Design-hack my cube
September 21, 2011 4:39 PM   Subscribe

What small things can I add to my work space (or change) to make my day more cheerful/more efficient/better all-around?

I have a smallish cubicle at a small company. I am allowed to customize pretty much anything that isn't nailed down, and can even be a little crazy about it as the atmosphere is casual and fun.

I recently moved to this particular desk- sorry about the quality of the photo, but you get the idea. There is a left cubicle wall (the one with papers tacked to it) the wall behind my monitors, and a regular wall on my left.

There is a shelf above my monitors and some drawers to my left, and a decent amount of footroom. In the picture, I have the flourescent light turned on directly above my monitors but I was thinking of replacing it with a small desk lamp.

Other things I'm interested in doing: adding some sort of plant or living thing, more color, organizational gadgets.

Help customize my space!
posted by rachaelfaith to Shopping (28 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
A tin of Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty

A plush Cthulhu, Nyarlothotep etc.

A crocodile plant.

Pez dispensers

Pix of loved ones etc etc yah yah ;-)
posted by elendil71 at 4:56 PM on September 21, 2011

... well, drat.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:57 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not certain how your cubicle walls are put together, so this may/may not work for you. In one cube farm I lived in for a while, it was quite easy to slide bent paper-clips up under the top of the cube wall piece and swivel it so as to hook onto the partition, and then hang framed poster from those clips. Easier than it sounds, took a few minutes is all, and I hung fairly weighty, framed posters from that partition.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:13 PM on September 21, 2011

My first thought was either a plant, or maybe a betta fish in a bowl?
posted by stennieville at 5:15 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah, Metafilter, only you would bring me duplicate plushie Cthulhus.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:20 PM on September 21, 2011 [15 favorites]

Tantrix Discovery set
posted by jander03 at 5:25 PM on September 21, 2011

I have a bracelet of sandalwood beads that I roll between my fingers when I'm thinking. That made my old office smell nice.
posted by kamikazegopher at 5:37 PM on September 21, 2011

For cheap color, decorative, handmade papers from an art store are great. You can just go for color, or get some really interesting prints.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:49 PM on September 21, 2011

I had something similar to this, which I gave away to a friend on my last day. It made me unreasonably happy.
posted by mochapickle at 6:00 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Instead of a lamp, maybe you could create a screen for that light fixture so it gives light but it doesn't shine directly at you.

You could probably get some duct metal (it's relatively cheap, available at your local home depot type store and you won't need a bunch of tools) and bend it so it folds down from that shelf. You now have a light reflector screen that you can use as a memo strip with some magnets. If you spray paint the strip with blackboard or whiteboard paint, you can use it for notes too. (if you test it, you could probably just write on the bare metal with a sharpie then wipe it off - some metal does that, depends on the coating)

If you want to get really fancy, bend the metal at a 90 degree angle for the screen and then create a small lip on the end by bending the metal at another 90 degree angle in the opposite direction - like a backwards Z shape. Now you have a pen or pencil holder that's not taking up valuable desk space.
posted by jaimystery at 6:07 PM on September 21, 2011

Sticky Stones.
Betta fish or Triops.
Snake Plant
posted by Ostara at 6:10 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

this could be fun: Back Light Your Tech In Small Spaces
posted by hms71 at 6:11 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

The backlighting is cool. Triops look like fun, too!
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:15 PM on September 21, 2011

buy a few yards of fabric that you like and staple (or pin) it up over the fabric of your cubicle wall
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:16 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

A battery-powered tabletop mini fountain and a zen garden in a tiny bowl.
posted by pink candy floss at 6:19 PM on September 21, 2011

I recently purchased a one-cup coffee brewer (recommended to me by another thread on MetaFilter). I really like it. It makes fresh coffee pretty quickly in the morning so I can start my day feeling awake. I also like the way it looks on my desk. Anyway, it's not a decor item but it is inexpensive and it can improve your quality of life.
posted by candasartan at 6:52 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I was in a cube, I pinned a large, colorful scarf along one of the cube walls. If you need space to attach other stuff, you can pin it through the fabric. You could use a large piece of fabric if you don't have a scarf to use.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:31 PM on September 21, 2011

A French Press might also be nice, along the lines of candasartan's suggestion—I have a one-cup one I can drink right out of. Also, I like folding paper cranes and putting them on my computer, and decorating my cubicle wall with postcards.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:32 PM on September 21, 2011

If I ever get a job again, and get to have my own desk, I would definitely get *nice* organizers--bamboo or something natural instead of the black plastic crap they seem to give everybody, and maybe some pretty folders if that's an option. Make sure you have plenty of hanging organizer things to keep stuff off your desk. (There's just something about having a nice open desk to work on.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:38 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Definitely a fishtank if possible. It looks like a 10 gallon would fit there, go as large as possible without interrupting your work space. Get a betta in brilliant colors and a few live plants. Let your blood pressure drop significantly.
posted by troublewithwolves at 8:24 PM on September 21, 2011

There are some nice very small (like about a foot square) refridgerators available that you could put under the desk; big enough for your lunch or a few cold drinks.
posted by easily confused at 3:23 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

A wireless camera outside the building (window ledge?) that turns one of your monitors into a window as needed.

A gentler table lamp (not office-style desk lamp) with a full-spectrum plant-friendly bulb, all resting on a doily next to a framed picture of your older relatives.


If there are strong supports above you (hidden by ceiling panels?), you might be able to hang something that can support your weight. A hammock, chair, swing, punching bag, climbing rope, exercise bar, huge hanging vines that grow into the next cubes, I don't know.

Poems pinned to the wall (to help you memorize them).

posted by pracowity at 5:56 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

A lava lamp!
posted by jgirl at 6:52 AM on September 22, 2011

the other day I replaced my chair with an exercise ball. fun to sit on, and fun to see!

also, more specifically to your picture - new lights! lightslightslights.
posted by ghostbikes at 7:06 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

other ideas:

-a fruit bowl filled with delicious fruit
-a grow-a-frog
-an ant farm
-a terrarium
-a couple people in my office have little turtles
-an aeropress
- i have a wind-up t-rex that people like to play with when they come by

i'll be taking some ideas from this thread for sure!
posted by ghostbikes at 7:12 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I added a small rug to my office and have gotten numerous compliments on how much homier it makes it (even though it doesn't match our cubicles or the carpet). You might want to double-check with your janitor/housekeeper if you have one, though, since it could cause extra work for them.

Otherwise, I just bring in little brightly colored things that are pleasing to look at for me; they're just enough to break up the monotonously neutral furniture. My two favorite things right now are a small stuffed Tonberry and this cute 8-bit flower bouquet from ThinkGeek.

What about some kind of pretty silk garland for decoration along the top of the cubicle wall? We dress up our offices for Christmas using stuff like that, but you can get less-seasonal stuff from Michaels or the like that could be quite pretty. Plus it gives the appearance of greenery without taking up desk space (or needing to be watered!).
posted by ashirys at 8:01 AM on September 23, 2011

Not so much 'decorating your cubicle' as maybe 'decorating your life': there's a company called Oriental Trading Co. (lots of cheap toys and decorations in bulk), but I'm sure there are plenty of other places that have the same sort of cheerful little goodies. They've got a ton of rubber duckies, in all sorts of styles (duckies in Santa suits! as leprecauns! as pirates! duckies duckies duckies!)

Every so often, just for the heck of it, I like to get a couple dozen and leave them all over the office, just to give folks a laugh. Silly, but it adds a little fun to the joint.
posted by easily confused at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2011

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