Matching a Wall Air Conditioner to Your Design Sense

A wall air conditioner.

A wall air conditioner can often be found in small apartments, trailer offices, mobile homes, and in old construction that has not been retrofitted with a central air duct system. Installation of a wall air conditioner is more convenient for moderate climates where cooling is only used a few months out of the year. However, the vent grille, control panel, and housing take up a significant amount of wall space. The units are not usually designed or installed with specific attention to aesthetic appeal. If you find the appearance of the fan unit on your wall unpleasant, there are several ways you can camouflage, modify, or obscure it.

Deemphasize Borders

To start, try filling the wall with the air conditioner unit with wall hangings such as posters or picture frames. The appearance of the air conditioner grille amidst a patchwork of pictures is less stark than the look of the unit alone on a naked wall. Consider incorporating the vent grille into an artistic design. Paint the air conditioner the same color as the wall to minimize its contrast.

Cover Unit with Drapes

Hang fabric screens or curtains in front of the wall air conditioner to obscure it from view. Install a curtain rod directly above the vent grille. This option is convenient because the curtains can be opened when the air conditioner is in use. However, not all installation locations are conducive to the use of drapes. Avoid installing them near fire hazards such as radiator grilles, gas stoves, and fireplaces.

Cover Unit with Shelving

Installing shelving over or around the wall air conditioner can also hide it from view without greatly impairing its effectiveness. For units mounted low on the wall, a simple flat shelf blocks your view of the vent grille from most angles. To complete the effect, build an exterior frame around the front to totally hide the unit. Leave a small gap at the top of the frame, below the shelf, for air to flow through. The same idea can be applied to air conditioners mounted high on the wall. They can be covered with hanging mirrors or cabinets. When designing this hardware, include gaps for airflow and hinged access panels for equipment maintenance and operation. If you have a design in mind that exceeds your technical skills, hire a professional carpenter to build a shelf or cabinet for you.

Cover Unit with Furniture

The last option is to hide the wall air conditioner behind a large piece of furniture such as a bookshelf or armoire. This choice is the least desirable because it blocks airflow and access to the control panel, rendering the unit unusable. A piece of furniture with wheeled casters would solve this problem. Removing the piece should be easy because this option is only appropriate for people who use the air conditioning infrequently. Why wrestle a large piece of furniture when you’re already uncomfortably hot?