There’s always been a market for filing cabinets as people seek to organize their offices and homes, keeping valuable documents safe. The demand for unique filing cabinets has skyrocketed over the past two years as the home office became a mainstay in the modern workplace. No longer are filing cabinets purely functional, but a creative example of personal style in the home.
Old, rusty filing cabinets are a dime a dozen since the structures are built to endure, often far outlasting their function. Upcycling old filing cabinets continues to emerge as a trend in the DIY market, and crafty creators have expanded their repurposing hobbies into thriving small businesses.
With consumers looking for functional storage that compliments their home designs, upcycled filing cabinets continue to fill a niche in the market. Repurposing filing cabinets doesn’t end with giving them a makeover, either, as the structures can be converted into a variety of other functions and designs.
What Can You do with an Old Filing Cabinet?
Are you ready to start a small business selling upcycled file cabinets? You can find a vintage filing cabinet for practically no investment at flea markets and garage sales, or you can buy new filing cabinets for little expense at many major retailers that sell office storage furniture.
Once you’ve gotten craft materials such as paint and glue, you can start repurposing and upcycling your filing cabinet inventory. You then can sell your completed projects at local craft malls and online marketplaces once you’ve learned how to start a small business on Etsy and how to sell on Amazon Handmade.
Looking for inspiration for your upcycled filing cabinet projects? You can give new life to an old metal filing cabinet with a one-of-a-kind design, or you can transform old office furniture into new structures like tables, desks and alternative storage solutions, perfect for any office space.
Upcycled Metal Filing Cabinet Ideas
Ready to sell repurposed office furniture? Used metal filing cabinets are durable and plentiful, and they can be converted in a host of creative projects. The following upcycled metal filing cabinet ideas can get you started:
1. Upcycle Filing Cabinet to End Table with Storage
An old metal cabinet can do a lot more than hold and organize papers. In this example, House Beautiful demonstrates how to transform a metal filing cabinet into a stylish end table with storage. Upcycling projects such as this one are simple for even amateur craftspeople to complete, and repurposed office furniture can be sold for a healthy profit, especially if you know where to sell handmade items locally.
2. Repurpose an Old File Cabinet as a Coffee Table
Old metal filing cabinets can be repurposed in a variety of ways simply by flipping the structure onto its side. In the above example from Oh Louise Designs, a metal filing cabinet was transformed into a coffee table with little effort. If the old metal cabinet needs a makeover to prepare it for its new life as furniture, a fresh coat of paint can work wonders.
3. Repurpose Filing Cabinets to Kids’ Playhouse
Want to create a fun space for kids to play while Mom or Dad works from their home office? With a couple of metal filing cabinets and a curtain, parents can create a safe yet unique playhouse for the kids. The structure also doubles as functional storage space for the playroom. A simple coat of paint will make the repurposed filing cabinets match any decorative scheme.
4. Repurpose a Filing Cabinet as a Laundry Bin
Old metal filing cabinets can be repurposed to serve a variety of alternative functions by removing their drawers. In this example from Prodigal Pieces, the drawers of a metal filing cabinet were replaced with laundry baskets, and an attractive design was stenciled and painted on the side. The end result is a unique bathroom storage container that makes a perfect housewarming gift.
5. Upcycle a Metal Filing Cabinet with a New Paint Job
Upcycling a metal filing cabinet doesn’t have to equal changing its purpose. There’s plenty of market for simple filing cabinets decorated to match home and office decor. You can give an old metal filing cabinet a new lease on life by giving it a fresh coat of paint and selling your stylish filing cabinet makeover to consumers seeking unique office storage furniture.
6. Repurpose a Metal Filing Cabinet for Kitchen Storage
You might be surprised what can be crafted from disassembled filing cabinets. In the above example from A Few Pennies, the artist uses parts of a metal filing cabinet to create designer kitchen storage. The small kitchen pantry was stenciled and painted to coordinate with any sort of kitchen style.
7. Repurpose a File Cabinet as Stylish Bar Storage
Filing cabinets can hold so much more than paperwork. For a creative twist on a repurposed metal filing cabinet, try converting the structure to store other household items. In the above example, Home Talk describes how to transform a metal file cabinet into convenient and stylish bar storage.
