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7 Creative Uses for Filing Cabinets (That Have Nothing to Do with Employee Paperwork)

Human Resources

Field trip forms, employee reimbursements, leave requests, employee handbook acknowledgements, W4s, written reprimands, separation agreements, I9s and more… the sheer volume of paperwork in a school district is mindboggling. All of that paperwork needs to go somewhere, and chances are, that “somewhere” is a filing cabinet. Actually, make that many filing cabinets.

Unless, of course, you’ve already gone digital with employee records. Just imagine — what if your school district went paperless, and you didn’t need to find ways to organize and store an exponentially-increasing number of employee records?

In the spirit of going green, here are seven alternative uses for all those filing cabinets.

1. A garden planter.

You know what’s more beautiful than a drawer of W4s? A planter full of wildflowers. Check out this step-by-step guide to turning office cabinets into garden planters, and get inspired to replace personnel paperwork with peonies.

2. A meat smoker.

HR is full of acronyms. So is K-12. All week, you’re busy thinking about the ACA, ADA, FMLA, IEP or EEO — but during summer weekends, only one acronym should be on your mind: BBQ. Luckily, it just so happens that it’s pretty simple to turn a metal filing cabinet into a meat smoker.

3. A very modern sculpture.

Ever see a piece of modern art that thoroughly confused you? Stick an aged filing cabinet out and say it’s an avant-garde sculpture. When passersby ask what it’s supposed to represent, just say, “What do you think it means?”

4. A Little Free Library.

This one lets your school district’s old filing cabinets get back to their roots. You could turn one into a Little Free Library for the community — maybe the drawers are sorted by genre or reading level.

5. A cat house.

This blogger turned a short filing cabinet into a hidden kitty litter box, but there’s no reason you couldn’t put a pet bed at the bottom instead of a litter box. Given how often I’ve found my own cat hiding in dresser drawers, it seems to be the perfect fit.

6. New furniture.

Pinterest is full of creative examples of turning office storage into stylish home furnishings — filing cabinets turned into bedside tables or ottomans, refurbished with paint or upholstered with fabric.

7. A honeybee hive.

This one’s for the adventurous sort. On the off chance you’re interested in beekeeping, our apian friends could probably make a perfectly functional home out of an old filing cabinet — although you’d need to do a little carpentry work first to make it habitable.


Ready to move on from filing and storing paper-based employee records in your school district? Frontline Central can help you tame the paper taking over the central office and go digital with employee records.

Annie GrunwellAnnie Grunwell

Annie is a writer and part of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She's passionate about learning, exploring data and sharing knowledge. Her specialties include substitute management, the teacher shortage and best practices in human capital management.