How to Repurpose Filing Cabinets

Whether you're remodeling an antiquated office or you come across a set at a garage sale, don't turn down filing cabinets. This versatile storage unit can be repurposed into planters, tables, organizers, and much more.

Supply and Demand, filing cabinet, cabinet, papers

Once a mainstay of home offices, filing cabinets seem to be going the same route as floppy disks and landline phones. With so many files being digitized, the need for physical paper storage space has decreased exponentially. 

That being said, filing cabinets can still be put to good use. All you need is a little imagination. Look to these smart ideas for repurposing a filing cabinet. We'll show you how to use the old school tool as a planter, end table, organizer, and more. 

See more smart repurposing ideas for items you already own.

Storage Island

kitchen island

With the help of an oversized counter, a block of cabinets easily becomes a kitchen island. The bountiful drawer space is perfect for holding pots, pans, cookbooks, and more. For a similar project on a smaller scale, add a counter and set of wheels to a vertical cabinet unit for an instant bar cart.  

Color Update

Retro Revival House Tour

Refresh a cabinet in an ugly color with a fresh coat of paint. This flea market find gets the royal treatment in a hue of deep blue. For best results, apply an industrial cleaner to the cabinets, then sand smooth. Finish with a coat of metal primer followed by acrylic latex paint. 

Learn exactly how to paint metal cabinets here.

Adorable End Table

Image Courtesy Chelsey Andrews

Blogger Chelsey Andrews of The Paper Mama transformed old filing cabinets into a darling, vintage-inspired piece. To make, she prepped and spray painted the cabinet, drilled holes for the legs, and attached all of the pieces. Voila! Super easy end table, side table, or nightstand. 

Kiddie Kitchen

kids play area and cabinet storage

Whether they're old filing cabinets from your office or builder cabinets leftover from a kitchen remodel, consider turning them into a cute play kitchen for your kids. Touch up the cabinets with paint, then add decorative details to form a fridge, oven, and sink. 

Wow-Worthy Planter

Air plants, air plant, air plant ideas

Jump on the succulent or air plant trend by potting a pair in old filing cabinets. Just fill a drawer with top soil, and add your favorite plants. For a weathered look, stick the cabinets in your garden and let nature take care of the rest.

Not sure how to care for your new air plants? Read this handy guide.

Darling Desk

office with white table, white chairs, white desk lamp, wall art,

Combine filing cabinets and a plank of wood for an easy, storage-savvy desk idea. Simply prop the plank between two vertical filing cabinets of the same height, and secure. Take your repurposing project even further by using an old (but sturdy) door instead of plywood. 

Updated End Table

Filing cabinet update

Similar to the kitchen island, you can add a countertop to cabinets for an oh-so-easy end table. We love this table's vibrant paint job and subtle countertop color. Perfect for a living room, bedroom, or den, this end table can hold extra linens, DVDs, magazines, and more. 

Must-See Organizer

craft nook with drapes

Keep your craft supplies in one spot with a set of color-coded filing cabinets. Each drawer's bountiful space is ideal for organizing thread, yarn, ribbon, scissors, and so much more. A countertop or piece of wood placed on top of the combined cabinets makes the perfect workstation. 

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