Help Me Shed Light On My Work

I mean that quite literally. My husband has proposed some lighting upgrades to make it easier for me to see what I’m doing in my studio. It is a former bedroom with the obligatory middle of the ceiling dim light. New energy efficient bulbs haven’t helped much. The two windows are on the same wall and either bring in too little or too much light from their western exposure.

So far I’ve done online searches, which have given me general guidelines but not enough specifics as to products to use/avoid and costs. Some of the studios pictured have tons of ceiling lights, but visions of large price tags for fixtures and electricians dance through my head when I look at them.

Drop lights and wall sconces

Track lighting. (I want that cabinet to the right.)

Rows of track lighting. My fabric doesn’t look like that.
I like the idea of adjustable height lights.

I have task lights at my work table and on my sewing machine, but there are dark areas by the ironing board and design wall. I know changes are needed, but I’m befuddled about where to begin. This is where you come in.

What lighting solutions have worked for you? What kind of budget did you have? Are there resources I haven’t yet tapped to help guide me?



Filed under Everything Else

28 responses to “Help Me Shed Light On My Work

  1. I’ve been enjoying my visit with you tonight. Only one comment to make on lighting: Forget about track lighting. It’s too high up there on the ceiling, if the light isn’t directed where you need it, then it is very inconvenient to get up there and try to redirect it. I found it very inefficient.
    Oh yes, and I want the cabinet on the right too!

    • I had gotten to that point in my analysis, though I think I do need to replace the existing ceiling light. I’m investigating task lighting and am waiting for one light to go on sale.

  2. I mostly work in mixed media fabric art and I have tried all kinds of configurations for lighting and the best so far has been installed, in ceiling down lights. They are cool to run (I live in Western Australia and summer heat is brutal) and with them evenly spaced I have no shadows. The over the work areas hanging lighting might look good but you are stuck with that configuration and have no scope to move your work surfaces around to suit different projects or when friends come over and work with you. I also invested in some LED string lights that adhere to the underside of the throat of my machine that are really good. Floor lamps can also give you that extra light especially if they make the light bounce of the ceiling. White Light is important too as yellow light changes the colour of things.

    • I am leaning more to the shop light approach, with fixtures attached to ceiling and maybe high on a wall. It’s too bad you can’t try out configuration possibilities before the lights are installed. The specs I have read on pendant lights show you are hard pressed to change the kind of bulbs

  3. debby

    When I had my studio done, I bought 4 LED lights from Lowes, about 6″ X 30″. They were only about $80 each, and they are in finished boxes with silver trim, so to me they look nice. My room is about 16 X11, and the light is just right.

    • Thanks for the tip. Are these lights installed in your ceiling or are they plugged in? I assume the former as you say you had your studio done, but you know what they say about assuming…

  4. OMG–at first I thought that was your sewing room! I was so envious! I can’t be any help with lighting–we have a system in our kitchen and 6 of the 8 lights have been dead for months. I have a table lamp on the kitchen counter . . . and I can’t decide what to do to make it better. I hope you progress faster. . . .

  5. Lin McQuiston

    My room is about 13 x 13 and I have a large cutting table in the middle. I bought a 5 light chandelier for over the table and put LED lights in it. The lights shine down, not up. They are really bright. We put a dimmer in the switch so I can lower the brightness. Then I have a table OTT light extending over my sewing machine, and a lamp with incandescent bulb by my ironing board. This makes the room feel cozy and not so office like.

    • You make a good point about the brightness of LED lights. I just watched a video about the 3 types of white light – white, blue, and yellow. Sounds like you’ve covered them all in your room. A chandelier might look better in a room another owner might want to use as a bedroom.

  6. Lighting is a challenge for me too. My husband just bought amazingly bright light bulbs (actually found them at a local 99cent store, so not helpful) but I was looking for more on-line. The brand is Ecosmart and they are LED. They have a large selection at Home Depot online. We have one track light with three bulbs on our stairway (over 15 years old now, don’t know what kind of bulbs, haven’t had to change any yet.) and I think track would be a good choice. I do have special lighting for my video shooting but it’s not attractive at all! I hope you will let us know when you come up with a good solution. Thanks.

    • I’ve just started looking at ceiling lighting options. One kind would be a replacement for the current center of ceiling fixture. It has 3 adjustable LED lights. Another kind would require new wiring I think, and would probably run around the perimeter of the room. Unfortunately, you can’t try out lighting before you wire.

  7. I can’t give you any lighting advice, but these pictures of these studios make me want to take up quilting again!! Maybe I’d have stuck with it if I’d had a space like one of these in which to create. 🙂

  8. Felice Dahlhausen

    Hi Joanna
    I have in ceiling can lights with great lighting! An electrician would probably be involved but if it is a bedroom maybe your best bet are those track lights. Good luck!

  9. I have 2 fixtures of 4-tube fluorescent ceiling lighting using daylight full spectrum bulbs for a room about 10’x12’. It works pretty well for me although I use an ottlite at my sewing machine.

  10. That cabinet you love is an IKEA kitchen piece (discontinued). Lighting… big can of worms. I like to plan mine as modular/changeable. My spaces don’t seem to stay the same forever… or I move, so fixed lighting is only for what is already there! I have recently found pendant fixtures with a 15 ft cord. I have dreams of someday putting them on a cable and sliding where needed. I use DAYLIGHT LED bulbs equivalent to 100 watt/ 1000 lumens or more in all fixtures. Real bright light. If I had my dreams I would have daylight florescent fixtures on the ceiling with the pendants to cut shadows… where needed. I find that LED seems to create more shadows …… might be just me! Just recently hung a pendent over the sewing machine. LOVE IT!!!

    • I do like the idea of pendants but need to look into costs of fixtures and installation. My husband doesn’t do electric work. And, dang, that cabinet is discontinued. I’ll look for daylight LED bulbs.

  11. I have lines of LEDs under all my shelves and in the kitchen. Cheap, easy to fit, and cool running

  12. I bought a floor lamp with daylight bulb to stand behind my ironing board. Additional uses: shows true colors, so I lay fabric on my ironing board to audition colors. Also use it to photograph small projects in good light, either on the ironing board or on the floor. Ordered from Joann with a coupon. Also: large (ugly) fluorescent fixture can bu hung from the ceiling and plugged in with an extension cord run to the nearest outlet. Great light, and no electrician needed. Both work great for me. Good luck!

    • I do have one of the floor lamps, though I always find the electric outlet is in the wrong place. I’ve been mulling over the shop light approach, though I have to sort out how I feel about the look.

      • Well, I manage to ignore the look of my “shop lights” because the quality of light is so good. I have 2 strips of LED, each 30″ or so long. One strip is on each side of the room, and yeah, they have plugs dangling from them to run to wall outlets. One has a pull cord to switch it on (very attractive!) and the other has to be plugged in to be on. That’s not terribly convenient, but again, I like the light. One is hung on the ceiling with an angled wooden bracket Jim made, so the light is directed a bit into the room and not just down. The other is high on the wall. This is totally not the ideal set-up for looks, but I’m really happy with the light I get for quilting and cutting.

        In the other part of my studio, in another room, are my sewing and ironing stations and my design wall and floor. 🙂 The light in there is nowhere near as good. Things to work on …

      • The age old conundrum – looks or function. Another issue in my studio is lack of available outlets after allowing for machine, machine lights, others lights, iron, etc. Yes, I do use a power strip. Oh, and a few outlets are hidden by furniture and design wall.

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