DIY Faux Apothecary Cabinet - (Card File Chest)

9 Materials
$250
2 Days
Medium

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A 16 CUBE IKEA STORAGE UNIT? WELL I'M GOING TO SHOW YOU HOW TO MAKE A DIY FAUX APOTHECARY CABINET OR CARD FILE CHEST OUT OF IT. I HAD PREVIOUSLY USED THIS IN MY HOME OFFICE FOR STORAGE. SINCE WE DOWNSIZED, I KNOW LONGER HAVE A SPACE FOR IT. HOWEVER, I HELD ONTO IT, WAITING FOR INSPIRATION TO HIT. WE WERE IN THE FINAL STAGES OF COMPLETING OUR DIY GREENHOUSE WHEN AN IDEA BEGAN TO FORM.

16 cube IKEA unit in storage

Are you a lover of Apothecary Cabinets or do you call them Card File Chest? Anything with small drawers, even if the drawers are fake, it will catch my attention. I decided to attempt an IKEA HACK by building a DIY Faux Apothecary Cabinet - (Card file chest) out of this 16 cube storage unit. This will be perfect for storing my gardening supplies.

When we purchased the unit from IKEA, we purchased 3 door and drawer inserts to hide the stored items. Since 8 door inserts were needed for this project, it was necessary to purchase an additional 5. Thankfully, IKEA still sell the inserts.

Supplies and Tools needed


  • IKEA Kallax Cabinet - used
  • 8 door insert from IKEA (5 new ones purchased)
  • Large Bun Feet
  • Leg Mounting Plates
  • Two Paint Colors of your choice - Chalk Paint works well on this slick surface. I used a white and a grey shade of chalk paint similar to these colors.
  • Wax sealer
  • 2 - 2x4 sheets of 1/4 smooth plywood available at most hardware stores.
  • 32 - Label Drawer Pulls
  • 1' long wood screws black
  • Dark Stain - American Walnut

Tools

  • Cordless Drill
  • Belt Sander
  • Table Saw
  • Phillips Head Screw Driver
  • Paint Brush
  • Sharpie Pen
  • One sheet of card stock or heavy paper to make a 6x6 template.  

It is necessary to drill a hole the size of the screw attached to the wooden foot. You will also need leg mounting plates to attach the feet. Center the mounting plates over the drilled hole and attached with included screws. Then screw the wooden feet into place. We then moved the cabinet into the greenhouse to finish the project.

Next, it's time to paint if you want to change the color of your cabinet. At this point I have decided to make the existing cabinet look like it's two separate pieces. A larger piece at the bottom and the apothecary cabinet at the top. I painted the bottom half one color and the top half a contrasting color. I used French Linen for the bottom half and Old White for the top half. These Annie Sloan Chalk paints were some I had on hand and made the project more cost effective. The existing cabinet has a slick surface and chalk paint does stick to this surface really well. I listed a Rust-olelum brand that is easy to find above.


Next, apply wax to seal the paint

Now add full size boards to the side panels. We striped the boards using a table saw to create the trim pieces. A single board was attached at the center of the cabinet to divide the piece. Now the bottom appears to be larger than the top. The IKEA Hack is coming together. The reclaimed wood gives the bottom half a primitive, rustic feel.

In order to make the cabinet look like two separate pieces, you will want to add some additional wood and trim to the bottom half of the cabinet. I used some weathered reclaimed wood that we had left over from another project. You can purchase new boards or trim work from the hardware store.

Now it's time to work on the top half of the cabinet. This is where the Apothecary Cabinet/Card File comes into play. Because we already some of the door inserts for this piece, we choose to purchase more to create our drawers. By purchasing two 2X4 sheets of 1/4" plywood you will have enough wood to create the illusion of small drawers. The 8 door fronts are 13x13 so begin by cutting 32 - 6x6 squares. We used a table saw to strip the plywood into the appropriate size.

Then use a belt sander to smooth the edges. Although it is more time consuming, you can use a sanding block or sand paper if you don't have a belt sander.

