DECOR & DIY, DIY, Home & Garden

DIY Faux card catalogue drawers – how we did it

Don’t you just love the look of catalogue (or catalog) cabinets?! I think that they are just so gorgeous. However, in our small house, I don’t have space for all the different types of furniture that I love and small drawers don’t exactly answer my storage needs.

While I had been pondering this problem, Hubs had designed what was supposed to be a relatively small desk to fit against the back wall in our dining room (again – small house = multi-functional spaces – read more about that here). While he was busy building it, he warned me that it was slightly larger than he had initially planned (he always has a basic idea and then designs as he builds), but nothing could prepare me for the surprise when I walked in one Friday afternoon to find this monster standing in my dining room! It was huge! And high – not table height, but bar counter height! To put it into context, this is the size of the beast:

  • 2440 mm (8 foot) long
  • 800 mm (2 foot 6 inches) wide
  • 890 mm (2 foot 9 inches) high

It is huge!

Internally I was freaking out, because how on earth am I going to make this metal and wood elephant match my french country inspired dining room?! Then it hit me! If I could get him to make faux drawer fronts and put them on the rather large doors, it would help blend the more contemporary metal and wood desk with my french country dining room. I really love how it turned out, so I thought that I would share how we did it!

Faux drawer fronts with card catalogue pulls
Close up of the faux card catalogue drawer fronts, I love the way that they turned out!
  • We measured the size of the doors (they are 390 mm wide and 795 mm high) and and used this as the basis to determine the size of the drawer fronts. We decided on 16 faux fronts of 170 mm by 170 mm in size, having about 25 mm spaces between the edges and each box.
  • Hubs cut the squares out of some extra pine ply wood that he had left over (using a table saw that he created out of a second hand circular saw he bought on the cheap – if you’re interested in knowing how he did it, let me know!) and routed the edges to create a curved finish (this is the router that we use)
  • I sanded them down and stained them with Nova 18 in the colour antique oak (my fav!). This is the same stain that I used on the top of the cabinet. (*Side note: I waxed the top with Annie Sloan Clear Wax, to protect the stain and the wood.)
  • The stain was followed by 2 coats of  Rustoleum Chalked paint in Linen White (this is one of my budget friendly favourites and it is available at most Builders Warehouse or Mica stores).
Attaching faux drawer fronts with screws to the cabinet doors
Attaching faux drawer fronts with screws to the cabinet doors
  • Once the paint had dried, I sanded them a bit and distressed them around the edges, where there would be natural wear. (I have a small electric mouse sander that I use, but I can’t find a link – it’s too old to be featured anywhere!)
  • After I was done, Hubs measured out the placement and attached the blocks with screws to the doors. There was one which accidentally went through the drawer front, but luckily we were able to make it look like part of the distressing – this is why I love the shabby chic/distressed look!
  • I couldn’t find the handles that I wanted anywhere in South Africa, so I decided to order off eBay. They took about 4 months to get here (I thought that they were lost!), but were so cost effective and look so fantastic that it was definitely worth the wait. Because of the wait though and because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to distress them further once the handles had been attached, I didn’t wax or seal them – this still needs to be done. Oops!
I just love how these faux drawer fronts have created the card catalogue look on this huge piece of furniture.
I just love how these faux drawer fronts have created the card catalogue look on this huge piece of furniture.

What do you think? Would you give this a try? Do you think that I should distress further, or perhaps try a different colour or technique altogether? I’m considering doing the same on the other side, but that would mean ordering more handles… I’m not sure if I could wait that long again! I would love to hear your thoughts on the project!

6 thoughts on “DIY Faux card catalogue drawers – how we did it

  1. It looks beautiful. Love the finish and the contrast between the top and the white distressed faux catalog drawers. Don’t you just hate it that we can’t find so many things here in South Africa, but those handles sure are worth the wait.

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