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Paint a File Cabinet Blue: $5 Revamp

13 July 2011 116,440 views 40 Comments

by heather

blue filing cabinet

Let me tell you about this file cabinet. I got it from the free listings on Craigslist a couple years ago. (My secret to getting something good for FREE off Craigslist? Stalk the site or use a CL phone app and the minute you see something you want listed for Free, jump in the car and drive like the wind.) It was a not-so-tasty beige, which is fine for a bland office, but not fun. Not fun at all.

Enter Krylon's new Dual Paint, which is a spray paint and primer in one can. I picked my favorite color, True Blue (or as I affectionately call it, "Ikea Blue"), and went to work on my old file cabinet.

file cabinet before

file cabinet before

I should tell you, I have had this file cabinet in my garage for three or four years. I put it in my office back when I picked it up for free, but it was so ugly that when we moved, I never moved it from the new garage back into the house.

 The Blueprint Inspiration

blueprint installation

A couple years ago, I found this blueprint-inspired art installation and I have always wanted to have a piece of furniture that looks like this. I love cobalt blue, and I think blueprints are so cool! I am not brave enough to paint a room this color (yet), so I started small, with my file cabinet.

Blue File Cabinet Revamp

Project Estimate:

  • Metal file cabinet, on hand
  • Can of Krylon Dual Paint, about $5
  • Sand paper, on hand or $1
  • White paint pen, on hand or about $3

Total: $5 and up


  • Screwdriver (to remove hardware)
  • Paper towels or rag to clean cabinet
  • Drop cloth (sooo worth the $5 investment) or newspaper/cardboard to cover work area

sanding a file cabinet

Before You Spray Paint a File Cabinet

Spray painting is very easy. Anyone can do it, BUT there are a few simple steps you should take to prepare your project to ensure that your spray painting experience is as successful as it can be.

To prep your surface, you should:

  1. Clean it with soap and water and dry it off
  2. Sand it lightly to scuff up the surface (this will allow the paint to adhere)
  3. If there are any rusty parts, sand them more
  4. Wipe off dust with a wet paper towel or rag and let it dry
  5. Remove hardware with a screwdriver (this only took about a minute! easier than masking)
  6. Make sure your work surface is covered with a drop cloth or enough newspaper/cardboard
  7. Shake the can of paint according to instructions, or for 2 minutes
  8. Wear gloves before you spray!

With Krylon Dual Paint, you don't have to prime your surface, but if you are using another kind of paint, you will get the best results if you prime first.

painting file cabinet

How to Spray Paint Metal

One of the cool things about Krylon Dual Paint is that it works on metal and a bunch of other surfaces. Other tips for successful spray paint finishes:

  1. Make sure can is shaken before you start, and shake every 15 seconds while spraying
  2. Keep spray can 10-12 inches from surface (keep this consistent)
  3. Start your spray off the edge of the surface and spray in long sweeping motions to the other end of the surface (don't stop your spray in the middle of the surface)
  4. Do two or three light coats and allow to dry between coats
  5. Overlap each pass by 1/3

pinstriped cabinet

Pinstriping the File Cabinet

I spray painted the file cabinet with a single can of Krylon Dual Paint in True Blue. This was the most successful spray paint experience I have ever had. The spray paint went on evenly and a single can provided full coverage for my two-drawer file cabinet.

After the paint dried, I added white pinstriping with a paint marker. I wanted the stripes to look hand-drawn, so I didn't use a ruler or any masking, but if you want perfect lines, I suggest masking out your area with painter's tape and using acrylic paint instead of a paint marker.

Start your pinstriping on the back or side of your furniture so you can get a feel for how the paint marker works on a side that won't see as much prime-time action.

Even if you want your striping to look hand-drawn, you will have to be careful. There is quite a bit of drag with the paint marker. I found that it worked best when I:

  • Started from the bottom and drew the lines upward
  • Extended my arm and continued the line all the way from bottom to top without stopping

blue filing cabinet

I love how this file cabinet turned out -- it went from an unloved piece of junk in the garage to one of the most stylish pieces in the house. I am going to use it as a bedside table. And if it's not too matchy-matchy to have more than one blue pinstriped piece of furniture, I might just have to give the old blueprint treatment to some yard sale furniture finds this summer.

Krylon Dual DuelKrylon sent me the new Dual Paint to try out. Check out their latest promotion, The Dual Duel, where Krylon is looking to find The Ultimate Restorer.

To win this title, enter your spray paint restoration project and encourage friends and family to vote for your project as their favorite for their chance to win too.

disc: sponsored post, sample, all material, project and opinions my own

Reference: The Right Way to Spray Paint at DIY Life

Linked at: Miss Mustard Seed's Party

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Disclosure: this article may contain affiliate links or other forms of sponsored content. Opinions are 100% the author's. Full disclosure policy.


  • Kelly H said:

    Anyone else think it looks a bit like the Tardis? :)

    I have a nasty biege filing cabinet that I used in my teenage bedroom. I could do this to it. :)

    I painted giant flowers on it when I was about 16, but it’s time for something different.

  • Leigh Anne said:

    Ha! It DOES look a bit like the Tardis! I love it though, very nice job!

