How to Decorate a File Cabinet

Are you looking to spruce up a dull office workspace? We know the struggle—you’ve searched through catalogs, Pinterest, and all sorts of home décor magazines to no avail. Well, that search is about to become a thing of the past! Decorating your filing cabinet can offer an exciting and creative way to stand out from traditional workspaces.

How to Decorate a File Cabinet

With just a few easy tricks, you can take an ordinary piece of furniture and transform it into something extraordinary. In this blog post, we will give you plenty of ideas on how to decorate a file cabinet!

From choosing stylish colors for paint jobs to adding old-fashioned knickknacks for decoration – get ready as we show you how easy it is to add some much needed pizzazz to any workspace.

What Will You Need?

Before getting started, determine the materials you’ll need to bring your filing cabinet back to life. No matter what style or look you’re going for, here are some essentials that will help make the transformation process easier:

  • Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paintbrushes and rollers
  • Paint (acrylic works best)
  • Decorative paper or fabric
  • Mod Podge glue
  • Scissors

Once you have all of your materials together, it’s time to get started!

9 Easy Steps on How to Decorate a File Cabinet

Step 1: Prepping the File Cabinet

The first step in decorating any piece of furniture is preparing it for a fresh coat of paint. Start by removing all drawers and hardware from the file cabinet. Using sandpaper, gently scuff up the surface of the cabinet to remove any rough spots or imperfections.

Decorating Any Piece of Furniture is Preparing It

Step 2: Apply Primer

After sanding, it’s time to apply a coat of primer. This will help the new paint adhere better to the cabinet and provide a smooth, even base coat. Using a paintbrush or roller, evenly apply the primer over the entire surface of the cabinet, including the drawers. Be sure to get into all nooks and crannies. Once you’ve covered the entire surface, let the primer dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Paint the Cabinet

Now that your primer is completely dry, it’s time to paint your file cabinet. Choose a paint color that complements your office or workspace decor. Using a paintbrush or roller, apply the first coat of paint over the entire surface of the cabinet and drawers.

Remember to get into all the corners and crevices. Depending on your paint, you might need multiple coats to achieve the desired color and finish. Ensure each coat is fully dry before applying the next one. This step will not only provide a fresh new look to your file cabinet but also serve as a base for any additional decorations you plan to add.

Step 4: Apply Decorative Paper or Fabric

Once your paint job is completely dry, you can start the decoration process. Choose a decorative paper or fabric that matches your office aesthetic and fits the dimensions of your filing cabinet’s drawers. Cut the paper or fabric into pieces that can cover each drawer’s front comfortably.

Using Mod Podge glue, apply a thin layer to the drawer front, then carefully place your decorative paper or fabric on top. Smooth it out to avoid any wrinkles or air bubbles. Allow it to dry completely before moving to the next step. This step adds a personalized touch to your updated filing cabinet.

Step 5: Seal the Decorative Layer

After your decorative paper or fabric has thoroughly dried, seal it to protect it from wear and tear. Using Mod Podge glue once again, apply a thin, even layer over the top of your decorative paper or fabric. This additional layer will act as a sealant, protecting your design from damage and ensuring its longevity.

Layer Over the Top of Your Decorative Paper or Fabric

Make sure to cover the entire surface of the paper or fabric and allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step. Applying this sealant will make your file cabinet more durable while maintaining its fresh, new look.

Step 6: Reattach the Hardware

Now that your file cabinet has been completely painted and decorated, it’s time to reattach the hardware. Carefully screw back in the handles or knobs to each drawer. If you’d like, you can even replace the old hardware with new pieces that match your updated design. By doing so, you’re not only restoring function to your file cabinet but also adding the final touch to its makeover.

Step 7: Add Final Touches

With all the hard work done, it’s time to add the final touches to your newly decorated file cabinet. Consider adding sticky labels or cute magnets to make it more functional. If you have chosen a vintage style, maybe a few old-fashioned accessories will complete the look.

For a modern aesthetic, consider sleek, minimalistic additions. Remember, this is your chance to let your personality shine through, so make it something that truly embodies your style. Once you’re satisfied with the final look, place your beautifully decorated file cabinet back into your workspace and enjoy the fresh new vibe it brings!

