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photography by CODY GUILFOYLE AND AARON BENGOCHEA

We can all agree that there are areas of our home that are simply unpleasant to look at. Many will spend time, effort, and money meticulously curating a space only to have the existing infrastructure bring it down. From unsightly exposed pipes and beams to peculiarly-positioned outlets, radiators, or vents, it can be difficult to conceal said common eyesores.

But what if we could thoughtfully camouflage them so they no longer took up precious decorative space in our homes?

Jean Brownhill, Sweeten founder and CEO, a free renovation matchmaking service, notes that “Whether you have an open plan or separate spaces, you want to avoid visual clutter on the surface of your walls. AC units and radiators—with all their knobs and buttons—can disrupt the visual flow.” 

Ahead, we’ve outlined a handful of the ways you can aid in maintaining that visual flow, thanks to a few clever solutions and DIYs. 

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Photography by Best Friends Pizza Club

AC Units

If you’re lucky enough to live with central air conditioning, let us just say: You’re lucky enough. But for many who live in older buildings, the best they can do to cool off is to install a large, loud, obtrusive window or wall unit in their home.

While at times, these units are a seasonal addition to the home, others choose to leave them in throughout the year. Either way, while not in use, the air conditioning units have a way of taking up precious window space and never fail to be a continuous eyesore. Not to worry: we scoured the internet for some of the best ways to temporarily or permanently cover those chill zones up.

 “You want to avoid visual clutter on the surface of your walls. AC units and radiators—with all their knobs and buttons—can disrupt the visual flow.” 

For one apartment-dweller, the AC unit stood out an insane seventeen inches into her living space. “Since people already set their drinks on it, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and build a cover for it that was also a semi-functional piece of furniture,” says Eliza, the blogger behind Best Friends Pizza Club.

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photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Taking on a pretty basic carpentry project, the renter came up with the clever solution of building a chic, mid-century inspired cabinet to house (and effectively cover) her unit. With a cover-up like this, you’d never know what existed underneath. 

If tackling a full-blown project just to cover your AC seems too involved for you, you might want to try adding in a set of small bistro curtains in front of it. Simply fashion a small retention rod that spans the width of your window and add a small valance or curtains to effectively take the attention away from the unit, while still being able to feel the cool breeze when the temps get hot.

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Exposed Pipes or Support Beams

Not all support beams in a home resemble those wooden beams that our favorite farmhouse-chic gal, Joanna Gaines loves to showcase in her Fixer Upper projects, but that’s not to say you can’t fake it. Where exposed beams (or even ceiling pipes) take up space, you can cover them with a faux wood. Not only does this solution successfully conceal a necessary part of your home’s infrastructure, but it’s also significantly less expensive than real, solid wood beams.

Other options for covering up similar details (i.e. basement pillars)—while also making them safe for young children—is to wrap them with rope. 

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Photography by Me and Mr. Jones

TV Cables

While we can all agree that sometimes, there’s nothing better than sitting down and watching a little TV. What’s not enjoyable or relaxing is seeing all the cords and cables that straggle down behind it. For those who have chosen to mount their tube, those bulky utilitarian cables can be a major eyesore and distraction from the rest of an otherwise cohesive design scheme.

While one solution to this common problem involves installing an in-wall cord control system, there are simple alternatives to drilling a massive hole in your wall—especially if you’re a renter and this isn’t an option. Get creative.

We love the way Hayley of Me and Mr. Jones crafted her very own cable box cover out of latticed metal and wood, mimicking the look of a book. Adding a few decorative books on the top and bottom make this a perfectly camouflaged, yet functional, cable box solution. She finished the look off by placing a large console in front of the mounted television, eliminating the need to need to cover cables, but you can also grab a few basic cord covers like this one from your local hardware store as another super easy solution to those seemingly endless cables.

