While planning the office portion of the Laboratory’s renovation, I had to be lean and efficient, having spent some serious money on a sliding wall to make it all disappear. I happily used a strategy that had served me (and about a million designers) for years: a desk made of pedestal file cabinets and a simple top. In this case, the desk would be 15-feet long: seven cabinets total. The only problem: the files I could afford were ugly.

Here was my strategy:

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Although I love the look of the super sleek-looking 18-inch deep Bisley, I opted for 24-inch-deep professional office files because I need maximum storage space; the 6-inch difference in depth was important. I contemplated buying all new pro file cabinets but, at $300+ each, they would have cost over $2,000 (not to mention it being practically impossible to find them in white).

Bisely 2 DrawerPremiumFileCabinetWhite

I started calling and visiting second-hand and used office furniture stores. Since the owners tend to be impatient and all business, I had my questions ready:

I need to get 5 pedestal files, some with only three two file drawers, two with 3 drawers.
Do they sell in these amounts?
Do they have a showroom where I can see the items?
What are the approximate cost of a pedestal
               with top
               without top
Does this price include delivery? How much for delivery to Harlem? 
Do they have a spraying/painting service? How much additional cost to have them do it?
I called and visited the same stores several times over the course of a few weeks, hoping to get lucky and find five files that matched the two I already had.
Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

I finally DID get lucky with a big shipment of two or three-drawer topless files for $99 each. The store would spray them if I brought them the oil-based paint, so I was able to match the white the apartment was painted: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. At $25 per cabinet, spraying them with oil paint was way cheaper than electrostatic painting, which would have cost upwards of $700 and been a huge hassle. After 3 years, the paint has proven equally durable.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

I bought three 3-drawer files and two 2-drawer files. Although they are painted Chantilly Lace, the dark gray underneath turned them ever-so-slightly gray, a curious boon: no one ever notices that my original unpainted files —to the left of the chair well — are actually gray.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

If I’d had my druthers, I would have made the top of white Corian like my kitchen, but my budget was already stretched to the limit. A friend made tops out of two hollow core doors. We lightly sealed them with water-based polyurethane and painted the edges white. Good enough!

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Down the line, I’ll either paint the top gloss white, or a color, or spring for the Corian.

The fifteen-foot desk is a joy. I can keep a lot of projects going at once and store a huge amount in the cabinets. And check out this trick for disappearing the ugly power cords in the back of the chair well.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

When I’m working full-tilt on Improvised Life, I use a lot of mental bandwidth and physical space, including two other tables in the room. The workspace is always evolving…

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Best of all: at the end of the day, the office disappears…

sallysworkspace_closetoopen3

 

 

 

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2 replies on “Workspace: A Cheap Stylish File Cabinet Strategy

  1. Sally, what is the trick to disappear those damned cords? I hate those messes! Thx

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