Extreme Makeover: Cubicle Edition

The cubicle may be the most reviled part of office life—it's cramped, it's dreary, and it leaves you exposed to the lunacy of your coworkers—but a new book by lifestyle writer Kelley L. Moore aims to make those gray walls less dull and more personalized.

Out this month, "Cube Chic: Take Your Office from Drab to Fab!" (Quirk Books, $15.95), includes 22 "inspirational" designs for sprucing up a standard cubicle, with decorating themes like golf, casino, hip-hop, and disco, and instructions for achieving each look. The Safari Cube, for instance, features a Cheetah-print desktop, tribal masks, and, for some reason, a wooden ladder to nowhere. (I've got enough useless junk in my cubicle, thank you.)

Moore makes the questionable argument that her creative cubicle designs are about more than just personal style: "If you can transform the three walls of your work area into a space reminiscent of Studio 54 or your favorite golf course, then you're almost certain to have what it takes to move up from your cubicle to an office with a window," she writes in her introduction. Yes, if you're looking to make an impression on your boss and colleagues, the Pub Cube, complete with bar stools and a neon beer sign, or the Nap Cube, a George Costanza number with a mattress under the desk, are sure to do the trick. And here I thought career advancement was tied to job performance (and office politics).

As imaginative as they are, the cubicles pictured somehow still feel...like cubicles. On the other hand, the designs are definitely not drab. And a little decorating project could make for a good way to procrastinate. So maybe I should go look for that ladder...

How much effort have you put into decorating your cubicle? Does your company allow elaborate decorations?

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  • Ed

    Funny how working in a manufacturing company gives a different light to what is allowed and what is not. Because the factory floor follows '5-S' the office staff does as well. We are allowed to have 6 personal items out and all must be on the desk. Nothing can be attached to the wall and there are other rules like
    - Only one calendar of any type may be displayed on the desk.
    - All window shades will remain drawn so as to give uniform appearance from outside.
    - Shared printers must have all 'non-printer' items labeled and placed on yellow tape markers for that item (stapler on the stapler shape and hole punch on it's shape, etc).

    How you ask do you put up with this? Well, after a fight from many, we decided that our jobs were more valuable than the right to decorate cubes. Go figure?!

  • Kurt von Ahnen

    While at this point in my life, I am free from the cube... when I was a cube guy I made it my own. In fact, the more they hated it - the more I dressed it. I was an active motorcycle roadracer then... so I'd have helmets - leathers - bike parts as trophies - posters - and yes... I even did the dress it up like the livingroom gig. (Loveseat, floorlamp, endtable)

  • greg

    cubeland is what it is. a place to work.
    got a few pix of my girls up and a calendar from our Japanese distributor.
    Would I dress it up? with what time? I'm too busy working.
    I just want them to replace the carpet which is stained w/ coffee and whatnot.

  • Vicki

    I prefer working in companies where "management" doesn't mind how much people decorate their cubicles. I recall one job interview years ago - I knew I didn't want to work there when I realized that each space seemd to contain a plant, a coffee mug, or a photo (but no more than one of the above). At the next company where I interviewed, one person had a 6-foot-tall inflatable Gumby. I took that job and stayed there for the next 6 years (until I was laid off).

    In the past I've decorated my cubes. I even had a small foldiing foam loveseat once. If you're going to spend 8 or more hours a day, 5 days a week, in this dumb box, it might as well be comfortable.

  • Carol

    "And here I thought career advancement was tied to job performance (and office politics)."

    Oh, yeah, and the sheer paranoia of your boss.

  • Mike

    This has to be a dumb book for ppl who has nothing to do. ...

    I have worked an independent contractor for yrs. ... Most of the stuff that I carried is in the duffel bag and my backpack. ...

    When its time for one to leave, most mgmt want ppl to leave w.o. any emotional event.

    Always believe in carrying light and move fast.