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My Pretty Little DIY Card Catalog

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I love card catalogs, especially DIY card catalogs! It’s no wonder that (aside from the thrift store), libraries have always been my favorite hangout spot.
So imagine my luck when I was walking through the thrift store on a 50% off sale day and saw this amazingly beautiful piece sitting there, pristine! I felt like I had just struck gold!!
The “before” wasn’t totally ugly (it was in perfect condition!). A friend of mine had even suggested I keep it “as is.” Um…..but why would I do that?? I know you should always ask yourself when should you NOT paint wood furniture, and while this was in good condition, I didn’t care for the golden oak color.
I wanted a pretty little DIY card catalog with paint. And to create that, I was going to have to make some changes.

BEFORE

 

DIY Card Catalog Makeover - This is the BEFORE, as found at the thrift store. - Thrift Diving

AFTER!

DIY Card Catalog Makeover - This is the AFTER! - Thrift Diving
 New paint……and card catalog handles like these….and I would finally have my crafting card catalog that I have been drooling for!

Materials List for Painted Card Catalog

Here’s what I used for this card catalog:

(I participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites).
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint  – white
  • Card catalog pulls
  • Screws
  • Spray paint for pulls (optional)
I picked up these card catalog handles on eBay for a mere $7.00, plus $5.00 shipping. They were perfect for turning this into a card catalog. You can find similar card catalog pulls on Amazon.
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Use card catalog pulls to create a DIY card catalog. - Thrift Diving
I didn’t care for the brassy color, so I spray painted them with Black Rust-Oleum “Hammered” Paint & Primer in One, about $8.00.
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Materials needed include pulls, screws, and spray paint. - Thrift Diving
I wasn’t too impressed with the Hammered look, but sometimes you just accept it and move on!
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Spray paint pulls to change the color. - Thrift Diving
The little itty-bitty knobs needed to come off. It was pretty simple to remove them.
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Remove the old knobs. - Thrift Diving
But to get the new card catalog handles to fit, I had to drill new holes. The existing hole didn’t match up.
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Drill holes to fit the new card catalog pulls. - Thrift Diving
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Old holes need to be filled. - Thrift Diving
 After drilling holes for the card catalog pulls, I was left with the big original hole in the center.
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Two holes drilled will fit new card catalog pulls - Thrift Diving
Whenever you have a little hole that needs filled up and covered, wood filler is the perfect solution. Just put a clump of it on, let it dry, and then sand it smooth so it’s even with the surface.
I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – Pure White. With chalk paint, the longer it sits out, the more it thickens up. And when it thickens up, you see more of the brush strokes, which sometimes is the look you’re going for.
If you’re getting this texture, just add a little bit of water to the paint to thin it out again. And if you get lots of unintended texture, like below, you can smooth it out with Fine sandpaper.
DIY Card Catalog Makeover - Smooth out chalk paint with fine sand paper. - Thrift Diving
Once I was done, it looked amazing!

DIY Card Catalog Makeover - New card catalog can be used in craft room. - Thrift Diving

BEFORE

 

DIY Card Catalog Makeover - The old card catalog was in good condition but the color was boring. - Thrift Diving

AFTER!

DIY Card Catalog Makeover - New Pure White card catalog for the craft room. - Thrift Diving
For just under $50, I totally got what I wanted: a card catalog! 🙂
  • $18.00 card catalog from my favorite thrift store
  • $12.00 card catalog handles via eBay
  • $8.00 hammered spray paint for handles
  • $3.00 screws
  • Annie Sloan paint (already owned, but if I had to price it, I would say I used about $5 worth of  the paint)
GRAND TOTAL = about $46.

Thrifted Craft Room

I have used this DIY card catalog in both my thrifted craft room….

Thrifted crafting room - Thrift Diving

Pretty thrifted basement office - Thrift Diving
Pretty thrifted basement office with a card catalog. - Thrift Diving
I love this piece so much. It fits in well great in my home and it didn’t cost much money. That’s the kind of DIY project I love! 🙂

Other Cabinet Makeovers

Want more cabinet makeovers? Check out my most popular post ever, BEFORE & AFTER: China Cabinet Makeover. See what the “AFTER” looked like!

 

China cabinet makeover - Painted china cabinet makeover. This is the BEFORE. - Thrift Diving

And these $20 metal cabinets were in horrible condition! But you know how I love little drawers.

I picked them up for next to nothing at the salvage shop. You won’t believe how cute they looked afterward. 🙂 Check out my Painted File Cabinets and see the AFTER!

Pretty painted pink file cabinets - This is the BEFORE. See the AFTER! - Thrift Diving
So what do you think of my DIY card catalog?! 🙂 Are you obsessed with card catalogs, too? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!

