Quick and easy ways to customize your cubicle

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shutterstock_97328402The modern cubicle may have come a long way, but that doesn't mean it isn't still the worst ever work environment (seriously, who actually finds inspiration while crammed inside of a box?). Thankfully, your prison cell cubicle doesn't have to be the most mundane place on the planet. Instead of dreading the spot where you spend at least eight hours of your day, make it feel more like home instead. Here are some tips to get you started.

Walls

If these walls could talk, they wouldn't. Because they're not actually walls. Most likely you're dealing with some kind of panel or cushiony partition, standard cubicle-style. However, there are quite a few upsides to the curse of the cube, like the fact that it's super easy to work with on a decorating level.

Posters are perhaps the most obvious addition, but they tend to make even the classiest digs feel like a college dorm room. Still, if you can't live without an endless, glossy sea of motivational quotes and terrible action flicks, you can give them an immediate pop by placing them in frames. For some fun, frame-able art, you should check out Society 6 and AllPosters. For those who crave consistency, prints are an even better option, as you can buy them in various sizes and coordinating themes-frames are good idea here too, but smaller sizes also look nice with a simple tack. You'll find a never ending supply of prints over at Etsy.

If you're itching for something a little more unique, look no further than your local fabric store (or try online shops like Spoonflower and Umbrella Prints to create faux wallpaper). Make sure you measure your cubicle walls first, and choose something lightweight to ensure a hassle-free application. If your cubicle has a cushiony texture, you can simply tack the fabric onto its corners. For smoother panels and firmer surfaces, use liquid laundry starch to create a more natural look. This guide from Apartment Therapy breaks it down step by step.

Floors

Very few people think of decking out their floors at home, let alone the boring old surface in the office. And it's by far one of the easiest changes you can make, as the only thing required is a little bit of shopping around for a solution that suits your style. Rugs are always a good idea, especially if you have hard flooring in your cubicle. Just keep in mind that it's best to go with something flat-woven, especially if you plan on placing the rug beneath your chair (even if your chair doesn't have casters, it'll be easier to slide back and forth). Outdoor rugs are actually a great choice for this, and are much easier to clean pesky coffee stains from. And if you're worried about your floor selection clashing with your new fabric faux wallpaper, you can stick with something super basic like a bamboo mat. For stylish, affordable options try IKEA or Home Depot's Home Decorators Collection.

Furniture

When the chair in your cubicle makes you miserable, don't think twice about ditching it. But before you go and splurge on the latest ergonomic design, see if you can get your office to foot the bill. If expensing isn't an option, check for online deals at eBay and Craigslist or scope out something sturdy, yet cheap like the MARKUS chair from IKEA. And don't stop with your derriere, either. Depending on the size of your cube, you may be able to fit cocktail end tables, a small bookcase, plant stands, and even additional seating for happy hour impromptu meetings. Scour your local thrift store for quirky pieces and check out discount shops like Home Goods.

Lighting

There may not be much you can do about the awful overhead lighting, but you can certainly boost the mood in your cube by bringing in a few accent lamps. Find a desk version or laptop light that strikes your fancy, and a coordinating floor lamp. Make sure you pay attention to which type of bulbs you're using (stray from anything too harsh; a soft glow will help keep you calm) and take special note of placement. Avoid putting lamps directly in front of your desk or computer to avoid eye strain.

Accessories

Now that you've customized the big stuff, it's time for the fun part. Whichever accessories you choose to display around your office will say the most about your personality. But before you get too carried away with your favorite art and action figures, be sure to check with HR about restrictions. It's best to refrain from showing off anything potentially offensive (save that stuff for the man-or lady-cave). Family photos are an almost obligatory addition, but you can make these look even better by hanging up them up or finding mismatched frames for your desk. Plants and fish (assuming your office allows it) are excellent choices for sprucing up your small space. Just make sure you choose greenery that can handle an indoor environment (bamboo is always a fun, low maintenance option)-and remember to keep it watered! For truly nerdy office accessories, check out Think Geek.

Stacy Warden has been a freelance writer since 2006. She deals in tech and food - an odd combination, but it keeps her sated. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.

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Contributor

Stacy Warden

Stacy is a contributing editor of the Pluralsight blog and has worked in publishing since the dawn of the iPhone. Currently, Stacy deals in tech and education--a combination that she finds absolutely fascinating. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.