File Cabinet ReStyle

Newcabinet-6601A few months ago I discovered a giant file cabinet at a thrift store. I had been wanting a file cabinet for a while now and saw a lot of potential in this huge (and heavy!) one. I decided to dress it up with a can of paint and a few whimsical labels. 

Here is the 'before' cabinet. It was dirty and had sticker residue on a few of the drawers. I removed the sticker residue and scrubbed down all the drawers with paper towels and water.Collage1You'll need: File cabinet (duh!), painter's tape, 2-inch paint brush, small paintbrush, black acrylic paint (I used a small tube of acrylic black paint made by Golden), and an All Surface Enamel Acrylic paint (mine is from Sherwin Williams. Ask an associate for a paint recommendation to use on a metal file cabinet if you're unsure).

First, you will need to cover all the hardware with painter's tape. Try to be as accurate as possible, but remember that you can touch up with a small paintbrush later! Then paint 3-5 coats of paint until the color looks perfect to you! Collage2Once the drawers are painted, keep the tape over the hardware and paint the rest of the cabinet. Remove the painter's tape and paint inside the labels. 

Next, sketch out the words on a piece of tracing paper so you can better estimate how to draw the words. Lightly sketch out the words you are labeling your drawers with. I chose Listen (for my roommates sheet music), Create (for cookbooks and other DIY books), Remember (for paperwork), and Share (for odds and ends).Newcabinet-6568With a small paintbrush, slowly go over the lines until they are perfect.

Newcabinet-6618And here is the cabinet all together! 

Collage4xoxo. Kara

  • This is great. I’m looking for a file cabinet right now and this gave me a great idea!!!

  • Fantastic idea – now to persuade my husband that our filing cabinet needs a makeover!

  • This is such a great idea! Now I really want a filing cabinet in my dorm room. It might be a pain to drag up 3 flights of stairs, but completely worth it!


  • This is a great DIY! Especially if you can find an old file cabinet at a thrift store! very cheap and easy to do!

  • LOVE IT!! Thinking about doing something similar for my room <3 You always have great ideas! Amazing blog!

  • I love this! Such a good idea, never would have thought of it!


  • Love this idea!! Your handwriting is SOO much better than mine would be!!!

  • Love what you did with it, and I like how you painted on the label for each drawer!

  • Wow, I love this idea. This is exactly the way that I organize my life! It is a very intuitive way of working. I want to do this project!

  • Im a sucker for metal items. I love spray painting things.

  • I love it, if only i had the space for for something like that. I could certainly do with one to be more organised.

  • If you don’t have the time to find and repaint a file cabinet you can always buy this newly produced cabinet from IKEA

    I really like how it still has an old feel to it.

  • This is a nice thrift found! So impressed with what you made of it because it is really simple but so lovely! Your handwritting is stunning!

    Olive xox

  • Absolutely love this!! Pinned!

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  • I need a filing cabinet… I might have to try to rescue one from the thrift store!! Yours looks fantastic!
    xo, Kellee from Pirate&Lilac

  • Cute, I can use this for inspiration to restyle my old rust one I keel in the basement:)


  • OMG thank you for posting this! I have a big ugly filing cabinet that I couldn’t decide what to do with. Now I’m inspired!

  • New life goal! Find and paint a file cabinet! Who knew a file cabinet could be so cute! You go girl!

  • i totally need a cabinet! thanks for the painting idea!

  • Never thought of doing this! I see these cabinets all the time at my local second hand store! Great project 🙂

  • How adorable – I love the cursive writing! What an awesome transformation 🙂 xo Emily @

  • That’s great! 🙂


  • Awesome! My mom has an at home office and a bunch of ugly clunky file cabinets, and she has been asking me to decorate them for awhile. Perfect inspiration for this!

    Juliette Laura

  • I always adore a refurb.

    check us out? follow us back?

  • I love this and can’t wait to try it out on my own file cabinet.


  • I discovered your blog just a couple of weeks ago. My creativity has been lacking lately but now I really feel like beeing creative and making something. I love it! Thank you for all the inspiration. I’ll definitely keep following you!

  • you guys are so great at taking old items and refurbishing them! really awesome


  • what a fantab idea!!! love that you painted over the gross metal that is so standard from the 70’s til now! SHEESH!

    You made it very chic and adorbs 😉

  • love it. You can do so much with an old metal filing cabinet-they are a great find! 🙂

  • So cute! I absolutely love it 🙂


  • It doesn’t even remind me to an old filing cabinet, it just looks like a chic storage unit. If there was a smaller one, I think it would be a great idea for a makeup storage space!


  • Awesome DIY. My mum recently offered my the file cabinet she keeps in our basement, so as soon as I have time I will take on that as my next project…this was just the right pus to realize how nice it can look!

  • love this DIY! I will now start looking for one myself 😉

  • gorgeous! I have an olive green filing cabinet that was my Papa’s. This is inspiring me to clean them up and bring them into my studio!xx

  • Wow I love this piece of storage! The handwriting makes it feel so nice !!!Great works as usual.
    Thanks for all…:))))

  • That’s awesome! I never would have thought of something like that. Thanks for the DIY!

  • This is an awesome idea! I admire how creative you are! 🙂

  • I have a vintage file cabinet and been looking for something to do with it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • wow that’s an amazing idea !! so cute !
    New outfit post up:

  • Love this!! And great for extra storage.

  • Very cute! It reminds me of this dresser:

  • Love this idea. Your labels are so creative!

  • Such a wonderful idea. I have been thinking about getting a cabinet for our bills and important documents and this has inspired me to customise it to how i would want.

    thank you x

  • Love this! I’ve been trying to think of great ways to organize my teeny apartment and this would work beautifully!

  • This is such a fab idea! Another great make over!

    My list is getting longer with all the project ideas i want to do from here haha!

    Lulu xx

  • I love the contrast between the hard lines of the file cabinet with the whimsical lettering. cute!

  • Wow I love this! What a creative piece of storage! And the handwriting makes it feel so personal. Great job as always 🙂

  • That’s amazing! I’ve been wanting to do a similar project myself but those file cabinets are so expensive over here. I don’t even know why because most of them are in a pretty bad shape. How much do you think is a good deal for a file cabinet? Maybe I’m just too uninformed… I’ve seen such cabinets on eBay and markets starting from $60. Would love to know the answer! I think yours is pretty bad ass. I think it would be an amazing project to work on and it would be such a pretty addition to my home. Lovely post, dear! xo

  • Brilliant! Unfortunately my handwriting isn’t that pretty..

  • I love the labels! And I know people who just get rid of their filing cabinets because they don’t “fit in” anymore!

    Lovely idea!

  • FUN! I love that you humanized a typically boring piece of furniture, but kept it crisp and down-to-business.

  • That’s a clever idea to use the labels as a decorative element – it’s beautiful!

  • I’m in love with these steel filing cabinets. I’ve been meaning to get some of the little ones and go neon.


  • How cute! I always think that file cabinets are so boring and ugly, but you did a great job of making it look fun!

  • What an awesome idea! I feel like file cabinets can be so…dreary, but this is really beautiful! I love how you’ve done the words and how they’ll inspire you to do the things you love 🙂

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