Accent lighting is the final main lighting layer. This layer comes into play if the office has objects that needed to be visually highlighted, making them more noticeable. Examples include wall artwork, framed professional certificates and books or art on shelves.
Accent lighting can be accomplished with recessed lighting (which may be aimable), though track lighting may fit some spaces physically and aesthetically. Mantle and picture lights are another option. Linear strip and puck lights can be incorporated into cabinetry and shelving. Linear strips mounted at the ceiling can be used to illuminate books on book shelves.
The home office is one of the most important spaces in the home because so many hours are spent there doing demanding work that earns the occupant a living. As such, the space should be prioritized with good lighting design that maximizes visual comfort and well being.
What you need to know about lighting the home office:
- The home office is one of the most important spaces in the home
- Good lighting can enhance well being and comfort
- The lighting should be layered for ambient, task and accent illumination
- Diffuse daylight is an excellent source of light
- Many electric lighting options are available
- The lighting should be dimmable, with each layer separately controlled