Ask Design Mom — File Cabinets

February 1, 2010

Ask Design Mom Question:

I was wondering if you could recommend some websites that sell attractive file cabinets. Specifically, I am looking for a vertical 4 drawer unit that will be visible from my open family room. We live in a condo. Maybe something silvery and retro? Many thanks — Elissa

Design Mom Answer:
Hi Elissa. Thanks for the question! Here are a few ideas. If you’re looking for silvery and retro, ebay or college surplus sales are a good place to start. In fact, one of the pieces of furniture we left behind in New York was an old-school, Steelcase, 4-drawer filing cabinet that I picked up at a university surplus sale for $10. Woot! And then spray painted black. (We’ve since switched to file boxes stored in a closet — in case you’re curious.)

If I was to do it again, after hunting down an older file cabinet, instead of painting it, I would take it to a metal shop and have it stripped and polished to look like one of the beauties from The Old Cinema pictured above.

Want something new? I think the Precision Kurve cabinets from Metalon are very good-looking.

Feeling a DIY moment coming on? You could buy a standard cabinet from Staples and customize. Decoupage? Huge shipping stencils? Giant magnets?

What about you, Dear Readers? Seen any good-looking file cabinets lately? How do you like this wall of extra-tall file drawers — as seen in Jill Brown’s store. Lovely, no?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allison February 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm

We got a great 4 drawer vertical retro deep moss green one at a second hand office furniture store in Chicago. Very inexpensive.


2 The Yellow Door Paperie February 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Beautiful! I have so many more ideas now.


3 Design Mom February 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Allison – Nice find! I bet the deep moss is lovely.

Yellow Door – Aren't those polished pieces gorgeous? I have such a fondness for industrial-looking pieces in my home.


4 Allison February 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I second the college surplus sale idea. The university nearest me has one every few Fridays, but I know some universities have a "store" that's open every day. You're sure to find file cabinets… plus a lot of other random, wacky stuff. Band uniforms, anyone?


5 Katherine February 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

As another person who has a filing cabinet in one's living room thanks to living in a condo, this was a perfect entry for me. Love the ideas. Have hopes of transforming mine.


6 mrs boo radley February 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm


I LOVE these ideas. Yay Jill Brown!

We usually just hide filing cabinets away in closets…but I would totally want to keep these out in the middle of a room!


7 sfgirlbybay February 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm

wow! these are gorgeous. makes me want to file something!


8 eugenia February 1, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I would like to see how people have "done up" their filing cabinet finds!


9 Autumn February 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm

What total awesomeness. I want to redo our cabinet!!!


10 mrs. c February 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Lovely, I just love the mix of industrial with "homey"


11 heidi February 2, 2010 at 11:11 pm

i have 2 file cabinets, one at home and one at work. both were bought from garage sales. one was 5 dollars, and the other 3. i used scrapbook paper and modge-podge to decopage them. they turned out pretty good.
this is a link to a pic of one of them:


12 elissa February 3, 2010 at 10:42 am

Designmom, this is exactly the kind of inspiration I was looking for! Thanks for answering my question!


13 Blueprints of a Southern Belle February 9, 2010 at 1:55 am

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