Step 8: Organization

Now that your file cabinet is fully decorated, it’s time to fill it back up! But don’t just stuff everything back in haphazardly. Take this opportunity to organize your folders and documents in a way that makes sense. You should sort everything alphabetically, by project, or even by color.

Stuff Everything Back in Haphazardly

The key is to create an organizational system that will make it easy to find what you need. You can also add dividers or labels to increase efficiency. This final step not only ensures that you’re making the most of your newly decorated file cabinet, but it also adds a touch of personalization to your workspace.

Step 9: Maintenance

Once you have your newly decorated file cabinet in use, it’s essential to keep it looking its best. Regular maintenance will help ensure your cabinet stays clean organized, and looks as good as the day you finished decorating it. Wipe the exterior surfaces with a soft cloth daily to keep it dust-free. Avoid using abrasive cleaners that can damage your beautiful decoration.

Additionally, make a habit of regularly checking inside the drawers to ensure that your organization system is still working effectively, and adjust as necessary. This maintenance step will not only prolong the life of your file cabinet but it will also make your workspace more pleasant and productive.

By following these steps, you can quickly and affordably transform a plain, boring file cabinet into a functional and stylish piece of furniture that adds character to your office or workspace. So why settle for a drab filing system when you can have a beautifully decorated one? Give it a try and see the difference it makes!

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Use Decals or Stickers: One of the easiest ways to decorate a file cabinet is by using decals or stickers. Choose designs that reflect your style or the theme of your workspace.
  2. Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint: If your file cabinet looks worn out, consider applying a fresh coat of paint. It’s an opportunity to introduce a pop of color or stick to neutral tones for a minimalist look.
  3. Attach Fabric or Wallpaper: For a more dramatic transformation, consider attaching fabric or wallpaper to the drawer fronts. This allows for various patterns and textures to be introduced to your workspace.
  4. Install New Handles or Knobs: Installing new handles or knobs can give your file cabinet a fresh look. Choose designs that complement the overall decor of your space.
  5. Use Magnetic Accessories: Lastly, take advantage of the metal surface by using magnetic accessories. These can include photo frames, small storage bins, or even a magnetic calendar to help keep track of important dates. Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
 Metal Surface by Using Magnetic Accessories

With these additional tips and tricks, you can take your file cabinet from a boring storage unit to a statement piece in your workspace. Remember to have fun and let your creativity shine through when decorating!

5 Things Should Avoid

  1. Avoid Overcrowding: While it’s tempting to utilize every inch of your file cabinet, overcrowding it with decals, stickers, or magnetic accessories can make it look chaotic. Strive for a balance between decoration and functionality.
  2. Avoid Mismatched Colors: If you paint your file cabinet, avoid colors that clash with your existing workspace decor. The goal is to create a cohesive look.
  3. Avoid Using Permanent Adhesives: When attaching fabrics, wallpapers or handles, avoid using permanent adhesives that can damage the surface. Opt for removable products that won’t leave a residue or cause harm.
  4. Avoid Ignoring Quality: If installing new knobs or handles, don’t compromise on quality for aesthetic appeal. Remember, these are functional components that need to withstand regular use.
  5. Avoid Neglecting Safety Measures: Lastly, when redecorating your file cabinet, remember safety. Ensure that the cabinet remains stable during your modifications and that sharp edges or corners are appropriately addressed to avoid injury.

Remember, decorating your file cabinet should be a fun process, not a stressful one. With these precautions in mind, you can create a workspace that is both beautiful and safe.


In conclusion, if you are looking to add artistic flare to your workspace while keeping an organized and practical storage solution, a decorated file cabinet is the perfect choice. Designing and decorating your own uniquely personalized storage solution is easier than you thought. With a bit of planning, creativity, and determination, you’ll be on your way how to decorate a file cabinet in no time

When designing around any piece of furniture, it’s important to remember that lighting is key, so make sure to choose warm colors that will not wash out under brighter light. Choose materials that are easy to clean in case any spills occur, and pick complimentary pieces that will bring balance to your design.

So start dreaming up creative ideas for combining paint colors, stencils, wallpaper, or fabric on the drawers. You’ll find joy in both the process and the end product! Take this opportunity now to create something unique—it doesn’t get better than this!

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