Turning your old file cabinet into a garage storage favorite

If you were to ever come to my house you would quickly realize that out of all the rooms in my house, my garage is the land that time, space and attention forgot. I know where my tools are, but the rest of it is one big Bermuda Triangle of supplies. (i.e.: We have birdseed. We don’t own birds, a bird bath or a bird feeder. You get the idea..) I can’t tell you how many duplicates we have of very basic things simply because they have been put back here-and-there ish. ONE DAY I was going to organize it all. (Sort of like ONE DAY I’ll start exercising..)

A couple of weeks ago, fate intervened in the form of HGTV, who contacted me to ask if I would contribute to a feature in which an everyday object is repurposed and used in a garage. After the smelling salts wore off, I fired up every last working brain cell (took some doing, I’ve worked with a lot of toxic fumes) and came up with and idea built around this baby:

Oh yes, she's a beaut...


Impressive, right? Yes, we own this cabinet. It was holding super important warranties for appliances we haven’t owned since I was a natural blonde.  In other words, it was the perfect candidate for a makeover (as am I, funnily enough).  As with any makeover, it was time to look at things a little differently.  What about looking at it like this?


Looking at things a little differently..


NOW we’re cooking with gas..Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Sand paper
2. Spray Primer and Paint
3. Painter’s masking tape
4. Casters (4 if converting a small cabinet, 6 if working with a large one)
5. Peg Board and peg board hanging kit
6. Scrap wood
7. screws
8. Level (if choosing to do a decorative stripe)
9. Power drill


1. Lightly sand and wipe cabinet clean so that spray primer affixes easily. Spray with primer and allow to dry completely. Using a level, mark where your decorative stripe will be located (if you choose to do one).


Primed Cabinet


2. Cover contrasting stripe with tape and spray the rest of the cabinet with the spray paint of your choice (a glossy finish looks great on a file cabinet). Allow to dry completely before removing tape.


Ready for Candy Apple Red


3. Cover the painted part of the cabinet with tape and/or newspapers to protect newly painted surface and paint contrasting stripes. Allow to dry completely before removing the tape.


Kind of like that Mustang I hope to own someday....


Now you’re ready to affix the cabinet to its rolling base:

5. Cut scrap wood to slightly smaller size than the base of the cabinet.

6. Measure casters to be affixed at equal intervals from each other along the board, approximately 2 inches from the edge of the board.


You know what they say: Measure twice...


7. Mark holes with pencil where each caster is to be screwed in and affix with a washer and machine screw.


You're on a roll!


8. Using a hand saw, cut your peg board to slightly smaller than each end of the cabinet and affix to the sides using the peg board hanging kit sold in stores.


Julia Child loved peg board in her kitchen..


9. Mount cabinet on rolling wooden platform and secure by inserting two screws on both ends, passing through the base of the cabinet and into the wood. You can also screw several pieces of peg board into the metal slats that separate each compartment for a neater look.


Suddenly, I can find things....


The possibility of tool configuration are endless..


And now we have a practical, sturdy (and moveable) garage storage!   (You wouldn’t believe how many tools I discovered I didn’t know I had.)  Take a look at the HGTV feature,  Clever Uses for Everyday Items in the Garage and get inspired!


I love it..


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My Uncommon Slice of Suburbiashabby creek cottage
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If you think this is the most amazing post ever, then share! And if not, share anyway--it makes me happy!

    294 Responses to “Turning your old file cabinet into a garage storage favorite”

    Read below or add a comment...

    1. knack says:

      This is such a goody! Great job!

      Barb Blair

    2. Maria says:

      thanks for the tutorial. I want one!

    3. Holly says:

      Pure Freakin Genius!!!

    4. This is a great idea!! Love it! :)

    5. Mallory says:

      WOW!! That is genius!!!!! PINNING FOR SURE!! Found you at UTTAD! I’d love if you linked this up to my party going on now! I’m your newest follower! Follow back if you’d like! ;) We love new bloggy friends!

