Lighting and Color that Works For You While You Work at Home

Work from home? The aesthetics of your home office matter more than you might think. Here’s how to use color to create an awesome home office.

In your home office, color matters!

If you work from home, you’ve undoubtedly heard advice about getting dressed for the day. Telecommuting experts regularly explain that, while it’s tempting to snuggle up to your computer in pajamas, doing so decreases your productivity; instead, they advise, present yourself at the home office as you would a corporate one.

But is your home office itself dressed for success? Sure, you can don your best button-down, but if your workspace feels frumpy, chances are, so will your work. Studies abound that illustrate ways to manipulate lighting, color, and décor to gain both a positive attitude and aptitude.

Below, I’ve highlighted a few office environment adjustments that might make a noticeable difference in your desk-dwelling experience.


Ever dozed off in a dark theater or felt a tired tug on a drizzly day? That’s because humans need ample daylight to regulate circadian rhythms — diminished lighting leads to slumber, while bright overheads push productivity.

In fact, within 30 minutes of being in a bright space, your energy level, reaction time and outlook will notably increase. But lighting doesn’t have to be harsh to liven up your workspace.

  1. In 2007, The Journal of Circadian Rhythms asserted, “…ambient light is not only important for task completion…it can also have strong non-visual biological effects.” In layman’s terms, working for long periods in a darkened room can impact your wellbeing, so spread some light love. Mix bright task lighting with slightly dimmer overhead and natural lighting.
  • Daylight is typically four to twenty times the strength of typical office lighting. Fluorescent lights also tend to lack the blue wavelengths (thought to spark the greatest physiological response) that daylight boasts. Allow natural light to enter from windows, glass doors, and skylights.
  • Blend colors of light to achieve a more uniform spectrum. Turn to bluish-white halogen bulbs for task lighting, blue-hued fluorescent bulbs for indirect light, and yellow-toned incandescent bulbs for general illumination. Energy-efficient LED lights can be purchased in an array of colors, such as “daylight white,” that promote concentration and invigorate the body.
  • Be sure your computer monitor is well lit by focused light (use a table or floor lamp). In addition, LED wall-washer lights installed behind the desk can be set to project a specific color light in a wide beam down the wall. Avoid using fluorescents near a computer screen, as they cause glares and shadows.
  • Color

    Paint and fabric selections have a prime effect on the mood of a room, as well as on your individual mood. Before finalizing your finishes, consider what your job requires, as certain hues are more calming while others rev you up. The shades you choose may profoundly color how you feel throughout the workday.

    1. Popular interior palettes tend to evolve as quickly as fashion favorites, but studies show that our innate reactions to them are pretty static. In 1977, NASA researchers showed that workers with high concentration levels excelled in exciting red rooms, while those with lower concentration levels preferred pastel places. A 2009 University of British Columbia study confirmed those results. The takeaway? Bright, deep colors stimulate energy, while softer tones yield a more soothing and stress-free environment.
  • If you want a relaxing environment that allows you to focus for extended periods, surround yourself with subdued shades such as beiges, whites, and light grays, blues, and greens.
  • Need to up your creativity? Opt for bold colors, which will raise your blood pressure, motivate your mind, and keep you alert. Think hot pinks, bright oranges, and saturated reds.
  • Décor

    While the style of a room certainly plays into your comfort level while in it, basic functionality should be weighed first.

    1. The major pieces of furniture in your space (i.e., chair and desk) should be chosen for their ergonomic effectiveness. When seated, your feet should rest flatly and firmly on the floor and your knees and hips should each form a 90-degree angle. A slight recline in your chair reduces vertebrae pressure and limits lower back discomfort. Lastly, ensure that your computer monitor sits at or below eye level and that your gaze travels somewhere between 24 and 36 inches to the screen.
  • Experts tout changing position several times a day in order to relieve strain on your body. Consider trading your chair for a stability (exercise) ball, which helps promote good posture, or periodically raising your computer to a standing desk, which relieves spinal pressure.
  • Though natural light should be welcomed, it can also cause unwelcome glares. In order to control daylight levels, outfit your windows with shades that can be raised and lowered.
  • Clear your workspace of clutter, which can cause unwanted distractions, by equipping your office with plenty of drawers and cabinets to hold paperwork, files and supplies.
  • What steps have you taken to make your home office a haven of both comfort and productivity?

    Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and a writer on Home Depot’s blog. Jay enjoys helping people with LED and other light bulb questions.

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