Workplace

He couldn’t go to the cabin, so he brought the cabin to his cubicle

"Building forts” has long been a passion of Lucas Mundt's. Now, his employer plans to give out $200 stipends for cubicle decor.

Cubicle designed like a cabin

Lucas Mundt scoured Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to complete his masterpiece.

Photo: Mike Beckham

It took a little work to get viral cubicle-decorator Lucas Mundt on the phone. On Monday, he was taking a half-day to help a friend fix his laminate floor. Tuesday, I caught him in the middle of an officewide Pop-A-Shot basketball tournament. His employer, the Oklahoma water bottle-maker Simple Modern, was getting rid of the arcade-style hoops game, and “glorious prizes and accolades” were on the line, Mundt said. (CEO Mike Beckham was eliminated in the first round, I heard from a source.)

Why did I want to talk with Mundt? His cubicle astonished nearly 300,000 Twitter users this week after Beckham tweeted out photos of it converted into what can only be described as a lakeside cabin motif. Using leftover laminate flooring that he found on Facebook Marketplace, Mundt created the appearance of a hardwood floor, and he carefully applied contact paper to give his cubicle walls, desk and file cabinet the look of a cozy cabin. The space heater that looks like a wood stove? Purely decorative: Mundt runs hot. The two fake mounted animal heads? They’re “kind of ironic,” said Mundt, who’s never gone hunting.

“I love being in the mountains,” said Mundt. “Love camping. Love hiking.”

Loving the outdoors is one thing; spending 12 hours on the weekend scoring mostly secondhand decor, including light fixtures, a leather chair and a faux sheepskin rug, is another. On Sunday night, with Beckham’s blessing, Mundt went into the office to remove the ceiling tiles above his cubicle and hang a large chandelier. It’s remote-activated, Mundt said.

This isn’t the first time Mundt’s handiness has wowed his colleagues. As a gift on Boss’ Day, Mundt set up a button at his manager’s desk that would shut the door to his office.

And the cubicle didn’t surprise old friends of Mundt’s, some of whom came across the photos and messaged him that “this is the most on-brand thing” for Mundt, who’s always been handy and loved to build forts while he was growing up in Illinois. As a ministry student at Mid-America Christian University, Mundt even built a 10-by-12-foot screened-in porch on a balcony he shared with a neighboring dorm room. Knowing he wasn’t allowed to make any permanent changes to the balcony, Mundt built the porch overnight.

“I think I was too impressed to get anyone in trouble,” Mundt’s then-resident director messaged him last week, recalling the porch after he saw photos of Mundt’s tricked-out cubicle.

Cubicle designed like a cabin Mundt removed the ceiling tiles above his cubicle and hung a large, remote-activated chandelier.Photo: Mike Beckham

Mundt didn’t become a minister after graduating, and instead went into IT security in the oil and gas industry. When Mundt was between jobs last summer, some friends hooked him up with a temporary warehouse role at Simple Modern, as the company dealt with a manufacturing issue. He quickly became the project manager on the job, “I think because I was, like, 12 years older than the next person,” Mundt said with a laugh. After that project was done, Simple Modern kept Mundt on as a logistics analyst.

“I got to just see the culture of the company, even at the warehouse level, and the fact that all of their employees were coming in to work in this hot warehouse on a rotational basis to fix these things,” Mundt said. “The CEO would get in the line fixing these straws with these high schoolers.”

Beckham certainly takes pride in building a positive work culture. His last venture, the retail auction site QuiBids, was successful enough that he was able to co-found Simple Modern without outside investors.

“Because I don’t have to be as profit-driven, I can just be like, ‘This is fun. This adds to people’s quality of life,’” Beckham said. “It’s just a goal of creating a work environment where people feel like they can enjoy their time at work as much as they enjoy their time outside of work.”

For that reason, now that he’s seen what Mundt created, Beckham is planning to give each employee $200 or $300 to decorate their space. And Mundt has been helping colleagues brainstorm their own tricked-out workspaces. Some of the more promising ideas include a beach theme and a backyard barbecue aesthetic, he said.

So, with so much to retweet on Twitter, why did Mundt’s cubicle go viral? Beckham thinks it’s because of the way the last two years of remote work have changed workers’ relationships to their offices.

“We’re working in spaces that are comfortable to us, that we control. Offices are typically these sterile environments where we don’t feel as connected,” Beckham said. “Now, people are going back to the office. It really resonates, this idea of humanizing and making your work environment a place that you like to go, as opposed to a place that you have to go.”

That likely rings true for Mundt, who for various reasons has moved apartments five times in the last year and a half. “I haven’t really been settled enough to really establish myself that long,” Mundt said. “My office is way more detail-oriented than my apartment.”

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