Spending as much time as we do at the office, it's important to ensure our workspace is a comfortable and pleasant place to be. It can be a challenge to decorate a cubicle — you don't own the furniture, you can't paint, your neighbor's supplies keep sliding between the divider. But does that mean your working space needs to stay basic? If the extent of your cubicle style is hanging up a calendar and circling your upcoming vacation week, it's time to upgrade this space and give it some actual personality.
Before thinking about design, it's important to give your cubicle a good deep cleaning. This involves moving out clutter (looking at you, memorandum from two years ago) and getting into every corner. Start by tossing out old paperwork and packing away dusty knickknacks, including what's stuffed in your cabinet drawers. Then, disinfect all surfaces including the keyboard, mouse, and chair arms. With a clean slate, your cubical will be primed for personality.
The key to a harmonious space is organization, but that doesn't mean you're forever doomed to black metal file organizers and pen holders. Look for fun options, such as a copper wire file basket or a cactus-shaped pen holder. If you're the crafty type, decorate mason jars to create your own pen holders with mod podge, paper mache, or acrylic paints. To add storage and save desk space, hot glue a few of them together and stack them on their side. No matter your style, aim to keep your supplies contained because an orderly space always looks good.
Face it, no matter how welcoming the cubicle, work is work and you'll still be counting down the days to vacation. Why not add some calendar eye candy, since you'll be staring at it anyway. Insert a blank calendar into framed glass for an instant dry erase alternative that looks modern and clean. Consider a chalkboard calendar that you can personalize on a whim. Hang string on one cubical wall and use clothespins to hang numbers and favorite photos.
Not just applicable to your work, being resourceful can extend to cubical decor as well. Paint an old shutter and lean it against one cubicle wall to make a great mail holder. Cover old shoeboxes with fun wrapping paper and stand them up to house books and binders. Do the same thing with cereal boxes — trim them to fit your desk drawer for divided storage. Consider painting a kitchen serving tray to contain all the small items that would normally be scattered across your desk.
For a sleek and stylish look, keep receptacles and decor limited to one or two colors. Mixing too many shades can make a small cubicle space feel busy. Opt for a rich, deep color to offset the common office beige. Mix patterns and elements to create interest and keep the color from feeling flat. Try bringing in a small rug in a fun pattern for your change of footwear, or swap in a jazzy mouse pad. Even your trash bin can step it up to stainless steel.
Work can be a drag and not all of us have window access to offset the harsh fluorescent office lighting. Create a warm and welcoming glow by putting battery-powered string lights in a vase or pin them along one cubicle wall. Consider bringing in a favorite desk or floor lamp from home. If your budget allows, invest in a small light therapy lamp to lift your mood.
A proven stress reducer, plants are a healthy way to spruce up your cubicle space. While it might not be affordable to bring in a fresh bouquet of flowers every week, you can still benefit from natural elements in the workspace. Plants can improve creative thinking, reduce toxins in the air, and are visually appealing. Consider long-lasting succulents such as aloe, which are small in size and can survive with little water and low light. Invest in a charming plant pot to accentuate its beauty.
Create your very own art gallery within your cubicle. Expand your creative growth by painting your own canvas art to display. In addition to stress relief, painting enhances problem-solving skills and stimulates optimism. Viewing certain images restores mental energy and improves work performance, so keep the benefits with you and decorate your cubicle with engaging artwork.
If you're lucky enough to have shelves within your partially enclosed workspace, consider designating an entire shelf to decor. Forgo process binders and reference books in favor of a few choice titles. Spray paint a couple of heavy rocks for cool and economical bookends. Open up your space with a small rounded mirror and surround it with greenery. Don't forget your favorite framed photo and motivational quote. Try to limit the number of items, though, to avoid a cluttered look.
Words are powerful. Use that power for good and decorate your cubicle with uplifting and inspiring messages. Frame inspirational quotes in appealing fonts and prop them where you can see them. Print out motivational messages and pin them to your cubicle fabric. Use decorative push pins for added interest. Use a chalkboard to write your own messages or join your visiting coworkers in a laugh with a daily joke. Stick a magnetic whiteboard to your file cabinet for a similar idea, or look for little magnets that have positive messages written right on them.