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

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Carolina
    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
      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

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