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  • Writer's pictureNicola Cummins

Style Sunday - transforming an ugly radiator

Working on client projects is a delight, It's my job to find practical, beautiful, useful things for your home that make living spaces easier, and more enjoyable to spend time. Sometimes the requests can be quite unusual, and a few years ago I was asked to source a 'designer radiator' this was not a period property, so cast-iron radiators wouldn't have been fitting for their surrounds, so off I went in search of the unusual, before they were more commonplace.

Over the years, I've had numerous conversations about them being visible, hidden, a feature, a period statement, painted or unpainted, covered or uncovered!? Then there's the additional valves to change / compliment too... It seems there are actually quite a few things you'll need to consider when choosing a radiator.

So if you have a radiator that not to your liking, and you're wondering what on earth can you do - this blog post is for you.

Some of my clients come to me with an array of issues with their homes, and one that comes up time and time again is finding solutions to ugly radiators!

Not a topic I thought I'd ever blog about but one which I hope might help a few of you out there. Depending on your budget - you might be interested to know some DIY hacks too - I recently made a really stylish radiator cover, from a standard unpainted cover and some cane webbing.

A friend of mine who's an amazing architect, asked me

"Why didn't you, just change it?"

Oh... well, I think I'd already decided on the look I wanted to go for quite some time ago, and lockdown happened so it seemed like an excellent task to keep me busy! Also I wanted to add some storage into the space also - so it's a now a dual purpose space rather than just a wall with a radiator that you can't place furniture or anything on. It made sense to create what was a 'dead' wall space into more of a focal point for the room.

So if you aren't able to change the radiator for something more designer, and want to make good of something you already have - I'll show you how to create a DIY radiator cover instead to hide it.


So here we are my guide on statement or staple radiator covers a DIY hack and also some of the best ones around, and those all important BTU's...

You'll need:

Staple Gun

Rattan (cane webbing)

Satin wood and metal paint

Roller / Brush

Dust sheets

Off the shelf un-painted radiator cover (I used one from Homebase)


Step 1:

I laid out all the pieces of the cover, and firstly used a Primer (which I had leftover) and left to dry.

Step 2:

Next I followed with 2 coats with a regular paint brush!

I used Wilko Stain black for wood and metal paint - it covered really well and was the most cost effective I could find. I wanted a slight sheen to the surface, as there is black honed granite in the fireplace, and I wanted it to finish to be quite luxurious! Plus I have a side table that I bought some time ago (years actually!) that needs a touch up, and that is already in a gloss finish, so satin should cover that okay too.

Step 3:

I ordered some rattan from Fred Aldous - cut it to size to replace the lattice panels, soaked it and stretched it ready to use.

I removed the existing lattice from the panels which were stapled to the back of the cover. I replaced these with the cane webbing. Using a staple gun to secure the pieces on the back of the cover. This needed a few hours to dry and for the webbing to harden again after being stretched.

It was starting to come together now in the middle sections!

The slight sheen gives a nice finish, and the coverage was really good with the paint.

Step 4:

I assembled the cover as per the instructions, and hung it on the wall!

It seems right at home now, and the added bonus is that it covers a rather large ugly radiator. An added bonus is it now provides shelf in the room also, so I can add vases and accessories too.

If you're tempted to DIY a radiator cover, you could instead go for something more classic and softer which will blend right in to the walls also. You can always paint the covers the same shade as the walls so they disappear, or paint them the same as your woodwork for continuity. Or you could paint the radiators themselves in paint suitable for metal.

If you're using a dark coloured paint where you have radiator that you can change - then always colour match, it helps to seamlessly blend the radiator out of sight and makes spaces feel more open too.

If the radiators are offset underneath a window for example, as you can make them more uniform with the same sized covers to create the illusion that they're the same! There are so many possibilities - but ensuring you get the right amount of heat for the space, and they are installed correctly is always the top priority!

Top tips:

Always check the BTU's for the size of the room to ensure you get the right amount of heat.

And ensure the plumber fits in the correct orientation, as this will affect the height distribution of incorrectly fitted!

Looking for inspiration?

Here's my pick of some of the fabulous off the shelf versions!

If you'd like help or advice with finding furniture or accessories for your home - click here to Book your FREE initial consultation and we can book a 1 hour Style session where you'll get expert advice on choosing the right things for your home.


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