Those essential but utilitarian home items, such as electrical cords, radiators, and AC units, aren’t exactly the prettiest room features. But you can’t really rip them out—especially if you’re a renter.
So what’s a decor-conscious homeowner to do?
Well, we’ve got good news: A few cheap and clever moves will allow you to conceal them from view. Here are eight less-than-attractive hot spots and genius ways to cover them up.
1. Plaster cracks
This one’s easy: Turn this problem area into an asset with nice-looking paper.
“You can add an accent wall in a pattern that can’t be achieved with paint—and wallpaper is long-lasting and durable,” says Dan Schaeffer, owner of Five Star Painting in Austin, TX.
Or try removable or decal wallpaper, suggests Drew Henry of Design Dudes: “It’s easy to put up, hides the cracks, and peels right off when it’s time to move,” he says.
You can also look to greenery to mask these spots.
“Hanging potted plants from the ceiling or mounting them to a wall over a crack would be an especially good solution for a renter who’s unable to do an apartment renovation,” says Katie McCann, an organizer with Haven.
2. AC unit
Sometimes it’s wise to draw the eye away from a sore spot, rather than try to mask it, says Shelley Barndollar of home staging company Showhomes. For instance, she was once charged with staging a home that contained a very old, rusted air-conditioning unit right outside the window.
“When you walked into the room, it was the first thing you noticed,” she recalls.
To fix it, she placed a seating arrangement near the room’s entrance to distract from the unit. The AC was still visible if you walked over to it, but the conversation area made up for it by luring eyes in another direction.
3. Control panels and thermostats
Artwork is your friend when it comes to concealing knobs, temperature controls, and other boring gadgets attached to walls. Consider a bright tapestry, a photo gallery, or a piece of sculpture to hide these items.
“Specifically, take a look at artwork that’s a bit raised off the wall so that if the area is uneven, you won’t notice,” McCann suggests.
4. Old radiators
Here’s a double play for a radiator that’s less than aesthetically appealing: a folding screen. Henry says you’ll be hiding this spot while also adding interest to the room.
Or, try a metal cover or custom box to cover the radiator—or a sized-to-match piece of wood or marble that can handle the heat, recommends Denise Palmer of Piper Classics.
“Use the space on top as a shelf for books, faux plants, or seasonal decorations,” she says.
But you don’t have to cover radiators up at all. Even this tangle of metal can be beautified, says Sara Chiarilli, an interior designer with Artful Conceptions.
“We have had such a resurgence of historical buildings and design today, so I would not hide these,” she says.
Instead, scrape off the old paint and add a fresh coat. It’ll make a big difference.
5. Bulky TVs
An armoire with doors is the classic way to hide the boob tube, but there are newer options, including a piece that allows the TV to drop in and then be pulled out when in use.
“The prices on these have really come down, making them much more affordable,” Chiarilli says.
Or you can always install a pull-down map in front of the TV or hang a canvas over it, Palmer adds.
And here’s another clever pro tip: Make your TV part of your decor.
“One of the most creative ways that we’ve seen to hide a TV is to create a tonal wall blending the black rectangular shaped TV into a wall lined with black and white prints and photos,” Palmer says.
6. Open closets
Simple tension rods with a plain curtain can hide myriad of eyesores, including your shoe closet, home office supplies, or a washer and dryer, notes Sarah Hollenbeck of Offers.com.
7. Modems, routers and other internet gadgets
“While these boxes are necessary, they aren’t always the most aesthetically pleasing,” Hollenbeck admits.
To hide one, cover the item with decorative paper or removable wallpaper and then place it in a stack of books.
8. Dangling cords
If you’re on a budget, there’s a simple solution for your tangled mess of cords: Get cord covers painted to match your wall color.
Looking for something a bit more imaginative? “If the wall with your TV on it is relatively small, you could consider creating a pallet or shiplap wall to cover up the cord and add an interesting design element to your home,” Hollenbeck suggests.