Form, Function, and Fun

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

Turning an old toy chest into a filing cabinet with a bohemian feel

In a previous post, 6 Great Places To Find Furniture for Projects, I talked about a bundle of items purchased from a NextDoor furniture advertisement. At the time of the post, all three of those items were still on the “to do” list, but today one has FINALLY been completed. Woo hoo!

The piece completed this weekend was once a child’s toy chest. “How does she know that?”, one might wonder? The stickers on the front of the chest was one clue, but the chest still had several toys in it when it was delivered so it was a fair assumption.

Looking beyond what it was and more about what it could be, I decided its new life would be as a filing cabinet for my home business. I was in desperate need of one:

As my business builds, it is crucial that I have all expenses and income organized in a manner that will allow me to update my business budget quickly. There may be an opportunity to get new inventory that requires a split-second decision, and if I don’t know how much I can spend I will either lose out on an opportunity or overspend. Neither situation is cool. Final decision: a filing cabinet.

A few things needed to be considered before beginning the actual work to turn this chest around. First, it is currently being used as an end of the bed chest. My little three-legged cat also uses it as a way to get in the bed, and that function is still necessary, so the final resting place for the filing cabinet would remain at the foot of my bed. That was actually the perfect place as my home business computer station is also in my master bedroom. I turned this 1990’s style TV entertainment cabinet into the perfect place to put my computer set up so having the filing cabinet within easy reach of that area would be ideal.

Second, regarding the style of the final piece, I needed this filing cabinet to work with both the computer station and the overall feel of my master bedroom. Finally, I wanted this to be a fun piece, and I had some new ideas on how to make that part happen.

Here is the final result! I think this covers all of the items covered above, don’t you? It isn’t matchy matchy (if you have read any of my posts, you know that is NOT my jam), but the colors blend with the computer station. The black picks up the black stripe on the wall, and the design is mimicked in the curtains. (This last one was an unplanned, pleasant surprise once I put the piece in place!)

This was a fairly easy turnaround, but let’s walk through how I went from child’s chest to a filing cabinet with a bohemian feel.

Materials used:

§ Black paint

§ Stripper

§ Black hinges

§ Green frog tape

§ Stencil

§ Vaseline

§ Paint sprayer

§ Daubers

§ Hanging File Folder Frame

§ Wall Mountable Space Saving File Holder

§ Howard’s Wood conditioner


After wrestling the chest from the master bedroom down to the garage/workshop, the first thing to do was remove the lid from the bottom of the chest. That was simply unscrewing the chains that held the lid on as the hinges on the back that should have also connected the two were not screwed in on the bottom half of the hinge.

Then I wiped the inside and outside of the chest just to remove any dust or dirt from little kitty paws.

This was a good, solid wood chest so I didn’t wan