From Office to Garden: Filing Cabinet to Garden Planter
Somewhere along life’s path I found myself devoid of a large garden planter (or two). Now that I have a decent sized patio area, I want to fill it with containers and plants. BUT…I have yet to win the lottery because that would be what it takes to purchase the size and number of containers I want. Have you seen the price of a large garden planter or containers? Sheesh…
Last week while perusing my email and sifting through the blog newsletters, I clicked on a Hometalk feature that lead me to this post by Carole from Australia. Carole turned old filing cabinets into colorful garden planters. This was the answer to my large container prayers. What a great idea…and why didn’t I think of this?
The hunt for a filing cabinet took me to my nearby Habitat Restore. I found several orphaned filing cabinets, one of which was older, made of thicker gauge metal, and (most importantly) had a bottom. It cost me $15. They probably would have taken $10 but it’s the restore. They need that $5.
The key to finding the best filing cabinet for this project is to check for a bottom. They don’t all have one.
My cabinet was pretty knarly as it was, but then I saw the painted orange side and the painted black back side. Who does this? So let’s get started!
Step 1: Remove the drawers.
Most filing cabinet drawers are removed by fully extending the drawer and then lifting up. The drawer is then detached from the extension mechanism.
The drawer extension mechanism is left in the box but can easily be removed.
If you pull the extension mechanism out, you will notice that it stops at some point. Look for a tab on the mechanism. By lifting this tab, the drawer extension will slide completely out of the cabinet.
Once the drawers and extension arms are removed, you are ready to get started with the transformation!
Step 2: Sand loose paint and rust spots.
Using 180 grit sandpaper, sand areas with loose paint or rust spots. Sand lightly over the entire cabinet with a 220 grit paper. This will help your paint to adhere to the metal. Wipe down the cabinet with a damp rag to remove all the dust.
Step 3: Prime and paint.
I used spray paint and primer found at any home improvement or hardware store. Even though the paint I used has a primer in it, I chose to use a self etching primer because I wanted to make sure my paint stuck to the metal and withstood the weather.
I also wanted a planter that looked like copper. In order to achieve this, I painted the cabinet with two coats of Forged Hammered ‘Chestnut’ and one topcoat of Metallic ‘Aged Copper.’ I thought the copper alone was too bright.
After sanding and wiping the cabinet clean, apply the primer. Once the primer is thoroughly dry, apply at least two thin coats of paint.
Step 4: Install some casters.
Casters are optional, however if you want to be able to move the planter easily, I recommend them. I purchased casters, stainless steel bolts, washers, and locking nuts. Each caster is rated for 90 pounds and the stainless steel hardware won’t rust. You will have to guess what size of caster is best for the size of cabinet you use.
Be sure to drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the planter before turning it upright.
Once the cabinet (now planter) was turned upright on its casters, I applied a coat of ‘Aged Copper’ paint to get the look I wanted.
Step 5: Fill the planter with soil.
Most plants used in containers do not require more that a few inches of soil. Since 12 inches of soil was really all I needed, I placed old kitty litter containers in the bottom of the planter to take up space without adding excessive weight.
The planter is now ready to fill with good container soil and plants.
The finished planter.
Just a quick reminder of the before and after. Bravo, Carole, for sharing this project. There are more of these in my immediate future!
Lessons learned on this first attempt…
- Casters cost $5-6 each adding a considerable amount to the cost of the planter. Look for used casters at the Habitat Restore while picking up a cabinet.
- Use a brush on/roll on paint to save on painting costs.
- If you do use spray paint, the additional cost of the can with a handle are well worth it!