8. Upcycle Metal File Cabinet as a Storage Bench
How do you store more items in repurposed file cabinets? Attach multiple metal filing cabinets together to create a handy storage bench for indoor or outdoor use. By removing the drawers and attaching a single lid atop the filing cabinets, Confluence Architecture repurposed rusty old filing cabinets in a manner that is sure to sell on Etsy or a local craft outlet.
9. Repurpose a Filing Cabinet to a Planter
Practically any container can be repurposed as a planter, including an old filing cabinet. By removing the drawers and filling the cabinet with dirt, a file cabinet can be the perfect home for garden plants and flowers. Give the filing cabinet a makeover with a fresh coat of paint, and the repurposed planter can match any sort of indoor or outdoor decor.
10. Makeover a Filing Cabinet with Wrapping Paper
You can upcycle a filing cabinet with more than a fresh coat of paint. Add beautiful designs to an old file cabinet makeover by covering the drawers with colorful wrapping paper. With the proper craft supplies, the paper will transform the look of the filing cabinet, making a unique design that is sure to be a top seller.
Upcycle Filing Cabinet Products Made of Wood
One of the more popular ways of crafting a filing cabinet makeover is adding wooden parts and accents to give an old file cabinet a new look or an entirely new purpose. Transform a metal utility into stylish wooden furniture with boards and frames, or add a wooden plank across multiple filing cabinets to create a one-of-a-kind table. Repurposed furniture continues to trend in the furniture market, and you’re sure to sell your designs at local shops or online marketplaces.
11. Upcycle Metal File Cabinet as Faux Wood Storage
By attaching wooden picture frames to the front of metal file cabinet doors, you can not only makeover the filing cabinet, but also transform it into stylish wooden furniture with built-in storage. Nobody will ever guess your beautiful creation started its life as a heap of metal.
12. Repurpose Filing Cabinets As a Craft Counter
Entire furniture can be made from filing cabinets, such as in this example from Little Gray Table. Craftspeople aligned several filing cabinets, gave them a fresh paint job and attached a single large plank to the top, creating a useful and attractive craft table.
13. Upcycle Metal Filing Cabinet with Stencils and Wood
A rusty old filing cabinet can live a new life as attractive office furniture by adding some wooden accents and stenciling stylish designs. In the above example from H2O Bungalow, a plain metal file cabinet was given a proper makeover with basic supplies.
14. Transform a File Cabinet with Wood
Who would have guessed the attractive wooden cabinet in the example above started its life as an old metal filing cabinet? The team at Brepurposed gave the filing cabinet a makeover by covering it with small strips of wood, completely transforming the repurposed creation.
15. Give a Filing Cabinet an Antique Look
Looking to sell repurposed furniture that looks like a classic antique? Even an old filing cabinet can be transformed into a cheque masterpiece by adding the right wooden accents. In the above example from Scavenger Chic, the creator upcycled an old file cabinet into stylish furniture that would fit in any home.
How to Start a Filing Cabinet Makeover for Profit
Upcycled and repurposed furniture is so popular, it’s no stretch to dream of selling it for profit. Filing cabinet makeover designs are only limited by your imagination, but to get started you need inventory. Start collecting old filing cabinets from local flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales. You’ll also want to invest in supplies like basic tools, craft glue and paints.
When you start selling filing cabinet makeovers for profit, you can support your business with your early sales, buying more inventory with the profits from your first sales. As you establish your small business, you can expand your inventory and boost your profits.
Where to Sell Upcycled Filing Cabinets
It’s one thing to makeover filing cabinets and repurpose them into stylish furniture, but that doesn’t get them sold. Where will you sell your upcycled file cabinets? Will you sell them locally, or will you seek buyers online and ship the merchandise? Sure, you could open your own store with a showroom full of upcycled file cabinets, but most people start on a smaller scale, including:
- Online marketplaces like Etsy, a popular e-commerce platform where people buy and sell crafts and handmade items.
- Amazon Handmade, a community within the e-commerce giant’s platform where artists and craftspeople sell their unique and one-of-a-kind creations.
- Locally at flea markets, used furniture stores and consignment shops, as well as crafts fairs and festivals.
- Other online marketplaces like eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
Read More: how to Start an Upcycling Business