Are you an avid reader? If so, you will already know that the right amount of illumination can help
you to avoid eye strain and read better. Planning the optimal lighting layout and design is an
important consideration when you’re doing up your home interior. Whether you’re using the room
as a home office or as a schoolroom at home for your kids, thoughtful lighting design will help to
enhance performance, and enable working in comfort.
Not sure where to start? Here, we will tell you the do’s and don’ts of an efficient lighting
plan for your reading room or study!
Plan the Layout First
Ideally, when you plan a lighting layout, there should be different levels of light that can be turned
on or off as needed. Ambient lighting is the general lighting in the room, while task lighting is
focused light that is targeted at a specific task. The third layer of illumination is provided by accent
lighting which adds style and aesthetics to the décor, by illuminating pictures on the wall or
highlighting accessories on display.
In your reading room or study, you will need to ensure that the first two types of lighting are
provided for, as functionality should take precedence in the room.
Ambient lighting should provide glare-free illumination that is not focused on a particular area.
Daylight from windows, ceiling-mounted lights, chandeliers, wall lights, spotlights or pendants can
provide the ambient light you need in your study. Recessed cove lighting in the ceiling also provides
soft generalised illumination. Ambient light should not cause shadows but provide soft general light
in the room.
This form of lighting assumes particular importance in the reading room as it gives you focused light
to be able to read clearly. Based on the activity that you will be performing, the optimal level of
bright light that directly focuses on your task will prevent eye strain and enable you to work
efficiently. Task lights will illuminate a specific area very well and can cause shadows in the rest of
In your study, you can provide pendant lights, floor lamps with focused downlight, or adjustable
table lamps to help you work comfortably and efficiently. If you have overhead cabinets above your
study table, fitting a strip of LED lighting below the cabinets will provide soft backlight that will also
prevent eye strain, provided it does not shine directly in your eyes while you work. Table lamps with
adjustable brightness are a value addition.
If you have framed certificates on the wall, a display case with books or artefacts, or even just a
plant in a corner, you can use accent lighting to add visual interest and highlight these elements in
your room. Accent lighting creates drama and draws the eye toward specific items, and has the
power to transform a room from plain to stunning in an instant!
To give you some examples for your understanding, accent lighting can be provided by picture lights,
wall uplights that cast interesting shadows on the wall, or spotlights on a track rail.
White or Yellow?
This is a common question, and very easily answered! White light is functional, while yellow light
adds aesthetic appeal and warmth to your spaces. This is largely a matter of personal preference. As
a thumb rule, white light is considered to be easier on the eyes and is known to cause less eye strain,
but also looks more drab and uninteresting than yellow light. This makes white light a more
functional choice for the study. Perhaps you can have a mix of white and yellow so as to enhance the
décor and tone down the boring!
Reading Books vs Digital Reading: What Is the Difference?
When planning the reading environment, you should also be mindful of the type of reading that you
will be doing. Many people are making the switch from paperback to digital, which means that the
level of illumination provided should also be adjusted accordingly.
Reading from any digital device in a dark room will cause eye strain, as the screen is already lit.
Always make sure that there is enough soft ambient lighting when you are reading using a Kindle, or from your computer screen. Paperbacks do not cause as much eye strain unless you are trying to
read in a dark room without enough focused light. Ensure that the light is positioned to shine on the
book, and shadows do not fall on the page while you are reading.
Lighting Based on Wall Colour
The wall colours will also influence the quality of light in the room. Neutral light wall colours are best
for the reading room as they will complement your lighting and will not strain the eyes. Colours that
are dark or too bright will interfere with the intensity of illumination in the room and can distract
your focus. Avoid stark white, as that will also cause glare on the eyes. Always add a tiny amount of
grey, cream or any other softer shade to reduce the starkness of pure white.
Plan Smart, Use LED Lights
Going green is always the smarter choice in today’s world, and when we’re talking about lighting it’s
important to mention LED lights! LED light bulbs are always preferred over halogen bulbs due to
their energy-saving capability. While LED bulbs might come at a higher initial cost, they use fewer
watts and enable you to save as much as 20% on your power bills. They are also more durable, with
an average life span that is 10 to 20 times more than that of an incandescent bulb. What this means
is that the waste in landfills is considerably reduced. Make the right choice for the planet, and for
Need help in planning your reading room? Call HomeLane to get expert advice and support!