Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) are integral parts of the home. Unlike wood burners and fridge-freezers, they’re entirely functional without much aesthetic value. For this reason, most of us would prefer to conceal our AC units where they can be used but not seen – sticking out like a sore thumb.
Before having a look at some ways to turn your HVAC system into a covert stealth machine, let’s make one thing clear: never block the airflow around the equipment. This is crucial as you don’t want your system to overheat, and you don’t want its efficiency to be hindered. Another thing to bear in mind is that in order for your system to have a long lifespan (and for it to be covered under insurance), these systems must be regularly maintained, cleaned and serviced. So, make sure it’s easily accessible and not built into a fixture and fitting that cannot be easily undone.
Hiding the outdoor condenser unit
The outdoor condenser unit is the first place to start. This is usually the largest and most ugly part of the HVAC system. Given that it’s outdoors though, you have plenty of opportunities to get creative. The first idea that springs to mind are to cover it up with plants. It’s possible to build or buy a pallet planter – a sideways pallet stands upright, painted, with plants stacked inside it. This could be the perfect thing to place in front of the condenser unit. More conventionally, you could get a vine wall too. This is actually a great one because the holes in the fence will provide a lot of airflow to the condenser (again, make sure these are a few feet away from each other).
Otherwise, natural plants on the floor can cover the unit when large enough, such as elephant ears plants. Plants are usually a good way to go because they don’t stand too firmly in the way if you need to access the unit. Likewise, if you place a bamboo wall in front of the unit, it’s incredibly light to just move aside as and when needed.
Concealing indoor AC units
Many apartments will not have outdoor condenser units, and/or will just have substantial AC equipment inside too. These are even more important to conceal, as you may have limited space and the last thing you want taking it up is ugly machinery.
One challenging way to conceal the unit is to actually implement it into a wall, along with a stylish-looking grill that both looks nice and will cover it appropriately. Just make sure the unit can be easily taken out when needed. If your AC unit is already implemented in the wall and already has a fixed grill, it’s also possible to purchase a decorative metal panel to place in front of it.
A slightly easier and more DIY approach is to place it on an existing shelf and build or place a wall cabinet around it. It’s very possible to end up with a shabby chic-looking cabinet, perhaps with mandalas design, and it provides the airflow necessary for the AC unit to function correctly.
A slightly more expensive but very modern approach is to buy a slatted wood panel. This can serve as a wall for shelving where the AC unit will be placed but can be easily slid open and closed.
The way you choose to hide your AC unit is down to you, all that’s required is the confidence to try and turn it into a piece of art or integrate it into the furniture of the home. This can really change your perception away from it being an alien object – a necessary evil – to something you actually love to look at.