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34 Comments

  1. This is gorgeous <3 I have been stalking local thrift stores and Craigslist for old card catalogs or apothecary drawers to makeover and use to store my needlework threads in for the last few months with no luck. I even called the local libraries to see if they had any tucked away in their storage rooms LOL

  2. OK that’s it! Where do you live so I can come thrift store shopping with you!!!!!!!??? You’d never ever ever find Anything like that here in Connecticut. Even goodwill is overpriced here. The last file cabinet and I saw which was very similar to the condition and cleanliness of yours that you found, was $25 at Goodwill mind you. Even at yard cells parentheses tag sales anything like that here in Connecticut. Even the goodwill , non profit thrift stores and of course consignment shops annd estate sales are all overpriced here. They think everyone that lives in Connecticut is rich lol… when in reality theres like 5 millionaires and only one billionaire and technically they just Own summer houses here to get out of the city ( we live right smack in the middle of the state and we’re only about a 45 minute drive from NYC ) so those 6 people work in NYC ( yeah you guessed it, Wall Street, Financial district lOL) And come back to their mansions in Connecticut for the weekend but everyone thinks we’re all rich and famous too lol and honestly we’re just all broke, have one of the highest cost of livings In the country, There is no such thing as a living wage. Even goodwill is overpriced here. The last file cabinet and I saw which was very similar to the condition of yours was 25.00. I’m seriously thinking that these people would rather take a tax write off for a donation or a loss than to sell it for a reasonable cost And that’s exactly what they do. I’ve been volunteering when they come in to Donate a 1200$ chair and take the tax credit with depreciation for 500.00 than to sell it for cash for 30.00.. It’s disgusting really but that’s how it is here.
    I can Forget about a card catalog, I have been eyeing those for about five years now,
    omg finally found one at my favorite thrift/consignment store and the guy wanted $400 for it. It truly was a vintage gorgeous piece of history as it actually came out of the Yale school of law…he had two of the card catalogs about double the size of what yours is, built in the 1880s.. my home is also built in the 1880s so it matched my house perfectly as we have never ever touch the original woodworking or brick in the house so the dark antique distressed natural aging of the piece complete with patina hardware…it Just belongs in my house
    but I couldn’t justify spending $400 as he was non negotiable on it.. something that I couldn’t sit on, drive in, go on a date with…wear, or carry my huge mess of stuff (aka) a designer purse lol, couldn’t
    eat it( even though it was truly the most Delicious Eye candy as is, I mean there would be nothing I would or even could possibly try to alter it was just that stunning.. it was one of those rare finds that you could actually feel the history and see the stories and feel the energy of yesteryears all around that piece of furniture… I mean seriously, it had been at the Yale school of law library since the late 1800’s…can you imagine the hands that touched that card catalog? Omg.. I had goosebumps just from thinking about how many of our forefathers, historical figures, presidents or political figures or just really good people fighting for all the right things, all doing their legal research the good old-fashioned way, through the beautiful card catalog lol. You could imagine I wanted one or both and in the worst possible way but that guy was not budging and as a matter of fact he told me that there was a bidding war going on and the next time I went in a week later they both were gone and they sold for 1200 for the set. I was told that a woman came in with cash mind you..and bought both of them for her husband’s library/office area of their mansion. He told me when he delivered it and actually made him sick With envy…haha but not so sick that he wouldn’t sell them to me lol…
    I don’t even bother going anymore lol.. can’t even afford a yard sale or goodwill lol!!! But long long story short you did an excellent job on the redo and I would’ve totally done the same thing. I’m jealous !!! I really like your blog and I read it all the time for your creative inspiration and quick wit. I don’t always comment but I always read and appreciate your knowledge and sharing your stories and talents – jess

