Before the internet and smart phones, people used to store their important papers and files in something called a filing cabinet. Filing cabinets were essentially metal drawers that fit neatly next to your desk and hurt like hell if you happened to bang your knee on them. Dangerous as they were, these cabinets were actually quite helpful in keeping your documents organized and tidy. These days, filing cabinets are something like office furniture fossils, but we’re gonna go all Jurassic Park on them. These filing cabinet DIYs will bring this furniture into the modern age with unique and clever projects. Which one of these projects will you try?

1. Kitchen cart

Between your toaster, your microwave, your blender, and your coffee machine, counter space can become pretty sparse. This handy kitchen cart made from an upcycled filing cabinet will give you that extra room and storage, and it’s great for BBQ season, too. All you need is a large cutting board, some towel racks, spray paint, and two rolling and locking casters. Even if most of your meals are cooked in the microwave, this cart will inspire you to step up your kitchen game.

2. Functional and stylish end table

You’d never know by looking at this end table that it was actually made from an old filing cabinet. It’s amazing what some spray paint and painter’s tape can do! Outline a geometrical design with painter’s tape and use a complimentary color to accent it. If you love this design, be sure to check out #15.

3. Give vintage furniture new life

Wallpaper or contact paper are easy materials to upcycle a filing cabinet into something stylish for your room. A fresh coat of paint and this colorful, patterned paper transformed a vintage card catalogue into the perfect dresser for jewelry and accessories.

4. The perfect place to “work”

Work, go on the internet for hours on end — however you use your office, you’re going to need some sort of desk. Why not make your own? Spray paint two filing cabinets in colors of your choice. You might need to add some wood and moulding to the cabinets to get the right height. Play with customizing the handles to give the desk a uniform look.

For the top of the desk, poplar 1x6s were glued and screwed together in this project, but you can use any wood you’d like.

5. Get that garage in order!

Ugh. The garage. If you’re like me, this is where things are placed and never heard from again. I know, it sounds ominous, but really, it’s just clutter. An old filing cabinet turned on its side creates the perfect storage system for yard tools. My definition of bliss is less mess.

6. Mess-free pet zone

We love to project human emotions onto our pets, but no matter how much we want them to be neat and tidy, we need to start accepting that it is just not going to happen. This DIY will give them a nudge in the right direction, though! A single drawer filing cabinet will instantly organize your pet’s feeding area

7. Operation: hidden storage

As someone who has limited space in my apartment, I can’t tell you how much I love things that let me hide other things inside them. Take this window seat with hidden filing cabinet drawers, for example. This version looks custom made, but I bet you could easily DIY your own old filing cabinet components

8. Chalk it up

Studies have shown that chalkboard paint increases organization by as much as 200% (disclaimer: study was conducted by me and might lack any “real” evidence). However, there’s no denying that a coat of chalkboard paint will update an old filing system and make labeling its contents so much easier.

9. Before

Just looks like a pile of old filing cabinet drawers, right?


Bam! With the power of DIY, it is now a lovely and sturdy garden planter. A coat of spray paint and some planters transformed this $10 filing cabinet into something that will home all your plant friends.

10. It’s all about the legs

Legs (from another old piece of furniture or purchased from the hardware store) and a bright coat of paint really bring this filing cabinet from the ’80s to a modern piece for your home. Take a look at #14 for another project that adds legs to an old filing cabinet.

11. Another alternative to painting

A stencil and latex paint were used to upcycle this cabinet with a subtle design. I love the look of the white pattern on this gray filing cabinet. It’s sophisticated and understated.

12. Make the ultimate book nook!

Filing cabinets painted in bright colors create the perfect structure for a children’s book nook. A curtain rod and some pillows will complete this cozy spot.

13. THE storage solution

Behold, the ultimate storage solution! I mean, this is for heavy-duty, get-your-life-together organization. Two filing cabinets were upgraded with a new coat of paint. Then, inexpensive frames were mounted to the front of the cabinets to add some extra dimension and the drawer handles were replaced. The cabinets were mounted on an old bed slat, and a painted laminate shelf was added for the top. This project might require some more muscle, but it’s actually pretty cheap and easy to do!

14. Remember what I said about legs?

They really can transform a piece of furniture. This filing cabinet was actually mounted onto an old iron table (two furniture upcycles in one!). A coat of paint tied these two unlikely pieces together to create a unique project.

15. Another way to use painter’s tape

I love this diamond pattern, stenciled using good, old-fashioned painter’s tape. The wooden shelf on top adds a nice warmth to this piece, too, and creates the perfect spot for your succulents.

via diply