From Office to Garden: Filing Cabinet to Garden Planter


I totally snagged this wonderful project from Carole in Australia who posted her version last week. I loved this so much I went right to work with my own planter. Here's what I came up with...
The hunt for a filing cabinet took me to my nearby Habitat Restore. I found several orphaned filing cabinets, one of which was older, made of thicker gauge metal, and (most importantly) had a bottom. It cost me $15. They probably would have taken $10 but it’s the restore. They need that $5.
Step 1: Remove the drawers.
Most filing cabinet drawers are removed by fully extending the drawer and then lifting up. The drawer is then detached from the extension mechanism.
If you pull the extension mechanism out, you will notice that it stops at some point. Look for a tab on the mechanism. By lifting this tab, the drawer extension will slide completely out of the cabinet.
Step 2: Sand loose paint and rust spots.
Using 180 grit sandpaper, sand areas with loose paint or rust spots. Sand lightly over the entire cabinet with a 220 grit paper. This will help your paint to adhere to the metal. Wipe down the cabinet with a damp rag to remove all the dust.
Step 3: Prime and paint.
I used spray paint and primer found at any home improvement or hardware store. Even though the paint I used has a primer in it, I chose to use a self etching primer because I wanted to make sure my paint stuck to the metal and withstood the weather.
I also wanted a planter that looked like copper. In order to achieve this, I painted the cabinet with two coats of Forged Hammered ‘Chestnut’ and one topcoat of Metallic ‘Aged Copper.’ I thought the copper alone was too bright.
Step 4: Install some casters.
Casters are optional, however if you want to be able to move the planter easily, I recommend them. I purchased casters, stainless steel bolts, washers, and locking nuts. Each caster is rated for 90 pounds and the stainless steel hardware won’t rust. You will have to guess what size of caster is best for the size of cabinet you use.
Be sure to drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the planter before turning it upright.
Step 5: Fill the planter with soil.
Most plants used in containers do not require more that a few inches of soil. Since 12 inches of soil was really all I needed, I placed old kitty litter containers in the bottom of the planter to take up space without adding excessive weight.
The planter is now ready to fill with good container soil and plants.
Check in on my blog for additional details. Thank you Carole for your inspiration! ~Julie
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To see more: http://southernwilddesign.com/from-office-to-garden-filing-cabinet-to-garden-planter/

Have a question about this project?

3 of 22 questions
  • Gayle
    on Jul 11, 2019

    I have a black, two drawer metal file cabinet in good shape, but I want to do something creative with it and use it inside as a table, or plant stand of sorts; any ideas?

    • Paula Mathews
      on Aug 17, 2019

      Looks like you could do the same thing and cover with a lid or topper... maybe you could use it for storage

  • Rhonda
    on Jul 11, 2019

    what about holes in the bottom for drainage and inside rusting?

    Looks so nice though, great idea!

    • Lisa West
      on Mar 26, 2020

      You can use flex seal spray on the inside to keep the unit from rusting. She did drill holes. It's in the same step for adding the wheels.

  • Essie Craig
    on Feb 6, 2020

    Bottom of file cabinet is open what should I do , to cover it so that soil will not come out. Want it to use for vegetables. Please.

    • Lisa West
      on Mar 26, 2020

      You can use landspaimg fabric or screw scrap wood to it spray with flex seal so the wood and unit doeant rust or rot and make sure you drill holes for drainage.

Join the conversation

2 of 463 comments
  • Debra Lott Reilley
    on Apr 14, 2020

    Great idea. Love it

  • Gert Domber
    on Apr 14, 2020

    I WORK FOR A DEALERSHIP AND THEY REMODELED, SO WE GOT THE OLD SALES DESK'S, I GOT S SHORT ONES 3 DRAWERS ON ON SIDE AND 2 DRAWERS ON THE OTHER, I GOT 2 SETS, I USE THEM FOR MY SEWING MACHINES, SPREAD THEM APART AND PUT THE TOP ON, YOU CAN PUT THEM APART AS FAR AS YOU WANT, PLENTY OF ROOM, I HAVE 1 SET IN MY SEWING ROOM AND ONE SET IN MY SMALL ROOM OFF THE LIVING ROOM, YOU CAN USE ANY LONG BOARD AS WIDE AS THE CABINETS, I HAVE 2 LARGE ONE PAINTED RED FOR STORAGE OF BEDDING, 2 SMALLER ONES PAINTED YELLOW FOR OTHER STUFF. MY HOUSE IS 116 YR. OLD AND NO STORAGE. ONLY 3 SMALL CLOSETS IN THE BEDROOMS. SON BUILD ME A WALK IN CLOSET IN THE BASEMENT, IT IS FULL TOO. HAVE 2 SMALL CABINETS THERE TOO (BEIGE) FOR MY KNITTING MACHINE PATTERNS. I THINK I NEED TO SELL OUT,

    I'M A HOARDER, MATERIAL AND YARN.

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