Confession: When I was a teenager, I asked for a four-drawer black file cabinet for my birthday. There’s just something alluring about putting order to your paper, as if your life will follow.
Thankfully, the market for file storage has expanded beyond industrial metal cabinets to include upholstered, wooden, colorful or patterned containers. Many can hide in a living room or even bedroom without anyone the wiser. Although it’s tempting to buy the best cabinet for your home design and believe in happily ever after, “[i]f you are going to invest in a file cabinet, you always have to think about the upkeep of a file cabinet,” says Rachel Rosenthal, owner of organizing firm Rachel and Co. in Washington, D.C. “You can’t just keep shoving papers in there.”
Rosenthal likes the FreedomFiler system (freedomfiler.com) and the Getting Things Done system by David Allen (gettingthingsdone.com). Some people like to organize files alphabetically, others chronologically. “It’s how you best recall the stuff you put in there” that will guarantee your tidying-up success, she says.
For a client who needed to store files in her bedroom office, Texas organizer Lisa Trigsted of Neat Freak McKinney chose the Ore International Beige Moroccan Heart Black Stencil Filing Storage Ottoman ($156, bkoog.com).
“She needed file storage but didn’t want the ugly metal file cabinet she had,” Trigsted says. “We put two of these side by side and it looked so nice. No one would know they were file cabinets.”
“I love incorporating file cabinets into a piece of furniture,” says interior designer April Force Pardoe, who has been doing a lot of design for empty nesters — both downsizers and those taking their kids’ bedrooms back for themselves. “There’s so many credenzas or buffet-style pieces that look like drawers, but lo and behold, one is a file drawer. That’s a way to put it in a living room or family room.” She likes how Ballard Designs’ Bourdonnais File Cabinet looks, and how it can accommodate a hutch on top ($899, ballarddesigns.com).
An expert in start-up office design, Danielle Arps has seen a lot of file cabinets. A favorite is the TPS White 3-Drawer Filing Cabinet ($179, cb2.com). “This unit is so chic,” the New York interior designer says. “I’d spec this cabinet for a minimal office aesthetic.” The two drawers can be letter or legal, for versatility, because those house-closing files have to go somewhere.
Kennesha Buycks, a Pacific Northwest blogger behind Restoration House and author of the new book with the same name, says that “in small spaces, pieces that can serve double-duty really matter.” If squeezing file storage into an apartment, loft or condo, Buycks recommends the Linon Home Decor Lateral 2 Drawers Filing Cabinet in Wood/Gray ($115.99, target.com). “It can also double as a nightstand if your office just happens to be in your bedroom,” she says.
Poppin’s 3-Drawer File Cabinet comes in 11 colors, so you can choose a neutral to blend in or a colorful one that stands out ($249, poppin.com). “I don’t think anyone could go wrong with this gray-and-white combo, but I also love the beautiful aqua color it comes in,” Rosenthal says. “We’ve put these in tons of different spaces.”