HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT VINTAGE FILING CABINET
Long filed under tabs like “utilitarian” and “sensible,” filing and storage cabinets are undergoing a renaissance as of late. On the hot list: filing and storage cabinets that don’t lead with their clerical connotations. On the outs: cheaply constructed cabinets that are best sequestered under a desk or recessed in the back of a closet. If you’re on the hunt for storage and filing cabinets that can be filed under “chic” rather than “characterless,” we’ve got you covered with a treasure trove of unique ideas, ranging from library cabinets to antique map cabinets.
Standard File Cabinets
While it’s certainly worth expanding your search breadth when looking for a file cabinet or storage cabinet, sometimes the no-nonsense, two-drawer format is all that’s required to handle the job adeptly—surfacing the question: why fault what’s functioning? If you’re inclined to go with a prototypical file cabinet forgo squat, unadorned metal boxes in favor of metal cabinets finished in high-sheen metals like brass or chrome. A taller four or five drawer filing cabinet can also usher in a more elevated look. Use one to restore order to an office while also making a visually striking statement—as most designers will attest to, a little height in a room is always a welcome addition to a room. Also, resist the temptation to cloister a tall—or short—filing cabinet in a corner. The effect almost always looks like an afterthought more than a thoughtfully planned-out design. If space does elude you, consider angling a tall metal filing cabinet in a corner in an effort to maintain a look of stylistic intention.
Library Card Cabinet
Library card catalogs may seem hopelessly antiquated in a world of predictive algorithms and one-click buying, but that doesn’t make old library furniture like card catalog cabinets any less enticing. Originally used to archive library card catalogs—a card-to-book system which could be used to research and track the status of library books—card catalog cabinets possess a surplus of diminutive drawers, making them ideal stand-ins for filing cabinets and storage cabinets. While comparisons to the apothecary cabinet are inevitable, the library cabinet tends to possess a bit more of a polish than the standard apothecary—primitive cabinets outfitted with crude, jam-prone drawers, library card cabinets are not. While some might scoff at the notion of such tiny drawers being useful, digital-era ephemera equates to chargers and headphones than printed bills and contracts. Use a library index card file cabinet to stow all of your electronic equipage and consider a lack of storage for paper fodder motivation to meticulously edit.
Those feeling hemmed in by the prospect of a library cabinet’s bitty drawers might be wise to consider a printmaking or printer’s cabinet; on occasion, you might also see these dubbed "antique map cabinets." In contrast to an old index card file cabinet, a printer’s cabinet features a stack of thin, horizontal drawers. Originally used to store newly-inked prints, a printmaking cabinet is ideal for storing documents, or, ingeniously enough, laptops. Most of these vintage filing cabinets come with label slots affixed to the drawers, making it easy to implement your own categorization system. Just like library card catalogs, printmaker cabinets aren’t restricted to just filing papers, either. The slim drawers make these vintage filing cabinets an asset in bedrooms or closets, where the thin profile drawers can be utilized for jewelry, scarves, or even wallets and clutches.
Although technically a bookcase, the barrister bookcase makes for a clever spin on a filing cabinet. Also known as a lawyer’s cabinet, barrister bookcases consist of self-containing shelving units, usually fronted in glass, that can be stacked together to form a cabinet. The underlying mastery of the barrister bookcase is that each shelving unit can be individually moved—hence the reason that lawyers, with their troupe of scholarly tomes, were ardent adoptees of the barrister bookcase. A glass-front does mean that barrister bookcases may require a bit more decorative consideration to stave off visual mayhem—those looking to stash and dash may best look elsewhere when it comes to filing cabinets—but a few low-profile boxes (craft boxes, typically used for photo and scrapbook storage and procurable at virtually any craft store, are particularly adroit) can make easy work of organization. With a few books or small-scale paintings sprinkled in for good measure, the look can be the antithesis of the pedestrian metal file cabinet.