Cool Camouflage: 10 Ways To Hide Your Air-Conditioner
Feeling boxed in designing around your mini-split air conditioner? Try one of these clever disguises and distractions.
DUCTLESS mini-split air conditioners are popping up all over the place as an energy-efficient alternative to central air conditioning systems. Why? Because you can individually control zones of your house, so you don’t waste energy cooling a room you’re not in.
From an interior design point of view, they present a different set of challenges than a ducted system. That’s because unlike built-in ducts and vents that are often integrated into the architectural design of a house, mini-splits are often added as an afterthought.
Individual mini-split air handling units extend about 18 centimetres from the wall and are about 90 centimetres wide, depending on the model. They are controlled with a remote control and have vents that open out from the casing when the unit is in use. To work efficiently they need to be unobstructed and placed high in the room so that the cool air will have the greatest effect as it drops to the floor.
To keep the unit from sticking out like a sore thumb, you’ll want to integrate it with your room’s decor and design. Here are some good places for the unit, along with design tips.
1. Recessed into a wall or false beam
If you have the luxury of being able to make adjustments to the architectural space (this tip may not work for renters), try siting your mini-split in a recessed hole in a wall or in a false beam to minimise the distance it juts from the wall.
As in this example, it could even be a good opportunity to use that same false beam to add some architectural recessed lighting or built-in furniture.
2. Above a window
Especially in tight spaces with limited wall space, that no man’s land between the window and the ceiling may be one of the only locations for your ductless unit. Just keep in mind that the window is usually the weakest point for energy loss, so you may get better performance out of your mini-split if you place it far away from the windows, where the cold air can’t escape so easily.
3. Above a doorway
Another spot that is difficult to use for traditional storage space, but could work as a location for a mini-split, is above a doorway. This example, as well as the previous window example, allow more of your wall space to be available for full-height furniture.
4. Over your bed
For you polar bears out there who need cool air blowing over your body while you sleep, consider placing the unit above your bedhead. If arctic chill is not your preferred sleeping climate, try the wall opposite your bed, so that your blanket will block you from any draft.
5. Above an armoire
Another difficult-to-reach spot (that would otherwise just collect dust) is above an armoire or cabinet system. In fact, from below, this can have the same minimal visual effect as recessing it into a false beam or wall.
6. Above a bookcase
In this example the unit is placed above an open shelf system of more or less the same width. Just as we saw in the window or door example, it helps to try to match the dimension of the unit with what’s below it. This will help it appear as one vertical element instead of as a box hanging in the middle of a blank wall.
7. Inside an open bookcase or entertainment unit
Taking things a step further, why not build the bookcase around the mini-split unit? The unit here has been integrated into a built-in entertainment centre, with the TV below and an open shelf dedicated to housing the appliance.
8. Create a custom cover that’s integrated with your furniture
With a bit of custom design, you could even add a cover (making sure the unit is still well ventilated) to disguise it even more.
The cover in this example has a wooden lattice that allows the air to pass through. The dark vertical pieces disappear, while the lighter horizontal slats match the rest of the entertainment unit.
9. Paint your wall to match your mini-split
Sometimes just a simple paint job to match your walls to the colour of your mini-split unit can make it almost disappear at first glance. I wouldn’t recommend painting the mini-split itself; instead find a model with a colour that you like and get the paint to match.
10. Disguise it among other wall decorations
In this example, instead of hiding the unit, the occupants have given it a shelf along with several other decorations. The unit is less noticeable, as it blends in with the composition of the wall decor.
Remember that the individual room air handlers are just one part of the system. The outdoor unit (or units, depending on your setup) may also be eyesores in your garden area.