When setting up an office area, you’ll want it to be pleasant, functional and free from distraction. These tips are designed to help you achieve a “layered” lighting look, and though you can pick and choose which ones appeal to you, when put together they form a lovely, cohesive whole.
A dedicated task light is essential for avoiding eye strain and keeping focused, so if you choose only one of these options, go for this. We love our post Clip-On Clamp Lamps Save Desktop Space, which has a ton of stylish, low-profile options.
Unfortunately, large desks tend to make people spread their work, so my wife moved to the kitchen table, where she preferred the lighting. She proved that you don’t necessarily need an office desk to create an efficient workstation. Rather you simply need a space that addresses all of your needs and is small enough not to get in the way.
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Once you’ve set up a home network and have some sort of network attached storage (NAS) up and running you’re all set to maximize your office space.
If you do not get the lighting in your home office correct right off the bat, do not be disappointed. You are not alone, and often it takes awhile before you figure out the specific problems of the space and come up with clever solutions.
In our home, there are two people using computers for work-related things. My wife uses her MacBook to work on photos and research, while I tend to stick to a desktop. A few years ago, we setup a home office using a large IKEA Galant desk. The desk was huge and it took up half of the room, but we could technically use both of our computers at the same time.
For more inspiration, check out our post How To Work From the Brightest Room in the House.
Start out by considering natural light. Where is your desk situated? If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny window, it’s a good idea to park your desk nearby it, or if there are no distractions, facing it. There’s something to be said for gazing out of a window while your brain is processing things at full speed.
Built in light sources are often the bane of the room. If you’re renting there’s not much you can do to alter them, and they often cast unflattering or inadequate light. But in combination with the other light sources, an overhead light does a good job at “filling in” the places the lamps won’t cover.
It’s always hard to manage a home office when more than one person works at home. If your significant other and you have been turfing your home office space, then maybe it’s time to try and set up a better home office.
Working at a desk or cubicle? Here are some quick tips to adapt the list above:
Here’s how it looks in practice, when all elements are combined.
1. First you’ll want to set up your main workstation, the one on which your desktop will sit. Now, we’re not going to decide who gets to use it, but usually, the person who works more from home or the one who’s more computer inclined uses this one. There are a few interesting add-ons to this workstation. Drawers are always good to hide chargers, files, and office hardware, but open shelves work well too. Other ideas include setting up the peripherals underneath the desk. We’ve put printers, faxes and scanners there, on some shelving. They are neatly tucked away and out of sight.
3. The computer on this workstation will be the main terminal on your network. If your peripherals, such as printers and external storage aren’t wireless then they would be plugged into this.
Lighting is all about playing with angles, and a large part of how you use natural light depends on what task your home office serves. If you are an architect or a designer who works more on sheets and paper instead of tech gadgets, then a flood of natural light is a welcome addition. A smart decision here is to align your workstation in the north or south directions so that natural light does not create a shadow during any time of the day!
Ambient light is a great stress reliever. It’s pretty lame to look up from a long day of work and realize you’re sitting alone with only the light of your desk lamp for company. Ambient light fills the area with a soothing glow, for a warmer, more comfortable atmosphere.
Two Great Lights To Change Your Home Office has a couple of funky choices.
5. For small desks ideas, check out the smaller Galant desks or the Vika Glassholm with Lerberg legs from IKEA. The trick is to position them in nooks and crannies that most houses have.
An interesting fact that many homeowners miss is that task lights help in giving a ‘better contrast’ to your reading experience. Since most of us have to put up with plenty of reading in the home office, a simple table lamp can reduce the strain on your eyes and make the experience a lot more convenient. This is precisely why you need a task light no matter how good the ambient lighting is!
Our willing victim’s desk is shown illuminated with only the room’s overhead light, leaving the space drab and unappealing.
If you are not blessed with ample natural light, then artificial lights become twice as important, as you will be using them even during the day. Overhead lighting forms the most basic part of ambient lighting, and most often, you already have recessed lights in the house that take care of the job. But here is where many homeowners make the mistake of sticking with what they have. The existing ambient lighting was not designed to serve a home office. So, think about additional sources of illumination to add to the ambient light.
This second workstation is best suited for a laptop user and should include an external keyboard, mouse, monitor, and a docking station, if need be. Ultimately, the hardware is up to you, but we’ve found that working for extended hours on a laptop can get tedious. It’s a welcome relief to have a bigger keyboard, real mouse and large screen space.
Eye strain and migraines are two common ailments that come with working at a computer all day. Corrective lights, placed behind a monitor or screen setup, can help ease the bright glare emanating from that screen. It’s also possible to combine corrective and ambient light, as demonstrated in our post Using Simple Table Lamps As Ambient Lighting.
Lighting plays a pivotal role in defining every room of the house, and it becomes even more important in spaces like the kitchen and the home office, where functionality is far more important than mere aesthetics. A poorly lit home office can be demoralizing and can affect your mood and hurt your vision in the long run. But these inherently simple and smart ‘must dos’ help in revamping your home office and seeing it in a whole new light –
Julie’s Jubilant Loft, via Desks In Front Of & Next To Windows
Our post Using New Lights & Smart Ideas to Spruce Up Your Desk shows off a desk that uses rope lights to create an ambient glow, and anything with a shade that diffuses light is a good option.
