Making home workspace lighting work just right for you
Nov 17, 2022, 3:00 PM
Working from our home has become more common in the last few years. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of people working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021.
The spaces from which we work from home can vary. We are working from the garage, kitchen, bedroom, living room and den. All of these spaces have become the home office.
Once you have carved out space in your home where you can work, you need to add the right lighting. Computer work, paperwork, reading, thinking, making phone calls, and taking part in video meetings require specific lighting.
Ambient: This is overall general illumination that is necessary to navigate in a space.
Task: Necessary lighting to a focused surface used to illuminate a specific undertaking such as reading small print or examining an object.
Accent: Most of us have some of this in our houses. Lighting a special piece of art, a wall, a piece of furniture. This type of lighting can be used to set a mood for a space that helps you make that space resonate with what you want it to feel like.
Natural: Light from the sun as it enters your workspace through a window, door to the outside, or a skylight.
Each of these plays a role in how well your workspace fits your needs. In the daytime you may not need ambient light because the natural lighting suffices for you to be able to navigate the space.
Natural lighting, when you can access it, is best. It is what we are used to. It can make you feel more energized because it reflects the weather outside, thus giving you a closer connection to the day.
A comprehensive study by the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, concluded that natural lighting has a positive health benefit for our physical and mental health.
They even concluded it helps our circadian sleep rhythm. It will reflect the weather outside giving us a closer connection to the day. If your work takes you into the night, you will need an artificial light source.
For home office spaces, the desirable measure of ambient light, or the amount, is generally considered to be between 60 to 80 footcandles. A footcandle is the brightness an artificial light source emits as measured 1 foot from the source. A light meter, also called a lumen meter or lux meter, is needed to measure it.
Meters and measures aside, most people select lighting with style and function in mind. There are literally thousands of lighting fixture designs. We will focus on the general types of lighting fixtures to give you some ideas without becoming overwhelming.
Ceiling-mounted: Ceiling-mounted fixtures, also known as flush-mounted, are on the ceiling and do not hang. They are generally used for overall or ambient lighting. Recessed lighting, often called cans, can fill the need for overall lighting and serve as an accent. Some cans have a directional ability and are referred to as “eyeball cans.”
Track lighting: Track lighting has blossomed into so many assorted styles that it blows the mind. They are no longer the clunky fixture of the 1970s and 1980s, plus the advent of LED has been a game changer. Now sleek and small, track lighting can be used for overall lighting, accent lighting, and in combination with other fixture styles.
Task lighting fixture styles are plentiful enough to satisfy any stylistic notion you might have. There are cordless desk lamps that minimize desk clutter, providing a clean look. This articulating fixture has a spring-loaded arm and looks like the old drafting lamps.
Whether placed on a desktop, mounted on a wall, hanging from the ceiling (pendant type), or standing on the floor, there is a style for every need and taste.
Another possibility is blending lighting fixture styles to create a design statement, thus making your home workspace a cool place to be. You may need more than one type of fixture to accomplish that. For example, picture a ceiling or flush-mounted fixture with pendant lights and a desktop fixture all in one space.
How to choose
The choices can be overwhelming if you don’t take small steps.
First, consider how you want your space to be illuminated — ambient, task, accent, natural light, or a combination.
Second, decide the style you are creating for your office. Then, design the space and select furniture. From there, the lighting style can be narrowed down. Following the steps will take you from thousands of choices to a much more manageable selection process.
Shopping for lighting fixtures that are proper for your home workspace doesn’t have to be daunting. Actually, it can be a lot of fun – even illuminating.
Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.