One of the rooms in my house is furnished as an office. The room plan is roughly like this:

|   XX     XX     XX‖
|   XX  *  XX  *  XX‖
|   XX     XX     XX‖
|                   |

The X are permanently installed desks. The * are recessed lights. The double lines are windows.

The strange thing about this room is that no matter where I sit or which way I face, there is always a harsh and irritating shadow right over the part of the desk I'm working at. Similarly, in video calls I am always backlit.

How can I improve the situation?

To be clear, I'm willing to remove the recessed lights and install new fixtures elsewhere, but I don't know where. I'm also willing to let the recessed lights be, but install additional ones in other locations.

  • I never liked recessed down lights. Unfortunately there's no good answer except to move the lights, or the desks. I'd imagine I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, and that's not feasible due to task constraints and the difficulty of relocating down lights. Best i can suggest is retrofit surface-mount lighting over the desks, and switch the downlights off (if not tapping them for the surface lights). Low voltage stuff e.g. Ikea may be helpful here. Sep 20, 2023 at 20:31
  • Where's the window in this room? Sometimes these awkward arrangements are the result of someone using the room mostly during the day when natural light eliminates the shadows.
    – bta
    Sep 21, 2023 at 2:20
  • If you're open to removing the lights, I would install rails so you can move them where ever you need it.
    – Nelson
    Sep 21, 2023 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


Because both of your seating positions (I assume there's a seat under each asterisk) has a light that casts your shadow. Unless you sit on the desk that's to the far left of the first leg of the M the desk forms, i.e. against the wall.

Maybe consider doing some up-lighting or cove style lighting to diffuse the light sources some. Or use desk lamps.

  • It's worse, the seat ends up between the light and the desk. So it's not an overhead casting a shadow on your lap/floor below chair. It's casting a shadow exactly on that part of the table where you have the thing you're working on. I can't sit at the ends of the desk because they have a solid wall there blocking my knees. Good idea though. Sep 19, 2023 at 18:35
  • Also, why would the previous resident have set it up this way? I keep thinking that he must have had some way to use this room, especially given that the desks are not movable. Sep 19, 2023 at 18:36
  • 1
    Maybe the previous person had desk lamps or some other form of lighting that was more diffuse.
    – Huesmann
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:18
  • 1
    People do a lot of really dumb stuff.
    – nobody
    Sep 21, 2023 at 1:45

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