Achieve a Dorothy Draper File Drawer in 10 Steps
by: Asia Evans Artistry
It's no secret that my favorite Interior Designer is the famed Hollywood Regency Era Queen, Dorothy Draper. Her use of patterns and colors influenced everything in the home worldwide and she is crowned as the one of the first Interior Designers in America. You can see replica's of her pieces at Kindel Furniture.
So when I decided to makeover a file cabinet for my home office, I wanted to pay homage to Dorothy and her infamous Espana Chest.
Consider your Design and what colors you want. I wanted the black and gold Dorothy Design of the Espana Chest. I elected not to freehand the design and wanted to use a custom stencil. Here's how I did it:
- File Cabinet
- Rotary Sander or hand sanding block with Med to Fine Grit
- Denatured alcohol or degreasing cleaner
- Rags (2/3)
- Tools to remove the drawer pulls(I used pliers)
- Spray Paint in selected color(s) (I used Ace Brand Gloss Black & Rust-olium Metallic Pure Gold)
- Stencil or in my case a brown paper bag
- 2" Good Quality Painters Tape ( I like Scotch or Frog brand)
- X-acto Knife or a box cutter with a fresh blade/point
- A bottle of Wine or vice of choice
Step 1: Find a 2 Drawer File Cabinet or whatever size you need. I want to later add a top to make it into a desk. I found this File Cabinet at my towns local thrift shop. The proceeds go to a shelter for battered women. Good deed... check!
Step 2: Get it home in a 2 door Mustang. hummmm... not so easy! This designer really needs to invest in a van, before partaking in anymore DIY projects.
Step 3: (as needed) Sand down smooth. My file cabinet had a previous DIY paint job from the former owner that needed to be sanded so the texture wouldn't show through the gloss black. Gloss finishes are particularly unforgiving for imperfections.
Step 4: Regardless of whether you sanded or not, be sure to clean every surface. You want to clean off any dust from sanding and/or ensure there is nothing on the cabinet that will interfere with the paints ability to bond with your cabinet. Common suggested cleaners for metal surfaces are degreasers or denatured alcohol. Check the website of your spray paint brand to see prep suggestions for various surfaces.
*Always take caution as these items are both toxic and flammable. Be sure to follow instructions on disposal of used product and rags.
Step 5: Prime Coat Everything (oh... and be aware of overspray and wind) Pick an area away from cars and anything you wouldn't want flecks of paint on. Choose a low wind and low humidity day. Dry time is greatly affected by humidity.
*overspray is the paint that can be carried in the air and land on yours/or your neighbors cars. I'm not guilty but I have been the victim of this act before... NOT FUN!
Step 6: Paint your deign color first. For me that is the Metallic Gold which is only going to show on the drawers. I chose to paint the whole Drawer front to ensure an even texture under the Black paint I will spray later. Careful with metallic spray paints... they drip. Watch the nozzle and do a quick spray blast and then wipe the nozzle clean. Do this each time to prevent the drips you see I experienced. Let dry.
Paint your handles and other accessory pieces... if you want them gold like mine.
Step 7: Tape off your design area with a good quality painters tape. I used a 2" wide tape. I first drew half of my Dorothy Draper design out on a brown paper bag. I then folded the bag at the mid point of the design and cut it out, so both sides were the same. (Kind of like how you use to cut out a heart as a kid) Just fold down the middle.
In this photo you are only seeing the outer stencil. There is also a center piece which in the photo you'll notice I already traced around onto the painters tape.
Step 8: Remove your paper stencil and carefully cut along your pencil line. Harsh cutting pressure is NOT needed to cut the tape. This is were a new point or sharp blade is a must to ensure you cut the tape and not pull and gather it.
Pull away the outer cuts of the tape, leaving your nice Dorothy Draper design. Carefully use your fingers and/or finger nails to gently ensure the edges of the tape are well stuck to the drawer surface.
*BIG PAINTERS TIP HERE: Blast one more coat of gold metallic spray over the drawer and taped pattern again and let dry. This will help prevent color bleeds with your next color. It seals the edges of the painters tape.
Step 9: Final paint coat.... your almost there!
It took me several coats with an Ace Brand Black Gloss Spray Paint. I let each coat dry before blasting the next coat. This helped prevent drips.
Step 10: Pull the tape. It's not a bad idea to "gently" run your knife around the edge of the tape. The knife edge is also helpful to get the tape edge up to start peeling it off. Woohoo!!! It's like a present! Put all your drawer pulls and hardware back on. Step back and view your masterpiece.
Crack open that bottle of wine... that is if you didn't already do so back at step 7.
The total cost for this project will vary based on your already accumulated DIY supplies.
I only had to buy the File cabinet and paint. A total of $26.00
I Hope you had fun!