Lately, I’ve been working on turning the third bedroom in my house into a “library”. It’s a very small room (10′ x 10′) and it already has the wall of books that helps with the library theme.
Recently, I converted an old TV armoire into a desk that I could use for storing pencils and electronic equipment. If you want to check out the armoire-to-desk project, you can see the post here.
Then I decided to add a “writing desk”. Basically something with a large surface area that I could spread out my books, and yes, notebooks for writing on. I love the “glam industrial” look when it comes to desks (industrial with some sparkly bits!)
I fell in love with this one from Z Gallerie…and when it came on sale, I bit the bullet and bought it (a bit of a splurge!)
It’s a beautiful desk, and it fits in my library perfectly…now all I needed was storage for a few files. I am trying to get to the “paperless office” state (you can see my inspiration for that on justagirlandherblog.com), so I didn’t want a big filing cabinet…but there are some papers that you need to keep. And I don’t always get around to scanning things right when they arrive, so this would serve as temporary organization for those papers.
I stumbled across the solution accidentally when I found some really inexpensive file boxes that matched the desk decor exactly! Click next to see what my DIY Glam Industrial Filing Cabinet ended up looking like.
The Sneak Peek of the Finished Product
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This is the finished product.
I like the fact that the black file boxes with the silver snaps repeats the rivet pattern from the desk. And it has the same black and silver color combination.
Then there’s the functional part…those casters mean I can move that filing cabinet anywhere just be pushing it. And the wheel locks mean it can stay in place if I need it to.
Click next to learn how to create this for yourself…it’s really easy (and inexpensive)!
What You Need
- 12″ wide x 12″ deep x 24″ tall shelving unit…being a bit of a “hoarder” when it comes to construction supplies, I happened to have an old closet organizer shelf that fit the bill. I had cut it down to 24″ tall and removed the back for another project that I wasn’t using any more. You could do something similar with this ClosetMaid 3-Shelf Organizer*
- Painter’s pyramid stands*
- Mirror effect spray paint*
- 2 in. General-Duty Rubber Swivel Caster with Brake, Black
- #8 x 3/4 in. Zinc-Plated Flat-Head Phillips Drive Wood Screw (100-Piece)
- Black letter-size file box*
Step 1: Get the Right Size of Cabinet
This is the shelf that I started with. It was part of a closet organizer set at one point, but had been re-purposed for another project (that I’m no longer using). At that time I had cut it down to 24″ high and removed the back. Since it is 12″ wide and deep, this just happened to be the perfect size for my filing boxes!
You could do something similar with any inexpensive closet organizer shelf. Or if you’re an old project supplies “hoarder” like me, you might be able to find something in your stash 🙂
Just make sure your shelving unit has a fixed shelf on the top and the bottom. The middle one can be adjustable (although it’s easier to pull the file box out if it’s also fixed).
Step 2: Spray Paint
The first step to creating a glam industrial file cabinet is to spray paint the shelving unit with silver spray paint. I used Mirror Effect Spray Paint.
It is intended to be used on glass, so this isn’t a conventional use for this paint.
But I find that it goes on with a much smoother finish and really adheres well to the surface (an important point when you are going to be sliding filing boxes back and forth on it).
1. Take the shelves apart (if you can). This makes them much easier to paint.
2. Arrange the paint pyramids so that your boards will be able to sit on them. Obviously this is an optional step…but they do keep the boards from sticking to the surface of the table.
3. Lay out your boards. I usually try to start with the undersides of the shelves (the parts you won’t see too much). My first few paint sprays always seem to be a little heavy.
4. Apply the spray paint in thin layers. It took about 4 layers for me. Thankfully, this paint dries very quickly so by the time you are finished the last board, you can usually start over with the first one.
5. Wait for a few minutes after the last coat, then flip the boards over and repeat for the other side.
The one thing I have noticed is that the mirror effect paint seems to pick up finger prints really easily (just like stainless steel!). I may end up putting a clear coat on it so that I don’t have to keep wiping them off all the time.
Step 3: Attach Casters
If you took your shelves apart to paint them, put them back together before attaching the casters. Make sure that you have the finished edges facing in the right direction when you do this.
1. Turn the shelf unit upside down making sure that you don’t scratch the top (this is easiest if you can put down a towel or do this on a rug).
2. Attach the casters in each of the corners using ¾” screws.
3. Turn the shelves right side up…the DIY part is done!
Step 4: Add the File Boxes
1. Put the black letter-size file boxes* together. This is really easy. Fold them out and push the snaps together.
2. Load up your hanging files.
3. Add the file boxes to your shelving unit.
Note: These file boxes come with a lid but it doesn’t really work since it fits on top of the file tabs, and it makes the box wider than my shelf. So I just don’t use the lids.
Step 5: Wheel It Into Position
This is the easiest step of all! Wheel the file box where you want it!
In my case, it’s going under my desk so that it’s out of the way…but the wheels make it easy to pull out when needed.
And the fact that it’s fairly small means that I can’t collect too many papers…so I will be forced to keep up my paperless office habits. And it doesn’t take up much space. A perfect solution for my small library.
Have comments or questions about DIY Glam Industrial Filing Cabinet? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on December 14, 2015 but was updated with new content on July 7, 2023.