SO. Confession: We have been using old legal file cabinets for nightstands for almost a year.
They cost $20 each from the thrift store. Unfortunately, though they had keys when we bought them, said keys were lost in transit and I ended up having to drill out one of the locks to get the drawers open. Not ideal.
What WAS ideal about these guys was/is the size. Each one fits perfectly on each side of our bed. They're the right height and the right width. They are safe/have built in anti-tip tech in that you can only open one drawer at once, which is good with the toddler around. And we couldn't afford any of the nicer nightstands/dressers we found that might fit, and again, these were only $20 each.
They are, alas, so ugly.
Anyway anyway anyway, I have been meaning to paint these file cabinets for awhile. I know it seems weird to use file cabinets as nightstands, but honestly, they are so practical. They hold a tonne of clothes (Nathan's ridiculous 10 million tee shirts), and they were so cheap, I don't worry about them, but I needed to do something about the ugly.
Now, remember how y'all talked me out of painting my beautiful refinished midcentury dresser? I just yearned to try one of those hipstery, fadish painting projects and these file cabinets felt like a much better option/canvas. SO I DID.
Here's what I did (plus some advice):
1. Emptied the cabinets. Tipped them back and added felts to the feet so I could slide them to an open area of the bedroom. Did not lay out a tarp, because I am SO LAZY. Just be vigilant about any paint drips or spills. Wipe them up before the end of the day with a sponge (use a scrubby sponge if hours have passed) and a tarp becomes unnecessary.
2. Taped off the handles. Primed the top and sides and front with left over Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 (from the floor project). Used a cheap foam roller from the dollar store. Very light coats. Drying in between with a hair dryer to speed the process. I did like five coats of primer. It took no time. Maybe an hour. Don't press too hard and use only a little paint for each coat and you will have no drips/bubbles.
3. Paint! I bought four sample size colours from Home Depot for $2.99 a piece ($12 total), and just went with random triangles/geometrics. Now, it's very worth noting that I do NOT advise this. Don't freehand that shit. Use tape. Use a ruler. This is a finicky project and I am an anal person, and I made it harder and more frustrating by trying to wing it. Still, with a bit of effort, It started to look good. Note that you will have TONNES of left over paint. I used less than 1/8th of each little sample jar.
But like, use whatever colours you want! I recommend even more colours! Do a rainbow. I went with this four-colour set because I have been struggling to make my sea foam headboard work and these colours helped with that. (Long story, involves Mad Men, will talk about it later.)
4. I went over the white area (top and front edges and sides) with a thin coat of leftover white porch and floor paint, as well as leftover water-based poly (so the finish would be stronger and easier to wipe down). And then I left the hair dryer on and went away for awhile.
5. WHOOPS! REMOVE ANY TAPE PROMPTLY, BEFORE PAINT DRIES, OR ALL YOUR HARD WORK WILL PEEL THE FUCK OFF. Sigh. You will need to touch up.
6. I used a small art brush to fix my mistakes/peels from the edges around the handles (which I had taped off).
7. Note that this project is easy in theory, but more difficult in practice if you want straight lines. It will take several hours, maybe longer, even using a hairdryer. I rushed and only made it through one nightstand this weekend, and will save the second one for next weekend.
Well, okay, fine. Here:
It's not perfect, but it's a huge improvement. It's a cute, cheap fix that I think we will be able to live with for a long time. The nightstands don't get a tonne of action, so I expect they'll hold up, and this one is just a lot brighter and nicer than it used to be. The back and interior and bottom is still horrible beige, but no one will ever see that.
When I'm done the other one and get up the strength to make my bed, I'll do a bigger bedroom reveal. (And not a second sooner!)