IKEA Card File Drawers Hack

At the moment, amongst other things, I’m working on a totally new room makeover at my hive.

It’s a little space I’ve not shared previously. I can’t wait for the final reveal though with a little pair of hands constantly clutching at my pant legs (with an accompanying unresistable “pick-me-up” whine), let’s just say progress hasn’t exactly been fast, so as with pretty much everything else nowadays, I’m not holding my breath ’til it’s done.

Anyhoo, part of the makeover involves some new shelving and to pretty them up, whilst adding some handy knick-knack storage, I wanted some cute old mini card file drawers. They are relatively plentiful (if you have patience and know where to look – eBay, oldware stores, etc.) though in many cases buying some requires a deep pocket reach and, if you know me, you’d know I’m just a bit adverse to that kinda thing. So, rather than cash, I thought I’d spend some creative energy instead and concoct my own.

I started with this cute set of Moppe drawers from IKEA (for whatever reason I could only find them easily on the UK website so excuse the link).

I’m sure you’ve all seen them before – they’ve been the victim of many a good (and maybe a few unfortunate) hacks.

And these brass plated card holder pulls I found on eBay, plus some timber stain and sealer.

I did consider painting or ageing the brass though I’m planning on using some gold accents in the room so decided to leave it as is. I’m glad I did ’cause I do really like the end result.

Because I was planning on using the pulls to open the drawers, I no longer wanted the visible finger cut-outs.

Easy solution….just turn the drawers around. I know, duh right?

I began by giving the corners of the drawers themselves a reasonably heavy sand to round them off a bit. It’s just a small detail and by no means necessary though as you can see in the ‘after’ pics it does soften the perfection of the unit and imparts the illusion of some wear.

Next I applied two coats of timber stain (I used dark teak because that’s what I found in the shed :-)

To add a soft lustre and enhance the richness of the stain I then applied three coats of danish oil. If you’ve not used danish oil before, I highly recommend it. As mentioned, it imparts a soft sheen, enriches colour and nourishes the timber. It goes on like water and, in my experience, dries perfectly every time – unlike some sealers it is virtually fool-proof.

Once the oil was dry, I attached my pulls, banging in the nails with my customary the-kitchen-meat-mallet-is-closer-than-the-real-hammer hammer (which turned out to be convenient in more ways than one thanks to its you-can’t-possibly-miss-a-nail-with massive head). For something a bit different, I aligned the pulls towards the top of each drawer. Do I like it? I’m not really sure though I think it’s growing on me. Besides, it’s a pretty easy task to relocate them if I ever feel compelled – which I probably wont.

The nails which affix the pulls will inevitably poke through the rear of the drawer fronts so if this bothers you simply file them flush or trim them down prior.

The visible dove-tails are perfect for helping enhance the illusion of a true vintage piece.

To finish I designed some simple antique style tabs for the card holders.

Sure, I coulda just hand written them and tea-stained the paper, though I decided to exercise my current love of digital graphics and instead Photoshoped ‘em up using a handwritten script font and a distressed background texture.

I was pleasantly surprised with how authentic they actually look.

For your convenience I have included my graphics as free printables (see the bottom of the post)! They will fit perfectly inside the 9cm x 4.5cm (3 1/4″ x 1 11/16″) pull slots.

I was a bit sceptical at how this project would turn out though it’s a heap better than I thought…so yay!

AT A GLANCE
SOURCES
Small Drawers (IKEA Moppe $16.00)
Card Holder Pull Handles (eBay $2.95)
Timber Stain (Feast Watson Dark Teak)
Timber Sealer (Cabots Danish Oil)
CREDITS
Dreamer Script Font
Stained Paper Texture
FREE PRINTABLE!
Four aged index tabs with calligraphic font. View and download here.
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202 Comments
  1. Kendall says:

    Oh man this is great! So cute! I love these drawers! Reminds me of an antique tea drawer set that I have! Beautiful finish!

    -kendall
    songbirdsandbuttons.blogspot.com

  2. What a great transformation. Love it!

  3. AntiqueChase says:

    Wholly cow! what a great hack!! I luv them!

  4. Chelsea says:

    This is so good, I can barely stand it… I actually just exclaimed “WOAH!” out loud when I saw your after … awesome hack!

  5. Kathy says:

    Looks fantastic and perfect timing as I have one sitting in my garage that I bought about a month ago. I was going to put the chalkboard paint on the front for lables but I love this idea even better..Very good timing, can’t wait to see your reveal. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  6. becca says:

    Brilliantly beautiful as usual. Had to pin it to my organizing file for future execution. Can’t wait for the reveal. I just love the depth, simplicity and warmth of your designs!

  7. Tiane Novati says:

    So excited I found this! I have been in heavy pursuit of a vintage library card catalog file. Scratch that and hello DIY! Thank you thank you thank you

  8. You’ve done it again. Love it.
    Kylie

  9. Shannon says:

    You my dear sweet girl are a total genius!!!! I have an older set of ikea drawers like that that I keep my jewelry in. I haven’t found anything better, but don’t really like how it looks. It’s currently painted white. I smell a project!!!
    xo,
    Shannon
    (www.akadesign.ca)

  10. Deanne says:

    Next time I get to IKEA I will get some of these for my sewing room- love what you have done with them!

