DIY Card Catalog Buffet

I should just start off by saying that in this post I tend to toot my own horn,a lot. However it’s not because of me doing anything amazing myself, but for the fact that I am married the most AMAZING man ever! Go me!

A couple of months ago J bought this massive card catalog from Craigslist. It is from a closed down old Phoenix Public Library. It was so incredible, but yet we had no idea what the heck to do with it. It sat in the garage for a good four months until one day my hubby had a “light bulb” moment and decided he would take it apart and transform it into the most beautiful buffet ever…really, ever!

card catalog furniture

This is what we started with:

Here is the process:

  • Removed the 72 drawers, numbering each with tape as we went so we could place it back in the correct spot
  • Removed the outside plywood casing of the original cabinet
  • Separated the four sections of 18 slots that were stacked 4×1 and reacquainted the with each other in a 2×2 buffet setting. Screwed the sections back together
  • Purchased two 4’x8′ sections of oak plywood and had Lowe’s cut them to size for free. These would be the new top and base, but we used the original casings for the sides to preserve the character of the piece since they have great splits and dents already.
  • Secured 8 legs purchased from Lowe’s for $8 each to base sheet of plywood in a diamond pattern {the card catalog is probably 350 lobs. so we were really, really, relieved when the base withstood all of the weight.
  • Added 3/4″ trim purchased from Lowe’s and cut at home with our Miter saw, then patched the nail holes with wood putty.
  • Sanded, re-sanded, and sanded some more to really smooth things out
  • Painted all {freaking} 72 drawers {with a smile of course}and whole thing with Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint and primer in one from Home Depot {color:Rhino}- random fact: we will only ever use Behr PPU for all projects, it is in our minds the best {Edited 9/2013- We now use Sherwin Williams for all of our painting projects, as we feel it is superior to Behr}
  • Rubbed some stain {Minwax Dark Walnut 2716} all over with a small brush and a few rags to give the antique look, followed by a little more sanding and then some Minwax Wipe on Poly to seal it
  • Lastly, we placed all the original hardware back on each drawer {minus the 4 that are missing the little circle do-dads, we are very technical over here, do-dads}
Photo credit:Melissa Young
Photo credit: Melissa Young

So far we have figured out that we can stick wine bottles, cloth napkins, serving utensils, and other small things..but lets be honest- 72 drawers is a little much! We shall see what junk I can find to fill it up…
Finally, how rad is my J. What hubby thinks of this, and then is even excited to do it over his three-day weekend. I kinda love him.

PS- I linked up this project with some of my favorite link parties🙂


  1. says

    WOW!!! I am SOOOO impressed! He did such a wonderful job! It is such a pretty piece that you can keep forever! Inspiring 🙂

  2. says

    Wow! I’m totally in awe. You should be proud of the buffet and your awesome husband!!! (Nick if you read this you still take the cake for the best chef in the world.)

  3. says

    DAMN!! if leaving a comment here was easier, you would have A LOT more people here telling you how fabulous this is!! YHL brought me here, and I have been hooked for at least 45 minutes… the ambition & talent required here is completely evident! AMAZING!!! me likie.

  4. Anonymous says

    LOVE it! Great job! Is the drawer hardware original? Or did you need to purchase replacement parts? I NEED some and if you could share your source, I’d appreciate it!

  5. says

    Thank you everyone for the positive comments! Peanut Pie Pleasing- I tried to make it easier for people to leave comments now, hope it helps:) And Liz, the hardware is original, the catalog had all but about 3 pieces-so we got lucky! Wish I had a good source for you, but if i find something I’ll let you know. Thanks again.

  6. Anonymous says

    Love it, of course I have always loved the look of library card-catalogs.

    I would love to fill those drawers with craft supplies, and each one could be nicely labled.


  7. Renee B says

    UMMMM I love this! You are awesome! I love redoing furniture…it is so much fun and you guys did an amazing job on it! And so fun you got in that magazine!!!

  8. says

    Absolutely gorgeous! Years ago, I saw one used as a jewlery organizer in a celebrity’s home and had my carpenter mom make me one. Unfortunately I never had room for it, and left it in my parents basement and guess I forgot about it.

    Gonna have to dig it out! Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Adam says

    I saw you mentioned you got the cabinet from an old city of phoenix library, but where exactly did you purchase it from, a city of phoenix auction ?


  10. says

    …and then Kristen (from the Good House) sent it to me and turned my whole morning around! I’m so envious of all of your drawers! Thanks for sharing.

  11. says

    What!!?? Who thinks of this!! You should love your husband he is amazing! Oh, would I love this in my craft room…I would have no problem filling 72 drawers! Remember me in your will LOL! I am visiting from Miss Mustard Seed.


  12. says

    Oh wow, I totally have buffet envy now! This is gorgeous! And I’m so impressed with what you guys did with it! And I have drawer envy too lol 72 of them!! Oh the things one can do with 72 drawer furniture pieces …. 😉

  13. says

    I have a bit of an obsession with tiny drawers so of course I am in love with this buffet!

    Your hubs had a brilliant idea. It looks like it always came that way. The hardware looks perfect, and the colour too.


  14. says

    You are all SO awesome!! And yes, i do plan on keeping the hubs around {if for nothing else, just to do amazing projects like this, jkjk} But really, thank you all for the positive comments. Painting 72 drawers sucked, but it was so worth it!
    PolkaDotCloset- you are too funny! I will write you in to the will now;)


  15. says

    I’m speechless. I’ve always wanted one of those old card catalogs. Never would have thought of doing this to it. It’s amazing.

    Some storage ideas: candles, napkin rings, batteries, bookmarks, rubber bands, salt and pepper shakers, gift cards, pens and pencils…

    Oh I could seriously fill that baby!

