What is task lighting?
Task lighting is focused in an area that you’re doing something in.
It’s usually for something you do repetitively.
Task lighting in the kitchen is positioned where you like to cut onions and in the bedroom it’ll be for doing things like reading when you’re in bed.
It’s the supporting act to ambient light and improves the aesthetics of the room by layering lights.
I never used to think it was important.
I didn’t have wall sconces and when I moved into my rented apartment, didn’t bring lamps with me.
Time went by and I remained task lighting-less.
I’ve always thought my bedroom looked bare without lamps on my nightstands, but the tide turned when I started reading.
Leaving the overhead light on kept me more awake than I’d have liked but the worst thing was having to get out of my warm, comfy bed.
After a few weeks of getting up into the freezing abyss to turn my light off, I started searching for a change.
I’ll explain what you need to do so that you can decide the best task lighting for your needs.
Where do you place task lights?
Placing task lighting is straightforward.
There’s no point making it more complicated than it needs to be.
Wherever you need regular light whilst doing something, put a light in the area.
- In bed? Table lamps, wall sconces or pendants
- Reading chair? Floor lamp
- Writing desk? Table lamps
- Mirror on the wall? Sconce
You can mix and match as you see fit, but it’s not rocket science. Keep it simple until you understand where it makes sense to bend the rules.
Make sure no shadows are in the way
It’s obvious, but make sure there’s nothing obstructing the view of the light source and whatever you need to complete your task (e.g. a book).
This is probably more geared towards keeping your bedroom tidy than any specific design principle. I hope you’d realise there was a chest of drawers obscuring any lamps before you went and bought them.
It would be especially frustrating to love the look of the lights but have them fail at their primary function.
The humble table lamp. I and many others didn’t give it enough credit.
You need to learn from my mistakes and avoid them at all costs.
They’re usually bought in pairs but I love a bit of controlled chaos in my life and love buying ones that aren’t identical twins.
There’s not an exact formula but if you have large nightstands, you need to purchase table lamps of similar proportions.
Depending on the design of the light fixture, you want to make sure that your eye line isn’t going to be underneath the lamp shade.
Direct pupil exposure to bright lights isn’t going to be comfortable.
Where to place them?
You’ll place your table lamps on your night stands. They’ll help you read, do work in bed, and be lazy on Sunday mornings.
The floor lamp is the giant of the tast lighting world.
They look amazing if you have the space and a designated area of your room.
An armchair that you sit in to read is begging for you to plant one next to it.
Arc lamps are a great shout if you don’t have much space. They’re thin and their curvature means they don’t get in the way of other pieces of furniture.
I’m a fan of their elegance. They look a bit like a butler who’s trying his best to help you out even though he has a sore back.
He is getting paid handsomely though so…
Weight distribution is top heavy. I’d avoid putting arc lamps anywhere with a lot of footfall. Someone will knock it over, it’ll break, you’re only choice will be to cut ties with that (ex)friend.
Do you want that?
Place it somewhere safe to avoid psychological unrest.
Boom arm lamps
Boom arm lamps can look really stylish or they can look like the kind of accessory a Mom buys her 14 year old so they can’t continue to avoid doing their homework.
They look like they’re miniture versions of some kind of spotlight for a film set. If you get bored you can imagine think about the movie-you.
You’ll sit yours on your desk. They’ll help you with writing, coding, drawing. Whatever it is you do at your desk.
The boom arm part of the name refers to the long swinging arm that allows you to focus the light source in exactly the correct position
Sometimes prone to being unstable which could also be a measure of your clumsiness. To counteract this, buy one with a heavy base.
And if you aren’t bothered? Well, you’ve always been a maverick. I can see it in your eyes.
You’ve found the light for you if you’ve ever wanted to own a goose but didn’t have to deal with the paperwork.
There’s no doubt they’re elegant but their ‘S’ figure means they have a feminine appearance.
That’s all good if it’s what you’re looking for. However, most men aren’t.
Some people find massive advantages over other designs in the bendy necks some models have as well as a clamp on the base used to attach to tables.
I won’t lie to you. They aren’t for me.
I would rather have a lamp that sits atop a table and looks great.
Even though the functionality is improved, I would prefer to buy a lamp for my room which fits my design style more.
Normally bad things come in threes. Well, give yourself a slow clap because you’re just beaten the universe.
Tripod lamps have three legs, each one as glorious as the next.
Their size can range from the humble nightstand-sitter to large floor lamps.
Anyone who remembers a bit of science will know that triangles distribute weight well and are sturdy. I don’t advise you test this, but you would have to bellyflop onto one of these lights before it even considered falling over.
I’m a big fan of the way some are design in a very casual way, as though it’s had one too many beers and it’s just chilling there, providing some photons. No biggie.
Because of the range in sizes, it’s up to you where you put it depending on the one you buy.
A larger light will have a wide base so will need a bit of spare bedroom for it to stand comfortably.
This isn’t as much of an issue for the nightstand variants though.
Just close your eyes for a second and picture the Pixar lamp jumping up and down.
There you go, you now know what a swing arm lamp is.
You can move the arm in essentially 360 degrees as well as rotation of the lamp head itself
The swing arm lamp is as adaptable as a lamp can be. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of the lighting world without the tiny pliers.
These are best for sitting on a desk if you’re someone who’s practical and needs to view different angles to appreciate the masterpiece you’ve created.
The light is usually concentrated in one area, swing arm lamps aren’t going to be suited to areas that need a wider spread of shine.
A sconce is a light fitting that’s attached to the wall. It’s independent and doesn’t need any support from a base sitting on the floor.
The angle of light usually projects up toward the ceiling
In a bedroom, a pair of sconces will normally stand guard, affixed to the wall either side of the bed.
This is the way you’ll find the majority of sconces. They’re like Guinea Pigs, they get lonely.
However, occasionally you do find one brave sconce who’s willing to go it alone. They can be found in their natural habitat above a desk, providing a wide glow.