DIY File Cabinet Transformation

2 Materials
2 Hours
When I think of a piece of office furniture that rarely looks pretty, I immediately think of the file cabinet. It is usually some dull metal color & basically a necessary evil for file storage. I knew we would need one for our big office renovation project, but I could not let it become an eyesore in my brand new room! So I decided I would find a cheap one & see if I could pretty it up with some paint (my go-to method for all things hideous). Yall I am so happy with the results & it was super easy!!!

  • Filing Cabinet (I found mine at a garage sale for $20)
  • Spray Paint for cabinet & hardware (I used  Rust-oleum deep blue &  Krylon metallic gold)
  • 4 Table Legs (I found mine at  home depot)
  • Drill/Drill bit the size of your table legs threaded bolt portion (mine were 5/16 for example)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
Wipe Down The File Cabinet

Wipe your file cabinet down really well, mine was kind of yucky. Remove the hardware from the front of the drawers & pull out the drawers themselves. I struggled with removing the drawers for 5 minutes before I decided to let YouTube help me out! Most models have little latches on the sides by the rollers you simply pull up & the drawer releases. Mine has a metal clip type thing on the bottom of the drawer, so I had to lift the drawer up then pull it out. Heres a  little clip to help you out if you get stuck like me!
Paint The Hardware

I spray painted all the hardware & feet so they could dry a bit while I was working on the cabinet. 
Drilling Holes For Feet

After the drawers are removed flip the cabinet over to mark your holes for the feet. There's no real trick here, I just measured about an inch in from the sides & made sure all my holes were in line with each other. Also, make sure you will be able to easily screw on the nuts from the inside. Then I used a 5/16 drill bit to drill the holes. ***Normally you would want to go a size lower & tap into your metal, but in this situation that would ruin the threads on the feet.***
Painting The Latches

Once the holes were drilled I flipped the cabinet back over & tried to figure out a way to cover the thumb latch. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to detach it so I came up with a two-step process that wasn’t great but hey the job got done! The first thing I tried was taping the thumb switches off so I could spray paint them. This part sorta worked, but some gold did get on the cabinet & I had to sand it down.
Painting Around The Latches

Then, I had to figure out how to spray paint the rest of the cabinet without getting it on them. I’m going to blame the Alabama heat & lack of food on this next “brilliant” solution. I tried to saran wrap them… Yes, it looks like a mess because it was! You cant always have million dollar ideas though right?! That wouldn’t be fair to everyone else. In hindsight, I should have just painted them blue & been done with it because at the very end I had to use a little sharpie magic to color over a blue spot. If you read my  framing in a builder grade mirror post you know this wasn’t the first time a sharpie saved the day!
Attaching The Feet

My cabinet is a little longer than the average bear so it took me 2 1/2 cans of spray paint to achieve the look I was going for.Finally, when it was all dry I inserted the feet & attached the nuts to them from the inside. Then, I put all the hardware back on & sweet talked Mr. White into carrying my finished project upstairs to the office!

Avery is giving me that “mom do we really need this” look & like I told her yes we do! 
Before & After
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Lia with Southern Yankee DIY
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  2 questions
  • Lori Lori on Jul 05, 2020

    I did the same to filing cabinet last year, used the same paint, but I'm finding the paint peels off. Did you sand it prior, use a primer? Any ideas as to what's happening here it would be appreciated. Thanks 🙂

  • GMS28 GMS28 on Jul 06, 2020

    what color is that paint called, I would love to have that color

Join the conversation
2 of 38 comments
  • Madea Madea on Jul 06, 2021

    Looks great. Thanks for the idea. I think I will try it with a wood veneer.

  • Rubyskye Rubyskye on Jul 06, 2021

    Nice. I've been looking for an old 2 drawer file cabinet at thrift stores. I'd like to make a pots/pans kitchen cabinet to get all the extra stuff off stove and counter tops (small kitchen). Think I'll put rollers on it too. I like your legs idea.