Creative ways to spruce up an office

I’m on my third week at a new job, and while I am thrilled with the job, my work space leaves many, many things to be desired. The whole area, affectionately known as “the bomb shelter”, is a sea of beige with no windows in sight. Beige dividers between cubicles. Lavendar/beige carpeting. Beige metal file drawers. Beige desks. Beige paint on the walls. The only non-beige things seem to be the overhead flourescent lights, but those are interspersed with beige air vents.

My group is working on getting transferred to a more attractive portion of the building (like, anywhere), but until that comes through, I ned help making my cubicle a little less spirit-crushing. I’ve brought in some photos with funky frames, my fighting robot, my Bender and Nibbler toys, and a phrenology head.

Anyone have any idea about ways to make my space more attractive (or at least colorful)? I don’t have any real restrictions to deal with, so I can get away with pretty much anything short of Live Nude Girls. Help!

Hmmm. I have a home office in red-painted pine and natural-stained oak, with dark red carpet and black metal drawer sets and filing cabinets. I buy my hanging folders in every color of the rainbow (and, since I’m an editor, my pens and pencils as well).

But you need to spruce up a “real-job” office. Okay:

How about a fun wall calendar?

When my mom worked in Cubeland, she found some hangers that attached to the top of the cubicle walls and hung several large framed and matted photographs that she took herself (she’s pretty good for an amateur).

You could get a colorful area rug to put down over the beige.

Get some fun mugs or other containers for your desktop office supplies. Use your imagination! One of the counselors at my college kept her business cards in a gorgeous ceramic bowl that one of the art students had made for her. It got compliments from everyone who came into her office.

They make lots of magnetic frames and other fun doohickeys these days that you could put on filing cabinets. Or buy some magnet strips and Krazy Glue and make your own decorations.

Is the ceiling within reach? You could hang a mobile or some other type of kinetic art. I have a stuffed blue pterodactyl hanging from my ceiling fan pull that squawks in a satisfyingly pterodactyly way when I squeeze him.

How receptive would the higher-ups be to a paint job? Maybe you could even volunteer to come in on a weekend if they buy the paint. (The word “spirit-crushing” in your post says a lot – can you use it in your pitch?)

See if you can get purchasing to buy pens & pencils in lots of nifty colors. I love my purples and greens. Same for Post-it notes – they come in lots of colors besides pale yellow.

Well that’s about 10 minutes of brainstorming – I hope you can use some of these!

Two words:

Beer Fridge

You won’t need anything else.

One of my client’s ex-employees made a virtual jungle out of his cube. I talked him into buying a beta (fish) to add. Later he got another one to put on the ledge of the cube. It was pretty cool, the second one, was a large vase with those glass pebbles you can buy at a craft store, then using a one of those plastic trays you put a plant in (the clear one) and put a peace lilly (clean the roots and expose them) poking wholes in the tray, bring some of the roots down. Apparently the fish only survives on the roots and the roots help clean up the fish waste. I would still recommend the occasional feeding though.

He had plants all over, the fish, a mini dart board etc. The fish idea (thank me very much) spread to all over the office.

Don’t forget the accesories, get a cool desk mat, colorful pen/pencil holder.

If you are into listening to music while working, get one of those smaller boom boxs, they have them in a variety of colors these days.

You could also find a cool and colorful arrangement of silk flowers.

Let the imagination go wild. Find a cool work of art at your local artist’s co-op – you can find some really cool stuff that’s out of the ordinary and goot topic starters. I have seen everything from paper mache creations in bright colors to woven wall hangings.

Bettas cannot survive on plant roots–they are carnivorous fish! I don’t know who came up with this idea (it’s not such a bad one, I guess–I have plant clippings hanging out of my fish tank, but I haven’t seen any fish eating the roots yet) but you should be feeding the fish every day.

I think plants and fish spruce up any room.

May I recommend Composition-4?

Bondage equipment gives the workspace a nice, cheery feel.

(1) Paint Everything in it paisely. Everything.
(2) The Shrunken Heads of your Enemies.
(3) Real Grass Carpeting
(4) Pez dispensers are fun. Millions of Pez dispensers on every surface are even more fun.
(5) A fire-station pole.
(6) Instead of a desk, have a giant hampster cage.

I don’t know what it is that you do, but I’ll contribute the following thoughts:

  • My office is just full of the shit I’ve got to shovel - anything else is a distraction;
  • Yeah, we maintain a pretty office where I can meet people, but that’s not the place where I really work, and I pretty much own a conference room (well, it sometimes depends on whether or not the district landman or I had more Wheaties for breakfast);
  • Current wisdom in my ever-shifting industry says that personal effects (family pics, etc.) should be throw-aways you can leave behind without a second thought on a moment’s notice.

Nevertheless, you want to perk up your workspace and you obviously don’t share my perspective on it all.

OK, so you want to personalize your space. What do you do all day? There are manny niches in the business jungle gym and I recognize several that leave productive folk with moments that allow them to contemplate their surroundings.

Do you want to make it look like home?

Do you savor the fact that it is in fact not home; i.e., it is your own personal world away from home?

I’m of the mindset that even if you want to decorate to taste, it should remain of the walk without looking back variety; i.e., don’t put anything in your office in which you have a significant personal financial or emotional investment.

That still allows a lot - all kinds of Dilbert/Garfield stuff, if that appeals to you. Or other, more off-the-wall stuff.

