DIY: Desk Mat

I came to two separate realizations the other day. The first was that my desk set-up had begun to underwhelm me. I love all my posters around my desk, and I don’t want to replace any of them, but I needed something new. The second realization was that I had waaay too many stickers, cards, and art prints in storage around my apartment. I didn’t have any idea of what to do with these things I had amassed.

Then I remembered the framed posters that hadn’t made it to my walls, mostly because I tired of their contents–and then I had an epiphany. It was, literally, the perfect DIY idea. It solved three problems at once! Splendid!

I decided to make a mat for my desk using two of the frames and a collection of the geeky art that I had in my apartment. Everything I used was in the apartment, but you guys could get the key materials for under $20. Of course, this doesn’t include the artwork. But you don’t even have to put nerdy things in the mat! You can put in photos, printed images, etc. The options are endless, as long as you think “flat”.

Just use those cheap frames you can get at Target or Wal-Mart!

I began by taking apart two of the frames. You should use the really cheap frames that have four separate edges, since it’s likely that you will need to trim it down to fit your desk. I have a really wide desk, and I still needed to cut off nearly three inches to make my mat the right size.

After I took apart the frames and measured how much I should cut off, I laid out the frame like this: cardboard backing, plastic sheet, cardboard backing. I used one of the cardboard pieces to draw a straight line down the side indicating where I should cut. I used a dry-erase marker to do this, since it would wipe right off after I was done (but it’s light blue, so you can’t see it in the picture).

Sorry for the blur :(

Then I used the top cardboard piece as a guide for my box-cutter. You will need to use something strong to cut these plastic sheets. The box cutter won’t even cut straight through it. Instead, you should score the line a few times, and then bend up the edge until it breaks off. It should break off cleanly, but in case it doesn’t, you should wear glasses–those little pieces are sharp. Or you could follow my non-safety conscious example and close your eyes and turn your head away when you snap the plastic.

The next step is to choose which plastic piece you want on the bottom (I went with the piece with more scratches), and put it flat on the ground. Then grab all the pictures or artwork you want to put inside the mat, and lay it on top. Take time to re-arrange the pieces until you like the layout. I have a pretty spaced-out design, but that’s on purpose because I want to be able to add things as time goes on. In fact, I just thought of a picture on my fridge that I want to add to the mat. And I added a bookmark in there yesterday. It’s an ever-evolving project!

I had a lot of stickers (thanks, LootCrate) that I wanted to put in, but I didn’t want all of them to be permanently stuck in place. I ended up peeling and sticking on only two of the stickers, since they were transparent but had solid backgrounds (it looked really weird just laying on the mat). For the rest of the stickers, I just trimmed a nice border around the edge. Of course, you don’t need to stick on any of the stickers, especially if you use a colored background (you can do this by add a piece of poster board to the back). I really like the look of my light wood desk, though, so I made the mat transparent around the artwork.

From here, I laid the other piece of clear plastic on top of the artwork, and secured the long sides with the edges provided by the posterboard. Since I was laying it flat, I didn’t secure the pictures at all–even though there is adhesive that won’t ruin your artwork, I was still nervous about using it.

Once I had the long edges on, I used a regular pair of scissors to cut down the short edges and put those in place. Then I took a four squares of clear packing tape, and used those to make sure the corners wouldn’t move or fall apart on their own.

My desk mat in its new home!

And then all that was left was moving my monitors so I could put down the desk mat! It looks awesome, and I am ridiculously in love with it. This was a great project because it only took me about 20 minutes to put the whole thing together, from concept to final product. And now my desk looks 1000x better! Another bonus: the fact that I love the mat means that my desk has been a lot cleaner.

Here’s an image for all you Pinners out there!

Edit: Here are pictures with more additions to the mat!

5 thoughts on “ DIY: Desk Mat

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