We focus so much energy turning a house into a home, we sometimes forget to aim our decorating genius at the office cubicle.
Home often expresses who we are, filled with accumulated treasures and trinkets. But skip over to the office cubicle, or an office with actual walls, and it can be a different story.
Some offices “are so dated. ... falling-apart furniture and stacks of files, generally, an overall mess,” says Sayeh Pezeshki, a designer who blogs at The Office Stylist.
Considering how much time many people spend at work, “Your workspace should be cheery and it should be fun, and it should be personal to you,” says Sabrina Soto, designer host of HGTV’s “The High/Low Project.”
A soothing environment cuts down on work stress, designers believe. “It really does affect the way that you work and the way that you feel,” says Pezeshki. And “you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”
Bob Richter, an interior designer and cast member of PBS’ treasure-hunting series “Market Warriors,” visits flea markets, returning home with one-of-a-kind mementos.
“I feel like a cubicle or a small office should feel like a small apartment,” says Richter. “Things have to be tidy but there also has to be an opportunity to store things easily.”
Richter suggests combing flea markets for unusual boxes and baskets for storing supplies on an office desk. He uses old metal coffee tins and vintage ceramic planters for holding pens and supplies.
“There’s a nostalgic vibe to these items,” Richter says.
Soto suggests using lacquered boxes or stylish fiberboard boxes.
Good lighting, an attractive memo board, and at least one living plant or cut flowers are also essential for cultivating good cubicle ambience.
Bring a desk lamp from home; it’ll cheer up the space. Bring in low-water, low-light plants. “Keep one on your desk,” says Richter. “It feels like there’s life there.”
For the memo board, Richter suggests framing a section of cork, dry-erase board or quality plywood painted with chalkboard paint. Frame it in a vintage frame, it’s a tenth the price of a new frame, he says.
The important thing is to decorate your cubicle according to your own personality, the designers say.
“For me, a place I want to be is a place surrounded by the things I love,” says Richter.
Tips from the designers:
Keep it tasteful: Check with your human resources manager before turning a cubicle into a fully furnished room.
Ditch sticky notes/hanging calendar: They add clutter. Lean a small dry-erase board against a wall to jot notes. Use an electronic calendar.
Hang attractive fabric or framed artwork.
Cover bookshelves and cabinets: Use printed contact paper. Pick a few things on your desk and replace them — pencil holder, tape dispenser — with the look you want.