A lot of people working from home complain about how natural light and its glare is a bit too much to handle. But shutting the room off completely to sunlight is not a desirable alternative. Instead, take the path down the middle with some cool sheer curtains, which are turning out to be one of the hottest trends this summer. Adjustable louvers, roman shades and simple blinds can also ensure that you only have as much natural light as you need. Not a fan of shades? A tall indoor plant next to the window will cut back on the glare while giving the room a sense of natural freshness.
Lighting the home workspace is a game of gloss and glare, and you are not going to win it if you stick to just one layer of lighting. Think of lighting the room as a layered effort where the ambient light provides the base, the task lighting offers functionality and accent lighting puts the sparkle on top of it all. If you think about, it is not all that different from a girl’s makeup kit or even making a sandwich! An overload of just one layer to compensate for the other two will never work out well. Also, expert interior designers suggest taking a height-based approach to it all. Each layer must be at a different level to ensure that one does not interfere with or overwhelm the other.
Don’t forget to consider placement, and whether a low, desk height or high light will work best with your setup.
6. No matter what table you choose, you’ll want to make sure that cables don’t end up taking over a room. We recommend managing cables with either velcro ties or cable management systems, like this one from Ikea.
4. The secondary desk can be setup in the same room, but we recommend that it not face the same wall. For example, we’ve seen great setups with two desks facing each other, a bigger one and a smaller one, or desks facing perpendicular or opposite walls. This allows each workstation access to a wall socket (hopefully) as well as storage solutions attached to the wall.
Materials:Main desk for desktop, not too large, not too smallCable management systemSecondary office deskDesk lamps and floor lamps
In case you have to work directly under a light source, then soften the light using the right lamp shade. Your ambient light should ideally light up the entire room in an even and balanced fashion without creating alternating pockets of darkness and bright light. Remember that while task lights get the job done, ambient lighting sets the mood for the room.
As part of the process of setting up and organizing our new home office, we’ve learned a lot about how to light the room. Proper lighting makes a huge difference in productivity, energy and mood. Here’s a primer with the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way, along with some images of the lighting in action and tips for cubicle dwellers.
One of the things you notice about some techno-addicts who are hooked onto their laptops, iPads and smartphones is the way they deliberately avoid any hint of natural sunlight. If you did not know better, you would be tempted to believe that these folks are long-lost cousins of Count Dracula! But in reality, natural light is not such a bad thing if you know how to use it in the right fashion. Yes, glossy surfaces can be a problem at times, but try and usher in natural light in a controlled fashion and ensure that in blends in beautifully with artificial illumination.
Small office spaces and workspaces are becoming an integral part of homes across the globe, and often space is the biggest constraint. Not all of us are blessed enough to dedicate an entire room to the home office. And even if we can, it is often highly limited in foot space. Modern pendants and wall sconces offer the ideal alternative that helps you de-clutter the workstation and give the space a sleeker and more airy appeal. In fact, give the latest trend of desk sconces with swing arm lamps a shot and you will soon realize that the table lamp is a thing of the past!
Additional Notes: The important thing is to regularly change positions and places if you’re working from home, since you’ve got the luxury of doing so. With laptops, nothing is easier. Taking some time off in coffee shops is also a good idea. It breaks the routine.
Working from home comes with a wide range of advantages, and with the connectivity offered by modern technology, it is now far easier than ever before. Maybe this is the biggest reason why so many of us are starting to turn that nook under the staircase or the lonely basement into a home workspace. But it also comes with its own set of disadvantages that range from constant distractions that reduce productivity to design conundrums that need smart solutions. Today we take a look at the most essential aspect of the home office and how to get it spot on – Lighting!
The task light helps bring things into focus, but the contrast of the bright lights and the darkness outside can bring on eyestrain very quickly.
The office is finished with a desktop lamp and an upright lamp with a shade (not pictured). The office is cozy, more comfortable and less stressful.
Task lights are undoubtedly the most essential part of the home office, and no matter what your job is, task lighting ensures that you get it done under the best possible illumination. With a variety of trendy modern lamp designs around, you can pick from an amazing array of table lamps that offer focused illumination and do so with a dimmer option as well. Not all tasks require the same intensity of light, so this feature helps in more ways than one. But do not think of task lights as a flood of concentrated illumination to make the space brighter.
If your desk isn’t near a window, take time during the day to walk around outside, even if it means taking the elevator down to the parking garage and having a stroll. Fluorescent lights? We feel for you.
(The one in our old office even made a constant ticking sound, argh.) There’s not much you can do to combat them directly, but see if it’s possible to have them turned off during the day, or add a shield to the fixture covering the bulbs.
Fluorescent lights are a migraine trigger and we’ve seen several offices that simply forgo overhead lighting completely. The task and ambient lights will probably be the easiest to integrate into a public office environment.
See if you can get a minimalist lamp or one that clips onto a surface, to save desk space. Ambient lights should sit low to the desk so they don’t disturb people around you; the rectangular paper-covered lamps common today are an aesthetically-pleasing option.
Some offices don’t allow modifications to equipment or spaces (in the case of moving desks or shifts), but if you can, it’s worth sticking an LED strip or puck behind your monitor. If you’re not allowed, try to reposition the screen so there’s no glare, or add a glare screen or hood to block light from hitting it.
This will significantly reduce your eye strain.
(Images: Retro Traveler via CC license, Paul Gorman via CC license, This Space Is For Rent, rogersmj via CC license, Amy Love Yah via CC license)
2.The other main component to this workstation is the chair. If you spend hours upon hours oat your computer then we recommend using an ergonomic chair that won’t wreck your back. The Herman Miller Embody chair has quickly become an Unplggd favorite for its inspiring ergonomics.