InDIY & Home Improvement, Home Projects

Why you need to update your home office lights

One Room Challenge Week 3:  Updated lighting in our home office plus tips to help you out with your home office light fixtures.

We finally have sufficient light in our home office!  What we used to have in our home office might shock you!  We only had one double lamp wall sconce, a wall sconce with yellow glass lampshades, that gave the room a yellow glow.  And it did not provide anywhere near enough light in the room.  Even though we added a desk lamp, we still had a hard time using the room at night. 

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This is what we had before.  I am not too fond of the yellow lampshades; they are from the 1970s.  But I love the shape and style of the light.  But we knew that we needed to update the lighting in the room. 

Before |
Office Before |

Why do you need to update the lights for your home office?

Lighting is often overlooked, yet it is essential to a room’s design and function.  On cloudy days and at night, you will need artificial light.  If the light sources in the room are not sufficient, you can strain your eyes, leading to all sorts of problems.  And if a room is not lit up enough, you will not use the space as much at night. 

I work full time during the day, and blog over the weekends and at night, so I really need a well-lit office.  Likewise, you might end up doing your crafts at the dining room table because your craft room does not give you enough light at night. 

We need the light, but we can also use light to bring out certain features in a room.  You can add a spotlight to light up a sculpture, or a picture light above a painting.  You can accentuate particular architectural features to set the mood in the room.  There are so many ways, types and light sources you can use.  My friend, Sara-Lynn at The Inspired Decorator, has a great post on this as well, you should check it out.

So, let’s look at ways that you can improve the lights for your home office.  Most of these guidelines apply to all rooms, so you can use them to improve other rooms with lighting issues as well. 

First off, you need General Light

General light is what illuminates the entire room.  During the day, general light might come from the windows letting in sunlight.  But at night or on cloudy days, you will need another source of general light. 

You need general light to go about your daily tasks, and it should illuminate the room without causing any bright spotlights or dark shadows. 

Diffused or indirect lights are good sources for general light.  Diffused light is directed through a filter which gives you even lighting in the room.  Indirect light is directed upwards and bounces off of the ceiling, also creating even light in the space.

What did we do to add general light to the room

We knew we needed good general light, as we had none.  We did not want to install a pendant or a light fixture that draws attention, so we decided on LED downlighters.  These blend in with the ceiling as they are white.  The light is diffused through a filter, so it gives us good, even light for the whole room.  Our office is relatively small, so we only needed two for the room.  

These downlighters almost disappear in the ceiling – but they are just what we were looking for.

Secondly, you need Task Light

Task lighting is what you add for specific tasks or activities.  Think about a desk lamp or a standing floor lamp in a reading nook.  A workshop will also have some kind of task light to illuminate the surface where you are working on directly. 

The light sources are mostly more intense to provide ample light for the activity.  Task light sources are primarily direct light, and sometimes semi-direct. 

How did we add task lighting?

I got this gorgeous desk lamp for our desk.  I love the cantilever arm and the industrial style.  It can tilt and turn, which makes it so versatile for any workstation.  I’m happy so far with the purchase, and it has made a significant improvement for the desk space.

Industrial Modern Office Design - Interior Elevation |

Lastly, you can add Decorative Light

Decorative light is as its name suggests, purely decorative.  You can use the room without it, and you don’t need it as a light source.  But it helps to enhance some features or works of art and sets the mood of the room.  You could add picture lights above paintings, strip lights inside a display cabinet, or even candles on the bookshelf. 

What decorative lights do we have in the Home Office?

Remember that old wall sconce?  We are keeping it, but it will be moved onto the new shelving unit.  We have a minimal supply for wall sconces here, and none that I like t this stage.  And therefore I’m keeping the original instead of buying new.

I’ve updated it a bit.  Cleaned it up, varnished the wood, and painted the disks above the lampshades in light gold, to add some shimmer. 

I wanted to either replace the glass lampshades, or spray-paint them as I did these, but decided against it.  We don’t have a proper selection for replacement glass lamp shades here in South Africa either.  Amazon shipping is too expensive for me – sometimes even twice the price of the product, so it is also not an option.  And I’ve only once had the luck to find a matching pair at a thrift store.  So the yellow lamp shades will stay for now, until I do find replacements.  At least now, they will not be the primary source of light, and will only help to accentuate the bookcase. 

We are converting the lamp to a plug-in and will mount it to the top of the bookcase.  We installed a plug inside one of the cabinets so that we can plug it in there.

I’ll also add two or three candles to the bookshelves and a table lamp to the small side table, If I can get a battery-operated globe for it. 

Built-In Cupboards and Shelving - Modern Home Office Design |
Wall Elevation - Interior planning for Home Office |

Remember that Lighting should never be ignored

As mentioned before, I think that lighting is so often ignored in a room design and only added in the final stages, mostly as an afterthought.  I believe that a lot of homes do not have adequate lighting, but that you can improve it.  The good news is that there are easy options to add lighting as plug-ins too, and you do not always need to change the wiring in your home.

Our 1970’s house is proof that lighting was added as an afterthought and was not a primary consideration in the design process.  But we are working through every room and improving our types, sources and quality of lighting in every room. 

Other lighting upgrades you might be interested in:

  1. We built a caged pendant track light in our kitchen.
  2. I updated our wall sconces in our master bedroom and family room.
  3. And I also shared two innovative ways to update a wall sconce when you, like me, do not have glass lamp shade replacement options. 

I think we’ve come so far in addressing this major issue of lights for our home office.  The room feels a lot brighter at night, and with the even lighting, we aren’t getting the shadows we used to with the old lamp. 

If you need any tips on lighting, you are welcome to contact me here or leave your comments down below. 

Be sure to visit the One Room Challenge Guest Participant’s and Featured Designers’ pages!  And stay tuned for another update next week!

Take care!

Junette |

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