The Old Train Station Filing Cabinet

One of my coolest finds and the piece I get the most questions about is the old train station filing cabinet. Today I'm giving you all the details on the story behind this awesome piece and the different ways I've styled it over the years.

This post is a part of a Thrift Store Challenge hosted by the amazingly talented Emily and Tara from LeCultivateur and Stilettos & Shiplap. The goal of the challenge is to take a thrifted or found item and repurpose it, fix it up, or somehow give it new life in our homes. Be sure to check out everyone's finds at the bottom of this post!



I first spotted this old filing cabinet on Facebook Marketplace (for $10!!!!) from a seller I'd purchased a lot of cool, vintage things from. It belonged to his father who he said had it forever. The father had gotten it from a local train station that was making updates so the seller didn't know how old the cabinet was, just that it had to be old. His dad used it to organize magazines and when we got it, it still had his labels in the slots. (Emmitt has slowly removed them over the years, but you can see them in some of the older pictures below.)


I didn't know what exactly I wanted to do with this cabinet, but it was too cool and way too good a price to not get. We've used it in many ways over the years and I really believe it's a piece we'll always have. It's extremely sturdy and the drawers are surprisingly deep so it's a great source of storage for us. We've styled our TV on it, used it in our office, as a side table, and even as an end table by turning it on its side.

Here are a few ways I've styled this filing cabinet:


When we first brought it home, We used it as a filing cabinet in our office. It was a great little addition and I quickly learned how amazing just about anything looked styled on it.


In trying to maximize the space in our tiny apartment, I got a little creative with this piece and turned it on its side. The drawers were still fully functional and I really liked this look. Here it is styled for Halloween where I also made use of the large top for additional spooky decor.


I liked the sideways look so much that I used this cabinet as a side table for awhile. I always thought it would make a cute nightstand too. When the top drawer is pulled out like this, it actually made a really great additional surface for drinks or snacks during movie nights.


Speaking of movies, we eventually moved the cabinet back to its original spot and orientation and used it as a TV stand. Yes, it's crazy low for a TV, but it worked out perfectly for us. The only people who used the TV were Nathan for gaming and Emmitt for movies. It ended up being the perfect height for Nathan's gaming chair and for tiny Emmitt. And I loved that the TV was hidden from view instead of the focal piece of the living room. Nathan's gaming equipment also fit perfectly in the drawers and his consoles were hidden behind the TV so everything stayed out of sight. (Except for the ugly VCR pictured below. Yeah. We have a VCR.)

See that tiny black sliver behind my couch? That's the TV!


A TV table seemed to be the best use of this old filing cabinet for our family so in the new house, we kept it like that, but added an old cedar chest for a little extra height. It was fully visible now instead of hidden behind the couch so it needed to look good.


I loved this set up and thought the cabinet had found its permanent spot in our home. And then I found our vintage display case. If you haven't seen that beauty yet, head over to my Instagram. I have a highlight on it ("Display Case") and will have a blog post coming soon with the story behind that piece as well.

With the display case housing the TV, the chest and cabinet got the boot. They didn't move far, just to the corner next to my painted window. I really love the look of them here, but if I'm being honest, the room is a little more cramped than I'd like with them there. I'm definitely not ready to get rid of them, so we'll see where they end up in this house. Hopefully downstairs because they are both extremely heavy!


Even though the space is tight, I do love this combination of cabinets and they are still a great place to style just about anything. My most recent photoshoot with them involved a TON of roses from our garden (and a bunch of bugs that came in with them! I have a highlight on that too if you need a good laugh "BTS Roses").


This $10 vintage filing cabinet has served us well and I've loved it more and more the longer I've had it. I'm constantly finding new ways to use it and am confident we will be holding onto it for a long time. Just goes to show you don't always have to have a plan for every piece you buy. Sometimes you just need to go for the really cool finds and trust that they'll show you exactly where they belong over time.


Don't forget to check out everyone else's amazing finds and transformations from this Thrift Store Challenge!


Tara's Coffee Table Makeover

Emily's Silver Candlesticks


Jodi's End Table Flip