  • heather (author) said:

    @Kelly, I have been wanting to make a Tardis headboard (geeky, i know), so I was pretty excited when I realized how Tardis-like this file cabinet is!

  • Carolina More said:

    Looks awesome! And I love the white “pinstriping” looking a little more organic, rather than perfectly straight lines. Gives it more of a whimsical feel. : )


    Kinda looks like a cartoon. I love it for a kids room.

  • Kei @ Unfortunately Oh! said:

    Looks totally awesome (and I can see what Kelly is getting at re the Tardis! :D )

  • homestilo said:

    Just learned something new (had to look up Tardis)! I saw this on Apartment Therapy and wanted to come over and tell you how great I thought this was. Wish filing cabinets were sold already looking like this!

  • heather (author) said:


    Thank you for taking time to say hi! I appreciate it. The blue filing cabinet project was so instant-gratification. The whole project took less than an hour!

    And if you like Sci Fi, you’ll like Dr. Who! :)

  • Courtney said:

    This is awesome! I love that art installation, and your filing cabinet — very clever. Do a chair next!

  • Andrea said:

    That is cutest little file cabinet I’ve ever seen. Love the way you drew on the stripes. So clever!

  • Amy said:

    Very Cool! Also I liked the links to all the other blogs doing their own projects with the paint. I find a lot of neat blogs via DSC!

  • Dewiz said:

    DId you use glossy finish? That’s the only finish I can find in the Krylon True Blue and I haven’t been able to locate the Dual Krylon yet. I love this look. Please disclose the paint details.


  • heather (author) said:

    @Dewiz, yes, the True Blue was the glossy finish, but it turned out more satin.

  • Dewiz said:

    Thank you so much. I’m excited to see how everything turns out.

  • Mod Podge Amy said:

    I hope you love me more now – I convinced you not to use the table . . . which led to this. So technically I am responsible. Hahaha! Totally kidding. This is awesome and you are a genius. xo

  • Amanda said:

    Great project Heather, I love the blueprint look! Very fun! I’ve featured this post on Craft Gossip here:

  • LuAnn said:

    This is a perfect and cheap project for a teen room/college dorm!!! I’m in the process of gathering ideas for my daughter’s room and this is definitely one I will be doing!! and I agree – the pinstripes give it a more whimsical feel!!!

  • Monica said:

    Very cool! :)Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

  • Jessica said:

    How or what did you do to the inside of the drawers? Just curious and seeing what ideas are out there if you did do this for a kids room and how to make those drawers a bit more friendly for organization?

  • Christine said:

    Wow Heather! I really love the blue that you chose, and your free form lines too. This is a very excellent make over…

  • Deseree said:

    This is awesome! When I first saw this, I said to myself “I have to find a filing cabinet and paint one myself!” And low and behold, I went onto my local bookoo.com site and no joke, 2 hours after I saw this the day you posted it, there was a woman giving away a free filing cabinet! For now, it’s sitting in my garage, awaiting a fresh paint color, while we get ready for our big move next week! I CANT WAIT! haha

    Thanks so much for all you do, i definitely visit the site daily.


  • HauteChocolate said:

    LOVE,LOVE,LOVE this post – *gears turning*!

  • Refurbish a Filing Cabinet | The New Home Ec said:

    […] makes them an optimal budget DIY project.  In fact, Heather from Dollar Store Crafts re-did the Blueprint Inspired File Cabinet above for around $5, because she got the cabinet for free.  Need some additional filing cabinet […]

  • Etsy Loves :: August | Ellingsen Photography Blog said:

    […] Repaint and re-hardware two short filing cabinets I bought from a friend to use as nightstands (a la this and this) […]

  • $5 File Cabinet Revamp | Decor Hacks said:

    […] punchy color. I made this electric blue pinstriped cabinet for my other site, Dollar Store Crafts. Paint a File Cabinet for $5 at Dollar Store […]

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    […] was, however, inspired by this blueprint filing cabinet I made a few months ago. I really wanted blue shoes with white pinstripes, and maybe some architect […]

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  • Karen said:

    This is so darn cute, I love the way it turned out. I love furniture with a sense of humor, and this definitely has one. I am linking up a favorite Krylon spray paint project of mine.

    I would love if you stopped by and linked this project up at my weekend party. It is open until midnight! Thanks, -K

  • Karen said:

    Oops, collection closed. I will try to link up next time you have a party!

  • Mindo said:

    Just gorgeous! What a wonderful transformation.

  • Michelle said:

    Of course. I love it!

  • Leana Loh said:

    I love this. I’m going to buy the materials to paint tomorrow! Thank you.

  • dlrhein said:

    I love the simplicity and the easy DIY!

  • Etsy Loves :: August | Ellingsen Photography said:

    […] Repaint and re-hardware two short filing cabinets I bought from a friend to use as nightstands (a la this and this) […]


    Wow this is a great idea I just recently acquired a free file cabinet I have been inspired by you might try something similar thanks for the great idea

  • Colorie Moi said:

    Simple idea and very nice. :)

  • Anna said:

    I just made my own with your inspiration! used Krylon Dual Paint in black, and outlined it with a white paint pen. Can’t wait to put it in my office! thanks for the idea and techniques!

  • Mimi said:

    Thanks for posting this! I just finished making my own and it is perfect for my office! Took no time. Hooray!

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