Metal Cabinet? Don't Toss It! Turn It Into Something Useful

Bobbi Perreault
by Bobbi Perreault
12 Hours
It's amazing what a carefully crafted finish will accomplish on old file cabinets/metal storage cabinets. Do you have any for me?
(BTW, I painted this cabinet about 7 years after I painted these floors, which I talked about here:
I just think it's a shame to waste these so sturdy storage containers. But who wants to look at them the way they come from the factory with that ugly single color paint finish. This particular storage container came from an employer of mine who was redecorating. Cost: free for the hauling. It was a horrid color though. So I painted it to match my antique white dining room set. Here's how:
Materials list:
1 roll 1/4 inch masking tape.
1 quart Zinsser 123 Primer
Dark brown latex wall paint, I used Oops paint. (mix green and red and BOOM brown)
2 cans of the cheapest white spray paint I could find
--Important-- rough linen fabric. Something with a nice vertical oriented texture.
Wood stain, I use walnut. You need a very very small amount.
A very small amount of black acrylic or whatever. You need some black paint.
Clear coat can be painted with a brush or sprayed. Clear poly.
You don't see here the first two steps. 1. PRIMER with Zinsser 123 Bulls Eye. That's the one I like anyway.
The second step, #2 is to put that dark brown everywhere. Everywhere. This is how I lost that ugly phosphorescent blue.
Now, what you've been looking at is the 1/4 inch masking tape, I masked off the "boards" my cabinet is "made" of.
Masking tape completed. Ready for spray paint. Get your plastic sheet ready and your cheap white spray paint.
The fabric makes texture out of the spray paint.
Here's the linen and the white spray paint. The process for this step is spray, hurry cover wet paint with fabric and press on. Pull off fabric.
This is going around the cabinet, spraying, putting on the cloth and making the textured imprint.
Ok, the texture is completed. Now, add the fly specks. Take a tooth brush and flick that black paint on in whatever pattern you decide.
Pull off the masking tape!
no tape.
Finally, put the stain over everything. Just paint it on, then wipe it off, it will leave all tinged with antique.
Add your clear coat which will protect all the hard work and also add a layer of distraction.
A shot of the finished cabinet from the side.
We keep tools in this cabinet, so they're handy for our projects.
I also have a tall wardrobe metal cabinet painted the same way, it makes great blanket storage.
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
Join the conversation
4 of 6 comments
  • Joanne Cole Joanne Cole on Mar 07, 2014
    I was thrilled to see the article about you. Very impressive. Signed up to follow you on here. Love this stuff. You have always had the talent. Looking forward to seeing so much more.

    • Bobbi Perreault Bobbi Perreault on Mar 07, 2014
      @Joanne Cole I was stunned at the beautiful story Ellen Leanse made my life into. And very happy to see her making such a great point. My kids did that, most of what she related came from them. I provided some facts for them.

  • Joanne Cole Joanne Cole on Mar 15, 2014
    It has been years since l last saw you so l was thrilled to see your photo.