Lighting – the very thing we all use to extend the day after daylight ends, but rarely give thought to when planning a home project. Done well, the results can transform the interior, your health and your well being. We asked our friends at Secret Lighting (www.secretlighting.co.uk) for some top tips for your garden retreat on a recent Zoom call and this is the response we got ….not what we had first expected!
Phil Gardner is the design director at The Secret Lighting Company, who design lighting for homes for people across the world. The emphasis is on using hidden light to create that “wow” factor, just the sort of thing our clients love in a Scandinavian home or garden building.
“Sanity,” said Phil, as his number one tip. There is a reason you chose to create a sanctuary, a quiet place for inspiration and concentration, and it is ok to indulge yourself and make the most of the space. “Make your space nice and let the lighting reveal it to you, put mood and atmosphere at the top of the list.”
Tip number two – healthy eyesight is very important, so limit the contrast from any computer or video screen with its background, explains Phil. “You often use an illuminated screen, and if the wall behind it is dark or not lit, your eye will automatically work twice as hard adjusting and refocusing. This causes headaches, eye fatigue and so on, thus simple things like a lighter colour behind the screen, or a wash of light on the wall will work.” It is the sort of thing that may well be designed for you (by regulation) in a commercial office. A little thought at home will make it much better for you in your lovely new home office. These days, installing lights that use LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) mean that tiny light sources, even flexible ones on a strip, make it easy to create your own customized wall lights. Washing a wall up or down, and perhaps dimming it, will bring you the “wow” factor. It also makes for a healthy working light and contrast.
Next Phil showed us the Anglepoise style table lamp he uses on his own desk. These are versatile and easy to get hold of – and there are always times when “more light” is useful, especially as our eyes get a little older! This could of course be a spot light on a wall or a free standing floor mounted light. Task or spot lighting means having that flexible tool to add more light when needed, and being able to direct it that makes it the Number 3 ingredient for our list.
Tip 4 – “It’s ok to be distracted.” Apparently in the office we think we work looking at a screen or a desk all the time, but in fact, your eyes move around taking in information. The view to the outside is just as important. From your garden office you may see your home from a new angle, so think of lighting it up so that you can see it well, especially in the winter when it can feel dark by 3 o’clock in the afternoon. This could include lighting the outside of the house, or using lights inside to give that unusual view more meaning.
For tip number 5 in the list, we discussed pathway lighting. This is not just for the beauty of your garden or the “safety” of not tripping, but to emphasize the journey from office life and home life, which is what we normally do when commuting. There is that chunk of time on the train, on the bus or in the car that mentally prepares us as we ‘zone’ from work to home life. Take a moment along that path and smell the lavender or honeysuckle. As it gets dark, use lights that wash downwards and create that conduit between worlds.
Tip 6 – be smart. Now more than ever, we want our homes to be “Smart”; so consider adding the lighting in the garden office to your home lighting experience. Imagine you decide not to revisit the office this evening and just ask your virtual assistant to lock the office door and turn off the lights! Also from a security aspect you can turn on house lights, garden lights and your office lighting all at once, should you hear a noise in the night. Or perhaps set it to mimic your daily routine while you are away on holiday…just don’t add locking and unlocking of doors to your holiday mode! One chap Phil told us of had set his smart home to open the garage door every night at 5.30 …. and it was the entrance to his home!
Finally, Phil and I discussed colour and light, closing with tip 7 – Fun! Many of us consider coloured light as “fun” and disco related, and thus dismiss the idea of bathing a room in magenta or blue. Coloured light is actually a therapy and has proven benefits to mood and well being. Here in your new garden office, remember that this is your sanctuary, a small zone that is where you are productive at work and want to leave energized, not drained, and feel excited to revisit the next day.
Quality of life, work / life balance, sanity – that is why you wanted a garden office after all! Don’t forget that Scandinavian Homes can custom-design your home office to reflect your needs and your personality. We’ve many years of experience in helping people plan their forever homes, and we can bring that expertise and flair to helping you design that all important extension to your home, the peaceful oasis where you can work, and create, and think without the distractions you face sitting at the kitchen table – not that the kettle and the biscuit tin are distractions, obviously!