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DIY File Cabinet Makeover with Peel and Stick Wallpaper

A DIY file cabinet makeover is a great way to add a personal touch to an ugly, boring piece of office furniture. Let me show you how to transform an old file cabinet into a stylish and functional piece in under a few hours!

One of the easiest ways to give a file cabinet a makeover is by painting it. Been there done that. I painted a metal filing cabinet a few years ago and it looked great, but THIS way to flip an old metal cabinet is even easier and should be a little more durable too.

filing cabinet makeover

Above is my old painted filing cabinet. It worked ok, but I did find scratches on it as time went on.

By the way, not in the mood to DIY an old file cabinet? Check out 5 awesome decorative file cabinets from Amazon here.

decorative file cabinets from Amazon

Or you can see more DIY filing cabinet makeovers here!

filing cabinet makeovers

Let’s get back to the current project at hand.

I can’t wait to show you how to makeover an old ugly cabinet in under two hours with some peel and stick wallpaper or even contact paper. First, let’s take a look at the old metal filing cabinet.

Time to give it a makeover!

Choosing the Right Materials

Here are some tips for choosing the right materials for your DIY file cabinet makeover.

Selecting the right wallpaper/contact paper

The actual wallpaper product is an essential material for any DIY file cabinet makeover. When looking for a good product, there were a few things I was looking for.

First, I made sure it was a durable, thicker wallpaper/contact paper product. Since there is a good chance the surface of the cabinets will be touched continually, make sure not to get a super flimsy wallpaper product that will tear easily.

Second, purchasing a waterproof (aka wipeable) product is a good idea (but not necessary).

Third, make sure you love it and it will blend well in the space where it will sit.

Disclosure; this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not affect the price you pay. This disclosure statement refers to the rest of the Amazon links in this post.

Peel and stick wallpaper from Amazon

I chose two different types of wallpaper from Amazon that were durable and waterproof:

One tip; Hindsight I wish I had purchased the 32″ wide wallpaper for the sides of the filing cabinet. This would have eliminated the need to run two rows instead of one. Learn from my mistakes!

Choosing Hardware

Hardware, such as drawer pulls and handles, can add a touch of style to your file cabinet. When choosing hardware, consider the style, finish, and size.

I originally planned to remove the pulls from the cabinet and possibly spray paint them a different color. Once I pulled the drawers out and looked at the cabinet, I realized I couldn’t remove them without removing the door fronts so I opted to not paint them (or rather, I couldn’t).

Preparation Steps

Cleaning the File Cabinet

Before starting a DIY file cabinet makeover, it is important to clean the cabinet thoroughly. This will ensure that the wallpaper adheres properly to the surface.

To clean the file cabinet, one can use a mild detergent or a mixture of water and vinegar. Then, apply the cleaning solution to the surface and scrub gently with a soft-bristled brush. Finally, rinse the cabinet with water and let it dry completely.

Wallpaper/contact paper Installation

I won’t go into all the details of what it takes to apply the peel and stick wallpaper. If you want more details on that I have a post on how to apply contact paper to a table top with all my tips and tricks. I also have an entire post and video tutorial on applying wallpaper with peel and stick and the old paste on product.

Long story short, I started in the back right corner of the metal filing cabinet and applied the navy peel and stick wallpaper all over the sides and top. It took four rolls to complete this. Like I said earlier, I wish I had purchased the 32″ wide roll that would have covered the entire side in one swoop.

applying peel and stick wallpaper to a metal filing cabinet

Next I used a screwdriver to pull as much off the faces of the drawers (which ended up being just the rectangular plates).

I took the decorative gold and white wallpaper and started to apply it to the drawer faces.

I planned to place a small strip of navy wallpaper horizontally in the middle around the pulls, but when I tried it, I realized it just didn’t look good. I feel like it looks ok without anything, what do you think?

Ready to see the final reveal?

DIY File Cabinet Makeover with Peel and Stick Wallpaper

It’s amazing what a few hours and a few rolls of peel and stick wallpaper can do to an ugly old metal filing cabinet.

DIY File Cabinet Makeover with Peel and Stick Wallpaper
DIY File Cabinet Makeover with Peel and Stick Wallpaper
DIY File Cabinet Makeover with Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Let’s look at a side by side before and after!

DIY File Cabinet Makeover with Peel and Stick Wallpaper

What do you think?

Make sure to watch the video of the entire process to see how easy it was to transform this old metal filing cabinet!

Thanks for stopping by!


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  1. Barbara says:

    Thanks to your tutorial, I was able to tackle this project on my black 4-drawer filing cabinet. It was easy! I was scared to do it til I watched your tutorial! I purchased the peel and stick product 8 months ago. Lol. I especially found the tip to use a razor (box cutter) to clean up the edges very useful. Worked like a charm.

  2. Cherl Atkinson says:

    I love this!! Imagine all the possibilities for these ugly old filing cabinets!! Thank you for sharing.

  3. yvonne butler says:

    Looks wonderful