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Contemporary workspace with computer

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The more places I’ve worked, the more I believe this universal truth: Even when we like our jobs, we’d rather be home. A cubicle makeover will never trick us into thinking we’re lounging in stretchy pants and Netflixing on a Saturday, but it can make the nine-to-five routine more pleasant.

I’d suggest you start by looking for ways to minimize the shades of grey so prevalent in office buildings. Accents of colour may help to boost your mood and productivity – a win-win for both you and your boss. If you have a corkboard, or your cubicle walls allow for pushpins, try “upholstering” a section with fabric or wallpaper. Use grosgrain ribbon to hide the edges and keep the ribbon in place with inexpensive brass upholstery tacks. This detail makes it look finished. Break up the pattern with some inspiring images. Family or travel photos offer a midday reminder of what’s waiting for you when you get home or on your next holiday.

Vibrant desk accessories are another way to inject some life into a dull space, from mouse pads to notepads. Pick a happy shade and hunt for three to five pieces that will give you a colour-block effect. Consider a serving tray to corral all your necessities and display pens and pencils in attractive cups or small vases.

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Office lighting isn’t known for its warm, cozy quality (to put it mildly). Take matters into your own hands with task lighting, but do think outside the office-supply store. Bringing in a desktop lamp with a warm-metal finish or some mid-century modern flair will instantly elevate your cubicle game. A lamp with a ceramic base and lampshade will give you that vicarious living-room vibe, as long as you’ve got the surface space to accommodate it.

An area rug is a great way to soften a hard-edged space and add some personality, as long as your desk chair wheels will roll over it with ease. Choose a flat-weave or low-pile natural material such as jute, and measure to ensure the size is big enough for all-important chair clearance. I’m also a fan of bringing in living, breathing things, whether it’s a grouping of mini-succulents or a big tropical that doesn’t need a ton of sunlight. Place your new acquisition in an attractive planter – no green plastic pots, please.

Lastly, be a good cubicle citizen. Check with your manager and think of your office mates before undertaking any makeover in a shared open space. The goal is to make your cubicle feel like home without being sent home, much as you might secretly wish for the latter.

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to personaldesigner@globeandmail.com.

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