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(Cerulean Blue!) File Cabinet Makeover

I mentioned last week that the computer shop makeover I’ve been a part of hit a snag.  With the decorating budget sunk into the other rental space, pretty much everything – wall colour, flooring, blinds, lighting – have to stay the same in the new rental space.  I have, however, painted some tables as well as the counter you see immediately when you enter the shop.  All of these disparate pieces were painted a rich, glossy brown to blend in with the existing espresso brown furniture.  I was itching to paint at least the tables a chipper colour, but I think that with office furniture, “sets” (or faux sets, in this case) look sleeker than the eclectic hodge podge of furniture that can look so chic in a private dwelling.  In this setting, there isn’t the opportunity for the drapes, accessories, and lighting that can help tie a room together.  I’m happy with my decision to buy a gallon of glossy brown paint, but it hurt my soul a little to play it so safe.  I had to, just had to, add a little colour so I grabbed a small, two-drawer file cabinet and went to town.

Let’s get right to the after:

The before is likely very familiar:

The folks at the computer shop wanted a spot for kids to play, and the mini file cabinet will be perfect for a set of magnetic letters, plus the drawers can be filled with colouring books, etc.  The spray paint was on major clearance (75% off), so the project fit the miniscule budget quite well.  I skipped sanding but gave the file cabinet a good scrub and then, once it was dry, applied multiple thin coats of Tremclad metal primer in white.  When the primer was dry, I applied very thin coats of Liquitex spray paint.  I’ve used this paint before and have found that it goes on differently than other brands.  If you’re curious, here’s a post I wrote about what makes this paint so special.  I used a can of primer and a can and a half of paint for full, even
coverage.  Because the key is long gone, I just sprayed right over the

It took me the better part of an afternoon to make this file cabinet less dreary, but it was a hit!

It’s so cheery and –  ta da! – it’s not turquoise, it’s cerulean blue (I’m branching out).  I actually pulled the colour from the only art currently adorning the walls, and now I can’t wait to get started on some large abstracts to liven up the space and introduce a little more colour.  I had scooped the cutest little chair (for free!) to go in the kiddie corner but it was vetoed.  It was originally a dark wood stain, but had been painted a vintage sky blue blue and then cream over the years.  I’m not normally a fan of shabby chic, but this was just so perfectly aged and so perfectly petite.  It was suggested I slap on some more dark brown paint, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  Now I’m on the hunt for some pint-sized chairs.  This sounds an awful lot like thrifting for work, which sounds an awful lot like my dream job. 



  1. Katja | Shift Ctrl Art
    June 27, 2014 / 2:58 pm

    I think that is going to looks great in the room. Also, I didn't know that Liquitex made spray paint. I love their acrylics for painting and use them all the time :)That is a sweet chair too!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 27, 2014 / 5:27 pm

      The Liquitex spray paint is intended for artistic purposes, I think, but it is also supposedly weather resistant. It's a bit finicky, unlike some of the really great hardware store brands, but the choice of colours is far better. It also has a really nice, matte, almost velvety finish.

  2. Dora C
    June 27, 2014 / 3:16 pm

    That file cabinet looks absolutely amazing, Tanya! Love what you did with it

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 27, 2014 / 5:26 pm

      Thanks Dora! I'm curious to see how it holds up. If it still looks good in a few months of wear and tear, the office has some larger, mismatched ones I'd love to make over…

  3. Minnie
    June 28, 2014 / 12:12 pm

    I can't stop noticing the background behind the sweet little vetoed chair. Are those Marimekko inspired flowers? On the outside of a building? SO cool!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2014 / 4:56 pm

      They ARE Marimekko inspired flowers – I'm surprised no one but you said anything! It's a local shop that sells Finnish textiles, dinnerware, accessories, etc. (including Marimekko products). When they closed for the day, I scurried over there with the chair to snap a pic. I must have looked funny running down the road with the chair, like I stole it or something, lol.

  4. cred
    June 28, 2014 / 12:59 pm

    I'm getting really curious to see this space. A commercial space is so different from a home- I can't wait to see how it comes out. Last minute rental change, budget constraints, client taste, et al… forces creativity

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2014 / 4:58 pm

      Oh gosh, please don't get your hopes up. It looks better than their last place (wish I'd snapped photos!!) but it's nothing super special. It's been fun, though, and I feel good about the positive changes I made. Everyone is happy, but I'm not certain it's blog-worthy… With $1000 and a week, I could do SO much more.

  5. Lindsey @ A Pear to Remember
    July 1, 2014 / 2:35 pm

    Hi Tanya, so glad you wrote a post about spray painting because I have a pertinent question on the topic. I've been spray painting things left and right in our new home with truly gorgeous and you-can't-tell-its-spraypainted results. Mom recently brought us a vintage plant stand from an antique store. The problem is, it's bright white in a room where we already have a lot of white and I'm going for rust orange and apple green accents); hubby freaked out thinking it looks Very Victorian Grandmother. I admit, it's a little more swirly than something I might have picked, but I think in black it will be stupendous and much more modern in our midcentury modern lounge. I picked up spray primer and spray black (satin) paint for this project, but the stand is currently iron painted white. Do I need to sand the heck out of this thing to get the paint to adhere?Thanks for your input and inspiration!! (oh my gosh, I just put mid century modern legs on two ikea tables and it is a work of ART! loving home DIY)

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 1, 2014 / 4:44 pm

      In my experience, lightly sanding just to remove any sheen/gloss should be. Enough, given that you're using primer. I always default to the instructions on the can, but a light sand is usually worth it for maximum adhesion. You shouldn't need to go crazy on it. Also pay attention to dry times and make sure the surface us clean and dry after sanding. Happy spray painting!! It sounds like your place us looking awesome 🙂

  6. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication
    July 1, 2014 / 8:27 pm

    Love the file cabinet! Ours could use an upgrade like this for sure.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 2, 2014 / 1:12 am

      Thanks! I'll let you know how well it wears – that's always my fear… But I used tremclad metal primer, so my hopes are high.

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