  3. OK that’s it! Where do you live so I can come thrift store shopping with you!!!!!!!??? You’d never ever ever find Anything like that here in Connecticut. Even goodwill is overpriced here. The last file cabinet and I saw which was very similar to the condition and cleanliness of yours that you found, was $25 at Goodwill mind you. Even at yard cells parentheses tag sales anything like that here in Connecticut. Even the goodwill , non profit thrift stores and of course consignment shops annd estate sales are overpriced here. They think everyone that lives in Connecticut is rich lol… when in reality theres like 5 millionaires and only one billionaire and technically they just Own summer houses here to get out of the city ( we live right smack in the middle of the state and we’re only about a 45 minute drive from NYC ) so those few work in NYC ( yeah you guessed it, Wall Street LOL) And come back to their mansions in Connecticut for the weekend but everyone thinks we’re all rich and famous too lol and honestly we’re just all broke, have one of the highest cost of livings In the country, There is no such thing as a living wage OK that’s it! Where do you live so I can come thrift store shopping with you!!!!!!!??? You’d never ever ever find Anything like that here in Connecticut. Even goodwill is overpriced here. The last file cabinet and I saw which was very similar to the condition and cleanliness of yours that you found, was $25 at Goodwill mind you. Even at yard sale (tag sales here) anything like that here in Connecticut is a rare find for a bargain. Even goodwill , Nonprofit thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets, pawn stores are just overpriced here. I’m seriously thinking that these people would rather take a tax write off for a donation or a loss dentist sell it for a reasonable cost And that’s exactly what they do. They would rather donate a 1200$ chair and take the tax credit than sell it for cash for 30.00.. It’s disgusting
    The last file cabinet I saw which was very similar to the condition and cleanliness of yours that you found, was $25 at Goodwill mind you. Even at yard sales (we say tag sales here) Still going for 10 or 15 bucks. Forget about a card catalog, I have been eyeing those for about five years now,
    omg finally found one at my favorite thrift/consignment store and the guy wanted $400 for it. It truly was a vintage gorgeous piece of history as it actually came out of the Yale school of law…he had two of the card catalogs about double the size of what yours is, built in the 1880s.. my home is also built in the 1880s so it matched my house perfectly as we have never ever touch the original woodworking or brick in the house so the dark antique distressed natural aging of the piece complete with patina hardware…Just belongs in my house
    but I couldn’t justify spending $400 as he was non negotiable on it.. something that I couldn’t sit on, drive in, go on a date with…wear, or carry my huge mess of stuff (aka) a designer purse lol, couldn’t
    eat it( even though it was truly the most Delicious Eye candy as is, I mean there would be nothing I would or even could possibly try to alter it was just that stunning.. it was one of those rare find that you could actually feel the history and see the stories around that piece of furniture… I mean seriously, it had been at the Yale school of law library since the late 1800’s Law, can you imagine the hands that wore out that card catalog? Omg.. I had goosebumps just from thinking about how many of our presidents or political figures or just really good people fighting for the right things, all doing their legal research the good old-fashioned way, through the beautiful card catalog lol. You could imagine I wanted one or both and the worst possible way but that guy was not budging and as a matter of fact he told me that there was a bidding war going on and the next time I went in a week later they both were gone and they sold for 1200 for the set. I was told that woman came in and bought both of them for her husband’s library/office area of their mansion. He told me when he delivered it and actually made him sick With envy…haha but not so sick that he wouldn’t sell them to me lol…
    here,our real estate is still not budging. Our taxes are out of control for our home, personal property and vehicle taxes… you name it we get taxed on it and if we don’t get taxed on it there’s a registration fee or a convenience fee just whatever they want to call it, we are all suffering here. Well…all but like the 8 millionaires that have summer houses here and work in The city in the financial district, Wall Street lol.. they stay in their Multi million dollar condos living the NYC life…during the work week and come to Connecticut on the weekends. We live right in the middle of the state and were only 45 minutes away by car from
    The city and in summer time they Get to escape the city and the heat and vacation in Connecticut for two months out of the year but yet everyone thinks we all live like that but the truth of the matter is
    We all are just living paycheck to paycheck like the rest of America… there’s no such thing as a living wage here. Housing costs are out of control and food and clothing, you’re basic necessities are triple the price of anywhere else. So it just goes to follow that if you want a nice card catalog or cabinet you’re gonna pay like you’re eye Connecticut millionaire and not a Connecticut working poor person lmfao.. So yes I would love to come visit you and do some real thrift shopping for a change.
    The last file cabinet I saw which was very similar to the condition and cleanliness of yours that you found, was $25 at Goodwill mind you. Even at yard sales (we say tag sales here) Still going for 10 or 15 bucKs.. I don’t even bother going anymore lol.. can’t afford a yard sale lol!!! But long long story short you did an excellent job on the redo and I would’ve totally done the same thing. I’m jealous !!! I really like your blog and I read it all the time for your creative inspiration and quick wit. I don’t always comment but I always read and appreciate your knowledge and sharing your stories and talents – jess

  4. Wow, it’s a good guide and you show the image in detail. Thank for new idea from decorating home

  5. Turned out so good!! Like a different piece almost!! I love that!! You did a great job!

  6. I love this! I don’t know if I would have painted the whole thing…maybe left the top and sides original wood and just paint the drawers….in any case I came out awesome! I’d be over the moon if i found a piece like this.!

  7. LuAnn Summers says:

    This is amazing. You are an inspiration for us all.

  8. Julie Hockley says:

    Hi, did you sand the piece before you painted, or notice as it was in such good condition?

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