10 Genius Ways To Repurpose An Old Filing Cabinet

Whether you're giving your home office a modern update or have found a few items at a thrift shop that are ideal for upcycling to save a little money, you may find yourself in a position where you want to repurpose an old filing cabinet. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can turn this particular piece into something new and more than just a little impressive. These uses include for organizing, decorating, and gardening, and you'll find 10 of the best ideas below.

From sticking with its intended purpose of keeping files organized — which they've been doing since the 1890s — to turning it into functional décor that you could use in your living room, bedroom, front foyer, or even the garage, you might be surprised by how many different ways you can transform an old filing cabinet. You can also continue to use your piece inside or take it outside to fulfill a totally-new purpose that will satisfy your green thumb. Because these organizers are typically made out of durable metal, they'll last for years to come. Plus, they're easy to customize with just a little spray paint or other materials, so you can make your piece look exactly how you want it to.

1. Chalkboard drawers

Keep your playroom or family room organized with the help of chalkboard drawers. Simply take an old filing cabinet or two and use a little chalkboard paint on the front of each drawer. You can keep the handles as they are or change them up if you want a little more style. When the piece is ready, put it in an ideal spot before labeling each drawer with whatever is inside, such as books or art supplies. Of course, you'll also be able to change up the labels as needed, which makes this so handy.

2. Wood-topped side table

Give your old filing cabinet a new look while also providing it with a new purpose. You can transform what's become a weathered piece over time into something truly attractive with a few simple changes. All you need to do is add a piece of wood to the top as well as a couple of smaller pieces to the front of each drawer. Finish it off with some trim, paint, and new handles. When you're done, you can use your new set of drawers as a nightstand in your bedroom or as a side table in the living room.

3. Filing cabinet desk

Whether you want to continue to use your filing cabinet as intended or desire to use it as a different kind of organizer, you can make a few minor adjustments that will result in a major change. The cabinet can be used to hold one end of a long rectangular piece of wood. You can then pop legs that are the same height as the filing cabinet on the opposite side, which will leave you with a simple yet super-functional DIY desk. Continue to customize the piece by painting or staining the wood and choosing just the right stool or chair.

4. Craft organizer with decals

Keep your creative space tidy with the help of a craft organizer that's made out of an old filing cabinet. Give yourself enough room for your supplies, in-progress projects, and finished masterpieces with the help of the many metal drawers. Beyond that, give your organizer a new look with some artistic details here and there. If you lack the skills to tackle the accents by hand, then you can easily grab a few of your favorite decals and add them in specific spots that will give your cabinet an entirely new style, like the flowers on the piece above.

5. Movable mural art piece

Your former filing cabinet will disappear when you cover it with a mural. Opt for a lovely floral landscape or a forest scene. You might also want a sky filled with rainbow colors or an interpretation of your favorite beach. That's not to mention the fact that you could pick out an abstract design or something with a quirky, surrealist vibe. The great thing about putting the mural on a piece like a transformed filing cabinet is that it can be moved whenever you want so that it can be featured in different places around your home.

6. Foyer bench and organizer

If you need a bench in your front foyer, then you have another ideal use for your old filing cabinet. Flip the cabinet over onto its side and give it a coat of paint. Pop pillows on top to create a place to sit while putting on your shoes. To make the piece even more useful, take the drawers out and leave the spaces open. This is where you can slide in baskets to hold hats, mittens, and scarves — not to mention shoes or anything else you might want to keep by your door.

7. Outdoor planter

When you upcycle your old filing cabinet, you don't have to keep it inside. Instead, you might want to move it outside into your yard, onto your porch, or somewhere on your patio and turn it into a DIY planter. To complete this project, remove the drawers, then lay the piece down with the open side facing upwards. The open spaces will be where you can add soil before popping in a few plants of your choice, which could include flowers, cacti, or a few fruits and veggies.

8. Makeup organizer

Some filing cabinets have relatively-shallow drawers, which makes them the perfect choice for holding smaller items that you might have around the house. For instance, it would be a great place to stash all of your cosmetics to keep your makeup organized. To make it look like something that belongs in your bathroom or bedroom instead of an office, you can paint the exterior and add attractive liners in the drawers. If there are spots for labels, then this will allow you to describe what's in each drawer such as hair tools, nail polish bottles, and makeup brushes.

9. Tool cabinet

Move your old filing cabinet into the garage in order to turn it into a tool cabinet. You can leave some of the drawers as they are and use those spaces to store anything from drills to saws. You can also remove the door on one or two of the drawers to create an open shelf. That's not to mention the space on the top that can also be used to store larger tools. If you want to make it look new, then give it a fresh coat of paint.

10. Vinyl record holder

Anyone who collects vinyl records knows that it can be difficult to find enough room to store them all. While you might need larger bookcase-like shelves if you have a massive collection, you might want something smaller to store your special vinyl treasures. An old filing cabinet might be just what you need. Offering you enough room to fit quite a few records in each drawer if you set them in vertically, you can customize the exterior of the filing cabinet to give it a jazzy, poppy, or hardcore vibe. To make it look more like furniture, add legs to the bottom of the piece.