Organize In Style With Original Paper Filing Ideas

Reading Time: 3 minutes

paper filing

Organization and visual style aren’t separate disciplines. File your papers in style with original filing cabinet ideas and alternatives.


I used to work for a commercial leasing company. I was responsible for scanning, saving and filing every new contract and every additional document to old contracts. I was young and a student. The work was easy and left me with plenty of mental space to think about my next blog post or my next party. (Okay. I was 19. I was thinking about partying a lot.)

For safety reasons, the company used big, ugly, black fireproof filing cabinets. Only my boss and I knew where the keys were. I opened and closed these cabinets dozens of times every day. The drawers were heavy, surrounded by a thick layer of black metal. For fire-proofing, I suppose.

Filing cabinets are ugly

By their functional nature, filing cabinets are ugly. They’re available in a limited number of colors (manila, manila, manila, black), are made of shiny metal and make lots of noise when you open and close them.

But what if there was another solution to this mass-produced ugliness? What if you could organize all your files and documents in ways that not only keep everything under control, but also adds flair to your office decor? Yes, it’s possible!

Just paint it

If your budget is tight, getting a boring old metal file cabinet might be the only thing you can afford. But add a few extra bucks for some metal-friendly paint, and you can at least turn black or (sigh!) manila into gorgeous, eye-popping colors.

Eclectic Living Room by Hillsboro Media & Bloggers Leah

A bright yellow filing cabinet is a great complement to the black and white chairs. Although this is actually in a living room, you can easily imagine it in a creative office.

Speaking of creative, remember that orange is the color associated with creativity:

Eclectic Home Office by Austin Photographers Kailey J. Flynn Photography

As far as I know, this filing cabinet was found as-is by the owner. However, it’s everything but boring: bright orange on a black background, with plenty of colorful accessories on top. (The chalk paint is the best idea ever for an office. I must do this.) That’s the way to turn a boring filing cabinet into a statement piece!

Hide it

Another great idea is to hide (or at least cover a bit) your filing cabinet with something more visually pleasant. You will need to get it custom-made for the dimensions of your cabinet, but it will save you the money you could spend on a more design-conscious cabinet.

Contemporary Home Office by Boucherville Kitchen & Bath Designers Gepetto

If you’re handy and comfortable with woodwork, making a table cover for your filing cabinet should be a breeze. This homeowner added a few narrow shelves for extra filing space, too.

For those getting custom shelves and cabinets, consider adding a few filing drawers to the mix:

Contemporary Home Office by Ottawa Interior Designers & Decorators StyleHaus Interiors

I love how the filing section is accessible but inconspicuous when closed. It’s simply part of the whole look.

Use the unexpected

When I found this photo, I was amazed and how clever and creative this filing solution is.

Farmhouse Spaces by Philadelphia Media & Bloggers Sara Bates

No, really. Old suitcases as filing drawers. How amazingly clever! It has plenty of vintage style and is easily portable. If only I had a bunch of vintage suitcases and a gorgeous chest of drawers–sans drawers–to slide them in…

On a simpler note, you can get a bunch of baskets on sale and fit them neatly in square spaces:

Traditional Home Office by Birmingham Interior Designers & Decorators AMW Design Studio

This setup makes filing much more attractive, clean, and easily adapted to your circumstances.

Go vintage

Another great trend I’ve noticed with filing is going with vintage filing ideas, like this card filing cabinet:

Contemporary Dining Room by Amsterdam Media & Bloggers Holly Marder

If you’re going to stock small things like restaurant and shopping bills, this is perfect. You could also use it for keeping your notecards for your next novel!

And what flair would your office have with this gorgeous vintage cabinet!

Eclectic Home Office by Chicago Interior Designers & Decorators SuzAnn Kletzien Design

I love the natural wood shades, the decor accessories on top, and the three small drawers at the top. Simply beautiful.

Filing doesn’t mean boring

I tend to conflate “filing” with “boring”, because that’s what my experience has taught me. But these amazing filing ideas just may be enough to change my mind.

How about you?

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.