The sky is blue, grass is green, and window air conditioners are ugly. These three universal truths are sad facts of life, and nothing can be done about them. Except, anyone who lives in a city can tell you the sky isn’t always blue. During the hottest days of summer, grass isn’t always green. And here at Windmill, we’ve done our best to make an AC unit that, in addition to being easy-to-install and easy to use, are easy on the eyes. But if you don’t have a Windmill (yet!), you may want to know how to hide a window air conditioner or how to make a window air conditioner look better. And even if you have a Windmill, you might want to know how to decorate without reducing your AC’s functionality. In this blog, we’ll go over how to decorate around a window air conditioner, which types of decorations are off-limits, and other tips to ensure that making your home cooler won’t make it uglier.
Don’t Obstruct Vents, Do Maintain Airflow
When decorating around or figuring out how to hide a window air conditioner, the most important thing is to keep the AC functional. As we’ve covered before, an air conditioner can’t operate without intaking air. Make sure the front grille of your AC unit is unobstructed. That means that you shouldn’t place a solid cover over your AC. Likewise, figure out where the vents are on the unit, and keep the decorations away. Even if the intake is functioning, obstructed output vents render your AC ineffective. The same rule applies to the outside part of your AC unit. Without a path for the exhaust to travel, humidity and heat will get trapped inside the AC, killing its efficiency and encouraging mold growth.
When figuring out how to make a window air conditioner look better, maintaining airflow is important. In addition to keeping vents unobstructed, make sure there’s a way for the cool air the unit produces to reach the rest of your home. This is another strike against hanging curtains; even if the vents are unobstructed, they can still trap cool air by the window. Preserving airflow also means keeping furniture and other decorations out of the immediate path of your vents. Otherwise you might end up cooling a very small sliver of your home.
So what are some examples of how not to decorate a window air conditioner? A curtain or drape touching the front grille will get sucked in, clogging intake. Plants with big leaves or fronds also need to keep their distance. If your unit has the vents on top, make sure to keep any decorations off the top of the unit. The same applies to the back of your unit. If there’s a garden behind the unit, make sure no foliage grows too close to the exhaust vents. And if you choose to install your unit in a cage or hutch for additional support, make sure to give the exhaust vents enough space to function.
Movable Furniture is Your Friend
Do you own a folding screen? When figuring out how to hide a window air conditioner, movable furniture is your best friend. A foldable screen or movable curtains are great ways to keep your air conditioner out of sight when it’s out of use.
“But wait,” you might be wondering, “I thought you just said curtains were no good!” That’s definitely true when your AC is running, but when it isn’t, there’s nothing wrong with covering it up. Make sure you install curtain hooks or have a tie to secure your curtains to make sure your AC is fully uncovered when running. Some people who have through-the-wall AC units even have cabinet doors that cover the AC when it’s powered off. Unfortunately, a cabinet enclosure is harder to make work for your window AC, so fully movable furniture is a safer bet.
Another advantage of a folding screen is that, when figuring out how to decorate around a window air conditioner, you can just decorate the screen instead. A lattice screen, or another type of screen with air holes, can even stay in place while your air conditioner is powered on.
What other types of movable furniture can you use? End tables, rolling side tables, and short rolling cabinets all make for excellent cover. You can keep plants or decorations on top of the furniture to further obscure the AC unit. But again, make sure that you can easily unobstruct the AC when turning it on. A perk of end tables is that they can often distract from an air conditioner without obstructing the air conditioner's airflow.
Decorating the Air Conditioner Itself
When weighing the options for how to make your window air conditioner look better, you might want to consider decorating the air conditioner itself. While seemingly simple, this method for making your window air conditioner look better can be tricky to execute. That’s because you need to guarantee any decoration or adornment added to your AC needs to maintain airflow. However, just because it’s tricky doesn’t mean it’s impossible! We have a few tips and ideas for how you can improve your home’s appearance without figuring out how to hide your window air conditioner.
If your AC has a removable front grille, you can paint or decorate the grille. Make sure to use a non-toxic paint and let the paint fully dry before reinstalling the grille on the air conditioner unit. Match the AC to your wall color or room tone, and the unit will barely stick out. Or if you’re feeling artistically motivated, treat the AC grille as an opportunity to make a mini-mural.
Decorating around the vents of your AC is trickier. Vents are often molded as part of the unit and thus can't be detached to decorate. If you have questions about your specific AC unit’s construction, consult your owner’s manual or reach out to the manufacturer directly.
Decorating the Back of your AC Unit
There’s a lot of similarities for how to decorate the inside and outside around your window air conditioner. Air intake isn’t really a consideration for exterior decoration, but unimpeded airflow is just as important. Remember, blocking up the exterior exhaust vents of your unit will inhibit cooling, promote mold growth, and overtax the compressor to the point of failure.
But as long as the exterior exhaust vents remain unobstructed, you can decorate in a lot of different ways! Put plants near the exhaust of your AC and they’ll enjoy the humidity your machine emits. If the exhaust vents are positioned for it, consider setting a planter on top of the unit’s exterior.
Building or installing a short wooden fence is another good way to hide a window air conditioner. A fence will also make it harder for anyone to access your home through the window in which your AC is installed.
If you live in an apartment building (and especially if you live above the first floor), figuring out how to decorate around the exterior of a window air conditioner is tricky. Window decals and decorations hanging from the top of the window frame are two simple ways to make the exterior of a window air conditioner look better by distracting from the unit. Of course, if you’re decorating outside a window, make sure you’re being careful. The last thing you want is your decoration or AC unit falling more than a story!
Putting a Bow on Decorations
No matter which course you choose—decorating around your window air conditioner, hiding your window air conditioner, or making the window air conditioner itself look better—remember to keep the airflow unobstructed and the intake vents clear. While it might be annoying to have a less-than-beautiful window air conditioner, that’s way better than having a broken air conditioner!
And while we’re not usually big on bragging, our searching for a stylish AC is part of what led us to designing the Windmill in the first place. Don’t just take our word for it—check out all the reviews! If you’d like someone to vet your design ideas, or have any other questions about your AC, our support team is available every day of the week to help you keep your home feeling and looking cool.