Published on March 23rd, 2009 | by Jules Yap


Handsome makeover for ugly AC unit

If you remember Alex’s gorgeous loft, you’ll know that he won’t settle for ugly. Here’s the latest hack in his ongoing loft project.

He says, “I have this really ugly ‘motel’ style ac unit that did not fit with the rest of my loft and created an unusable and unsightly area. The problem was that I rent so I had to leave the ac unit untouched, and of course, usable.

The solution I came up with was this. I found a pallet full of laminate flooring (Tundra) in the as-is section of Ikea for $14.00 a box. I bought two boxes in case I messed up some cuts and glued them to two plywood panels (Lack) cut to the size of the unit. I made an ‘L’ shape and attached the panels to the wall with brackets thus leaving the ac unit untouched. I then trimmed all the edges with aluminum strips from home depot.

Next problem was how to finish off the top where there would still be air flow into the room. I finally arrived at what you see here. I found some Cabinet legs in the Ikea as-is section for $8 and bought a white table top from there as well at full price (around $30). I cut the table top down width ways and attached the legs. That piece rests on top of the panels allowing air flow and access to the controls. The grass on top is fake from Michael’s crafts and cost around 5 bucks a square.

Anyway, I still have a few more things to do like lighting and painting a graphic of one of my photos but so far I am happy not to have to look at that ugly ac unit again. The space is finally usable and I think, attractive. I am sure that I am not the only one with this type of problem.”

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

35 Responses to Handsome makeover for ugly AC unit

  1. Jason says:

    It looks great, very creative, but I think it’s a great way to waste electricity. The A/C unit pulls air in from the bottom and pushes it out through the top. It works best when there’s a big difference in temperature between intake (bottom) and exit (top). Since you’ve capped the top, the air now hits the top and a significant portion falls downwards (cold air falls down, warm air rises)…which is right back into the intake! This is bad. The A/C unit won’t be nearly as effective, which means it will need to be on longer, which means it will waste electricity. I would guess this hack would cost you $30 a month if you ran the air conditioner daily. Could be much higher if you’re a heavy A/C user.

    If you took the time to cut open a hole in the bottom of the front panel for the intake, and then created some sort of “tube” for the intake to pull outside air from, you would be just fine I think.

  2. James says:

    I’m sorry but this is genuis!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful room overall. Very inviting.

  4. Lalofty says:

    Thanks for all the great comments on my hack. I too was worried about air flow and heat so I thought of that when putting it together. The A/C air intake is on the bottom which I left open so it could still breathe. As far as the heat goes, hasn’t been an issue because a) doesn’t get that cold in La and b) it isn’t that powerful of a heater anyway. In some ways it helped direct the heat outward instead of up so it warmed my spot faster.

    The aluminum strips can be found at home depot or most any other big hardware store. Just ask someone there where the “angled aluminum” is or “angle iron” is. They are all in the same spot. By the way, I suggest using gorilla glue when attaching the strips of aluminum. Because the metal is non-porous, it didn’t seem to stick until I used that glue.

    Anyway, hope that answered some of the questions and thanks again for all the great comments. I get so much inspiration from this site and am happy to contribute.


    p.s.-It was on Apartment therapy earlier so thats why it may seem like an old post.

  5. Isabelle says:

    This looks amazing! What a great idea it is. I really like your apartment by the way; very well done.

  6. NK says:

    Amazing idea! I am going to try something like that with my wall A/C…

  7. buywowgold says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Kevin says:

    Absolutely love it! I also love that most of it from the as-is section. Truly brilliant.

  9. lorenah says:

    I would love some more close-up photos. Hack of the year!

  10. Bravo!! I too would like to know what the aluminum
    strips are or where in Home Depot they are located – the wheels are spinning!!!


  11. Matt says:

    This is a great hack!. My question to the poster is what were the aluminum strips called? Would have some great uses for that with similar effect. If I can’t get it here in Ottawa, Canada, I would like to see if I can order it.



  12. Dakoota says:

    What a marvelous interior! The kitchen interior is looking so rich. The lights are very appropriate for cooking. Excellent Job!
    I Buy Lights

  13. mva says:

    This is one of the best hacks I’ve seen. Wicked job!

  14. Great idea and excellent work! I wish I also needed an A/C unit :-) .

  15. Anonymous says:

    Geno, I think it’s been on Apartment Therapy, you may have seen it there?

  16. Robj98168 says:

    GREAT HACK Alex! Now I know what I need to do with my A/C unit!

  17. Geno says:

    This is great… but isn’t it an old post?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Great idea… looks slick. But maybe next time, close the bathroom door?

  19. Swati says:

    This is quite cool. Hope it is not too hot where he lives, so that the A/C is able to work efficiently with so little air circulation around it.

  20. Rachel says:

    What a fantastic idea… And the result is simply beautiful. I almost feel sorry I don’t have that sort of air conditionner: I would have stolen your idea! :-)

  21. BenFinch says:

    Nice Hack! You absolutely rocked it!

  22. Anonymous says:

    For those talking about doing this with a heating unit–I would definitely be concerned about all the glues and toxins found in these types of materials. MDF has formaldehyde in it, and lots of this kind of stuff is known to “off-gas”. Plus, so much of Ikea’s stuff is made from a paper/wood pulp. Seems like a bad idea to put it near a heat source.

  23. Jason Baker says:

    I’m looking to find a similar project idea that might work to hide some ugly baseboard heaters in my rental unit. Any ideas? Almost anything would be a visual improvement, so all I really care about finding is something that is definitely, without-a-doubt firesafe.

  24. The Wag says:

    This is wonderful! I have the same exact problem and I was thinking of how to fix it. I am now going to try to see if I can do something like this. I nominate this one for hack of the year.

    Question, would this be safe on top of a heating unit? What kinds of materials might be safer to use for the shelf?

  25. Anonymous says:

    This looks awesome! Really, really nice.

    My only question is–do you still use the AC? And if so, does it still circulate as well? I was wondering, since the vents no longer aim out at an angle. Maybe the air blows up, hits the tabletop, and then diverts outward.

  26. Jojaye says:

    Just looks so gorgeous. With no “before” photos – no one would guess what it is! Perfect!

  27. Workshopshed says:

    Top Hack, put this one down on the shortlist for hack of the year 2009

  28. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a nice little mini-bar. And the A/C will keep your ice cubes from melting. Great job!

  29. DNfromMN says:

    That looks great!

  30. Awesome. Really great hack.

  31. Jennifer says:

    wow, great job, looks awesome!

  32. So smart and crafty!

  33. what a great looking contemporary solution…

  34. Anonymous says:

    love it!

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