Before and After: A Dated Filing Cabinet Rescued Off the Curb Gets a Fresh New Look

published Aug 9, 2023
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About this before & after
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walnut brown wood dresser, older vintage metal handle pulls

For avid DIYers and decor-loving bargain hunters, there’s probably no sweeter word than “free.” Zero-dollar furniture picked up from friends and family via hand-me-downs, scored on Facebook Marketplace or in Buy-Nothing groups, or even just snagged off the curb can be a starting point for some amazing design.

Take this redo from Courtney Sjoberg (@thecourtneysjoberghome). Courtney’s starting point for what would become a gorgeous piece was a dated filing cabinet. “I was walking through my neighborhood and this was outside with a free sign,” Courtney says. “I instantly knew I wanted it and rushed home to grab my car so I could load it up before someone else snagged it!”

While the look was ho-hum, the one-time filing cabinet was in good condition. And it was the perfect size for Courtney’s guest room, where she needed something to prop up a TV she’d recently bought for the space.

Courtney spent just $100 total making over the filing cabinet, taking it from dated to modern with just a few steps. First, she removed all the old hardware and sanded the piece down. For the frame of the now-TV stand, she used a rich black color (Sherwin-Williams’s Caviar) that instantly made the piece look more contemporary.

To provide some contrast, Courtney skipped paint on the drawers. Instead, she cut 3/4-inch oak trim pieces to size and arranged them on the drawer fronts to create a trendy fluted look. “Getting the wood cut so perfect was tricky,” Courtney says. “I’m still new with my miter saw but I’m so proud of how it turned out!”

Courtney attached the trim pieces with Liquid Nails construction adhesive. She chose to skip staining and keep the oak trim and the drawer front behind it unfinished. “I loved the raw look,” she says.

Finally, Courtney attached new leather pulls. Total cost for the redo was just $100 all-in. “It was so cool that this piece was free,” Courtney says. “All I had to buy was paint, the wood trim, and the handles!”

And even better, she says? “It just proved to myself again that I can do anything I put my mind to. Now I have an expensive-looking piece that I literally made with my own two hands!”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.