  16. says

    My jaw dropped. I am in awe and totally covetous! For kids those 72 drawers would be such a fun way to teach numbers and letters, or to have special occasion scavenger hunts, or to give each family member a set of drawers for themselves and birthday drawers and “just because” drawers and “apology” drawers and special surprise drawers…or you could buy and store little gifts all year long either by name or gender or occasion. Man, the fun you can have with this awesome piece, that’s just for starters!

  17. says

    oh wow thank you everyone for the positive comments! Amanda-thanks for much for featuring it, weve gotten a lot of traffic from you, so THANK YOU!
    Anne and Green Willow Pond- thanks for the tips of things to store! I cant wait till we have kids so that I can make fun things and adventures for them:)

  18. says

    This is incredible….I adore it! And now, I want one in the worse kind of way!!! Way to go Hubby…mine would have ran for the hills at even a suggestion of doing this!! Happy VTT!

  19. says

    What an amazing piece of work. That is remarkable what your hubby turned that into. It is very different. I am sure with all my junk, I could fill every drawer. Look what a little creativity and time can do. I think he is a keeper. I participate in Pink Saturday. Our hostess, Beverly, likes us to feature a new friend. If you do not mind I would like to feature your blog this Saturday. I enjoyed my visit with you and hubby.

  20. says

    visiting from miss mustard seed. . . wow, wow, wow!
    what and amazing job! it looks fantastic. how fun to have a truly one of a kind piece!

  21. says

    THAT is amazingly gorgeous. I think I recognize the original piece from my grade school days! What a creative husband you have for seeing the possibilities.

  22. says

    Aw everyone thank you SO much!! Glad you love it as much as we do:)
    @LV- Im sorry I didnt see this earlier, but if you didnt already feature we would love it if you would! How fun, thank you so much!
    @House of Hepworths- I wandered over there today! Thanks so much for choosing us in the top10-youre so awesome!

  23. says

    You rocked the Casbah on this one! How awesome is that?! I, too, have an uber-talented man who has taught me a lot about fixing things up.

    You guys did a great job on this. I’m more than just a little envious.

  24. says

    So, it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks this transformation is utterly amazing. I found your blog today for the first time and immediately posted this to my design blog, for all my readers to see. I’ll be adding you to my blog roll and if you take a look at mine and like what you see, I’d love to be added to yours as well! Can’t wait to dig a bit deeper and find out what else I can learn from you! Have a great day! Jen

  25. says

    Woah! We are so glad yall are loving it!!
    Nine Red-we got them at Lowes.
    Jen of all trades- So glad you love it too!Thanks so much for featuring us:) Looked through your blog, amazing amazing stuff!


  26. says

    Oh my goodness this is gorgeous. I was reading Design Sponge and I found their post about this piece. I clicked on it and came to your blog… and realized it was YOU! You are so creative girl. I have enjoyed browsing your blog. Keep the great ideas coming!

  27. says

    Thanks guys so much!
    Dreamcycles- just went and checked out all of your photos! Nice work!
    Brandi- Thanks so much for the feature. Checked out all of your stuff today! Awesome!!


  28. says

    Oh my gosh!!!! what can i day? i have never been more excited about a project! ever! I am sad to say that i am a copy cat, and if i can ever get my hands on one of these wonderful card catalogs that I am going to copy your plan exactly! {imulation is the hightest form of flattery right?} sorry friend. but thank you for this wonderful idea, you did it beautifully

  29. says

    I came here from Centsational Girl. WOW! I’m super impressed. What an incredible transformation! I’ve been trying to keep my eye out for a card catalog and can’t seem to locate one. You guys are lucky to have made such a fantastic score. But to then turn it into such a beauty! My jaw is on the floor. Fantastic job!!

  30. says

    Thank you all SO much! We had a blast with this project, and love that you all like it as well!
    Stephanie- good luck! We come across them every now and then, it just depends on if its in good quality or not!

    Huge thanks to Centsational Girl for featuring this!


  31. says

    I have used the same Behr product as you with success when the color had little pigment such as the gray, but after 3 coats of a deep red color I still had streaks on my wall so had to upgrade to an expensive Sherwin Williams product. Have you done any projects with red and had success?

  32. says

    Thanks Cindy and Nike!
    Theresa- so glad you are following now! Isnt tip junkie the best! Hope you like all that you see.
    Kelly- honestly we haven’t ever used red. I had painted our front door red right when we moved in, and I think i used the normal Behr and made sure to prime it before. The door turned out simply OK, but it probably didnt help that I lifted up the dirty dusty rug in front of it before the paint was even dry-so now we have little specks of dust all in it! Oops! I guess my only suggestion would be to make sure even though the Behr ultra premium plus has primer in it, use a normal primer before hand. Might help the streaks. Good luck!

  33. says

    Oh my word! It’s exquisite! What a find and what a beautiful refurb!

    So glad that I saw your blog featured over at “Just a Girl”! I dig your style!

    Best, Jenn/Rook No. 17

  34. says

    I absolutely LOVE this! It turned out amazing. I have been looking for a card catalog for awhile and haven’t had much luck. I know you have purchased a few but didn’t say how much you paid. In case I come across one I dont want to pay too much. What price range do these go for? Thanks for your help!

  35. Anonymous says

    Love all your stuff!!! I have been looking for am old library card file for years. You’re transformation is simply !!!

  36. Anonymous says

    Love your card catalog buffet, great job. My sister in law uses just a drawer to keep her recipe cards. They fit perfectly, with dividers. Maybe you still have an empty one left to try this. Pinterest fan

  37. says

    I could fill it up with my sewing stuff and put swatches of fabric colors on the cabinet label holders. I think my 11 year old granddaughter could fill it up with all of her arts and crafts in 30 minutes or less. 🙂


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