Filing Cabinet

Giving Your Filing Cabinet a Sufficient Makeover

There are some things at home that cannot be renovated, you can only buy a new instead. For example, it concerns mattresses. It is recommended to use any model no longer than 10 years and primo saturn mattress will definitely cope with its task to the fullest.

But when it goes about having a DIY team took then filing cabinet and giving it a nonsense makeover – with some fresh inspiration may be funny and cost less. A little effort is needed to turn something destined for the trash into a treasure.

Quick project guide

Hard labor: 4/10 

Skill level: 3/10 

Time needed: about two to three hours (excluding drying time) Total cost:  ± $700 (second-hand filing cabinets cost ±$500, additional materials ±$200) Alternative materials:  plywood or pine (for work surface, see ‘workshop on wheels’, overleaf). 

Project notes

• When buying a secondhand filing cabinet remember to check that the drawers slide in and out easily. If the drawer runners appear rusted and have trouble opening, a lubricant such as Q20 might help

• Second-hand filing cabinets do not always come standard with the framework needed for hanging files. If you need to hang files, mark it as a requirement and ask the supplier to fit a framework, if possible. Alternatively, you could fill the drawer with standard filing boxes available at most stationers. 

• Some filing cabinets have a solid base at the bottom that would be necessary if you wish to add feet or castors to the cabinet. If it does not have a solid base, but only a framework, fix the cabinet onto a piece of wood, onto which you can fasten the castors or feet.

The freestanding kitchen storage unit

Shopping list

• old filing cabinet 

• 600 grit sandpaper 

• multipurpose primer 

• white low-sheen enamel paint (Plascon Velvaglo) 

• small paintbrush 

• foam paint roller and tray 

• mineral turpentine 

• masking tape 

• four metal legs 

• appropriate bolts and nuts 

• silver vinyl


• putty knife 

• soft cloth 

• sanding block 

• craft knife 

• electric drill 

• drill bit (for bolts) 

• marker 

• scissors

Get started

1.  Scrape off all old price labels and stickers with a putty knife.

2. Remove the glue residue and any other greasiness with mineral turpentine and a soft cloth.

3. Lightly sand the cabinet and drawer fronts to create a slightly rougher surface for the paint to bond to. Dust the cabinet with a soft cloth and use an old paintbrush to get into the nooks and corners.

4. Remove all hardware such as locks or handles and carefully cover all those pieces that cannot be removed, with masking tape.

5. Paint the cabinet and drawers with a thin layer of multipurpose primer and leave it to dry thoroughly. If the inside of the cabinet and drawers, especially the drawer runners, are still in a good condition, leave them unpainted. It might get difficult to open and close the drawers once the paint has penetrated the mechanical system of the runners.

6. Paint the cabinet with two to three layers of enamel paint, leaving each layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next.

7. Once the cabinet has completely dried, remove all the masked areas and neaten with some mineral turpentine and a soft cloth.

8. Carefully turn the cabinet upside down to attach the feet. Mark the screw-holes with a marker and drill holes into the base of the cabinet. Use the bolts and nuts to fasten the feet to the base. Lift up the cabinet and place it onto its feet.

9. Draw the desired designs out onto the back of the silver vinyl and cut them out with a pair of scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat. First, plan the exact placement of all the designs before carefully sticking them onto the cabinet.

TIP: The drawers can now be used to store pots, plastic containers or even large jars filled with rice, flour, and sugar. Cleverly utilize the hanging files to hang kitchen cloths (table and drying) or to hang your collection of recipe books on for easy access.