DIY Vintage Trunk / Filing Cabinet

If you read my last post, you know that i hate filing cabinets and also that i decided to turn this vintage trunk into a filing cabinet and coffee table.

Step one was to wrap the leather handles. I waited until after i was done to decide what to do with those…

Here is what i used:

  • Paint – Olympic All in one paint + primer in semi gloss
  • Minwax Polycrylic protective finish
  • Small foam roller (get a high quality dense foam. trust me, its worth it)
  • Paint tray
  • Small angled brush
  • screwdriver

The trick is to do multiple THIN layers. Lay it on thick and you’ll get lots of bubbles and drips. Eww. So here it is after 2 thin layers.  You can see why you need an angled paintbrush… to get in all the nooks and crannies.

Ok so want to hear a funny story? Ok its not so funny for me, but now it is a little bit. So i tend to do all my woodworking on the porch but a lot of the projects i do in my living room. Including this sucker. Its just whatcha gotta do if you have a tiny apartment and no garage. Anyway, i had JUST finished the last layer of paint, id cleaned up the roller and brush, put the lid on the paint and stood back to admire the splendor. I wasnt sure if it would need another layer or any touch ups so i didnt seal the lid to the paint. Bad idea. It was sitting in the living room on the paint drop cloth you see above. Now it was Valentines day so I was eating dinner and enjoying the boob tube when Maggie came in from the porch. Now, shes a pretty clumsy dog. She actually just recently got rid of the “cone of shame” which was even worse… ok, heres a picture because its just too dang cute not to share:

And yes, that is a tree branch stuck in the cone. Awesome. Anyway, Kenny walked to the kitchen for seconds (because im the best cook there is) and he started freaking out and yelling for me to come over. Mags had knocked over the entire can of paint onto the paint drop cloth. Thankfully it wasnt directly onto the carpet… but the drop cloth is meant for drips. Not an entire quart. So i dive to the ground and lift the drop cloth off the ground trying to keep the paint from soaking into the carpet while kenny grabbed a plastic trashbag to put in between it and the carpet (good thinking, hubs!) He then took the trunk off, and wrapped up the drop cloth and threw it on the porch (getting paint all over the porch carpet and pavement). Here is my arm after i had it under the drop cloth trying to avoid getting paint all over the carpet. We then used up an entire roll of paper towel trying to get the paint off the carpet. Miraculously, the spot is actually behind my arm. Where you might ask? I dont know. We should be professional carpet cleaners. We got maybe 98% of it up! Crazy right? Moral of the story… A. Seal your paint when you’re done painting. B. Dont paint in your living room. C. Dont own a clumsy dog.

Now that i went off on a complete tangent, lets continue…

Here she is after a little sanding. I wanted a little more dimension and character so i sanded all the edges, made all the bolts shine a little bit. Some of the white underpaint showed up too which had a cool effect.

For sanding, its best to use a foam sanding block with a fine grain. I used a 220 grit block which just makes it just look more natural. If you use 60 grit for example it will just damage the piece and it will obviously be sanded instead of a more natural “over time” look.

Heres the edge detail. You can see the white under paint and the metal as well. Love that effect!

Once i was done sanding, I decided to go with the minwax finish because its going to be a coffee table. High traffic = lots of paint coming off if you dont. So i did. Threw on three layers on the top for good measure. I chose a semi gloss but you can choose a Satin or a high gloss. It starts off looking almost yellow but it dries completely clear.

Here she is open up with my new file organization. I’ll post soon all about what i did with the files. As far as the plan for the interior, if it was in better shape, I’d love to keep it as is – it has a great texture and a vintage feel to it, but it has sections missing, stains, etc. We could definitely throw a cork board in the lid which would cover up most of the stains, but I’ll definitely let you know when we decide! Theres also a trey that goes on the inside that can hold remote controls, still that needs to be filed, etc.

See? How cool is that white/brown linen texture?

And here she is as our fancy new coffee table! Have you ever seen a more beautiful filing cabinet? The other great thing is, if we decided to use something else as a filing cabinet later, we can jut use this to hold the 57 blankets that we have hiding behind the couch. Hey, i get cold very easily, ok?

I am definitely loving it, the grey really helps balance out all the other crazy colors in the room.

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9 responses

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  2. i got them for our wedding actually! It was an artist i found on etsy who turned out to be an Austinite so i just met up with her. She ended up making 25 pillows in like a week, it was crazy! Check out her site… etsy.com/people/bisousrose for more patterns.

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  4. That is so cute, Rach! You are very inspiring! I so want to do some DIY projects for my house, but am afraid to try! You make it look so easy!!

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