DIYdiy projects

diy project: casey’s wallpaper file cabinet

by Grace Bonney

casey at fossil (who is responsible for these great sneak peeks!) sent over this fun office-related diy project. looking to spruce up her drab file cabinet, casey used new handles and a wallpaper sample and a little mod podge to create a chic home-office friendly file cabinet. file cabinets are definitely an area designers have yet to really tackle, so it’s great to have a fun way to spruce them up until we start seeing cuter options on the market. thanks, casey!

CLICK HERE for the full project after the jump!


File Cabinet
Wallpaper sample (or any other printed paper)
Mod Podge
Exacto Knife
New Handles/Hardware



1. Remove the drawers and hardware from the file cabinet. (You can remove the lock by pinching the sides of the back, then pulling it through the front- see picture!)
2. Paint the body of the cabinet with spray paint or use a roller with high gloss latex. Set it aside to dry.
3. Apply Mod Podge directly to the drawers and apply wallpaper on top. Smooth out air bubbles with an old credit card. Allow to dry
4. Once the wallpaper is dry, cut around the edges with an X-Acto knife.
4. Apply a layer of mod podge on top of the paper and allow to dry.
5. To protect and seal the cabinet, coat with polycrylic or another water based top coat.
6. Attach your new handles and reinsert the lock.
7. Stand back and enjoy! :)

*click here for more images of casey’s process!

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  • Wow, this is really fabulous. I’ve been looking for a way to spruce up my file cabinet–it’s such an eye sore! I love that chair too.

  • wow! what a great idea! i’ve been trying to think of a clever way to add some storage to my small home workspace. this would be perfect and i can make it match the room!

  • Love! What happens when it is time to take wallpaper / covering off? Is there a a great potion to take off the residue? This would be great on the fridge…

  • Wow! I love this and can’t wait to try it at home. You’re office is amazing!

  • Hi Marie,
    For the inspiration board above the desk I painted an old door with magnetic paint then coated it with 1 layer of chocolate brown paint and 1 layer of walnut stain, then sealed the whole thing. I glued magnets to the back of buttons and beads to hold all my favorite tears.

  • I would have never thought to replace the handles on a filing cabinet – that’s a great update by itself! Your cabinet came out beautiful – awesome project!

  • This is great…been thinking of lining my kitchen doors with wallpaper…my big question however is what is Mod Podge…???! I’m intrigued!

  • Thanks everyone for such lovely comments! The wallpaper is from Sherwin Williams. The $5 sample was plenty of material to cover the front of the file cabinet. You can search for pattern #SW2AT9006
    on their site: http://www.swdecorating.com/default.asp?fm=/wallpaper_home.asp|

    I can’t remember the name of the fabric off the top of my head, but I’ll look tonight to see if I still have a piece with the info on it!

  • One of the best before/afters! Looks so great with the west elm parsons desk…

  • I was thinking the very same thing as Marie — I’d love to know how to make that fabulous bulletin board! The file cabinet is also wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • I am getting ready to move and was about to throw out my ugly old filing cabinet… until I saw this post! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Love this before and after!! Also love the look of that chair with the modern desk and that awesome bulletin board. So much inspiration in one image…

  • I recently painted (light, bright blue spray from Rustoleum) and added new hardware to my 2-drawer filing cabinet. I bought the hardware at Home Depot. I also had 3-3/4″ width holes existing, and was able to choose a standard size, off-the-rack handle. At the store, they were measured in millimeters.

    I work at a paint and wallcoverings store, and we can order samples up to 6′ in length from several companies for a small cost. I’ve completed many projects with these, from handmade books and boxes, to decorating binders and beneath the glass of a glass-top table. Find out what your local store offers. These samples are a great resource!

  • I wasn’t so keen on this when I saw the cabinet by itself, but it is absolutely lovely in context with the desk, chair and cushion – a wonderful harmony and balance of colour and pattern.

  • I love how simple, yet stunning this is. I see file cabinets all the time at Goodwill but have never thought twice about getting one before now!

  • This whole mini office arrangement is lovely! Where did you get the desk? It’s just what I’m looking for.

  • Love it! I have a white two-drawer file cabinet under my desk now that could use a makeover. Now I know where to start. I’m thinking about using some print quality wrapping paper that I saw at the DeYoung museum store.