In order to achieve a distressed look for the Apothecary Cabinet Drawers, you will want to stain each square with a dark gel stain. These are stained with Old Masters American Walnut Stain. Once the stain has dried, then paint each square to match the top half of your cabinet. I only used one coat of paint because I wanted to allow the stain to show through.  

This is an important step and will save you a lot of time and heartache. It is very hard to get the hardware installed evenly without a template.


Next create a template for your drawer fronts. Decide where you want your hardware placement and punch a hole in the paper template to mark for your pilot holes. This will assure that your hardware is placed in the exact same spot on each board.

Now you will want to drill two pilot holes in each drawer front with a small drill bit.

You want to be sure you space the wooden drawer fronts evenly on the door insert. Use wood screws that are 1 inch long to attach your hardware and your wooden drawer fronts, securing them firmly to the door insert. I used label holder pulls for my hardware. The screw goes in from the front on these label holder pulls from D. Lawless Hardware, making them perfect for this project. The same pulls are used on Our Farmhouse Kitchen Island.

Finally, you are ready to install the door fronts per IKEA instructions and your Apothecary Cabinet will be complete. I plan to add labels to the drawer pulls once I start adding supplies to the cabinet.

The upper Apothecary Cabinet Section appears to be sitting on top of a more primitive vintage piece.

I hope you like this IKEA Flip. It's exactly how I envisioned the project and am thrilled with the results. This will provide much needed storage for the greenhouse.

Thank you for stopping by. Check out How We Built Our Greenhouse Here.


Rachel

Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. More info

Top Hometalk Projects

31 Update Ideas To Make Your Kitchen Look Fabulous
30 Great Ideas For Every Pet Owner!
30 Address Signs That'll Make Your Neighbors Stop in Admiration
30 Fabulous Wreath Ideas That Will Make Your Neighbors Smile
31 Creative Ways To Fill Empty Wall Space
30 Of The Best DIY Mirror Projects Ever Made
Old License Plates Lying Around? Check Out These 28 Snazzy Decor Ideas
3 Gorgeous & Easy Projects to Help You Decorate for Fall
3 Easy Ways to Make The Cutest Coasters for Your House
Cuddling Up At Home With A Bottle Of Wine? Then Try These Projects!
15 Amazing Craft Projects That You Can Do Under 15 Minutes
Check Out These 15 Beautiful Flower Ideas For Spring
15 Amazing Things You Can Make With Dollar Store Gems
Everything Red For Canada Day
14 Cool Ways To Upholster Chairs That You Can DIY
Rachel The Ponds Farmhouse

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Go

Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Carolina
    on Jul 11, 2020

    This is absolutely gorgeous!! I love it so much I want to make one but I am confused about the top part. Are they drawers or just covers? do they open and if they do, how?

    • Rachel The Ponds Farmhouse
      on Jul 12, 2020

      Carolina,

      its 8 doors that four wooden squares attached to look like drawers. I used the IKEA door inserts that are available for the cabinet originally. You can see the original doors in the second photo.

      thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Rachel

Join the conversation

4 of 62 comments
  • Michelle Dodson
    on Jul 26, 2020

    First of all, I am completely jealous that you have a greenhouse. That being said: Wow, what a truly wonderful"hack"! - and might I add how refreshing it is to have someone use the term properly? (Painting a dresser is NOT a hack people, it's painting a freaking dresser).


    I love the end result. I have an antique oak rolltop with "apothecary" drawers and I love it! They are all labeled and I get teased that I have a drawer for Black & Blue Pens and a drawer for Red Pens (I'm a bookkeeper, so ~).


    Just lovely. Well done, you!

    • Michelle Dodson
      on Jul 27, 2020

      Yes, I do! I've always been a fan of farmhouse/rustic chic/industrial styles, and your home seems to reflect much of that. Truly lovely and you have a great eye for what an item "could" be.

  • Nan
    on Jul 27, 2020

    Looks very good!! I love it and want to do it too. Thanks for the instructions and idea.

Your comment...