before and after

before and after: abha’s filing cabinet

by Grace Bonney

i’m in the middle of trying to create a tiny office space in our bedroom so i’ve been trying to find pretty filing cabinets that fit the rest of the room. i haven’t found anything yet but when i saw d*s reader abha rao’s file cabinet makeover i decided that a diy project was the best way to get the custom look i want. abha was looking for some filing solutions but couldn’t find an attractive version that would hold everything necessary. so abha picked up a deep 4-drawer filing cabinet on craigslist and 3 rolls of gift wrap from paper source and decided to decoupage the entire thing. the photos are a little murky but it’s easy to see what a change abha’s work made. i love the idea of making such a sad office staple into something fun, colorful and personal. great work abha!

if you have a before & after furniture makeover you’d like to share on d*s just shoot me an email with your pictures right here.


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  • Hi there, I cant seem to get an email to you…but I have a screen shot to send you which I just took of my google reader which seems to show your site promoting cheap pharmaceticals (damn cant spell that word!) anyway…dont know if its an issue here or with google…pls contact me if you need the screen shot. Thanks.

  • Hi Grace, Just wanted to let you know that in my rss reader this post showed up with a tremendously long list of spam after it. :(

  • Creative approach, but as I am in art conservation, I’m curious to know what type of adhesive was used. After some abrasion beginning at the corners and near the drawers, I could see the paper being frayed and peeling right off. While it may not be as decorative, another option may be to spray the entire cabinet with enamel…

  • hi guys

    i posted about this earlier this morning- we’re in the process of updating to a new version of wordpress that will hopefully solve the spam problem. in the mean time i’m doing my best to remove the links as quickly as possible. thank you for your concern- no need to email me images or screenshots, i assure you i see them :)


  • i did this to a filing cabinet and it didn’t come out nearly as nice! i used a heavy paper though, that must be the key. use light weight paper! mine didn’t want to lay flat at the corners. looks beautiful!

  • Thanks for the comments everybody!

    Breakfast and rocio: I actually removed all the hardware before I covered the drawer fronts, and just screwed them back in after the adhesive had dried.

    Gwen: I use two large jars of Mod Podge, and was sure to put extra on the edges and corners. So far it has stood up well, but I agree that there is some possibility of wear and tear.

    brand-eye: I actually did use a heavyweight paper – I found the lightweight paper did lay flatter, but was also much more susceptible to tearing.

  • Wow, this is SO pretty, but I really wonder about the longevity of gift wrap. I’d sooner understand using contact paper, but gift wrap seems so fragile. How did you make it work?

  • fabframes

    once something is decoupaged it’s pretty tough- it’s like a clear, shellac-ed coating that adds serious strength.


  • OMGosh.. we totally have to try this with an ikea filing cabinet we found by the dumpster.. we will have to send pics as well.

    Thanks for the inspiration! :3

  • WOW! looks beautiful and made me research Mod Podge and Decoupage (I’m not a native english speaker and hadn’t heard of those terms before) and now I’m psyched about trying them out.


  • Gorgeous! Something like this would really help my dreary file cabinet. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips.

  • this looks so good – and if it lasts (which i think it will – i’ve decoupaged and it is pretty tough) – even more awesome!

  • What a great look! I have a sad little file cabinet with no better location than the living room. Now it’s going to look like a real piece of cute furniture. Can’t wait to do this project!

  • Wow, I was baffled at first at how Abha managed to get this done so precisely – it’s great she was able to remove the hardware because I don’t know how it could be done otherwise!

    Amazing – puts my rock and roll stickered file cabinets to absolute shame!

  • Oh. My. God. This is fantastic! I’ve had this ugly cabinet sitting in my office for 3 months, waiting to make any changes to it until I could find something which I totally loved. Thank you!

  • my roommates make so much fun of me for the black filing cabinet i tried to “hide” in the corner of our living room. decoupage is a brilliant solution!

  • Thanks for all the online love! I got the solid walnut desk from craiglist, from a man whose dad used the desk in his college days (early 1950s). I love furniture with a story behind it!

  • LOVE the look of this! I did something similar to this with old knitting magazines in high school. I used the text as the base for the entire dresser and then cut individual images out and laid them across to drawers, cutting them in half, but aligning them so they matched when the drawers were closed. I put a layer of clear protective paint over the entire thing (can’t remember the exact product). It’s held up to daily use for 10+ years!

  • omg… LOVE this! Such a wonderful way to get a graphic punch, but without hurting the wallet!! (Beautiful, unique wallpaper can be soooo expensive…great idea using the wrapping paper!) Fabulous… and really quite eco friendly, too. :) Kudos!!

  • :) i definitely just papered the inside of my new desk’s top drawer with this! i love paper source; it allowed me to solve a wonderful, but annoying problem to have:

    i have had amazing craigslist luck; i keep getting vintage originals on the super cheap. but i have every intention of painting them when i buy them, so then when they arrive they are too lovely to touch! i have been obsessively papering the insides of things as a result.

  • Has anyone thought to try this with a lightweight fabric or doesn’t that work as nicely. That might be a partial solution to the ware and tear on the corners and edges.

    Let me know if someone has tried it, because I’m seriously considering buying some fabric and redoing my file cabinet!

  • This looks amazing, but I cannot see myself doing it – pretty labor intensive. I’m thinking that another approach would be to paint the frame and only decoupage the drawers. I love the colors in this, and definitely will try out. Great job Abha!

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