File Cabinet Makeover

I think this is one of my favorite DIY projects yet, and I feel like my studio is really coming together! Remember, the curtains, and the magnetic memo board?

I have two file cabinets in my studio, one just next to my desk for household files and various other things. My printer also sits on top of it. The other is underneath my built in desk and holds paper for card making.


While I do think this project would be ideal for old file cabinets that need some love, I must admit that I simply bought brand new ones! I didn’t have any old file cabinets, and I don’t go thrift store shopping very much. I purchased two of these file cabinets from Office Max. They were on sale, plus I had a 20% coupon, plus free shipping delivered right to my door!  Another perk of these brand new ones is that they’re super lightweight when empty! I could very easily pick one up (although its bulk does make it a bit awkward to maneuver), and didn’t need to recruit my husband’s help to carry them to the garage for their makeover.

I scoured the web and pinned several file cabinet makeover ideas to my Pinterest boards (my DIY-Bigger Projects board and my Home-Office board). I saw several inspiring ideas, but I didn’t think any of the posts had as much detail as this total DIY newbie wanted. That might be why I overshare a bit. If you’re a DIY pro, you probably just need to look at the pictures.


The supplies I used were a cheap drop cloth (that I threw away when I was done), the 3 cans of spray paint, painters tape, white vinyl cut with the Silhouette machine, and a TON of wrist strength. I only used  small amount of the third can of spray paint, and the can in the left of the picture was for another project. I chose Valspar gloss paint that has paint and primer in one. I actually chose it because the store had 3 cans of it, but I really love the way the nozzle works. It prevents you from getting paint all over your finger.


Next I removed the handles, and I really should have removed the lock. I also put painters tape on the inside of the drawers to cover the handle opening and over the lock.


Here comes the fun part. I sprayed a thin, even coat. I used continuous, sweeping motions. They say the secret is several thin coats to avoid drips and streaks. Here’s what it looked like after one coat:


I waiting about 10 minutes and repeated the process with another coat. Here it is after two coats:


I then repeated the process at least 4 or 5 more times. I think there was 6-8 coats total, but I honestly lost count, and I thought my wrist was going to fall off. I stopped taking pictures of each coat, because my hands were a total mess.

I also spray painted the handles white:


I allowed the paint to dry for several days, before placing the cabinet in the room. I waiting another 2 weeks before using it, replacing the handles, and applying the vinyl.

The last step was designing and cutting the white vinyl labels with my Silhouette machine. I drew the design in illustrator and cut using normal settings. I then used transfer tape to apply the design. I chose an arrow with the words “dream” and “inspire.” The vinyl really added a lot to the overall project:

FIle Cabinet Makeover-1-2



I have a lot of other blogging buddies with Silhouette machines, and we are all sharing projects on their blogs today. So, check out all the other great projects on their blogs:

DIY Business Cards {Silhouette Tutorial} by Create & Babble

Make Your Own "Rubber" Stamps by Coley’s Corner

Where Home Is: A Gift for a Military Family by Suburble

This Month’s Facebook Silhouette Challenge by Tanya’s Creative Space

3D Tea Gift Box Download by Creative Turn

File Cabinet Makeover by Super Sweet Life

Jewelry Box Creation by Joy & Gladness of Heart

Retro Chair Silhouette by Tried & True

Toddler Train T-Shirt by The Thinking Closet

First Silhouette Project! 3-2-1 Blastoff Shirt by de Jong Dream House

Placecard & Card Medley by An Elegant Touch

Using my Silhouette in the Shower (Bathroom Organization) by Whole New Leaf

Pretty & Personal Birthday Bundle by The House on Hillbrook

This post is linked to:

mop it up mondays


  1. says

    Laura, I am still swooning over these…everything from the red spraypaint to the fun font to the arrows…it just really transforms a functional office item into a real statement piece. And I know about that whole wrist-falling-off scenario. I had to do something like 8 coats of white spraypaint on my subway wall art…thankfully, the finished look made it all worth it!

    Thanks for joining us for The Silhouette Challenge group post this much. You bring a wealth of creativity and positivity to our little group.

    The Thinking Closet

  2. says

    What a great project. I bet Lauren really likes it…she could organize all of her fabric in it. That’s a lot of spray paint. I do a lot of spray painting and it goes way too fast. One of my favorite colors is red. Awesome!

  3. says

    I love how that turned out! The red is so eye catching and adding the words and arrows took something functional to fun! I find that having pretty/fun pieces makes working/creating/whatever you use them for more pleasurable!

  4. daisy says

    I am really impressed! The cabinet looks great and you broke down the steps to make it look so doable!

  5. says

    Oooh – I really like this. We actually have a really old file cabinet that I want to bring into the house, but it is so ugly. I keep thinking about spray painting it, but never felt inspired enough to do it. Your post makes it look doable! Maybe I will give it a shot.

  6. Shirley says

    I love this! I have 2 file cabinets that are old and need painted. I love the red as I want to put the cabinets in my craft room. Thanks for sharing..

  7. Michelle Miller says

    Where do you find the fonts that you use for your Silhouette machine? I just received one for my birthday and the fonts that I have on my computer are a bit boring and I don’t know where to go to mind more!

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. says

    I found a great deal on filing cabinets for my classroom. We have a lot of things I like to keep in there but they are super ugly. This is a great idea. I can’t wait to have my daughters help me out with this project!

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