before & after: stackable filing cabinet

You may remember me mentioning the worn yellow filing cabinet that I scored from an estate sale.

Now that I have the green light to make over the office, we finally pulled this baby out of storage, wiped off the dust and got to work.  As I mentioned previously, the paint job on the filing cabinet was horrendous.

Paint drips everywhere, paint on the hardware, inconsistent coverage and on and on.

We removed all of the hardware and we sanded…

…and sanded…

…and sanded some more.  It was no small job, and I was grateful that Devin offered to help.

I thought he’d never admit it, but he actually said, “You know, I think I could get into this with you.”  “This” meaning revamping furniture.  You are all my witnesses.  Those words actually came out of his mouth.

After the neverending sanding spree, I carefully wiped down all of the cabinets and drawers with a slightly damp rag, then wiped everything down again with a dry rag.

I actually kind of liked the distressed, shabby camouflage vibe it took on after sanding.

But that’s not the look I’m going for in the office, so I went ahead with my original plan.  Since this was a large metal piece, I decided that spray paint was the way to go.

After a couple very light coats of primer, things started looking a little less yellow around these parts.

Then two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Heirloom White later, the cabinet was looking positively invigorated.

My original plan was to top it off with two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Clear Satin spray, but when I was done, I wasn’t happy with the uneven finish on the top and sides.  I’ve heard that this is a common problem with spray painting larger surfaces.  The color coverage was complete and even, but from every angle you could see blotchy spots.

To remedy the situation, I finished the filing cabinet off with a few thin coats of Varathane’s water based clear polyurethane in a gloss finish.

It did the trick!  Not only does the cabinet have a smooth, even finish, it’s now super protected against any wear and tear it’ll get in the office.

I love how it turned out…and so does Devin, who admitted that he was glad I didn’t listen to him when he told me to “get rid of that thing taking up space and gathering dust at the shop!”  Hehe…what else is new?   (Note: since I still need to find replacements for some broken pulls, I’ve left the bottom row out of these “after” photos.)

I’m glad that I decided to keep the hardware silver instead of trying to paint it brass to match the campaign desk and dresser.  It looks great against the white.

At first, I planned to just freshen the hardware up with some satin nickel spray paint, but when I tested the spray on one of the broken pulls, it was too dark for my taste.  So instead, Devin polished them up with a rotary brush and then sprayed them with clear satin for good measure.

I’m also really happy that I went with a gloss finish for the poly because the sheen really makes the cabinet pop.

You can even see reflections in the top!  Hurrah for no more blotches!

I can’t wait to see how it looks in the office against the pale blue walls….but that will have to wait until we get all of the junk out of there :).

I love how crisp and clean it looks.  Now I just have to plan out what I’m going to store in the drawers so I can print up some nice labels for the pulls.

Devin thinks I shouldn’t be so literal about it and should just label the drawers with cheery, abstract words like “happiness” and “love”…who knew he was so whimsical?  I suppose I’ll wait and see how I feel about it once I actually start putting things in there.

First piece of furniture for the office makeover done!



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40 thoughts on “before & after: stackable filing cabinet

  1. i may be partially biased, but everything looks so good, tin! i can’t wait to see it all in person!! xoxo

  2. Wow! I have a tiny 2-drawer filing cabinet that I’ve been afraid to tackle. You’ve inspired me to get on it! Also, I need to come with you on one of your shopping trips, you find the coolest stuff!

    • Thanks! I love it too and I can’t wait to get it in the office…the pulls are my favorite part…new filing cabinets just don’t have that kind of character.

  3. It looks amazing! I have that same color spray paint. 🙂 Isn’t it so sweet when your guy starts to like doing DIY projects with you? Angie 😉

    • to love the Heirloom White! It’s like the little black cocktail dress that’s good for any occasion haha. Yes, it’s definitely sweet when he’s in on the DIY…we’ll see how long that lasts :).

    • Sadly, it’s not in my office yet since the office is doubling as the storage room right now while we finish the garage. Once the garage is done, the office is my next big room makeover, and I’m itching to get in there and get started!

  4. Oh mY, what a great job you all did on those filing cabinets! It doesn’t look like the same ones..the before photo shows some label parts missing or had you taken them off already? Amazing job and it looks like a professional did them. Pat yourselves on the back. It appears that you spray painted them outside; how did you keep the paint from ending up elsewhere like on the house siding, etc.? How did you move it to its final resting place?

  5. Pingback: since i’ve been gone | park house love

  6. WOW that is truly beautiful – have beeb googling like crazy to learn how to do this. Thanks very much for the inspiration.

    Pinned you on pint rest !!! 🙂

  7. Hi Christine,
    I found you via searching for “painting metal cabinets” on Pinterest! Great job on this transformation. I’ve just painted a two-drawer metal cabinet with homemade chalk paint. I’m looking for the best way to seal and protect the paint finish. Are you happy with the durability that the varnish provides? I have a few different brands of spray varnish at home, and wonder if I should just use one of those. Any suggestions?
    Now that I’ve found you and your blog, I think I’ll stay awhile, browse, and follow along!

reading all of your comments makes me happy. thanks so much for taking the time to post your feedback!

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