Do you have a boring metal file cabinet you want to makeover and do you want a few organization tips? Then read on, friend!
Are you like me? Do you like to do a big sort and toss the beginning of each year? There is just something special about a fresh new year that always makes me want to do this. Do you like to do it too? Oh, good, then please join me for this easy project!
Since I work from home, I decided my workspace was the best place to start organizing. My office is relatively tidy, but there were a few stacks of papers sitting on shelves and in a couple of bins. I had a total “light bulb” moment when I remembered that I had an old file cabinet sitting in the garage collecting dust!
I’m so glad I didn’t donate this file cabinet when Mr. Man didn’t want it anymore. He reorganized his home office when we had the bamboo floors installed in 2016. So needless to say it was a bit dusty from sitting in the garage.
Since we are getting ready to put our house up for sale, I wanted to organize my home office so it will show well once it’s on the market.
Time to Organize
The stacks of papers weren’t that hard to sort. It just took time to go through everything and group the paperwork accordingly and toss what wasn’t needed.
I’m the nerd in our home, and I pay the bills and do the budget, so I had a stack of that stuff as well in my office.
There was also a wooden crate sitting on the floor with all of the paperwork for our tree farm and the farmhouse we’re building. Let me tell you, that poor crate was at capacity!
To make sorting more manageable, I used three bins from Dollar Tree and the wooden crate. Placing all four of them on the coffee table in my office I started by labeling each as follows: blog, farmhouse, and household (the wooden one was for the tree farm) this step is crucial in sorting.
Then I just went stack by stack and sorted them into their appropriate bin. Once everything was sorted, I created individual file folders and then sorted the papers into each file folder accordingly.
I completed this quickly and was ready to start the makeover on the file cabinet. Since I wanted the file cabinet to match the shelves I redid for the office last year, I knew white chalk paint and decoupage was what I would use.
Thankfully I had all of the supplies I needed on hand. Plus I even found four casters I could add to the file cabinet to make it easy to move around.
Since I had never painted metal with chalk paint, I Googled it and found that it worked well, so I figured I would give it a try! One article even said it covered rust (see photo below) which is great because there were a few rusty spots on the file cabinet. If the rust does show back up, I will paint that area again!
- Metal file cabinet
- Chalk paint (your choice of color)
- Paintbrush or roller (I started with a brush and moved to a roller)
- Wrapping paper
- Mod Podge
- New pulls for the drawers (optional)
- New drawer labels (if you want them) I made mine with wooden ovals, chalkboard paint, and stick on labels, and a Sharpie
- Scissors and razor knife (to trim the wrapping paper once applied)
- Tape measure
- Casters (if you want to add wheels)
- Two wood pieces cut to size to attach the casters to the bottom of the file cabinet
- Screws to attach the wood for the casters to the bottom of the file cabinet
- Drill with appropriate bits or screwdriver
- Glue gun/sticks to attach the wooden pieces to the front for labels if you opt to make new ones
- Cleaning supplies – rag, bucket, mild detergent
Let’s get started on the file cabinet makeover!
First, clean the file cabinet to remove the grim, then rinse it with a clean rag moistened with water. Let it dry completely. Remove the handles and the label pieces. I opted to remove the lock on mine since I wouldn’t need it. I covered the lock hole with white stickers on the inside and outside.
If you aren’t adding casters, then please skip to the next section.
Second, attach the casters to the two pieces of wood you cut to size for the bottom. There are different types of casters so be sure to follow the installation directions that came with them.
Third, carefully flip the file cabinet upside down to add the casters to the bottom (remember the drawers will slide in an out so be cautious when doing this).
Fourth, attach the wood pieces with the casters to the bottom of the file cabinet with the screws. I predrilled the holes in mine so that screwing through the wood and metal would be quicker. Be sure to follow all safety precautions if you decide to do this!
Painting the Exterior and Completing the Drawers
Y’all, the chalk paint went on beautifully! I started by brushing it on; then for the second coat, I opted to use a small roller. Let the first coat dry before applying the second coat. Then seal the chalk paint with your preferred method. FYI – I did not seal this yet as I’m not sure if I want to use the FolkArt Home Decor varnish or wax. No need to paint the drawer fronts if you are going to decoupage them.
The matte finish of the chalk paint looks gorgeous on the file cabinet! I love the texture it has that almost makes it look like painted wood!
Now for the fun part, decoupaging the drawer fronts!!!
Start by measuring the drawer fronts then cut the wrapping paper 2 inches larger to allow it to wrap around the edges of the drawers.
Next, evenly apply the Mod Podge with a brush to the drawer front and around edges. Then carefully begin adding the wrapping paper starting at the top and smoothing it as you go to remove wrinkles as you work your way down the drawer. Do this gently as you don’t want to tear the wrapping paper.
Since this was cheap wrapping paper, I was scared I was going to rip it if I worked on the wrinkles too much, so there are a few tiny ones on the drawer fronts. But as the Mod Podge dries, they tend to become less noticeable.
After adding the wrapping paper to the front of the file cabinet drawers, begin carefully working and folding it around the edges adding more Mod Podge if needed. Be sure to smooth and tuck as you go (kind of like wrapping a gift). Then carefully cut away the excess wrapping paper with the scissors or razor knife to make a clean edge on the wrapping paper.
Completing the Drawers
After you have applied the wrapping paper to both of the drawer fronts, you will need to add a final layer of Mod Podge to the top of the wrapping paper to seal it. Apply two coats of Mod Podge allowing it to dry between each coat. Remember to apply it on the edges as well to seal these areas too.
Once the file cabinet drawers are dry, add the drawer pulls. Carefully pierce through the wrapping paper where each hole is on the drawer fronts.
FYI – You may need to make adjustments for new pulls like I did. No worries though, as this is a simple fix. I reused the screws from the original pulls and placed small pieces of wood on the inside of the drawer to stabilize them.
To create new labels for the drawers, I used two small wood ovals I had left over from a previous project and painted them with several coats of chalkboard paint. Initially, I was going to use chalk to label each drawer but decided to use some label stickers I had instead. Chalkboard paint isn’t needed unless you want to write on them with chalk.
Once the ovals were dry, I attached them to the drawer fronts with hot glue. I hand-lettered the stick on labels for each drawer and added them to complete the look.
I couldn’t be happier with how this file cabinet makeover came out. Now I have a functional AND beautiful file cabinet to help me stay organized in my home office! Remember, useful doesn’t have to be boring!
Don’t forget to pin this image to save this project for later!
So What’s Next On the Blog?
I’ve got a beautiful garden path project for you! You can complete this super easy project in a weekend!
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In Loving Memory
On February 2nd, my beloved dog, Dale crossed the rainbow bridge. She was my constant companion, co-pilot, and DIY helper. I will miss you forever my sweet little “Betty Boop.” Run free and healthy in Heaven, precious one!
My heart is heavy without her, but I know she would want me to live in the moment as she did. I promised her I would do my best to do just that. I love you, Dale.