Upcycling An Industrial Look: The Making Of Metropolis

Sometimes inspiration strikes as soon as you set eyes on a piece, at other times you flail around hoping that an idea will form as you begin the upcycling process.  In the case of this sweet French 19th century cabinet with lockable drawers, I formed a plan almost instantly; to upcycle this piece by reinventing it completely with a new vintage style midcentury modern industrial and slightly ‘shabbychic’ look.

Metropolis pre-loved Napoleonrockefeller.com

First task, filling holes with wood filler. Prepped and sanded, the cabinet was ready for the first coat of paint.

Metropolis first brushstrokes Napoleonrockefeller

Slowly but surely I carefully layered on the grey chalk paint.

Metropolis painting drawers Napoleonrockefeller.com

I wanted a relatively smooth distressed ‘shabbychic’ finish, so between each coat I sanded off any unwanted bumps and also knocked back the edges.


Grey chalk paint layered on, next step of upcycling; painting on numbers. To contrast with the grey I chose a sexy graphite coloured chalk paint (which I’d been dying to test out for ages!).

Metropolis graphite paint Napoleonrockefeller.com

My inspiration here was a fashionably distressed vintage mid-century filing cabinet with utilitarian numbering system.

Metropolis numbers painted Napoleonrockefeller.com

So far so good…now for the piece de resistance in the upcycling process – adding aged antique style brass drawer pull handles.



With a little help from my youngest, Master Rockefeller, I positioned the industrial style handles. My decision to keep the option of locking each drawer meant that I had to place the drawer pulls on either side of the numbering.



Job done, another unique hand painted vintage piece joins the Napoleon Rockefeller collection. Meet the upcycled shabby chic industrial style set of drawers that is Metropolis.