I personally don’t feel like I need to make a statement of personality through my office decor - that comes out in my actions. That may not be what you’re looking for.

Ultimately I think I’ve decided that I’ve contributed little to your thread, but the ability of the SDMB to allow one certain degrees of self-discovery has revealed to me that I am decidely not an interior decorator.

The rest of y’all take home what you will.

I’m trying to spruce up my office by getting a really good looking assistant–I don’t care if he can type or file, as long as he’s buff and willing to flirt!! Really, nothing makes an office look better than some eye-candy. Even a cubicle dweller deserves to have a fine speciman to brighten the weary hours–just watching him get into the bottom file can make my day. And even if there’s no room to chase him around the desk, well, it’s easier to catch him when we’re running around a chair!

Thanks for the responses. I love the fish idea, and I have a glass cookie jar that would make a perfect bowl. Consider that done. Unfortunately, a paint job is out, but the other wall hangings and containers could work well. And a rug! Why didn’t I think of that?

andygirl: Can it be colorful bondage equipment?

ExTank: What’s Composition-4?

beatle: You did indeed contribute to this thread. I also don’t bring in items of particular value. Fortunately, I now work for a giant, stable, profitable company, so job security is a little higher than it used to be for me. I like the fact that my office is my space and mine alone, but I don’t want to go crazy with knicknacks. Maybe I’ll go for a theme of some sort. Like a Mothra theme, or something. Framed prints from Destroy All Monsters and the like. Could be fun.

Thanks again, everyone.

Get a nice desk lamp. I have a fun shaped silver and frosted glass desk lamp I got from Ecko. I have seen some really neat ones at Target too.

I don’t know how anyone can spend all day working with overhead flourescent lights and not feel awful at the end of the day.

Plus, my office plants always do much better near the lamp. I think they get tired of floursencet lights too.

My drab cubicle has a few pleasing spots - a couple of impossible-to-kill plants, a family portrait taken 13 years ago, a current pic of my daughter, a figurine my daughter gave me, some “I-love-me” certificates of recognition, a bright pink tissue holder, and pithy sayings spread thither and yon.

Wish I had some eye candy - I share this cube with 3 guys - one a tattooed idiot, one a whining idiot, and one an egotistical idiot. Come to think of it, in this entire section of the building, there’s no one worthy of being called eye candy…
I need a better job… <sigh>

What you should do is institute a dress code where everyone must wear beige colored clothing only.

I second the point about bettas; they’re really hardy and can live through just about anything but they need betta food, which you can get by the barrelful at any pet store (my cat likes to eat it too. shrug). Oh, and don’t put them in a cup, clean out their bowl with dishwashing soap, and put them back in it. They appreciate it a lot less than you’d think (yes, even when you rinse it out really well). :frowning:

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a bunch of those viney garland things- just plain ivy-looking stuff, and plopped it along the top of the cube wall. There are also flowery ones.

In my old office, I put a bunch of blue x-mas lights up along the ceiling. I like blue stuff, it’s soothing.

I also have a bunch of those little gizmos that you get at Spencer’s where they have two different colors of goo, and you turn them over and watch the goo run down to the bottom. Not Renoir, but it’s fascinating to watch. When I worked in welfare, those would shut up a crying baby like no toy ever did.

(looking around) There are drawings, cross-stitches, calendar pictures, political cartoons, pictures of loved ones, and a pentagram made with rubber bands and push pins on a corkboard. Plants are nice. Yankee candles are nicely stinky even when you don’t burn them (altho candles and potpourri and such gives some people headaches depending on how stinky and how good your air circulates and stuff like that).

And lastly, I have a big canvas dog toy that’s shaped like a bone that says ‘Bite Me’ that makes a nice squeaky noise when you pound it on a desk- good for releasing a bit of frustration.

:smiley: Moi works in a museum, so decorating her office has nev-ah been much of a problem. Aside from the artwork I have hanging in my office, I mostly decorate my office with photos (I have those bendable frames that are shaped like people and animals) and [sub]ahem…pokémon[/sub]. I also vote strongly for plant life…maybe even a clip-on lamp with a grow light for you and your greengrowingbuddy? Corkboards are also useful…I use mine for items mostly unrelated to work, as a place to arrange photos, clippings and postcards.

Everyone is suggesting plants…why not literally “spruce” the place up? Well, OK, that’s may be a bit over the top…

I like bells–I have brightly-colored strings loaded with tiny (but well-made–I hate the jangly kind) bells that I hang from the sides of my cube door–they chime very softly when someone brushes by them. They’re not loud enough to annoy the people around me, but they’re bright and shiny and they make a pleasant sound.

Also, have you seen the velcro-ball darts? The balls are covered with hook-side velcro–they stick very well to cube walls. Just get some bright ribbon and pin circles of it to a wall to make a target. Corkboards serve the same function with real darts, but people object to us throwing those across the corridors.

But of course! Beadalin, my dear, bondage equipment comes in an impressively large variety of colors. There’s no need to limit yourself.

If you can get one of those mannequins from the “Dope Show” Marilyn Manson video, that would be tres chique.

I have lots of Christmas lights up. All year. I have some general colorful ones, GD Stealies, and red chili pepper lights. I plug them during ‘The Season’ but also whenever it seems a bit drab around. I also have a batik (sp?) wall hanging that a former student made for me. Oh, yeah, my authentic New Orleans show-me-your-tits beads.