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Courtesy of jondennis101 via Farrow and Ball

Radiators

Sometimes we truly wonder if people who have central heating and air conditioning know how lucky they have it. Radiators are from an earlier time and are quite common in older homes. Often speaking to the character or history of a space, these contraptions function by drawing heat from water or steam—using it to warm up the surrounding air. But regardless of how they work—or how revolutionary they may have been at the time—these retro heating appliances are the definition of an eyesore.

Nonetheless, there are definitely ways to conceal them to make the less outwardly obtrusive, even blending them into your space to make them seem less obvious.

One of the easiest methods is to paint your radiator the same color as the wall behind it in an effort to allow it to blend in with the surrounding. Or, you could take it for what it is and paint the radiator in a vibrant, complementary shade—transforming it into a style-focused moment. 

Alternatively, you may DIY radiator cover of sorts, which effectively masks the underlying appliance.

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Photography by Sweeten

Homeowners (and architects) Terri and Brett had the goal of disguising their unit by allowing it to fade into the background. With the help of their Sweeten contractor, they wanted to design a custom radiator cover that would blend in with their minimalist decor. Their millworker brought their plans to life and installed clips along the slatted fronts, making them removable for easy access.

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Photography by Sweeten

Meanwhile, apartment owner Lauren worked with her Sweeten millworker to a custom built-in under an otherwise unused window area in her home. A sleek bookshelf was integrated between the two to hide the radiator and air conditioner units, which were “always annoyingly off-centered from the windows,” according to her. She selected a “piano” finish on the top of the bookshelf for easy clean-up.

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photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Kitchen Hoods

An exhaust hood, extractor hood, or range hood is usually a relatively necessary part of a kitchen. It’s a device containing a mechanical fan that hangs above the stove or cooktop in the kitchen and removes airborne grease, combustion products, fumes, smoke, odors, heat, and steam from the air by evacuation of the air and filtration. So yeah, pretty necessary. Actually, it may be one of the most important appliances in the kitchen. But these necessities, which often come in stainless steel or worse—aluminum, brass or heat-resistant plastic—can add a major eyesore to your beautiful cooking area.

You can remedy this by attempting to make your hood an unexpected style statement (check out some inspiration here) or you can hire a contractor to customize a chic cover for your existing one.

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Photography By DUSTIN HALLECK

We love the way the designer of this Chicago kitchen worked with a carpenter to build a sleek hood covering that’s functional, but still blends into the rest of the kitchen’s contemporary and slightly minimalist surroundings. It turned out to be both the designer and the homeowner’s favorite part of the project, adding the illusion of windows and light above the cabinets.

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One homeowner selected a retro hood to take center stage in her 1950s-inspired kitchen. Photography by Sally Honeycutt

Up until very recently I think the trend was to make the hood more discrete, with designers aiming to make it blend in rather than stand out,” says the team at DDG, a design and development firm. “We’re starting to see that change more and more as kitchens become larger focal points of residences as gathering and social spaces, not just cooking spaces.” 

 “We’re starting to see that change more and more as kitchens become larger focal points of residences as gathering and social spaces, not just cooking spaces.” 

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Photography Aaron Bengochea

Unsightly Outlets

Whether it’s an oddly placed outlet, thermostat control, or the door to your electrical box, these common eyesores can take up valuable wall space. One way to distract the eye from outlets is to create a gallery wall around them. Being creative about where you place your artwork or photos comes in handy when working around these everyday necessities, but can pay off in style. Or, if it’s an unused outlet, you can simply hang the artwork over it, entirely hiding the unsightly placement.

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photography by CODY GUILFOYLE AND AARON BENGOCHEA

Not everything in your home needs to be meticulously designed but with a little creativity and a few clever tricks, you can successfully mask any unwanted (or downright ugly) household essentials.

 

See more smart household tips:

Easy Swaps to Elevate Your Household Basics

10 Household Items You’re Definitely Forgetting to Clean

13 Simple Storage Tricks for Your Kitchen