  • the whole office is amazing! i am interested in the desk and the board above the desk…where can i find that desk or similar one? oh and i wanted to know where do you get the magnetic paint? thanks for sharing your space with us! once again its amazing!

    • miranda

      usually you can find mod podge at a place like michael’s craft stores, pearl paint, etc. craft stores are a better bet than hardware stores. you can buy it online too – just google “mod podge” :)


  • I love this! Where could I get a chair like that? I have the same desk but smaller and in green. Thanks! Great file cabinet!

  • Okay, I checked and can’t come up with the name of the fabric, but I got it at Sarah’s Fabrics in Lawrence KS.

    The desk is the white parsons desk at West Elm.

    The handles are from Lowes, and where pretty cheap- somewhere around $3 each. Like Christine said above- the measurement was in millimeters (96mm) that should fit the 3 3/4″ size perfectly.

    The magnetic paint can be found in the paint aisle of your local home depot or lowes.

    Hope that helps!

  • This is great … and the instructions are very easy to follow. Original as well..hope to see some more ideas from Casey.

  • I love this. I just attempted a mini-makeover of my black file cabinet but had a hard time finding hardware to fit. I’ll have to give Lowe’s a good look. I went to Anthropologie and couldn’t find a match. And I’m definitely going to pursue the wallpapered drawers now that I see how fab yours looks! Thanks!

  • Oooooh! Thanks so much for the inspiration. I’ve been looking at file cabinets… I didn’t want to pay a ton for a nice wooden one but hate the look of a plain steel one. Why didn’t I think of decoupage??? I have plenty of mags and half a bottle of ModPodge!!!

  • WOW! what a great way to improve a necessary evil in an office.. We have a couple hiding in my husband’s office and I can so see improving the look with a little wall paper or even fabric… Thanks for a great idea!

  • LOVIN it! Now how many times have you seen a forelorn file cab curbside on trash day! WHO KNEW you could change the handles too!!!!??? Can’t wait for trash day now……

  • just curious, were youable to find hardware that fit perfectly or did you have to drill new holes?

  • Hi Amee,
    The hardware fit the holes that were already there. They make the placements pretty standard, so hopefully you’ll get lucky that it will work out!

  • Love this! I need a filing cabinet and plan on trying this soon.

    The fabric on the desk chair looks like an old Amy Butler line. (Line: Forest Pattern: Pods)

  • I’m looking to paint the outside of the cabinet in addition to the wallpaper squares. Do you have any tips on what type of paint to use?

  • I have been looking for a way to make my massive ugly filing cabinets fit into my office. I am going out to buy all the stuff to recreate this look. I LOVE IT!!!

  • My mom did a similar thing, painted her cabinet dark green and then mod podged on brightly coloured fall leaves which she had collected and dried/pressed. Looks gorgeous in her office/craft room.

  • I am wanting to do this to my filing cabinet but nervous becasue I have had mod podge make my paper soggy before and REALLY bubble up. Any tips?

    amiemendenhall at hotmail dot com

    • amie

      it sounds like you need to cut down on the amount of mod podge you use, and apply thinner coats. and you can get a plastic edge to press it down smooth and prevent bubbles.


  • Hi there,
    I am using your fabulous idea to prettify an old filing cabinet… how did you get your wallpaper? The samples sizes I see for that exact print on sherwin are only 8 by 10. Did you have to order rolls?
    LOVE your blog!!

  • i love your file cabinet but am wondering if i could do something like this on my clothes dryer. do you think the heat from the dryer would melt the paper or the modpodge? your thoughts/ideas are appreciated. great job on the cabinet!

  • where does one get cute wallpaper? do you have to buy it in large quantities?

  • Can you please tell me where to purchase this desk — the whole look is fabulous!

  • I’m doing at taller file cabinet that has 4 drawers. Do you think I would need to order 2 samples?

  • I love this idea! It’s just the thing I’m looking for to help my industrial gray cabinet blend into our half-office, half-living room. What is the fabric on the chair, please?

  • Do you think you could do this with scrapbook paper? I’m inheriting a large file cabinet from my mother in law and I’m going to paint it Tiffany Blue. I was hoping to do the front of the drawers in a black and white damask pattern or something similar.