Metal filing cabinet makeover: Have you ever done anything other than spray paint a filing cabinet?
May 10, 2012 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I want to purchase a cheap metal filing cabinet on craigslist and then restore it into something awesome.

I would be happy to just spray paint it, but that is still pretty drab, and I was wondering if anyone had done anything more dramatic and how that dramatic change turned out?

I'm thinking of things like contact paper, unique handles, etc.
posted by troutforbrains to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Look on Pinterest
posted by radioamy at 8:42 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I saw, on some design/talk show I think, where they used two different tones, or finishes (gloss/matte?) of spray paint in the same/similar colours. The second one was applied using lace as a stencil.

This was it. You might have to sand first.
posted by sarae at 8:44 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Searching for DIY jobs done on dressers is probably a good source of filing cabinet inspiration.

This makeover with fake-wood contact paper strips in different shades is pretty rad. Maybe painting the sides of the cabinet in aqua or white, and doing this to the drawer fronts? Or the sticky paper can be cut into more elaborate designs.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:53 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

The look and feel of the environment or theme you're going for can affect the choice of finish you use.

Steampunk? Wood and brass. Cyber? EL Wire on gloss black. The environment you're fitting the finished piece into will make a massive difference in the supplies you use when crafting it.
posted by GJSchaller at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2012

How about ombre drawers—each in a slightly different tint.
posted by bcwinters at 9:04 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I really like this filing cabinet turned giant planter.

I'm thinking it might even be big enough to hold bamboo that won't take over the neighborhood!
posted by 3fluffies at 9:19 AM on May 10, 2012

While I haven't done it myself, I do love ones that I have seen that are covered in fabric. There are so many fun quilting fabrics out there, this could go in lots of different directions.
posted by freezer cake at 9:27 AM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you explore the DIY part of the site that pseudostrabismus mentioned, there are a few other ideas for filing cabinets specifically that look pretty good.
posted by peppermind at 9:29 AM on May 10, 2012

I'd step back and reframe the problem.

Do you want an old steel filing cabinet that looks cool/interesting/fun?

Or do you want a cool/interesting/fun way to store your files?
posted by notyou at 10:13 AM on May 10, 2012

Stencils and spray paint.

Also check out the hardware at Home Depot, Lowe's, whatever for cool drawer pulls or knobs.
posted by pised at 3:38 PM on May 10, 2012

I have spray painted, and brush painted, file cabinets a few times.
You should definitely go to a good paint store, and talk to someone who knows what they are talking about, before you start painting file cabinets. You definitely need primer. I have had several failed efforts at it, where the paint begin to peel off within a few months or so. File cabinets do not hold paint well.
posted by Flood at 4:38 PM on May 10, 2012

Late to the game here, but I plan to do something like this in my garage: Apartment Therapy link
posted by Maarika at 8:27 PM on May 11, 2012

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