Living Large Tip of the Week: Cardboard Chair Mat

Inside of Belle Writer's Studio Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News by Kevin Pieper

When we were moving from the house in the city, it was quite evident that the plastic chair mat that had rested under my home office chair for a few years wasn’t coming.

It was cracked and breaking off in chunks.

I had carpet in that house, but Our Little House has all laminate, even in The Belle Writer’s Studio.

When the studio was completed in 2008, we went to the office supply store to purchase a new chair mat. They were near $100 and at the time, we really couldn’t afford that.

Our solution?

Dale measured the space under and behind my desk where the chair would roll and cut out a chair mat using heavy cardboard one of our appliances was shipped in.

It has all of the makings of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

I’ve used the first cardboard chair mat now for three years. It’s protected my floor well and sweeps up fine, even with the hair of five dogs on it every week.

It has torn, so it is time to recycle the old and replace it with more cardboard from the storage building.

Now for those of you who think a cardboard chair mat may not be pretty enough – really, how pretty does it have to be?

I was photographed for the story that appeared in Mother Earth News sitting at my desk and you would never have known I had a cardboard chair mat.

I don’t know how well this would work with carpet, particularly plush carpet, but it’s worth a shot giving a new purpose for that heavy cardboard, as well as saving you over $100 (even the “eco-friendly bamboo mats are expensive).


This post is part of the Patchwork Living Blogging Bee at Frugal Kiwi.

What’s an eco-friendly tip you have for your home office?

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30 Responses

  1. Becky says:

    I’m a huge fan of the 3Rs… the other day I came back from my walk in the neighborhood..where I found a rod iron planter (needed some TLC for sure) was at the curbside waiting to be picked up by the garbage man … Not if I had my way.. a simple sanding down and use some spray paint.. it will look great on my future patio.. I love going to g*sales or trift stores and seeing what I can reuse and make it my own.. Im pretty crafty that way… (free is a very good price) wtg kerri I love these kind of posts..

  2. judy stock says:

    Great reuse article. Brilliant idea and it saves on the cash you have to spend to equip the writer’s office.

  3. Love this. Cardboard comes in handy for so many things.

  4. Heather L. says:

    The cardboard mat is a very original and “green” idea. How many people are going to see your what’s under your office chair anyway?

  5. Brilliant! We’ve got wood floors and I need to protect them from my chair’s wheels. Right now I’m using a small rug, but the wheels keep hanging up on the edges. I’m going to keep my eyes open for a large cardboard box!

  6. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Great idea! I don’t have an office mat for my chair, but if I did, it would probably be an old vinyl off cut.

  7. Mary Brown says:

    The cardboard is a good idea and I also like using a piece of vinyl flooring. You can usually get a piece on freecycle from someone who recently had new flooring put in. If you don’t like the pattern you just flip it over to use it like it is or paint it with any design you like.

    I love the map idea. We did the walls go down to an semi-finished basement with old map someone was going to throw out. They was a local county map, ski trail map all kinds of stuff everyone always wanted to go look at the maps.

  8. Jane Boursaw says:

    That’s a great idea. My plastic mat is getting pretty shabby (it’s what – 20 years old or something like that), so will definitely keep this in mind.

    And I must add that I’d have no trouble living in that gorgeous, well-lit writing studio of yours. It just relaxes me every time I look at your photos.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Jane. I love it too. Yes, do keep it in mind. Very affordable and great for the environment. I hate to think of what it takes to make those awful plastic ones. And then there’s throwing them into the landfill when we’re done.

  9. Alexandra says:

    This is great! With so many people out there like you working to defend the environment, it’s hard to understand how the Obama Administration can take giant steps backwards, as it did today with regard to ozone.

  10. Kim says:

    Well, it’s not quite an office, but the room that’s becoming our “schoolroom” downstairs has some creepy clown wallpaper from the 1950s or so. We’ve decided that has to go, but one of the 4 walls is cheap, ugly wallboard with nothing else underneath (the other 3 walls have wood beadboard or siding). So, I’m covering over those clowns with some old-fashioned metal thumbtacks and a handful of world and state maps. The state maps were free, one world map was here when we bought the house, and another was about $4 at Wal-Mart. Cheap, educational, and useful decor!

  11. Merr says:

    I bet you could personalize these with a bit of splatter paint, or by gluing some trim or seam stitching some heavy duty threat or yarn for your office or say for a kid’s room (for those who have kids). Such a great idea!!!!

  12. Love this idea, Kerri! Cardboard is a neutral color so I can see how it would blend in with decor. After it wears out and get’s ragged, you can even recycle it, making it a perfect green solution to a simple problem- very resourceful!

  13. Sheryl says:

    What a handy idea. There’s never a shortage of heavy cardboard!

  14. Never would have thought of this one! Great idea.

  1. September 8, 2011

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  2. September 8, 2011

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