File Cabinet Makeover

My friend’s husband rescued two of these fabulous cabinets from the local county dump where he worked.  Other then some rust, an awful color and some minor dents – it was in pretty amazing condition.  Papers and some odds and ends in them dated the cabinets from the late 60’s! The mess of drawers shows the lovely color the entire cabinet started out.  This was a super simple DIY  file cabinet makeover.

drawers fix

I originally was going to do either black and white or black and lime green.  Once in the store my husband, Joey, suggested going crazy with color and I ended up picking out the four colors below instead.  Which I am SUPER happy with!

Living in Florida and spray painting is a HUGE challenge due to humidity.  I ended up having to use my husbands workshop since it had an air conditioner that I could turn on – otherwise I ended up with popcorn paint and had to sand it down.

full cabinet black fix

I painted the exterior first with my glossy black.   I used Rustoleum for this part.  Prior to painting, I had scratched the surface with Scotch-Brite General Purpose Scouring Pads.  This removed the glossy surface to allow the paint to stick, but doesn’t leave deep scratch marks.  You don’t want to use sandpaper since it will “over” scratch the surface and can be seen once spray painted.  There was one spot on the back that I had to use our circular sander to remove some small rust bubbles.  I sanded these areas down to bare metal and  then feathered them out into the surrounding area so the paint would lay well.  My new file cabinet makeover was half way done.

side fix

The drawers were scoured next. I wanted the sides to match when they were pulled out, although I did consider saving time and not painting the sides black.  Of course once the sides were painted black, I needed to paint the inside of the drawers as well.  I did pass up painting the bottoms however.


I let the black dry overnight and the following morning had to tape newspaper around the black part in order to paint the front of the drawers and avoid over-spray.  I truly think this took the longest and at this point thought, really would my students have noticed if I had not painted the inside and sides?  Probably not.. just saying…..BUT since I had already painted them – I trugged forward.  Once the newspaper was on,   I simply systematically painted sets of drawers one color at a time.  I used the following Krylon Colormaster colors:

Watermelon (pink)                                                                                                                                                                           Citrus  Green (supposed to be lime  – more yellow though)                                                                                                  Ocean Breeze (light blue)                                                                                                                                                              Plum (purple)


While I love how it turned out, I most likely would use a different brand of spray paint.  It did not spray evenly and no matter how much I shook the cans, the color would not spray even. It is hard to describe, but it would leave a tinted different color, almost like the colors that were mixed inside to create the color separated when sprayed on the surfaces.

One thought on “File Cabinet Makeover

  1. Regina Ligon says:

    You crazy woman! Loved the detailed account of your spray painting adventures. Is this for student parents or just friends? I didn’t see a subscribe to blog button so email me every time you post so I can keep up with you.

    Miss you so much!

    Love, Regina

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