When you put in a ton of effort to decorate your space, styling with aplomb so that every little nook and cranny reflects your aesthetic of choice, there’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with an ugly appliance you don’t have the power to move. Radiators, more often than not, are an unavoidable eyesore, but they don’t have to be.
If you own your home, you can have more control over your heating system, but if you rent or live in a space where radiators are an unsightly reality, a few styling tricks can help you transform this heating system into a well-thought-out design feature—not just something to be totally camouflaged. As warmer weather approaches and your radiator turns from hot to cold, consider a bit of experimentation to make it better suit your style.
Even if you’re equipped with a small budget or you’re facing strict rules from your landlord, making your radiator actually look good is easier than you might think. Try one of these solutions, ranked from easier to most challenging.
Put a Tray on It
When your radiator is turned off for the season, you don’t have to stress that the things on top might overheat. That’s why we recommend placing a tray on top for a simple styling option you don’t have to think too much about. Once you’ve got your tray, fill it with decorative accents, books, or candles.
This mirrored tray is a great piece for displaying trinkets like crystals and smaller mementos.
Designed for kitchen storage, this marble tray makes for a more substantial piece that sits easily atop a radiator.
This playful design by HAY makes the perfect flat platform for a plant or candle.
Use It as a Display Shelf
If your radiator has a relatively wide top that can accommodate more irregularly shaped objects, consider forgoing the tray and treat the appliance as if it were a shelf. Vases, sculptures, and planters with large, flat bottoms rest easy here.
A cheerful yellow vase is just the thing to pull you out of your wintertime fog.
Art also has a place on the radiator. Consider this Bauhaus-inspired sculpture by Chiaozza, which has a sturdy base to prevent easy tipping.
This thick ceramic bowl makes the perfect platform for a few pretty trinkets or even a large air plant.
Put a Shelf (or Table) Directly Over It
If you want to avoid stacking things directly on top of your radiator, opt for an elevated platform in the form of a long shelf or narrow console table. These objects have the benefit of drawing the eye up and away from a less-than-pleasing heater.
Brushed metal legs and a sleek black tray make this console perfectly modern—just the thing to distract from an old-school room fixture.
These ultra-simple wooden shelves are ideal for holding books and knickknacks.
With a sturdy, triangular structure, this shelf adds depth to a wall, in addition to providing playful storage space.
If you can, heat-resistant spray paint can transform a boring radiator into a statement piece or it can help an unsightly, peeling structure blend in with your design scheme. For the maximalist, a coat of red paint can do wonders.
If you want to get a bit more experimental, go bold on your walls and your radiator, using contrasting colors. Here, yellow pops against blue.
Or go full monochromatic. A blue radiator against a wall of the same hue makes for an interesting textural room element.
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