February 12, 2022

How To Optimize Home Office Lighting

Working from home has some truly great benefits, and having your own home office, whether for your company or your own business, can be a real-time saver! But what about the lighting? 

To optimize your home office lighting, you need to take advantage of natural light, use and create task lights for your close-up work and illuminate dark corners in the space to uplift the mood. You also need to consider your home office lights' lighting color and positions.

Let's take a lightspeed journey and see what kind of lights are best, what color lighting is optimal for performance, and how to create your lighting plan to optimize the lighting in your home office!

What Color Lighting Should You Use In Your Home Office 

One of the biggest mistakes people make when looking at lighting for their home office is that they opt for lighting, which is the wrong color spectrum for an office environment. 

If you think of the traditional corporate office, many of them have recessed fluorescent ceiling lights or open channel fluorescents that do well to light the office space but can cause headaches, eye fatigue, and energy loss with people in that space.

This is because fluorescent lighting operates in the blue spectrum of light, and blue frequencies are not good for people, especially in enclosed spaces. 

For highway lighting or similar outdoor locations, it is fine, but for confined indoor spaces, the use of any lighting that runs in the blue end of the spectrum will yield lower productivity 

Ideally, you want lighting in the more red spectrum and provide lighting closer to daylight. The 50W halogen dichroic lamps are good for this, but they are costly to run and emit a fair bit of heat as well.

With many businesses and homeowners opting for LED lighting as it's cheaper to run, lasts longer, and emits similar light levels to other lamps, you need to look for LED lighting in warm white, daylight white, or halogen and avoid cool white.

The Negative Effects Of Blue Light On People 

Cool white is more in the blue end, and, as a rule, you should never use cool white in bedrooms, lounge areas, or any place where people will spend a lot of time as continued exposure to blue light affects serotonin and melatonin in the brain.

Continued exposure to blue light disrupts the circadian rhythms, leading to sleep and mood disorders, irritable and itchy eyes, and decreased focus and concentration. And all this time, you actually thought it was work making you depressed; meanwhile, it could well have been the lighting. 

Plants are also adversely affected by blue light, and if you are going to have plants in your home office, then don't use light in the blue end of the spectrum – they will not do well.

How To Create A Proper Lighting Plan For Your Home Office 

You wouldn't build a house without a plan, would you? Well, don't install lighting in your home office without a lighting plan. 

First, look at the actual working space where the desk, chair, and laptop will be placed and then consider what is around that immediate space and what is further away.

Assess the natural light sources from windows or skylights and where they are relative to the working space. You don't want to have large windows behind you as they will cause glare and reflections on your laptop screen.

Are there any dark spots in the room, and where are they? Check the overhead lighting when seated, as this often isn't the best option for a home office, especially fluorescents.

Get creative as well, as there are usually a few spots where a good place lamp or decorative fitting can add some additional lighting ambience to your home office, and you will need a dedicated task light – more on that shortly.

Don't forget to locate the electrical supply points to position your desk, so you don't need to run feet of extension cables to power your lighting. Electrical cable clutter in a home office is a no-no!

Another consideration is using color lampshades and fixtures to complement the décor and colors in your home office. Break out some bright shades in orange or yellow, or use blues to enhance water elements.

Draw out the office space and mark the positions where you would be placing your task light, the position and type of overhead lighting, natural light sources, and where some decorative fittings could be placed, and you are ready to light your home office!

What Is A Task Light And Why Do You Need One 


A task light is exactly what it sounds like – it's a dedicated lamp or light source near or on the work station that provides light specifically for your immediate working environment.

Of all the lighting in your home office, this is probably the one that is the most important as it will directly affect your productivity. Don't skimp on the quality with your task light and buy one that will provide a strong source in the right color spectrum.

Another option for a task light is a large floor standing lamp, which will save space and add a style element to your office. So if you have a lot of wood, a stainless steel floor standing lamp could be both functional and stylish.

When choosing a task light, make sure it doesn't create glare, as this will cause eye strain and possibly headaches. You want a good light source but not one that requires you to wear sunglasses to work in!

Where To Position Your Task Light 

Position your task light, so it doesn't cast shadows on your workspace, so if you are right-handed, place it on your left side, so you don't have the shadow of your right arm and hand falling across your workspace.

Choose a task light with adjustable features such as a dimmer and positional adjustment vertically and laterally, so you can set the light source at the optimum angle. You also need to consider the heat level the task light would emit, but a decent LED task light would not emit a lot of heat.

