Group 6 4 minutes Read

file cabinet

Lauren Zerbey

With about two months left to bake, I really wasn’t expecting any celebration or big to-do for Mother’s Day this year. I mean, I’m all for thoughtful actions and nice gestures, but I hate the idea of forced consumerism, especially when you’re sorta pushing the bounds of eligibility as it is. So I didn’t bring it up with Kyle but his co-workers and friends certainly did, reminding him that he absolutely had to get something for his baby-mama-to-be.

So, he got me a file cabinet.

Just kidding. He actually got me a gorgeous new orchid for the Boskke planter in the living room (the first one is still alive but just dormant) and a super cute card from Bailey and Felix.

Ok, I was actually only half kidding about the file cabinet. Moping about a dismal experience with Craigslist, I scored this $10 file cabinet a while back after receiving a tip from a reader (thank you!) about the University of Washington’s surplus store. Since then, it’s been hanging out in the carport in various levels of completion, until yesterday when Kyle finished her up and let me loose into organization bliss. 

[Apologies for the crappy before photos, apparently I don’t know how to deal with the sun when it makes a surprise visit.] A giant warehouse with all sorts of office supplies, furniture and other random stuff, the surplus store is open every Tuesday afternoon to the public. It’s also not far from my office so for a few weeks in a row I went during lunch to scope things out, crossing my fingers for a sweet deal. While they consistently had 30-40 four-drawer cabinets, the two-drawers were virtually nonexistent. On my third or fourth attempt I finally saw this guy. It was dirty and ugly, but I could tell it was well-made and just needed a little TLC. And for $10 I figured I could always resale it if things didn’t work out between us.

The first thing we did was haul it onto the back deck where we pulled out the drawers and hangers and hosed everything down and removed any stickers or grubby remains.

Next, Kyle transferred it to the carport where he gave it several coats of our favorite automotive primer (the same thing we used for the sliding door track, loft ladder, side table and loft desk brackets). I really did consider doing some type of bright color instead, but we couldn’t agree on anything so safe-gray it was. Whatever, gray is the new black.

The primer (in “hot rod gray”) has a matte surface that is easily scratchable so he used several coats of a clear finish as a final step.

My original intention was for the file cabinet to fit underneath the desktop, but turns out most standard file cabinets are too tall for a 30″ desk height. Doh.

So for now she sits in the corner, all by her lonesome. She looks sexy though, huh?

At first I wanted to paint all the hardware the same gray color, but I now think the original silver color is a nice touch. [The locking mechanism at the top was all mangled so Kyle just took it out.]

I started organizing files back in January when we first had the idea to turn the loft into an office/studio space, so everything was more or less ready for its new home. We’re using the top drawer for personal files and the bottom drawer for house-related paperwork. This is the result of some serious purging and it feels good to finally have everything in one place. [We sold our old (and much larger) IKEA file cabinet on Craigslist in under 30 minutes.] As you can see, the cabinet is incredibly sturdy and doesn’t topple over when the top drawer is fully extended. Always a good thing.

I couldn’t justify buying pretty new files, so I reused ones that we’ve had for years. But don’t kid yourself, I totally made new file tabs. And I didn’t just hand write them. No, no, no – I made a template in InDesign, filled in all the text, printed them on a sheet of 8.5×11 paper and then carefully cut each one using a straight edge and an Exacto knife. Ack! I am such an architect and such a NERD!

The bottom drawer is not as pretty, but holds all of our remodel-related files.  [I organized everything into categories like “electrical”, “furnishings”, “plumbing”, “sketches”, etc.]  I originally considered putting together a giant homeowner’s manual of sorts, but soon realized that even after purging we had way too much to fit into a 3-ring binder.

So if you’re taking on a full-fledged remodel, I highly recommend some kind of system for organizing all the pamphlets, manuals and info sheets that you’ll inevitably collect along the way. After all, the key to a successful DIY is often directly linked to maintaining sanity (which is directly linked to being able to find stuff when you need it). Words to live by folks, trust me.

And that’s the story of our new file cabinet. The studio loft is now fully functional but will continue to evolve over time and maybe someday it will be accessorized enough for a proper reveal. In fact, as I sit here and type I’m staring at a rectangle on the wall made from blue painter’s tape. Several weeks ago Kyle had the notion to add a window out the gable end (if we did, we’d likely have a peek-a-boo view of the Olympics). It’s low on the priority list, but you know he’s not going to just let the idea go.  =)