What can you do about lighting in the home office?

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

The home office may be in a room on its own, it may share the kitchen table or a corner of the living room, or it may simply be a wide shelf in a child’s room where homework is done.

Wherever it is, adequate lighting with no confusing shadows is necessary and similar lighting is required for close work such as model making, sewing or drawing. For all these activities, the lighting requirements remain the same: for close work, you need at least 200 watts of incandescent light (the most common form of lighting, using standard screw or bayonet light bulbs and rather yellow) or 400 watts of fluorescent light directed onto the work area, with a good general back-up light from elsewhere.

You always need sufficient background light to see the room and its contents, otherwise the contrast between the darkness of the room and the brightness of the work area will strain your eyes.

A desk is best placed against the wall rather than in front of the window because light from outside alters constantly, being dull sometimes and brightly sunny at others, so that the interior lighting would need to be constantly adjusted.

Fluorescent light is used a great deal in large offices because of its white, shadow less quality. In small rooms, however, low-voltage work lamps give a clear, white light which is ideal for working and even an incandescent angled lamp will give a perfectly adequate light.

Lighting should come from above and behind the worker, and should shine on the work without casting shadows or glaring into the eyes. A good form of lighting for a workspace which doubles as a dining table is a rise-and-fall lamp hanging from the ceiling. This can be pulled down low over the table for intimate conversations, raised slightly for reading and writing, and raised still higher to give a more general illumination.

Desk lamps should stand so that the lower edge of the shade is about level with your eyes when you are sitting working. Use a 75 watt or 100 watt incandescent bulb with a reflective (silvered) interior, which concentrates the light and gives the impression of a larger bulb.

The most popular lamps among architects, designers and other people who work at desks or drawing boards are angled desk lamps such as an Angle poise or a lamp called the ‘2001’, which have springs to keep them in place once they have been positioned. The heads are flexible and they can be used as down lighters, shining down on the page, or as up lighters illuminating the whole of the work area with reflected light from the wall or ceiling. (This is particularly good for computer work.)

They are available in table-mounted, clamp or clip-on versions and some are available with floor stands, the head and arm sections simply slotting into whatever base you choose. Their flexibility makes them ideal for small workspaces.

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