Using Natural Light To Optimize Your Home Office Lighting


Using natural light in your home office is a great way to bring a lighter and more comfortable feel to your home office, so windows and skylights would be in play here. 

You may need to do some compass mapping to know which way the sun will move across the windows, so you don't have the sun shining on your workspace directly at any time during the day.

Having a view of your garden or outdoors from your desk is often a good idea as you can give your eyes a rest by looking outdoors and at a longer focal distance to relieve eye strain from close work.

Place your desk at right angles to the windows to avoid glare and contrast, or you can add sunshades or light curtains to reduce the intensity.

Direct Vs. Indirect Lighting For Your Home Office 

Overhead lights like chandeliers, ceiling lights, fanlights, fluorescents, and pendants are all examples of direct lighting where the light shines straight down onto your workspace.

Direct lighting can also include lights that are placed behind your workspace. This creates glare and reflections that can be very uncomfortable to work under, so the best way to reduce and eliminate this is to use indirect lighting in your home office. 

Using Indirect Lighting For Your Home Office 

This is where you would utilize up-lighters, floor lighting, lighting panels, table lamps, and shaded light fittings that redirect light upwards or outwards without the direct glare of the light source.

Uplighters create great lighting tones as they reflect off the ceiling and back into the space, while table lamps and lighting panels deliver softer light and contract the main working space area.

If you have chairs or couches around a coffee table in your home office where you sit and chat with clients, you have a great opportunity to add a little style and décor with some vintage lamps or fittings that will bring warmth into that area as well.

This type of indirect lighting softens the office's light and makes you look GREAT on video calls as well.

Another idea is to use soft, low-wattage under-counter LED lighting that can send light downwards and outwards to add additional indirect light into the space, and again, this should be warm white.

What Kind Of Ceiling Lights Should You Use 


There are a few options for ceiling lights for your home office. Chandeliers that work with the style of the room can be workable, provided the lighting doesn't shine directly downwards.

Chandeliers that curve towards the ceiling and thus throw their light upward to reflect downward are always a good option as this is an indirect lighting source. Recess ceiling fittings are also worth considering as they too offer an indirect light source as the light is diffused outward rather than directly downward.

With lighting, the choice of the lamp is always critical and as mentioned before, look for lamps that will provide enough light based on the ceiling height and have a healthy light spectrum.

Another option is the LED ceiling lights, and these are usually very lightweight and have an LED tray inside them as the light source. With opaque diffusers and warm white LEDs, these cheap and durable fittings can provide a good overhead light source that is more diffuse than direct.

This fills the space with light rather than focusing on a single area. Another benefit is that most of these fittings are designed to have the LED trays replaced should they fail, so you don't need to throw away the whole fitting; you can simply remove the LED tray and replace it.

Layer Your Home Office Lighting 

Using layers of light in your home office is a great way to create a beautiful and comfortable space. Having lights of different intensities and heights is a way to do this, and we have already discussed using various lighting options to achieve this effect.

Just remember, though, to keep the warm white spectrum in your office as you don't want vastly contrasting spectra from cool white to warm white as this becomes unharmonious and uncomfortable.

Use Accent Lighting To Add Some Visual Impact


If you have art, awards, or memorabilia in your office, you can add accent lighting to highlight them and create focal points that draw the client's attention. 

Certificates and trophies or sporting memorabilia are great conversation pieces, plus the additional lighting will contribute to the overall feel and ambience in your home office.

There is no point in having these beautiful pieces when no one can see them hidden away in vaguely lit corners – so use lighting to emphasize them and bring them out!

For this type of lighting, using LED or halogen spotlights or even small LED floodlights would provide more than adequate lighting, plus they would add a layer of indirect lighting to the office.

Light The Dark Corners 

In your lighting plan, make accommodations for dark or unlit corners in your office, look at creative ways to light them up, and add more indirect lighting to your home office.

Vintage floor standing lamps, starkly skeletal wall-mounted up-lighters, or standing up-lighters are a good option as they add contrast to the room from both lighting and a color and style perspective.

Even dimmed lamps can add a sense of enchantment to corners where books or bookcases meet, and the cast low-light levels illuminate the corners and bring out the details of the wood or book titles.


Optimizing your home office lighting can be an amazing adventure if you create your plan and use some imaginative lighting to achieve both a functional and practical solution that will allow you to work in comfort and enjoy the space at the same time.

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An interior design professional with a Master's degree in Architecture and 14 years of practical experience.
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