DIY File Bench

Jul 2, 2015 by

Recently, since we’re moving from a three-bedroom house in Appalachia to a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, where every square foot counts, I decided to get rid of my sturdy filing cabinet and replace it with something a little more dual-purpose and aesthetically pleasing.  Then I put a picture of the solution on FB and Instagram.

After a couple many people asked how I accomplished the File Bench (and got rid of my filing cabinet after dragging it all over creation since college), I put together this little tutorial here.  It’s seriously the easiest thing ever, guys, and there are two ways to do it.

Step 1: Get a storage bench.


Storage benches are sold everywhere.  I got a cushy linen bench at TJ Maxx for $110.  My inventive mother-in-law (my original inspiration for this endeavor) used a beautiful cedar chest.  The most important thing is that the bench be at least 11″ deep inside, and about 40″ long inside.  Remember, you’re measuring the storage space inside the bench, not the dimensions of the bench itself.

Step 2: Rig the Inside for Files

There are two ways to do this, one slightly easier than the other.  The easier way is to buy file-storage baskets and simply slot them into the bench, as my mother-in-law did.  You’ll want to measure your potential bench inside and look at the measurements on the baskets to make sure everything fits before you spend your money.  You can find file-storage baskets and crates at most office supply stores, or on

this one's from Office Depot

this one’s from Office Depot

The end result, after you slot in the baskets next to each other:

my mother-in-law is the coolest.

my mother-in-law is the coolest.

Or, you can do it the way I did.

Take two hanging folder frames, and put them in the bench back-to-back.  I made my bench this way because I took the hardware out of my old filing cabinet, but you can just as easily buy the hardware in an office supply store, or on  Again, measure once, cut twice before you buy the bench and the frames, to make sure you have compatible components.

from Office Depot

from Office Depot

The ends of my frames stuck out, so I covered them in foam so they wouldn’t poke through the fabric sides of the bench. Not the prettiest solution, but you can’t see the ends once they’re inside.

whatever works.

Step 3: Clean Out Your Files

If you’re going from a full-sized 4-drawer filing cabinet to a file bench, like I did, you’ll probably end up with about half the filing space you used to have.  This means, at the age of almost-32, it will finally be time for you to get rid of the file you’ve been keeping since you were ten, on the life of Prince William.  Or, you know, whatever else you almost can’t bear to part with, but know you should.

prince william file

adulting is hard

But the sacrifice is worth it, because voilà!  Here is your file bench!  With a little room on the side of the frames to store empty extra folders.

file bench 2
it has a halo

And that’s how I did it.  Go forth, and DIY!

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