Creative Use Of Filing Cabinets
Filing cabinets can do so much more than just hold files, altho clearly that is their primary use, and an indispensable one at that. Every home and office accumulates documents that are crucial to save in a location where they can be easily retrieved, and there simply is no better way to organize papers so that they will be safeguarded and easily used than a filing cabinet. But what else can you do with filing cabinets? I think other uses break out into three main categories - furnishings, construction elements, and alternative uses.
As furnishings, both lateral and vertical filing cabinets can be used in many ways:
- room dividers - to break up space into different functional, group, or individual areas, to create islands of privacy, and to direct traffic flow
- sound barriers - cabinets can break up the transmission of sound in large, open spaces; in addition to the physical barrier created by the cabinet itself, the contents have a sound dampening effect
- display support - the tops of cabinets are great spots for plants, often putting them closer to the light source (which both humanizes an office setting and helps to improve the air quality), artworks (statues and figurines can be placed on top while the sides or back can be used for displaying flat items such as photos or reproductions
- work surface - two-drawer lateral files are just the right height for many work projects, and as a large open (theoretically) surface, may actually be a more available surface than a desk which may be taken up by the computer keyboard, mouse and monitor
- end tables - clearly, this only works for small, vertical one- or two-drawer file cabinets, but in a home setting, that might be sufficient; these have the additional virtue of likely being placed where they would make keeping up with the filing very easy
- buffet - one or two lateral files in the dining room (another reason for wood cabinets) can both create a useful side table for serving and give you a place to store documents that will be particularly useful if you use your dining room as an office
- hassock - another use for the one-drawer, small wooden cabinets; a cushion glued on top and you can both sit in comfort and get your filing done and out of the way
As construction elements, filing cabinets lend themselves to a variety of creative approaches:
- 2 matching two-drawer vertical files are the perfect height for making a desk or work table; just put a piece of plywood, a door, or a sheet of heavy glass across the top and there you go. You can even buy drawer kits in hardware stores that will let you easily install a center drawer if you want one for a wooden top. Two matching one-drawer files can be used to make a coffee table base that will allow you to get your papers easily put away while making your living room more hospitable.
- supports for bookcases - in our small, urban dwellings, the only way to get enough space is to build straight up; a sturdy wooden housing built around a lateral file will allow the placement of a fully loaded 4'x8' bookcase above it, creating a huge volume of storage space and decorating options
- a base for dish hutches or other types of storage cabinets
- support for office equipment such as a printer, your computer's CPU (its 'brain') or for TV, sound system; ideally, a metal lateral file would have a board to even out the weight of heavy equipment
Assuming you have put away all your papers and are fortunate enough to still have cabinet space left over, or maybe the configuration of your space simply doesn't allow for not using file drawer otherwise, here are some ideas for good non-filing uses for file drawer space:
- office or art supplies, especially in a home setting - if you have a tall filing cabinet (5 or even 6 drawers), the top drawer is likely to be too high to use for files, but is great for the inevitable office supplies we all have
- archives - this is a pretty luxurious use of cabinet space, but sometimes there is no choice
- tools - not often the most efficient use of the space, but sometimes necessary. Works best when items are in containers that allow packing them in as tightly as possible
- sewing supplies - this works best when file cabinets are used as a base for a sewing table. To be effective, items need to be stored in easily removed, tall containers, perhaps with small drawers, that maximize use of the space
If you have a hard time imagining living with the cold steel industrial look of metal file cabinets, consider a wood cabinets. Many of these are really beautiful pieces of furniture, and are much more conducive in a home setting. If you cannot afford the price difference for a wooden file cabinet but need to locate your files in a room with high visibility, the eyesore effect can be mitigated by covering the file cabinet with wall coverings, fabric, contact paper, art works, special paint jobs, etc.
As discussed in the workshop, filing cabinets in all these different usages need to be secured to the wall or ceiling. We know there will be another major earthquake and these cabinets would be really dangerous if left unsecured. When file cabinets are used as supports, the top element should be screwed to the housing surrounding the cabinets as well as the wall, so that the two pieces both anchor each other.
Previous | Next
Home | Newsletters and Articles | Services | Workshops | Resources | Contact
Office Organization | Time Management | File Systems | Hoarding
©2008 Gloria Valoris