Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 

Sunday, March 1, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  Overcast
The Paper
Share on Google+
Make your desk a destination
Festoon and flourish
A Hermes typewriter from Working Girl Vintage. For more photos, click gallery, above.

Most weeks, I spend about as many waking hours at work as I do at home. I took three solid months decorating my house, but was in my cube for two years before I so much as tacked up a photo. Spending 40 hours of your life in a windowless office or a gray-walled cubicle isn't anyone's idea of style, but there are ways to spruce up your space without breaking the bank - or your company's HR policies. Self-employed or work at home sometimes? Adapt these ideas to your home office space at will.

Get crafty

At most jobs I've had, my walls have been covered with company phone directories and acronym cheat sheets. Instead of thumbtacking paper to the wall of your cube, find a ridiculously ornate, gilded frame from St. Vincent de Paul (various locations, including 1309 Williamson St.) and display it as a work of art.

Speaking of the frame section of St. Vinny's, if you're lucky enough to have real walls in your office, buy an armload of small picture frames and frame a collection of cool postcards. To display your photos in a more casual setting, tack a length of butcher's twine along the wall over your desk and use clothespins or old-fashioned ephemera clips from Anthropologie (702 N. Midvale Blvd., Hilldale Mall) to display family snapshots, postcards and photos from magazines.

Another stylish way to display photos and remind yourself to grab outgoing mail: use Mod Podge glue/sealer and scrapbook paper to decoupage a series of clipboards in complementary colors and patterns, then hang them in a row on the wall above your desk.

Another fun replacement for a boring bulletin board is an embroidery hoop, filled with a circle of corkboard and covered in upholstery-weight fabric.

It's hard enough keeping track of your to-do list without cobbling together eight separate post-it notes and a scribble-covered napkin from yesterday's lunch. If you have an old mirror in a beautiful frame, give the glass a few coats of magnetic primer and chalkboard paint for a sweet magnetic chalkboard to track your to-do list for the day.

Despite the digitization of nearly every aspect of our lives, file cabinets are still a necessary evil in many offices. Grab an old file cabinet at a UW SWAP surplus sale and go from drab to fab with spray paint, some wallpaper samples and a few coats of Mod Podge.

While we're on the subject of spray paint, another simple way to add a pop of color to your dreary cubicle is to pick up some knickknacks or kitschy statuettes (Beethoven bust, anyone?) and spray paint them silver, canary yellow or hot pink. Start with a pair of vintage goose bookends from local Etsy shop Working Girl Vintage. Can't you just see them in teal?


If crafting isn't your thing, you can find eye-catching office supplies and decor on Etsy or in a variety of local shops in town. Anthropologie sells beautiful pinwheel fabric push pins. The store also sells an adorable owl-shaped porcelain pencil cup and gorgeous Lineation file folders in bright colors and geometric patterns.

Visit Pop Deluxe (310 State St.) for a Jonathan Adler magnetic board in bold patterns and colors and a cheerfully bright, no-slide tape dispenser.

Target carries fun, colorful padfolios so you can show up to meetings looking hip and professional.

While there, swap out your boring black desk chair for a cheerier one in lime green.

If you're lucky enough to work from home, repurposing a desk might be just the thing for your office. Paint it ombré style in variegated colors.

Rock it old-school with a Hermes typewriter from Working Girl Vintage, while a trio of vintage wire baskets from fellow local Etsy shop Green Cricket Salvage are perfect for your incoming and outgoing mail. As summer sneaks up on us, Working Girl Vintage comes to the rescue again with a sweet vintage metal desk fan.

A few other local spots to check for inspiration: Anthology (218 State St.), Hatch Art House (1248 Williamson St.) and Pottery Barn (66 West Towne Mall).

Not a wild goose chase: Hunting is half the fun when you're spiffing up the cubicle.

Whether you prefer crafting, thrifting, or straight-up shopping, color is key for any office space.

Share on Google+

Log in or register to comment

Select a Movie
Select a Theater

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar