Top News

Filing away an inexpensive DIY idea


You know I love nothing more than snooping around somebody’s house and rescuing something old so I can give it a new life. So when I spotted an old beige two-drawer filing cabinet in a client’s basement, I suggested we dress it up to use in her teenage daughter’s bedroom.

I think a lot of people have unused filing cabinets in their basements these days, like sad relics of a time before the convenience of cloud storage. (I own filing boxes and file-sorters, but not an actual metal filing cabinet . . . yet . . . much to the chagrin of my paper-loving bookkeeper. Those things are expensive.)

I knew I could paint the whole thing to make it cuter — it definitely couldn’t stay blah ’90s office beige — but I wanted to try out a new treatment by using fabric on the fronts of the drawers. There were so many cute options, but I settled on a fun doughnut print ($9 for two fat quarters).

I pulled out the plastic handles and I hot-glued the fabric to the front of each drawer, trimming it down to fit and wrapping it around the edges to secure it. Then I decided it needed to feel stiffer, more like paint, so I brushed on three or four coats of Mod Podge. This also helped the fabric adhere to the shiny metal of the drawers.

Now, this wouldn’t be a good solution for drawers you yank open several times an hour, as the fabric wrapped around the edges makes the drawers a little slower to open. But it’s fine for a use like this, where the drawers won’t need to be opened that frequently.

The only issue was that one of the drawers had a small raised keyhole, and there was no clear way to remove the lock. Instead of messing around with it, I covered the bump with a little felt rosette that matched the fabric. When in doubt, disguise with a craft!

It didn’t take long to snip the fabric out of each handle-hole and fold back the excess, gluing it to the inside of the drawer. Then I just snapped the plastic handles back into place. (I’d been prepared for a battle, but those things were surprisingly easy to take in and out.)

I could have painted the outside of the cabinet soft pink (like the walls) or cream (like the desk it would be sliding under) or even a pale minty green (like the bedding), but gold just felt more fun. I’m a terrible, drippy spray painter, so I got my handy husband to spray two coats of gold on the outside of the filing cabinet. I used my go-to gold that always looks amazing: Krylon ColorMaster in Metallic Gold.

The refreshed filing cabinet looks great under the new desk. It cost just $17 to remake with paint and fabric, which is cheaper than buying a set of plastic storage drawers that would serve the same purpose.

How’s that for filing away an inexpensive DIY idea?

Recent Stories