      Hugs – Mallory & Savannah @ Classy Clutter


    6. Jen says:

      LOVE this idea! I’m definitely gonna be on the lookout for an old file cabinet!

    7. Julie says:

      OMG…this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! I am going to do this project with hubby this weekend!!@! Thank you!

    8. Love! Who knew you could do that with a filing cabinet! the peg board is sooo clever! featured this tonight! Stop by and grab a featured button! :)

    9. Nicole says:

      Brilliant idea!

    10. KC says:

      This is great! I have two file cabinets to empty at school. Thanks for the idea!

    11. Stephanie says:

      Super Idea! I have a file cabinet wasting away in the basement and a mess in the garage. I think this will be the hubby’s weekend project.

    12. I L.O.V.E this! Featuring you this weekend! XO, Aimee

    13. Great idea! I have one of these sitting in our shop right now and I’m going to steal this. I’ll pin it first ;) Shoes….balls…..recycle bins. My mind is a-going… Thanks!

    14. I really wish I had a garage right now! Pinning for future use. Thank you! And congrats on the HGTV feature! Amazing.

    15. Ok, this is such an amazing idea! Those stinking old file cabinets are everywhere. What an absolute great way to use it.

    16. what a GREAT idea! could totally use this to store rugs…from your latest home stager/reader! very cool – thanks for the inspiration!

    17. kellie says:

      this such a fabulous idea!! i love it.

    18. Wow. First, congrats on that HGTV feature! Really amazing … as is this transformation. Oh, and you’re seriously fun to read too. How have I not found you until today …

      … and I don’t remember that Julia Child-peg board tidbit from Julia & Julia (and that’s pretty much my knowledge of Julia Child. Oh, and the infamous SNL skit …)



    19. What an amazing idea! I love this. Hope I find an old metal file cabinet between now and Father’s day! What a great gift it would make!

      • Oh yes! This would be a fantastic gift for Dads..I’ve been so excited about corralling my tools that I hadn’t even thought about the gifting possibilities, but that would be FABULOUS! Thanks so much for the idea!

    20. What a way to think outside the box! This is amazing and I am going to do it next weekend! I think I have 2 old filing cabinets so I might make one for s gift for someone!! Thanks so much for sharing this project.

    21. The best part of blogging is collecting ideas from others, and this is wonderful! Thank you and great work!!

    22. Amber says:

      This was an absolutely fab idea! I love to see such amazing, creative people & what wonderful ideas they come up with. I have poked around a bit & I adore your writing & your style. Congrats on the HGTV feature! That is so cool!
      Thank you for sharing your great ideas with us,

      • You are too sweet, Amber, thanks so much for stopping by to see me..and let me say, YOUR work is beautiful! I love the “His & Her” pillows, and your spray paint sign is terrific…beautifully done! Looking forward to keeping up with you!

    23. so clever and so functional. love it so much!

    24. What an awesome idea!!! Would have never thought it was a filing cabinet. I could use one of these in my shed. I’m stopping over from Centsational Girl. Glad I found your blog. Going to check out the rest now. :)

    25. Nancyo says:

      How did you affix the wood to the file cabinet ? What did you use?


    26. Nancyo says:

      How did you affix the wood to the file cabinet ? What did you use?,

    27. NancyO says:

      How did you affix the wood to the cabinet? What did you use?

      • Hey there! I used simple machine screws to affix the wood base to the cabinet, you don’t necessarily need to have a metal drill bit to drill through the cabinet, but it does help (I didn’t have one). As long as the screw is long enough, it should work just fine.

    28. Katie says:

      Wow, I am seriously impressed! I’m a new reader and will be back for more awesome inspiration!

    29. Wow! What a creative transformation! Thumbs up. I’m pinning this. :)

      • Thanks so much, Betsy, and I took a peek at your blog and it looks like we have A LOT in common…upcycling clothes into accessories is my reason for living!! Hope you come back to visit me often!

