$1.99 Filing Cabinet Makeover

$1.99 furniture day at Goodwill Outlet is a magical day.  It is a day when you can find some incredible deals, like the filing cabinet we bought last weekend (see before photo below).  While most would argue that a filing cabinet is not that special, Joey and I knew that we could turn the dumpy filing cabinet that we purchased into a stylish storage solution.   All it took was a few coats of chalkboard paint.

The breakdown of how we achieved this look is listed below:


  • A filing cabinet (Look on craigslist or local thrift store for a good deal)
  • Sandpaper
  • Chalkboard Paint (We used Rust-Oleum Specialty 30 oz from Home Depot)
  • Chalk
  • Paint roller
  • Paint brush


Begin by lightly sanding the filing cabinet.   After sanding the cabinet, thoroughly clean it with a damp cloth.  Then use the paint roller to apply a thin layer of the paint.  Let the paint dry before applying another coat.  Apply 3 to 4 coats.   Use the paint brush to touch up any areas that the roller could not reach.  We choose to paint over all of the silver hardware, giving it a uniform look; however, that is entirely optional.  Allow the paint to dry overnight before drawing on it with chalk.

Joey labeled each drawer in his best handwriting.  This makes it really easy to find whatever we are looking for.

I hope you enjoyed this fun and easy makeover.

52 Comments on $1.99 Filing Cabinet Makeover

  1. Yyvonne
    August 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm (9 years ago)

    This is a great idea & I may have to try it!! However, I would have liked to see the “original” before & after file cabinet. This before & after pic is not the same cabinet; the lock & drawer release buttons are on opposite sides on each cabinet.

    • Kathryn
      August 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm (9 years ago)

      Thanks! You should try it. It was very easy… and it actually is the same filing cabinet. We flipped the “before” image horizontally. You’ll notice that the “before” is just a mirror image of the “after”. Same filing cabinet, just a new coat of paint :)

      • Jill
        September 23, 2012 at 11:44 am (9 years ago)

        I worked for the manufacturer of that cabinet. Nice to see it being re-purposed. And it is the same cabinet. Pictures can be reversed with the wonders of technology today. Happens all the time. Happens all the time.

  2. Mickie
    January 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm (9 years ago)

    Funny I found this I have a old cabinet now I know what to do with it thanks.

    • Kathryn
      January 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm (9 years ago)

      Thanks! I hope it turns out great. If you post pictures online, send me a link. I would love to see it.

  3. GGMcMurray
    March 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm (8 years ago)

    Love your idea, I have a ugly cabinet thank you for the inspiration.

  4. Ramona
    March 23, 2013 at 11:19 am (8 years ago)

    I have one in my basement
    Great idea

  5. Jennifer Prince
    July 24, 2013 at 8:43 am (8 years ago)

    Cute idea! AND I’m in awe of the fact that your Goodwill has $1.99 furniture day. I’m wondering if mine does!

  6. Sue
    October 16, 2013 at 9:29 am (8 years ago)

    I have not used chalkboard paint on a project yet. This is so cute I think I will give it a try. Do you remember how much your chalk paint cost? And is the clean up fairly easy?

    • Kathryn
      October 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks! It’s been a while, but if I remember correctly, I bought the Rust-Oleum Brand. You can get a 30 oz can for about $10. As far as clean up, it’s fairly easy.

  7. Angela
    October 29, 2013 at 8:50 am (8 years ago)

    What a terrific project! I definitely need something like this to organize all my storeroom clutter.

  8. Marcelle
    March 16, 2014 at 6:45 pm (7 years ago)

    I loved this idea. My hubby had an old gray filing cabinet he no longer was using. Just collecting dust in his garage. So I claimed it and will now plan to give it a second life and up cycle it into fab fabric, arts and crafts neat storage. I love it when everything has a home and easy to find when one needs & item for a project. I got it sanded this weekend and will try to get it done next week. I love giving something old a 2nd chance @ a new life. Thrifting is one of my Fav things to-do. Thanks for sharing this awesome idea & thinking outside the box. “Smile”

  9. Danielle
    June 8, 2014 at 8:01 am (7 years ago)

    Love this!!! I inherited 2 small (2 drawer) cabinets from my Mother In-Law. They are 2 different colors and WELL loved. I am going to do this using a recipe I found for chalkboard paint using stuff I have in my garage, making this a free addition to my new office/craft room. Thanks!!!!

  10. Calista
    July 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm (7 years ago)

    Hi I just saw this picture on Pinterest and I love it and I am going to do it and stick it in my closet. I think I just found a new favorite website! 😀

    • Kathryn
      July 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks, Calista! I’m so glad you like mox & fodder!

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