A Wood File Cabinet Makeover in 3 Easy Steps

3 Hours
Give your wood file cabinet (or any wood drawer) a fabulous makeover in 3 easy steps!

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3 easy steps

Sometimes a makeover is not really necessary but just fun to do!

I think my daily make-up regime is actually pretty good.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t LOVE a makeover that makes me feel like a new woman!

In fact, I have had LOTS of makeovers myself over the years…and I LOVE them all! So fun!

Making Over Memories

A realization hit me the other day…a lot of my makeover projects start with items that once belonged to loved ones.

Do you find it hard to get rid of items that are a little worse for wear but belonged to someone special?

Guilty as charged! But I feel NO GUILT!

Here are a few of these projects if you would like to see them.

My mother’s glass luncheon plates became glass works of art.

Remember when I transformed my father’s Samsonite suitcase into a bar cart?

The rocking chair where I rocked my children for hours got a beautiful monogrammed makeover.

I even turned the dog bowl that once belonge d to our beloved, now departed, dog, into a succulent garden.

The Before

These wood file cabinets once belonged to my father. They sat beside his enormous roll-top desk. I don’t really remember him filing (not his thing!), but I do remember their presence. Like my father…strong and solid.

My mother gave these to me after he passed and I painted them black. I loved the makeover then and have used them daily in my home office. Nothing wrong with them, but I wanted to give them yet another update.

Wood file cabinets in pretty good shape.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with these cabinets. Some of the hardware is bent but it has a cool, vintage vibe.

If you want to try this project and don’t have or can’t find vintage wood file cabinets, this project works with new cabinets as well. I found this cute 2-drawer wood file cabinet on Amazon and it would work perfectly!

You can see this here.

My Inspiration

In order to change a perfectly good piece of furniture, I have to be pretty inspired by something. Turns out….it is the front of our house!

Last fall, we changed our house numbers. Previously, we had perfectly good 4″ house numbers above the door.

But they were small and actually a little difficult to read from the street.

In what felt like the most daring move ever, we replaced 4″ with 12″! And, I couldn’t be happier!

Bold, graphic, and modernizing!

Now to do the same for my file cabinets…with house numbers turned into drawer pulls!

I found these 8″ metal house number beauties on Amazon. Since these numbers will serve as the drawer pulls, it is important to use numbers that have floating spacers. You can find these numbers here.

Love these metal house numbers with spacers. You can order them here.

Six drawers need six numbers. Play the video below to see all six. Love these!

A File Cabinet Makeover in 3 Easy Steps

#1 – Start with Paint

The first step is to freshen your wood cabinet with paint. I chose my go-to shade of black – Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. (Be sure to sand and fill any holes as part of your pre-painting routine.)

For my particular project, I need the house numbers to “pop” against the black paint. So, I spray painted the black house numbers with Rust-Oleum Metallic Paint and Primer spray paint in “Titanium Silver.” So easy and quick!

You can see this paint here.
Nice contrast!

#2 Measure and Mark

This could not be easier! Attach the hardware screws to the number and place the house number on the center of the drawer. Using a ruler or tape measure, make sure the number is centered and level on the cabinet face.

Here is the easy part…Just press down! The screw will leave an impression on the cabinet front and this is where you drill. Two quicks drills and you are ready to attach. I love simple!

#3 Attach

Slip the floating spacer onto the screw, slide through the drill holes, and secure with a screw nut on the other side. Takes about 10 seconds!

The After

What a difference! Vintage meets modern in my office.

Filing never looked so fun to me!

Best part? My father’s file cabinet still reminds me of him every time I look at it. The drawers are actually easier to open now and I love the visual punch of the cabinet faces when I walk into my office.

Maybe now I will not get behind on filing!

Thanks, Daddy!


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Sonata Home Design
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • 17335038 17335038 on Sep 29, 2021

    Are the numbers deep enough to comfortably hook fingers around to open the drawer?icon

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