Desk Makeover: Making Your Cube Come to Life

When I first started my job, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was – I had a wonderful cubicle that seemed to have lots of workspace and storage. Having my own cubicle seemed to cement my place in the professional world. During my undergraduate years, I worked as a member of a facilities office and one of my jobs was to determine how to rearrange and make modular office space work. To me, my new cubicle was really “nice” in comparison to those units I had used in the past.

Our office moved in October and I received a different cubicle, this time with tall walls. Our office is located in a gorgeous historic building, with tall ceilings, gorgeous columns, and ornate details. I sent a picture of my cubicle with a view of the columns in the background, and my sister remarked, “It’s funny seeing the columns in the background of your cubicle space.” The lighting in our office space is not the best, and our cubicles now seemed drab and boring. In a space shared with several other people, I decided I had to make my work space bright, to make up for the poor lighting, while I wanted to create an inviting, fun cubicle that would reflect the positive and fun attitude I try to present every day at work.

Scouring the internet, there are tons of ideas out there how to makeover your cubicle space. I wanted something simple, inexpensive, but not over the top. So, I purchased a few items, did a few easy DIY projects, and (I hope) created a great end result!


Do It Yourself
I wanted a strong color palette to use as a design source and once I found the Architextures fabric by Carolyn Friedlander, I knew I found my inspiration. I specifically love the green palette within this collection, so decided to use that as my color palette. I purchased this fat quarter collection and was able to make several items out of this fabric.

1. Bunting I’m a huge fan of bunting and wanted to incorporate the concept into my desk design. I found this great how-to create a No Sew Fabric Pennant Banner and essentially modified that for my own purposes. I made four total – two smaller ones for my overhead storage, two larger ones as accents.


2. Picture Frame Bulletin Board This one I kind of made up as I was going along, but I’m thrilled with the results. I decided I wanted to make a small bulletin board covered in fabric. I purchased some of the rolled cork board and flattened it out (with an iron). I ended up repurposing an old 8×10 frame I had lying around and glued two layers of cork to the frame backing. I used spray adhesive to glue the two cork layers together on top of the frame back, then placed a layer of fabric to finish the piece. Voila!

The framed cork board before the fabric.
The framed cork board before the fabric.
The final product using the green topographic fabric from the architextures collection.
The final product using the green topographic fabric from the architextures collection.

3. Wall Art I have tall cubicle walls, with plenty of empty space for art. I decided early that I wanted to use some historic photographs and architectural drawings of the buildings I work with. I thought they would be great to feature and I love black and white historic photos. Plus, they make great conversation pieces – several people I work with already have asked me lots of questions about them! I printed off several and picked up some cheap frames from Target. These are located above my computer and off to the one side.

Original architectural drawings repurposed as wall art.
Original architectural drawings repurposed as wall art.

I also created a piece of wall art out of the Architextures fabric (look at the picture below). I took the scraps from the bunting and created a “flat quilt.” I just had fun creating a random pattern with a nice splash of color. I took the triangular scraps and glued them to a piece of card stock, then inserted it into another repurposed frame I had lying around my apartment.

Accent Pieces
I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, but wanted a few other pieces to take up some of the “empty” space on my desk. I went to a few local antique stores and got some great ideas from the various items there.

1. Pen/Pencil/Highlighter Storage Before, I had a coffee mug I stored some pens and pencils for quick access on my desk. However, I decided some Ball Jars would serve the purpose well, while providing a little bit of a design feature. I picked 3 small jars for $5 total at an antique store. I added some rocks I had in another art piece at home at the bottom of each jar.

2. Flowers and Vase I knew I wanted a floral element, but I really struggled with what to purchase. I went to Michaels and wandered around for a good 45 minutes. I thought about doing something more “natural” – mossy, rocks, grasses, but these hydrangeas seemed like they would match some of the colors in the Architextures fabrics perfectly. I paired with this fun geometric vase that was on sale for $7.

Ball jars as office supply storage with a simple floral arrangement.
Ball jars as office supply storage with a simple floral arrangement.

3. Accents There’s a few other items I haven’t mentioned here, I purchased a small, tall green vase for $5 (seen below to the left), while I also got a fun green frame on sale at Target for $3 (next to my stapler and tape).

I’m really pleased on how my cubicle makeover came together in the end. It already makes the space seem much brighter and I feel much more at home in my new space. Since we spend so much time in our offices, I think it’s just as important to have a space that feels like your second home. To me, my new cubicle reflects my own personality while remaining professional. Plus, I love the new art pieces that I can discuss with people when they visit my office. In the end, it was well worth the time, energy, and a little bit of money I spent to create this amazing space. My boss told me it looked like a spa… should I put in a water feature next?

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