  11. picky says:

    These are so beautiful! I definitely want to try this myself. Thanks for the tips.

  12. Amanda says:

    Good golly, I can’t believe you made those!! WOW! Such a beautiful piece with the appearance of something that’s been in your home for years – would love to give this a go myself so thanks for sharing your ‘how-to’ x

  13. This is brilliant – a great transformation – guess where I will be going this weekend? – IKEA!

  14. What and amazing idea, they look gorgeous!

    Zoe
    http://gypsiesister.blogspot.co.uk

  15. Katie says:

    Wow I love it! Looks fantastic. That’s the best DIY project I’ve seen in a long time! Great work Kristine, you’ve inspired me to give it a go :)
    Katie

  16. Becca says:

    Your projects are so freakin awesome! I die each and every time I see a new one! Totally worth the wait- though I wouldn’t mind them sooner! ;-)
    xo Becca

  17. tilli says:

    bellissimo lavoro!!!!

  18. stormygirl says:

    Absolutely BRILLIANT! You are so clever! I will file this little idea away and perhaps use it in the future. Fantastic, as usual!! Love them!

  19. FANTASTIC HACK!! I love love love it and am keeping this in my ‘must do file’. Thank you for this fabulous make over idea. You have made one Swedish woman very happy! :)

    x Charlotta
    Space for Inspiration

  20. Shaz says:

    What a fantastic job. I have often thought drawers would be excellent for storing my letters and numbers in them for my scrapbooking. Though that adds up to needing 9 sets.
    Maybe one day.

  21. tami curtis says:

    you never cease to amaze me.

  22. modern jane says:

    Look at you! That is amazing! Nothing better than a good hack.. love it:)

  23. Tam says:

    Super cute, looks so vintage now!

  24. NanaDiana says:

    Kristine- GREAT job. The piece looks OLD and wonderful! xo Diana

  25. Brilliant idea turning those drawers around! You made them look fabulous!
    Susan
    Homeroad

  26. So beautiful idea !

  27. Fantastic makeover. It really does look old. I can’t help but notice that huge antler. Love it.

  28. ~ko says:

    This is brilliant! Wow wow wow!

  29. Gorgeous makeover. Featured at The STorage Geek. With full credit and link back of course. Thanks or sharing!

  30. Ashley says:

    I’m flabbergasted! I cannot believe how wonderful this turned out. I adore card file drawers, but true antique ones are outrageously expensive. What a wonderful way to get the look.

    Pinned!

  31. Dharma says:

    Gorgeous!! How perfect for spice bags that clutter my kitchen is this? Thanks :)

  32. They really do look like old drawers now. They look awesome!

  33. This is such a great idea!! I don’t think IKEA still sells the Moppe but I love the idea!

  34. This is just brilliant. Most Ikea hacks still end up looking like Ikea, but you’ve totally transformed the Moppe!

  35. Yby5 says:

    I own one of these and who would have thought…love it! Guess I’m heading to the store for a few supplies…thanks for making a dull piece FANTASTIC!!

  36. Cynthia says:

    As always, solid!! What a beautiful paint treatment! I have these exact drawers and want to paint them a black/silver metal finish. Any suggestions to create that?

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful work!

  37. Erika says:

    Amamzing! You are one talented lady. Thanks for sharing.

    Erika @ Retropolitanhip.blogspot.com

  38. What an exceptional project. I love people who can see the potential in a few different pieces and really pull together something unique. I might have to try this myself- this is by far my favorite hack of those drawers!

  39. Emily says:

    Such a brilliant idea. I will definitely be copying you! Thanks for the how-to.

  40. tami curtis says:

    so i start gathering all my supplies, i found card holder pulls and was deciding on a stain to use when i find out that the ikea stores here in england no longer carry these drawers!!! : (((( boo hoo.

  41. Karen says:

    Kristine,
    This is amazing. I can hardly wait to make a set for myself. You are so creative and wonderful! Thank you so much.
    Karen

  42. Cynthia
    Check out this paint tutorial:
    http://kfddesigns.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/faux-metallic-letter-tutorial.html
    Hope it’s what you’re after.
    Kristine

  43. Vicki says:

    Kristine,
    These are beautiful!
    Great instructions, thanks.

  44. Sarah says:

    I’m…uh…not even sure what to write…this is just so cool!! I stand in awe:) I never would have thought those Ikea drawers could be so beautiful with such character. You are a genius, Kristine!!

  45. I want a vintage card catalog SO BADLY, and you just showed me how to fake one cheaply? You are my hero!!!

  46. Wow, impressive!!!

  47. Your very clever! You have such a great imagination and eye for things. I love reading your blog to see how you transform your finds.

  48. Beth says:

    What a cute little set of drawers and they’d be so handy with organizing stuff! I love your tip for rounding the corners to give a natural vintage look! Would not have thought of that!

  49. Ashley says:

    This is WONDERFUL! I have one vintage stack of drawers, but I almost like these better :) So creative!

  50. Alison says:

    You never cease to amaze me.

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