Refinished Stackable Filing Cabinet

See what a little bit of sanding, or shall I say a lot of sanding, and new fresh coat of paint will do to update an old worn out filing cabinet.  Not just any typical filing cabinet, though.  This one is unique.  I wish I had one like this.



Submitted By Park House Love


Hi, I’m Christine.  I live in Northern California with my fiancé Devin and our two pups, Strider (the “good” one) and Echo (the “crazy” one). We are slowly yet surely making changes to every inch of our house to turn it into a homey and welcoming reflection of our personal style.

On any given weekend you can find me looking for hidden treasures at flea markets, garage & estate sales, thrift shops and antique stores.  Much to my long-suffering fiancé’s dismay, I see potential in every bedraggled piece of furniture, worn chair, chipped frame, and vintage knick knack that I come across. I have a devout love for pretty fabrics, vintage pyrex, anything greige and being outdoors.  I’m not so fond of olives, spiders, clowns and bad drivers.  If I still sound interesting to you (and you are not an olive, a spider, a clown or a bad driver), then you get a gold star.

Besides that post that you are about to read, here are some other posts that I have on my blog that you might find interesting.

(click on the image)

roman shade from mini blindspinach artichoke bitesspray painted end table


Here is the worn yellow filing cabinetthat 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!

Website | + posts

I am the husband of the amazing Cassity of Remodelaholic. I love to problem solve and to design and build things inside and outside the house to make life better. I am a professional Landscape Architect by trade and love the outdoors.

get the reader favorite

Cleaning Binder & Custom Cleaning Calendar

This 18-page editable cleaning binder printable pack will help you establish a cleaning schedule based on the custom tasks you actually need for your home. From the spring cleaning checklist to everyday cleaning recipes, this printable set is great for kick-starting a cleaning routine and staying on task with annual and semi-annual tasks, too.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Wow! I can’t even begin to explain how jealous I am of this filing cabinet. I think I need to start hiring a baby sitter and work my way over to Seattle for some serious searching! 🙂

  2. This looks wonderful. I am so glad I saw this because I have an old metal bed frame on my back porch waiting for me to decide how to do it. Now I know how! Thanks!

  3. please tell me how you took off the hardware. I was able to get a cool metal cabinet but the hardware shows no way of coming off…….

  4. You used a water-based clear coat over oil-based paint. How is it holding up? I thought this was a no-no, but maybe that’s a myth. Looks GREAT!