    30. Jenny says:

      I saw this last week featured at a link party and was totally inspired. I was searching high and low for a way to house our outdoor tools and with no garage or shed it was extremely difficult. I’ll be posting my storage unit and I’ll be sure to backlink to yours. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

    31. gail says:

      brilliant repurpose! I need something like this to hold my wood (trim pieces). Love how your garage storage piece turned out!
      thanks for sharing @ catch as catch can!

    32. I love this idea!!!!
      But don’t own a filing cabnet. But perhaps I can buy one cheap at a garage sale.

      I just showed my husband and he grumbled…..LOL…. He’s worried

    33. Amy says:

      Love it! I really need to get to work on our garage, not sure that I can say your post motivated me (I really don’t want to do it), but your project looks great and now my garage is jealous!

      • Thanks so much for the love! I can relate to the severe lack of motivation when it comes to the garage..it really was the last place I thought of beautifying in any way, but I have to say, this has gone a long way towards keeping me from getting hives every time I need to find a rake!

    34. Beth says:

      YOU. ARE. BRILLIANT! THIS. IS. AWESOME!!! I know what I’m making this weekend…THANKS!

    35. jan says:

      A small cabinet would be great in the closet for wrapping station. One section for paper and one section for ribbon boxes.

      Love the garage idea.

      • You’re right, my wrapping station (using that word VERY loosely in this case ;) is a disaster, so maybe I’ll make another and use it to get my paper situation under control!

    36. Sunshine Brown says:

      Any ideas of what to do with the drawers?

      • What about using them as planters? You can paint with Rust-oleum, line and use as a planter (you can even insert a label with the name of what you have planted)..

    37. Lori says:

      I found you via Roadkill Rescue and I am totally impressed. This if a fantastic idea… ingenious! I’m going to follow you around so I don’t miss anything else. You have an invite to stop by and visit anytime, Lori

    38. Amanda says:

      This is GREAT!

    39. What a fabulous idea! i featured it on my TT&J FB page :)


    40. Genius! Love this. Could work for golf clubs, baseball bats….too. Love it when something is turned into something COMPLETELY different!

    41. Doreen says:

      Your revamped file cabinet is brilliant! Several years ago, our patio was refashioned by the HGTV show Design on a Dime. We still live it!

    42. Doreen says:

      Your revamped file cabinet is brilliant! Several years ago, our patio was refashioned by the HGTV show Design on a Dime. We still love it!

    43. Kym M says:

      I’ve come over via Be different act normal. Wow, what a great idea! How did you come up with that one? Love it. It has so many uses. Will have to share this one with my brother for his scraps of wood he has in his shed!
      West Aussie

    44. This is a GREAT idea! We just gave away a couple of ugly filing cabinets, but luckily I still have one more! I’m going to feature this at Show & Tell this week – thanks for linking up!

    45. Courtney! says:

      You are a freaking genius! I have seen a million different ways to reuse filing cabinets and they all look like repurposed filing cabinets…you are amazing!

      Love it!

      • I’m not sure who’s more genius here, I just went to your blog and HOLY COW, your kitchen redo is AMAZING! Thanks so much for com in over to see me, I’ll be checking in with YOU often! (and I love the fact that Jane Fonda is hugger ;)

    46. Stacy says:

      Thanks for linking this up! Such a good idea :) I am off to pin!

    47. S Loire King says:

      I used the drawers as the base to hold a cord of stacked wood. We put boards along the top and side, with the drawers acting as the holders on the bottom. They work great!

    48. ColleenB says:

      Clever idea
      My husband loved this idea so much that he is using his file cabinet to store his scrap wood pieces in. No more different sizes of wood laying all over in his workshop. and I have the drawers to plant my herb garden in. :}

    49. Melissa says:

      I converted my cabinet today! So easy. It’s primed and ready to paint tomorrow. What am awesome idea!! Thanks!!

    50. Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog website?

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