5.05.2014

File Cabinet Update

Have you ever looked around your house and realized something you have is incredibly ugly? And it's not a new thing, it's something you've just had forever and since you've had it so long, you kind of get immune to its appearance. It's just always been that way and you walk past it every day and never give it a second thought. Like that chair the kids destroyed with milk and Play Dough or that awful CD storage shelf thing you had in your college dorm that you just haven't parted with yet. That was the case with our file cabinet(s).

We've had one file cabinet in our office since before we were married. I think we each brought one to this relationship from our college days (when you actually kept paper bank statements and pay stubs) and since we functionally really did need one as serious adults with serious adult papers, one made it into the office.  And for years it held our taxes and gave us a place to set a drink while we were on the computer (hence the rust... the better looking one was in the garage). But it was ugly.
That's nice, eh?

So one day last week I finally did something about it. I emptied out 2010's taxes and lugged the rusted metal box to the garage. I then proceeded in the same way I do for almost every other project... What can I use that I already have? Here's what I had:
  • old wood bed slats
  • laminate shelf from garage cabinet
  • cheap picture frames
First, I removed the handles and locks from the file cabinets. Handles came off with just a couple screws. The locks took a little more finesse, but came out pretty easy.

Then, I cut some leftover chipboard (I think that's what it's called) from the toy box makeover to fit inside 4, 8" x 10" picture frames. I took the mattes and glass out and just framed the chipboard. These are the cheapest plastic frames you can buy from Walmart. I got them for my college apartment and never got rid of them. They worked great!
I used Gorilla Glue Epoxy to glue the chipboard to the frames and the frames to the file cabinets.

Once the epoxy was dry (dried quick) I gave both cabinets with frames attached a coat of spray primer. I used Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer. You can buy it right by the other spray paints at Home Depot.

Once that was dry, I gave it a really quick light sanding to knock off any of the grit from the primer. Then I spray painted everything white and drilled holes for the hardware. Maybe I'm not using the right kind of bit, but I find to get through metal, it's much easier to use a much smaller bit than you need to drill a pilot hole, then switch to a larger bit. Just a little tip. :)

Now, it's time to brag. I got my handles on Target clearance for $3.08 a set! Woo hoo! Love Target clearance.
Also, while all of this was going on, my assistant was hard at work building his "invention". Note to self: invent something that will start screws for kids. :) We still have it proudly displayed by the front door. I'm sure the UPS man thinks we are nuts.

After the hardware was attached I wasn't liking how it still looked like frames glued to file cabinets. So, I caulked all of the seams from the picture frames to the file cabinets. It looks amazing now! So clean and really like moulding. Plus, caulk is cheap. ha.

After that, I painted this shelf we had in our garage Rust-Oleum Hammered Copper. Honestly, after I painted it I thought, "this looks like brown paper bag, I'm going to have to redo it." But it's really grown on me, and looks much better paired with the finished cabinets than it did laying in my yard. :)

Then, I cut a small frame for the cabinets to sit on out of old bed slats. I did this for a few reasons. One, I wanted the finished product to be the same height as our desk. Two, since I didn't want to cut the laminate shelf I was using for the top (there would have been a raw particle board end if I did), there was going to be a gap in between the cabinets and I wanted that to look more purposeful. And three, I wanted to test out my mitering skills. ;)


I was pretty proud of myself. Not perfect, but pretty close!
 I assembled the whole frame using wood glue and a couple nails.

Last thing I did was cut a small shelf to fit in the space between the cabinets.

So that's it. For this project I purchased 2 cans of spray paint, caulk, and hardware. I literally had everything else in my garage. So get creative! What do you have laying around that you can revamp into something more than garage clutter? My old taxes have never looked so stylish.

20 comments :

  1. This is simply GENIUS!!!!! May have to copy this idea! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Vel! Copy away and then send me pictures! I want to see :)

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  2. This is amazing, Sarah! A true life hack right here; and you impress me with your go-get-em spirit...and your savvy with power tools. Pinning! #youremyhero

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    1. Awww, thanks Lauren! I like to say that most of my motivation is "going green" and using what you have... but in all honesty, most of the time I just don't want to get dressed to go to the store. LOL So I just look around and see what will work. :)

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  3. This is THE best file cabinet makeover I have ever seen...hands down! Your handle choice is perfect too! I have an u-g-l-y file cabinet also and I think we've become immune to it as well. Thanks for the motivation to do something with it!

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    1. Thanks Wendi! I really like how it turned out too. Looks so much more like furniture now and not another thing cluttering up the office. :) Get some epoxy and cheap frames and go at it. :)

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  4. This is awesome! While we don't have room for the full unit you have here, my two drawer filing cabinet has seen better days and just looks sad and pitiful next to my desk in my dining room. Can't wait to update the fronts of them with this frame idea! - Shawna

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    1. Hi Shawna. Thanks! I know... mine looked so bad before. I don't know why it took me so long to do something about it :) Good luck with yours. I'm sure it's going to come out great.

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  5. Last summer I painted and redecorated our den and back porch, and this week I finished reorganizing my carbon steel filing cabinet (and laughed that indeed I did still have paper copies that ended in 2011 when you can get most everything online...) and thought to myself that in this new room this file cabinet looks awful in here - and like you I am all about reusing what I already have laying around the house or can get on the cheap at garage sales. LOVE your tip on caulking to make the frame lines appear more clean. Thank you for this great idea!!!

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    1. Hi Brooke! You're welcome. I know... file cabinets really are ugly, aren't they? haha And yes, the caulk is definitely the trick! Did wonders in making everything look more solid and clean. Thanks for letting me know and stopping by :)

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  6. Thank you for sharing this idea! These metal file cabinets really are an eye sore, but still useful! I just re-did mine last night. I just bought a couple pieces of trim instead of a picture frame and cut the angles myself, but it worked just the same. : )

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    1. You're welcome! And good for you for using trim and doing it yourself. I bet it was cheaper than picture frames would have been and I'm sure looks fabulous. Thanks for the sweet words!

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  7. I might have to update my filing cabinet in my classroom! Surely no one will mind something looking a bit nicer :)

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    1. Do it! It's so easy and it looks so much better :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. What type of paint did you use for these metal filing cabinets? Did you wipe them down with anything special before painting them? Never done anything like this before and afraid of ruining them and having it thrown in my face for failing by DH.

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    1. Hi! I used Rust-Oleum spray paint. The can will say "for metal, plastic, etc.." Just pick one that lists metal. It will stick beautifully. If your file cabinet is not rusty, no need to wipe it down with anything. Mine was rusty so I sanded the rusted parts a bit to smooth them out. Just make sure your surface is clean and dry when you start and do several light coats of paint. Let it dry in between coats. The first and maybe even 2nd coat should not cover completely. This will prevent drips and a sticky finish. I hope that helps! You can do it! If you're unsure, practice a bit on a scrap piece of something.

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  9. I am working on doing this. I decided to use a off white textured spray paint though. It looks awesome.

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    1. Thanks! I bet the textured look is going to be nice. :) Everyone keeps posting such good ideas. I might need a few more file cabinets.

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  10. Love this where can I find the chip board?

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    1. Home Depot by the MDF. 1/4" plywood would work too :)

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