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Surviving the Flat Packed Box

The corner of the studio across from my (sad) desk had been a mis-matched balancing act for far too long (since last July; but who’s counting?). My rolling, stackable file bin was perfect for my old studio due to space constraints, but my need for an actual file cabinet returned with every frustrating frenzy to find a document – only to realize it’s been buried in the bottom bin:


An attractive file cabinet is not easy to come by, and if they are attractive, well, the price tag reflects that. At first, I wasn’t sure what price point I felt comfortable with, and sacrificing quality wasn’t something I was willing to do. It’s a dreaded balancing act; you know the feeling.

I checked in on Craigslist often, and made the rounds on Overstock, CB2, Ikea and the like – but nothing was wide enough for the space (we had a 60″ width to play with) or the finishes were a bit too traditional for our tastes (think: dark cherry walnut). Months ago, I found this one from Home Decorators Collection and had been eying it ever since, but I couldn’t commit to the price with so many other projects on our plate. But as luck would have it, during a recent check in, (likely during yet another moment of frustration, in which I was ready to hurl my files across the room!) I was thrilled to see that they were having a 15% off sale with free shipping (saving another $50!), so, I went for it – yay! Much better:


On a side note: Yes, we still have a bare hanging light bulb from our landing. That junction box was moved when we reconfigured that opening (remember when it was a wall?), and we’ve yet to settle on a fixture. It drives us nuts, but what’s a bare bulb when you still don’t have a closet?

This guy came in two huge boxes, each weighing in at about 60 lbs, and after just surviving the flat packed boxes from the workroom’s Varde, I thought, well, what’s one more? The reviews on the file console warned of a tedious construction process, but oddly enough, I sort of enjoy piecing these beasts together. It’s a perfect formula, and it’s so satisfying when completed. (I’m a very meticulous person, so, surprise, surprise!) Of course there’s no point in us showing you the step by step of the process, but after putting together our fair share of flat-packed-furniture, we’ve picked up some lessons along the way to make it easy (we promise!):

PREP. Take the time to lay everything out, check off the supplies list and double check that every last piece has been accounted for. This can sometimes take a good 30 minutes, but it will make the build time go much, much faster. Afterwards and before diving in, set aside all the foam/cardboard and packing materials so they’re not in the way.


MAKE ROOM. Give yourself plenty of space and lay down a drop cloth – or work on a carpeted surface. Flat packed boxes will almost always have a lot of dust and MDF bits that can rough up the surface of the product, especially when rubbed against a hardwood floor.


USE THE BETTER TOOL. We never ever ever rely on the small tools that are provided in the box. A power drill / screwdriver / hex kit will speed you up ten fold and ease (or completely eliminate) frustration. Make your life a little easier, won’t you?


MAKE A PLAYLIST. While working, make sure you set yourself up with a good go-get-’em playlist! Our go-to has always been Girl Talk or LCD Soundsystem, but a so-bad-it’s-good 90s shuffle will make you forget you’re spending your lunch break hunched over particle board.

GO AHEAD, MODIFY. Don’t be afraid to make changes, big or small! This is the easiest time to do so, as your furniture is still in pieces. In our case, we replaced the file console’s standard rubber feet for shiny gold casters. Using a pair of pliers, we reverse-screwed the bit that was inside each leg, and the caster hardware fit right in – no drilling required!


I am so happy I went with this cabinet, although there’s still one more step – those knobs. After putting it all together, the plain wooden knobs felt so sad to us (I believe Scott called it Holly Hobby), so I searched online for something to complement the casters and landed on these. They’ll be here soon, and this little corner will look even better! Even still, I’m loving the new view from my desk.


The television you saw before will ultimately be mounted onto the wall above the cabinet, and I’m also thinking that’s the perfect space for a small gallery wall to finally bring in color – if only to conceal the television a bit while giving me something pretty to look at (always important!). I’ve already begun digging through our frames and photos that we’ve yet to hang, but I’m also thinking of incorporating a thing or two that’s new.


Organization! Love this feeling. (Just don’t look at the baseboards… er, lack thereof.)

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  • Laura @ Rather Square4.17.14 - 7:01 AM

    Really like this file cabinet – we’ve got some standard black ones that I’m thinking of painting (can’t commit to new ones entirely – they’re still in good condition), but this MS one is really tempting. It looks like actual furniture! Great solution (and deal).ReplyCancel

  • angela4.17.14 - 7:38 AM

    Love it! It has a perfect furniture feel rather than being overly office looking. And the casters are fantastic!

    Angela @ Number Fifty-ThreeReplyCancel

  • Angela4.17.14 - 9:04 AM

    Ah! I’ve been looking for a filing cabinet too, and the options are so sparse. Thanks for this tip, and I love the casters and new knobs!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl4.17.14 - 9:12 AM

    Oh yea! I was really concerned about the knobs (shouldn’t have been) but didn’t want to say anything if you guys liked them, but they are a bit sad for such a nice piece. Those knew knobs will really look nice. Good for you guys!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.17.14 - 9:22 AM

      Jenn, always feel free to chime in! You don’t want us working in a room with holly hobby knobs, right? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kate4.17.14 - 10:49 AM

    Looks great! I’ll bet you have answered this question elsewhere, but a quick search left me unable to find it… are the walls in the studio a pale pink? And if so, could you share the paint color, please?

    Thank you muchly!ReplyCancel

  • When you’re living in a semi-unpacked state, how is it possible that what you need is ALWAYS in the bottom box? This has to be a second Murphy’s law, right? Right?!ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse]4.17.14 - 7:23 PM

    Oh my goodness I love it! I’ve seen the sexy CB2 ones and you are so right about the price. I wouldnt have imagined liking something so big but it fits the space perfectly. And really, you could put castors [esp gold ones] on just about anything and I’d be game. Anything.ReplyCancel

  • Tori4.18.14 - 4:11 PM

    Great makeover! I love reorganizing and redecorating things, and if you can still hide all the organized stuff, all the better!ReplyCancel

  • Kristine4.18.14 - 9:51 PM

    Wow your space is so bright!! Is there really that much natural light? Super jealous. So you have a trick for getting such great bright pics? My house doesn’t get the greatest natural light and I am really struggling to take decent pics. Any advice?

    Kristine@ http://dreamingdecor.blogspot.comReplyCancel

    • Kim4.20.14 - 10:54 AM

      Hi Kristine! I almost always use a tripod with manual camera settings to allow enough natural light into my photos. But yes, the second floor studio is nice and bright. It was a huge selling point for us!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren4.22.14 - 2:22 PM

    Hello! Did the casters come as part of the piece or did you purchase them separately? Would love to know where I could purchase some myself. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Lucia4.25.14 - 8:22 PM

    Hi Kim! I absolutely love this! I was just wondering where your deer picture is from. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.27.14 - 11:08 AM

      Hi Lucia! It was picked up at an antique shop in Pittsburgh years ago… I purchased it for the frame, but the deer was so sweet, it stayed!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Souders2.18.20 - 12:00 PM

    Hello!! I just came across this file cabinet on your blog and I love it! I know it’s from a few years ago, but do you happen to remember the name or model number?ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.18.20 - 12:25 PM

      It was from the Martha Stewart Collection at Home Depot, I believe!ReplyCancel

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