before & after: chad’s filing cabinet planter

today’s final before & after project comes from d*s reader chad kelly. after seeing a converted file cabinet-planter at a local nursery (with a $600 price tag!), chad decided to try the idea in his own garden on a lower budget. chad found a great filing cabinet on craigslist for $10, put it on its side, made planter boxes for each drawer and then spray painted the entire piece a bright yellow. add succulents and voila! a budget-friendly planter made from an old filing cabinet. great work, chad!

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? just shoot me an email right here with your pictures!]


  1. this is fantastic, reminds me of a good friend (has several of these filing cabinets & loves to putter in the yard). but what are we going to do with the drawers?!

  2. That is so stinking awesome! Wow! If I have a garden someday, I hope to do this! What a great idea and a wonderful way to recycle a cabinet!

  3. Kim says:

    Very Brilliant!

  4. Celia says:

    WOT!!! That’s damn creative. Now that’s thinking out of the box.
    Scouring Craigslist as we speak!

  5. it’s fantastic, and i love that rich bright yellow. chad, as the succulents grow and multiply, please send us a follow up photo.

  6. Amy says:

    WOW! Love it! Brilliant!

  7. Teresa says:

    great way to add a touch of boldness to a yard! looking at those file cabinets, i think they could work as unique indoor storage as well! maybe even a storage bench?

  8. Christina says:

    I love this iece, Its recycled but still looks clean and modern! I love a smooth surface and this planter idea is just that! Great creativity and execution!

  9. Sarah says:

    Not only it is a great green project but am loving the colors and plants chosen. Well done!

  10. LeighS says:

    I like this much more than my ikea pots.

  11. Really a terrific Idea!! what a great way to make a planter. i could see doing a whole garden out of these!

  12. AlisonP says:

    what type of paint would you use to keep a metal file cabinet from rusting outside?

  13. SparkerShop says:

    Brilliant! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Debbi S. in Texas says:

    I am SO doing this…using my husband’s broken lateral files he will NOT get rid of

  15. Jill says:

    I can’t wait to go garage “sailing” and find a cabinet I’m doing it orange and planting bamboo like a previous blogger! Excellent site!!!!!!!

  16. Sunshine says:

    Amazing idea. I’ve got a couple in the garage that I’m going to plant up!

  17. Laura says:

    I am looking forward to trying this idea next spring! I love the yellow!!

  18. Betty says:

    Thanks for this blog! I was looking for a way to do this and I was able to make my own! I’ve listed some tips if you’re making your own!

  19. Beth says:

    Love this, I have a spot that kinda needs a little retaining wall and this could do the trick. I thought it would also be nice to put molding on the sides of the filing cabinet before painting.

  20. Michelle says:

    Wow! I’ve been trying to design an outdoor room on a budget and low and behold, you have given me the perfect DIY for my planned boarding walls! What a wonderful idea!!!

  21. Charlie says:

    I’m filing that under fabulous. I just picked up 8 free cabinets before they threw them away.

  22. Grant says:

    painter buckets fit perfectly in the drawer slots.
    I have okra growing in the buckets.
    this is the perfect height no bending required.
    I stacked the drawers and planted hen , biddies and alovera.

  23. Amazing idea! Thanks for sharing, I have an empty one in our house that hasn’t been used for years…I think I’ll be using your idea to put it to good use!


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