DIY: A Filing Cabinet Update


Last month I scored a filing cabinet via Kijiji for $35. I was incredibly excited to find a wood filing cabinet. We previously had a MICKE drawer unit from Ikea that wasn't big enough to hold all of our paperwork (most of it was in a filing box before) and couldn't hold our large 11x17 printer on top. I knew as soon as I saw the Kijiji dresser that it would be fairly simple to update. The cabinet is a bit of a beast; solid wood with steel throughout. Now that's it's finished and full it's nearly impossible to move. The top drawer holds all of our important documents while the bottom drawer stores my fabric collection.

The supplies used are as follows:

  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Soap, water, and CLR
  • BEHR Interior Flat paint (no tint)
  • Small paint roller
  • Small sponge brush
  • 4 small brass trunk corners

I started by doing a quick sand over the entire exterior of the cabinet, including the fronts of the drawers. Next I washed the cabinet down. While I was cleaning the inside of the cabinet, I noticed that the bottom of the cabinet (which is steel) was covered in rust. I mixed equal parts water and CLR and used a scrub brush to get the rust off. I then wiped it down with a rag.

When the cabinet was dry I taped off the metal bits. The "feet" and keyhole specifically. Starting with the frame, I painted a base coat using the Behr Interior Flat paint. We bought this paint to do the trim and doors throughout the condo so it was sort of what we had on hand. I would definitely recommend using a paint & primer duo or doing a coat of primer. The wood on this cabinet were thirsty. I followed up with one more coat on the back and sides and a third on the top. I was in very close quarters so I was not able to paint the drawers fronts at the same time. When the cabinet frame was dry enough to move I made room for the drawers. The drawers got three coats of paint. Up close you can still see a bit of wood grain, which I like. If that's not what I was going for I probably would have had to do two more coats.


Once the cabinet was dry Grant installed the brass corners on the top of the cabinet (I'm a little too trigger happy with a drill and this was somewhat delicate work). I would have done the bottom as well but it wasn't possible without modifying the brass corners.

filing cabinet6

I'm very pleased with the end result. The lighter colour really helps keep the room bright and the extra storage of incredibly helpful. I LOVE being organized and having a filing cabinet makes paperwork filing a breeze. Plus I don't have to tear half of the closet apart to get to my fabric now.

xo Allison