Vintage File Cabinet with Mid-Century Legs Makeover – DIY

file cabinet diy 1001

For some crazy reason, this post was extremely popular on Pinterest. And because I still really love this piece and how it looks, I decided to add a few tips and updates.

Here’s the original post with a few amendments/updates:

Ever since we moved, over a year ago, our house has been in disarray. We’re renovating the entire house in pieces, and this really complicates things. It’s complicated because everything is always in a state of “progress.” Nothing is ever finished. Nothing is ever organized. Nothing is ever in its final resting place. There’s always a possibility that it might move, or have to be taken down, or need to be sold. So there are pictures and mirrors just leaning up against walls and tucked under beds and stuffed into closets. It’s maddening sometimes!

But the thing that was really eating at both of us more than anything else was the office situation. We have a beautiful room that someday will be an incredible library/office space (update: which recently looked like this and has now been rearranged once again to accommodate all my books and our school space!). My desk and a set of IKEA bookcases is situated in this room…along with the drums and piano. (And currently…at the time of this post…our mattress. :)) Anyway, I love this room and I love having my desk here. It has a huge picture window, tall ceilings, old pocket doors…it’s dreamy. But we didn’t have a file cabinet. And papers were starting to pile up everywhere. The amount of paper that comes into a home never ceases to amaze me.

Jay kept suggesting building a desk upstairs so he could get organized. But we already have a space. A great space, and it was annoying me that he kept suggesting taking up another area in the house for something we already had. So one day I finally asked him, “What. Do. You. Want?” One of the main things he wanted was a file cabinet. OK. We can do that. So I began searching. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a file cabinet…especially if it might be temporary as so many things are in our house!

I went to several flea markets, thrift stores, and antique places. Finally I stumbled on this little blue gem for $5!!! Score! file cabinet vintage green diy 5006

We already had some Mid-Century style legs laying around the workshop that we’d taken off of something else (who knows what!), and I had some green spray paint leftover from my wicker furniture makeover. All that was left to purchase was a Letter Size Hanging File Folder Frame. The one I chose was pretty cheap, but it came with two frames, which was perfect since our file cabinet only has two drawers. They had nicer, more expensive ones, but these worked just fine.

So here’s what I did. First, I cleaned the file cabinet. Then I spray painted the whole thing starting with the inside of the drawers.

file cabinet vintage green diy 7008file cabinet vintage green diy 6007file cabinet diy 4004file cabinet vintage green diy 8009Once it was completely painted and had dried, I handed it over to Jay. I can’t really tell you how he got the legs on, but I do know it was a rig job! (As many of our projects are…but you wouldn’t know unless I told ya, which I just did! Dang it! Our secret’s out.) I believe he cut a piece of maybe 1/2″ thick wood that would fit underneath the cabinet. He took the bottom drawer out and screwed down through the cabinet into the board. Then he attached the legs to the board.

Update: There are places that sell kits to add legs to things. Something like this universal fitting plate would’ve been super handy, and it’s cheap too!

He also had to cut the hanging frame down to fit in the file cabinet since it’s not very deep. I believe he just scored it and broke it off. The frame attaches inside any file cabinet very easily. Then we hung our files, and voila! We now have a very organized desk and everybody’s happy! I also insisted he get our paper shredder (yep, we have one) out of the basement. It is now happily sitting beside the file cabinet attached to a power strip (another piece of the organization puzzle). So everything has a home and is plugged in!file cabinet diy 3003file cabinet diy 2002file cabinet vintage green diy 4005file cabinet diy 1001
Pretty cute, huh?! I love the way it turned out. I still want to put some labels or something on the front of the drawers…but that’s for another day.

Update: This file cabinet just last week was removed to the basement. We used it and loved it for more than two years. It was kind of bear to move around, especially with the files in it, and because the legs weren’t on very well, it was tricky when setting it back down. Jay almost threw it out the window a couple of times because of that… so I’d highly recommend getting fitting plates like I mentioned above if you’re doing to do this project!

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1 comment on “Vintage File Cabinet with Mid-Century Legs Makeover – DIY”

  1. Ann

    Wow! You have taken what I would have “trashed” and made a beauty out of it! I LOVE it! Gorgeous!

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