Brighten my office
April 19, 2010 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Just moved into a windowless office. The lack of daylight is killing me. Please suggest hacks to brighten my office.

I sit alone in an 8x10 office in an inside corridor. The office features white walls, industrial brown patterned carpet, fluorescent lighting, some blonde "wood" furniture and a door that closes.

I have one of these mini sun lights, which helps, but I still feel claustrophobic from lack of sunlight. I take a Vitamin D supplement so it is probably not deficiency, just general angst.

Please suggest your office hacks for improving atmosphere. Here are some parameters:
1. I can't paint the office
2. Assume I move office every 6-12 months, so any solution must be temporary and portable
3. Must be less than $100, ideally less than $50
4. I am a 31 year old woman in a professional but laid back job. I do not want dorm room chic or internet nerd ambiance. No lame toys or crude posters please.

I am thinking along the lines of 8' poster of tropical beach scene along one wall to simulate window, should such a thing exist. Would that work? Would a potted plant help (or would it die too without natural light?) What are some other things that could help brighten my day?
posted by crazycanuck to Work & Money (24 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
You need a big beautiful silk patterned sari/tapestry/cloth/rug...preferrable in yellow or orange or gold and containing some variation (shiny threads are magical, seek them out). If it's light enough it can hang on the wall, or if not, folded in half over a filing cabinet, like a table runner. Then buy a big classy mirror to hang kitty-corner or on the opposite wall. Place sun lamp accordingly.

Also, something with nice sound...white noise, water flow, whatever pleases you, can be really transportational.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:11 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

You could check which fluorescent bulbs are in the ceiling and swap them for the full-spectrum kind.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:23 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Quite recently I spent a night on a ferry. My inside cabin included a set of curtains - closed. Opening the curtains revealed just a wall - but while they were closed I could dream of an outside view. Maybe that would work for you?

(At least in some parts of the world there are building regulation standards which prohibit a room designated as an office from not having any source of natural light I believe.)
posted by rongorongo at 11:25 PM on April 19, 2010

posted by mdonley at 11:52 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I made a grow light out of one of these with a 2650 lumen CFL bulb inside it, and find it noticeably cheery during the dismal depths of winter. Bonus: It will keep a couple of nice violets or something blooming!
posted by bunji at 11:53 PM on April 19, 2010

Building on rongorongo's idea, make a fake window with lights.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:57 PM on April 19, 2010

A bowl of chrysanthemums .
posted by hortense at 12:16 AM on April 20, 2010

Seconding a plant
a peace lilly on your desk can make any office more homely and a lot more comfortable to work in.
there are a lot of pot plans out there that will tolerate low/no natural light levels lets you put in details about your office conditions and will recommend plant species to you
posted by Phcyso at 3:36 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

My pet sea monkeys provide me with endless hours of diversion in my office. Sea monkeys are photo-reactive so if you get some you'll want to put them near your sun light.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:07 AM on April 20, 2010

If you're sitting on a pile of cash, you could always try building one of these:
posted by Simon_ at 4:59 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I bought an unframed canvas picture of a huge orange flower from Ikea when I had an office with little natural light. It, plus a plant, made somewhat of a difference (although I have to say, nothing quite killed the low-level background depressingness of the situation). In general, I would imagine the yellows-oranges will give the feel of sunlight, if you're browsing pictures in a thrift store or cheap home-goods store like Ikea.
posted by palliser at 5:50 AM on April 20, 2010

A small fan with variable settings would give you some air flow if the room seems stuffy. Or a small portable heater if it tends to be chilly. I have both at my desk as I tend to get anxious and irritable if my temperature is not right.

I keep meaning to get a salt lamp for my desk. Supposedly they emit good-for-you negative ions and help purify the air. I have no idea if this is science or some kind of woo, but they are cool-looking and give off a nice warming glow.

Another thing that might be nice is some sort of aromatherapy. A good-smelling candle or room spray would definitely improve the atmosphere.

The trickling sound of a tabletop fountain is pleasant and would add a bit of moisture to the air.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:54 AM on April 20, 2010

I am thinking along the lines of 8' poster of tropical beach scene along one wall to simulate window, should such a thing exist.

It does indeed exist. Here is one place to look for ideas:
posted by CathyG at 6:32 AM on April 20, 2010

posted by CathyG at 6:32 AM on April 20, 2010

Response by poster: I think I looked previously to replace overhead lighting with full spectrum tubes and got confused about what to buy, any specific recommendations? Thanks

I love the aquarium idea but I think it would run more than $100.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:08 AM on April 20, 2010

As far as the aquarium goes, you could set up a 10 gallon tank for about 100 dollars. If you have any Petsmart stores near you, they sell a 10 gallon tank kit for 49.99. It comes with the tank, hood, light, filter, net, small sample of food and small sample of water conditioner. On top of that, you'd need about 15 dollars worth of gravel, 15 dollars of tank decorations, an additional bottle of water conditioner (3.99 or thereabouts) and then the fish. If this is something you want to do, memail me. I work at Petsmart and have helped hundreds of people set up budget aquariums.

Bonus: the fluorescent light that comes with the aquarium is bright and cheery!
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 7:16 AM on April 20, 2010

Aerogarden. You can get a small one for $50 and have light and flowers. I love the one I have at home.
posted by nimsey lou at 7:27 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how well your sunlight works, but you might consider a full spectrum lamp table lamp that sits just over your work area to get a "concentrated" level of sunlight. If you have a Menards hardware store nearby, I've found it to have far and away the cheapest lamps.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:55 AM on April 20, 2010

Try a mirror. IKEA has inexpensive ones. You could probably do houseplants if you took them home with you once in a while for some sunlight.
posted by Jane Austen at 9:52 AM on April 20, 2010

I just got out of almost four years in a windowless concrete box. I painted it orange and made a sunflower rasterbation (second link shows you how to do it) with a photo of my own. It covered a lot of the wall and made me happy. A giant collage-y bulletin board on the other wall gave me something else to look at and all in all I was quite sad when I left last week. I know you can't paint so I'd highly recommend big and or bright posters and anything you can do with yellow or orange or red.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:18 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I see free/cheap aquarium stuff on Craigslist all the time -- apparently it's something people tend to get rid of when they move.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:14 PM on April 20, 2010

One trick to prevent a room's lighting feeling bare/soulless is to have a lamp that you shine at/up the wall.
posted by djgh at 1:48 PM on April 20, 2010

The link is way old and the idea may be way more than $50 (I have not priced this out,) but I like the idea of covering one's workspace in camouflage netting.
posted by Turkey Glue at 4:13 PM on April 20, 2010

Hang a calendar on the wall. I'm partial to the "Out on the Porch" series.
posted by marsha56 at 10:14 PM on April 20, 2010

« Older Leave someone you love if they're not right for...   |   Don't fire until you see the whites of their iPods... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.