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A Simple Trick for Dealing with an Unsightly Wall Fixture

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I remember the first time I toured the house that we’d eventually buy: I walked in the front door, and the very first thing I saw was a thermostat, smack-dab in the middle of the wall facing me.

I’m sure there’s a solid reason someone installed it there… but still. I thought about it each time I passed it, and when we started moving things in, and when I decided to paint that wall (granted, painting it black probably didn’t help): How am I going to hide that? How am I going to make that feel not so... glaring? Build some sort of shadowbox to cover it? But it needs to also be, you know, accessible and usable as a thermostat, too. I don’t think I can paint it…


I went in circles.

The culprit in plain sight.
The culprit in plain sight. Photo by Liz Johnson

To procrastinate, I started considering an easier and more fun task (to me, at least): hanging art. I knew I wanted a cluster of frames to catch your eye when you walked in the door, so I started picking which pieces I wanted there, and it just hit me:

I shouldn’t try to hide the thermostat. Anything I engineered to cover or disguise it would only bring more attention to it. I decided to embrace it, and treat it like it was supposed to be there. I hung some framed art around it, in a way that made sense to the eye, and let the thermostat just become part of the decoration.

Now spot the thermostat (you wouldn't if you weren't looking for it!).
Now spot the thermostat (you wouldn't if you weren't looking for it!). Photo by Liz Johnson

Now, I don’t even notice it. Because it’s part of a larger collection, and the other pieces happen to be more visually interesting (because they’re not thermostats), the eye just kind of glazes over it before landing on something else. And it’s still perfectly accessible and functional as a thermostat. AND I didn’t have to build or engineer anything.

I could also see someone going a step further and maybe hanging an empty, proportional frame around their fixture in a cheeky, “this IS art” way. Or burying it in plain sight, in the middle of a more extensive gallery wall.

So: Stop fighting your ugly thermostat (or wall fixture, or whatever it is you may be fighting). Realize that it’s not good or bad—it’s just there. And if you can’t move it, embrace it. Own it. Maybe even frame it.

Photo by Liz Johnson

What design conundrums are you trying to solve at home? Tell us in the comments! (And we'll do our darndest to drum up some solutions.)

Tags: gallery wall