You need air conditioning — no one is disputing that. However, it is equally true that no one appreciates the aesthetics of an A/C unit. Few other appliances in the home are as imperative for comfort as the A/C, yet few other appliances are as disruptive of room design and visual appeal.
When the hot-weather months arrive, you shouldn’t have to make a choice between suffering to ensure your rooms remain stylish or adding a vulgar, utilitarian appliance to your space. Here are a few tips for integrating a wall or window air conditioner to your room without compromising on style and aesthetics.
Build a Vent Cover
If you live in a place that gets particularly chilly in the winter months, you might be familiar with the phenomenon of radiator covers, which effectively disguise the heating element of a room behind purpose-built furniture of various shapes and sizes. Vents built into the cover allow the radiator to function effectively, heating and dispersing air around the room. You can order pre-made radiator covers, or you can build your own — which allows you to construct more elaborate furniture like sideboards or bench seating around your radiator. For air conditioners, no such pre-made product yet exists. Thus, if you want a vent cover over your A/C, you will need to build your own. Fortunately, this gives you a bit more control over what your cover looks like.
Wall- and window-mounted A/Cs can be somewhat effectively disguised as large shelves, but you must remember to include ventilation within your shelf boxes to allow cool air to flow into your room. You can find screens made of caning material, metal and MDF (a composite wood material) at your local big-box hardware store; you should select a vent that suits the style of your room.
Another option is to build a vent cover using fabric, disguising your A/C as a piece of artwork. Stretching canvas over a wooden frame is easier than constructing a larger piece of furniture. You can paint directly on the canvas to add color to the piece, or you can select a printed or textured material that is artistic in itself. Again, you should be sure that your cover is breathable — or else your room will get uncomfortably hot in the coming months.
Disguise It With Greenery
If you aren’t ready to commit to a major DIY project like an A/C cover, you might consider options that allow you to hide your air conditioner behind other elements of room décor. Recently, indoor plants have seen a rise in popularity as more people have the time and interest in caring for greenery around their home. However, the truth is that living plants never go out of style; they have always been integral design features of indoor and outdoor spaces because they provide unique shapes and textures as well as pops of color.
Plants are perfect for hiding more unsightly elements of a room, like your A/C. Above your window unit, you might hang trailing plants, which will grow vines that dangle over your A/C without blocking air flow. You can also place a larger indoor potted plant in front of an A/C to accomplish the same effect. Full-leafed plants that grow tall and bushy, like fiddle leaf fig trees or swiss cheese plants, are best for this — but they do require a bit more care than smaller plants.
Place Furniture in Front
There is one last resort for hiding your air conditioner: shifting your furniture to sit in front. This works best for seating, like chairs and smaller sofas, which tend to have high, solid backs that block view of the unit without interrupting airflow. You might shuffle the organization of your current furniture, or you might invest in a statement chair that can serve the purpose of disguising your A/C. To save money, you can buy a well-loved or vintage chair and give it new life with reupholstery in a flashy fabric, like velvet or brocade.
No one will begrudge you the necessity of an air conditioner during the hot summer months, but if you care about room design, you might want to take one of the above steps to hide your wall- or window-mounted A/C. Then, your room will feel cool, in both senses of the word.