Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cubicle makeover

This is a project that has been a long time in the making! I finally got around to sewing the last panel of fabric and hanging it up today, and am now officially ready to unveil my newly decorated cubicle. Back in Ithaca, I had my own little office (shared with my SO) in a crappy old building that probably should have been demolished but instead was given over to grad students. Here at my new job I have a desk in a lovely old building that is a former house, and I share the old parlor (fireplace and all!) with several other grad students and postdocs.

The only downside to this setup is that the university has provided us all with office-beige cubicles, which I find totally depressing. If you're going to look at a wall for 8+ hours a day, it had better not be a wall colored in oatmeal-colored synthetic fabric, IMHO. So, I gave myself a bit of a budget to make over this average looking cubicle.

Here's a few pictures from before.

The bay window that I have in my cubicle spot is amazing, and I knew right away I wanted to get some plants to put in there. I also knew right away that the ugly and dim lamp that the desk came with was going to have to be replace with something that was actually useful for reading and not hideous.

Most of the makeover supplies were purchased at Ikea. I bought a few yards of inexpensive fabric and sewed fabric panels for each wall. Figuring out how to attach these was a little tricky, but it's actually pretty easy to pry the plastic tops off of the cubby walls and use these to hold the fabric panels in place. The tea kettle that I bought at a different store just happened to match perfectly with the Ikea fabric!

I bought a shelving unit from Ikea for holding plants, teapots and snacks. You buy the metal side panels separately and then attach the length and width of shelves that you want to finish it off. Since the side panels are metal they're also perfect for storing my canisters of office supplies. I'll admit to being drawn in by the shelving unit because of the green. What can I say? I love green!

The white bookshelf was brought up from home, and is mostly stuffed full of tea and gym clothes right now. It's woefully inadequate for holding all of my academic books, and so when those eventually come up from Ithaca I'll have to decide if I want to buy more shelves or keep them at home.

In all, I spent a bit under $150 on my desk revamp, on fabric ($15), the lamp ($30), the kettle ($50), the shelf parts ($25) and the orchid and pot ($20). Future plans will probably include more shelving for books, cushions for the window sill, and hopefully a nice piece of art (if I can find something I like and can afford!).


  1. I'm searching the web for ideas on cubicle makeovers and came across yours. I love it. Well done! I'm going to pin this on my idea board. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I came across your post while looking for decorating ideas and I'm wondering how you attached the fabric to the cubicle walls. I'd love to do this to my own cubicle as I am also tired of looking at the oatmeal colored ick. :P
    If you have any pointers, I'd love to hear them!

  3. Hi Shellie! I tried a bunch of different methods for attaching the fabric, and what worked best for me was to pry off the tops of the cubicle walls, tape down the fabric to the top/inside of the wall with duct tape, and then put the plastic tops back on. Then to secure it at the bottom, I sandwiched the fabric in between the wall and my desk. I tried various kinds of poster tack and tape to hold the fabric up and those all eventually fell down, so I'd avoid those.

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