File This Make-Over for Future Reference

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - redone file cabinet

As I wrote last Friday’s post previewing make-over plans for the beat-up file cabinet in husband Chris’ office, I got an idea about how to make it even better. And then, as I implemented my plan, I changed my mind yet again.

But each adjustment made for a better result, and because I was using spraypaint, the do-overs were easy.


Here’s what I started with (left), as well as my inspirations (center and right). I planned to add tapered legs like in the middle photo, but shorter, and I wanted an aged metal finish something like in the right photo. There’s actually a tutorial for achieving that finish, but it’s too complex for my liking.

My initial plan was to spraypaint the entire file cabinet matte aged brass, leaving the fittings (handles, frames and lock) as is and painting the wood portion on the tapered legs I bought silver to go with their chrome feet.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - file cabinet beforeBut you know how you can look at something day in and day out and never really see it, then suddenly you see it in a brand new way? Well that’s what happened with me and that file cabinet.

I noticed its two-tone tan finish, and it occurred to me I might try a two-tone finish as well, kicked up a notch from blah-on-blah brown. How about, instead, a tone-on-tone  of matte aged brass on the frame and bright brass on the drawers? Still keeping the fittings and legs silver, of course.

Then I went a step further, ditched the glossy brass idea (me and sparkly really only get along at Christmas) and decided to try one of Rustoleum’s hammered finishes on the drawers.

That only comes in hammered gold, rather than brass, so that’s what we bought. A subtle but sophisticated combination, don’t you agree? As it turned out, it was too subtle, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before painting, some prep

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - file cabinet fittings

First we removed all the cabinet’s aluminum hardware and cleaned it with warm water, dish soap and a non-scratch Scotchbrite pad. Chris has a magnetic tray to hold nuts and bolts in his shop, so we used that to corral all the smaller pieces.

Then we installed brackets for the new legs on each of the four bottom corners. We’d bought a piece of wood to use to reinforce the base, but Chris decided it wasn’t needed after all and drilled directly into the metal.

Our brackets were specifically for mounting legs straight up, and each required four bolts, nuts and washers, and all 16 had to be tightened from the inside.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - sanding prep

Next we lightly sanded all exterior surfaces of the cabinet casing and the drawer fronts so the new paint would have a “tooth” to adhere to. After, I swept the cabinet inside and out, and wiped it down with a tack cloth to remove any remaining dust or debris.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - taped legs

I taped off the chrome trim on the tapered legs so we could spraypaint the wood portion silver…

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - painting legs

And Chris rigged a box to hold the legs upright while we painted. As you can see, the silver spraypaint we had left over from another project did not disguise the woodgrain in the legs, but I thought I could live with that.

Ready, set, dead STOP.

Not so the next disappointment.

We immediately had issues when we began using the Aged Brass on the cabinet casing. The “aged” coloration went on unevenly. It looked cool, but it tricked us into thinking it wasn’t covering, and Chris put on too much paint too soon. We ended up with runs that became smears when we tried to first wipe and then brush them out. Chris ended up using acetone to remove some of the paint and respraying.

And no, I didn’t take photos of this because I was too preoccupied fretting.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - hammered drawers

However, the drawers were another matter entirely. As soon as we began applying the Hammered Gold, we were in love. What a dynamite finish! It went on thick, and the texturing began immediately. Two coats and we were done! As the finish dried we could tell it would also be more durable than the aged brass. It was like a factory finish!

But side-by-side with the Aged Brass it was difficult to tell the difference. And the Aged Brass didn’t feel anywhere NEAR as durable.

So after listening to Chris say, “I wish we’d done the whole thing in the hammered finish” about a half-dozen times, I said, “Why don’t we go get a can of hammered silver and redo the cabinet casing in that?”

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - file cabinet after

Which is what we did. And it’s gorgeous, as you can see.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - legs after

The Hammered Silver also disguised the woodgrain in the legs, so they now look like tone-on-tone silver metals–hammered and chrome. Retro COOL!

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - file cabinet after 2

The hammered finishes take a bit longer to dry and cure–15 minutes to touch vs. 10 and 48 hours vs. overnight to cure. But it’s worth the wait, the extra trip to the hardware store, AND even $3 more per can.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - bedroom long shot

You can’t deny how spiffy the finished product looks in this room.

But wait, there’s more!

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - new bed pillow

The very last accent pillow for the guest bed arrived Saturday, and I placed it between the other two.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - bed pillow and rug

I really love how the colors and weave go with the rug hanging over the bed. And it looks so jazzy between those two charcoal gray pillows.

Never too much orange

I also decided I needed some smaller organizing boxes and found these nifty felt ones from Three By Three of Seattle on Zulily. One will go between each IKEA Besta Box on two shelves of the bookcase for an additional pop of color and place to store smaller items, which will make the larger items in the Besta boxes easier to access.

And I’ll use the other two on top of the file cabinet, in front of that nifty charcoal linen and faux leather file box. That is, if I decide to move this cool studio art pottery wall hanging I found on ebay. But I kinda like it here, don’t you? I was going to sell it, but now…

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - whiteboard

I also needed to do something about all those turquoise magnets on the whiteboard (yes, I know I’m getting anal). I WANTED brass magnets but couldn’t find any in the shape I liked. Then I decided I’d settle for silver, and all of those I found were ridiculously expensive–like $12 for three. Dumb, huh?

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - magnets

Seeing those cute little orange-lined boxes gave me the idea to look for all orange ones–plastic, like the ones we have.

I got 50 of those for $10 on Amazon. More than I need, but I can repurpose some to the kitchen (my office, the garage, the laundry room, etc.)

The fabric of our lives

Both the remnants I ordered on ebay for the nightstand make-over–a traditional houndstooth and a houndstooth plaid–came Friday. I have those draped over the drawers and top of the piece, trying to decide if I want to go all with one or mix them up a bit.

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - nightstand with fabric

I still have some pondering to do before tackling this make-over. Meanwhile, Maisie-Cat has the right idea when decorating wears you out–take a nap! BTW, she likes the redo, too, and moves from this spot only to eat.

Next thing you know she’ll be queueing up Sinatra tunes on Chris’ PC, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. Think we could train her? ;->

If you want more…

File This Make-Over for Future Reference - bookcase vignette



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