Ultimate Guide To Great Home Office Lighting

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Last updated: May 24th, 2024

home office lighting

Last updated: May 24th, 2024

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As more people work from home, adequate home office lighting is essential. Great lighting can boost productivity, support well-being and health, and transform your workspace. 

This guide will uncover the benefits of creating a functional lighting plan and show you how to do it, step-by-step.

We’ll discuss tips from industry experts on how to maximise your space and support your well-being through lighting.

Let’s get started!

(Related: 7 Budget Home Office Ideas).

How To Create A Layered Lighting Plan In Your Home Office.

It’s vital to create a lighting plan. A layered lighting plan that combines ambient, task, and accent lighting will assist your focus and productivity. 

1. Set The Mood With Ambient Lighting.

ambient lighting home office

Ambient lighting is the overall lighting in a space, usually supported by natural, bright, soft, diffuse light.

This type of light sets the mood for the room and can be adjusted artificially with decorative ceiling lights, overhead lights, or wall sconces.

2. Illuminate Workspaces With Task Lighting.

task lighting home office

Task lighting is focused, directional, but soft lighting that helps define specific workspaces in your home office.

It also allows you to continue working late without disturbing the sleeping members of your family with overhead lights.

Use desk or floor lamps that provide diffuse, soft light with cast soft shadows.

Pendant lights directly above a desk are another great option. 

3. Create Pools Of Light With Accent Lights.

accent lights home office

Accent lighting adds visual interest and depth, highlighting specific areas or objects in a room, such as artworks or architectural features.

You can use spotlights, recessed, picture, or string lights.

Combining ambient, task, and accent lighting in your home office can create a balanced and functional space that supports your productivity. 

Expert Tip.

Explore LED strip lights – these can be placed subtly under cupboards or within bookshelves to infuse personality and character into the space.

4. Add Warmth By Softening Glare And Shadows.

home office lighting

It’s essential to control glare and shadows where possible: 

  • A light source behind your computer screen/monitor will create a glare that is hard to work through. 
  • Try moving your desk to face windows to reduce glare, where possible.
  • When writing, shadows can be unintentionally cast by desk lamps or other items if your light source is behind your writing arm. 
  • Consider lampshades and upward-facing floor lamps that bounce light off walls and ceilings.

Important!

Install blinds to filter harsh natural light or add anti-glare protector film to your laptop to reduce eye strain. 

Which Bulbs Are Best For Home Office Lighting?

There are several types of artificial light sources, each with its benefits. When it comes to choosing bulbs: 

  • Incandescent bulbs are a standard and affordable option, but they are not energy-efficient and produce a lot of heat. 
  • Fluorescent bulbs are more efficient (and cooler in tone) but can have harsh light. 
  • LED bulbs are the most efficient and versatile option, as they can produce a wide range of colours and temperatures but are more expensive.

Expert Tip.

Try matching LED bulbs with natural light to create a balanced and functional lighting plan that is well-lit at all hours of the day.

Which Color Temperature Is Best?

The colour temperature of a light source is an essential aspect of home office lighting that affects the space’s appearance:

  • High colour temperatures (such as a cool white or blue light) can brighten the environment but create a harsh and clinical atmosphere.
  • Low colour temperature (such as a warm white or yellow light) will subdue the clarity of the space but create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere.

To select the correct colour temperature for your home office, consider the activities you will be doing and the atmosphere you want to create. For example: 

  • Working on the computer – cool white.
  • Reading and writing by hand – white light.
  • Relaxing or reading – warm white or yellow light.

Expert Tip.

Consider a desk lamp! You can ‘task-light’ and use different colour temperatures for specific areas of your office space, depending on the function of each. 

Which Lighting Is Best For Video Conferences & YouTube?

Home office setup with a gridded studio key light in the top left corner and window light acting as an accent from the right.

Let’s not overlook the importance of lighting for recording video and participating in virtual meetings.

Nothing is worse than being back-lit on a Zoom, leaving your colleagues unable to see your face and a large white glow from the window behind you. 

(Related: How To Make Virtual Meetings More Engaging).

Options include: 

  • If using natural light, place the source (window) directly in front of you. The bigger the window, the better.
  • If using studio lighting, place the key light above and to the side.
  • If doing video work regularly, invest in a semi-professional microphone (e.g. Rode Procaster) and sound dampening that kills reverb (sound accounts for 50% of the video viewer’s experience).
  • Create two-point lighting by combining two light sources. One natural light source in front of you and a desk lamp directed at the side of your face to add interest.
  • Get creative with background accent lighting – place a warm, dimly lit lamp behind you to add interest and depth.

Josh Gillick (Creative Director, Webex) has an interesting view on using light to eliminate cognitive distractions – “by improving your lighting, you eliminate all of the things in the way of you and I talking to each other face to face.” 

Important!

Be cautious when mixing lights with different colour temperatures in the space – this can lead to the video screen looking too blue or too orange! 

Which Lighting Controls Are Best For A Home Office?

There are several control options, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

1. Dimmers.

Dimmers allow you to adjust the brightness of your lights and can be a convenient way to create the right ambience for different tasks.

Expert Tip.

Not all lighting fixtures are compatible with dimmers, so check the specifications before purchasing one.

2. Timers.

Timers can automatically control your lights at pre-set times and are especially helpful for saving energy. You can schedule your lighting to match your sleep routine – switching off when you finish the work day. 

3. Smart Systems.

Smart lighting systems allow you to control your lights remotely using a smartphone app or voice commands.

These lights can be integrated with other smart home devices, such as thermostats, security cameras, and speakers.

Whilst they offer advanced features, they tend to be more expensive than other lighting controls and require a stable internet connection.

Expert Tip.

If working late in the evening, schedule your harsh light to switch off or pre-set a transition to warm fixtures to best support your internal body clock. 

Which Lighting Fixtures Are Best For WFH?

Selecting lighting fixtures will significantly transform your space! Don’t choose them without taking the following into account:

  • Shape: Make sure the fixtures complement the design of your room. 
  • Size: The bigger the fixture, the softer the light. Soft light feels more pleasant and makes you look better on camera.

(Related: Top Benefits Of Working From Home).

How Does Office Lighting Affect Health?

Lighting can significantly impact your health, and it’s essential to consider this when designing your home office lighting plan. 

Blue light is a high-energy visible light emitted by electronic screens and some light bulbs. It can:

  • Interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythms.
  • Cause symptoms such as fatigue, eyestrain, and headaches. 

To reduce the adverse effects of blue light, consider using light bulbs with low colour temperatures, using blue light filters on your screens, and taking regular breaks from screens and harsh lighting.

Most importantly, integrate natural light and fresh air into your space as much as possible. 

Should You Rely On Natural Light Only?

Natural light is beautiful, soft and abundant. Maximise its availability by placing your desk directly in front of a large window.

The most abundant source of light comes from the Sun. The downside – it becomes challenging to control and can change throughout the day or seasons.

Use natural light as your ambient light source, but supplement it with artificial task and accent lights.

Set up your workspace in parts of your house where windows and skylights can provide natural light or outdoor views.

As David Warfel (Expert Lighting Design Specialist) highlights, you must ensure your home office “draws in natural light, is functional, adjusts to the time of day, and above all is comfortable.” 

(Related: 13 Best Home Business Ideas).

Bottom Line About Home Office Lighting.

Excellent home office lighting is not a luxury but a necessity when working from home to create a functional, comfortable, and inviting space.

You can reconcile the above tips with your current workspace and begin designing a home office lighting plan that is supportive and inspiring! 

Irene

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