Is your home or apartment heated by old-school radiators? They’re a good heating option, especially if they’re heat-conducting cast iron. But these radiator units take up considerable wall space and, in many cases, they’re unsightly. Fortunately, you can cover them up using modern radiator covers or radiator cabinets without affecting their heating capabilities.
The modern radiator covers in this open floor plan home creates extra surface area while hiding the old unattractive units. Image: Susan Fisher
First off, consider the material you’re using. Wood or metal are good heat conductors but be mindful about how close you place the material. A shelf over your radiator may damage the wood or block the air from circulating properly if too close. Aim to place it at least four to six inches over the radiator.
Also, allow for as much air circulation as possible. Why? The heated water inside the radiator convects, or transfers heat, into the surrounding air. If air can flow, your room will heat up. Check out these modern radiator covers and ideas to hide your tired old heating unit.
Small radiator covers
If you have a small unit or space, here are some ideas to not only hide your radiator but also reclaim the space. Consider adding shelving or some form of storage if you’re working with a small area. Create a vignette around your small radiator covers by accessorizing and adding a mirror or wall art to beautify a normally overlooked spot.
Two custom radiator cabinets were built tall enough to allow for air circulation and also include storage drawers. Image: Divine Design
When you accessorize around small radiator covers, you further conceal the heating unit. In this case, the radiator cabinet looks more like a piece of furniture. Image: Mia Karlsson
Radiator cabinets should include cutouts and lattice that allow for air circulation. Choose sturdy, heat-resistant decor, like metal lamps, glass and stoneware to sit over the small radiator cover. Image: Lisette Voute
The best small radiator covers are shallow enough to not interrupt traffic flow in tighter spots. The added counter space is the perfect spot for keys or other small objects. Image: Modern Radiator Covers UK
Modern radiator covers
If you’re covering up an old radiator unit, don’t just stop at hiding it – enhance it by adding a graphic pattern or modern lattice design. Here are a few ideas:
Adding a decorative lattice-style pattern (like this one) to the front of your radiator cabinet or cover is a great way to allow for airflow, hide the radiator and add a design element to your space. Image: Susan Fisher
This mod front-panel pattern may be the most stylish of the modern radiator covers we’ve seen. Image: Veronica Rodriguez
This elegant gold metal sheeting can be found in many home improvement stores and is easy to add to your radiator cabinets. Image: London Alcove
This everyday sheet metal makes a great panel for your modern radiator box. You can also paint it in your favorite color. Image: Episcopo Builders
This cool front panel covers the old-fashioned radiator but not the heat flow – if you look carefully, the sides are left open for better air flow. Image: Think Contemporary
If you have access to a good carpenter, radiator cabinets that look and function more like a furniture piece (and less like you’re trying to cover something up) is the way to go.
A modern walnut built in serves four purposes: it adds a beautiful design element to this bedroom; the drawers offer more storage; the counter top adds a spot to sit or place items; and the radiator cover hides an old painted cast iron unit. Image: Raad Studio
A smartly-designed cabinet and small radiator cover fits in this small entry. Image: aimo+
For a minimalist-style radiator cabinet, doors hiding shelving and sliding panels hiding the heating unit were built. The heat flows from the top of the unit. Image: AMAN Architecture
Wood and mid-century modern radiator covers
If wood is a main design feature in your home or apartment, a radiator cover featuring coordinating wood elements will help your space flow better. Check these options out:
This modern wood radiator cover can be easily added to or moved over the existing old radiator. Image: InCreation
This cool, Mid-Century Modern cabinet hides the radiator unit behind it. The cabinet is set several inches away from the radiator behind it so it may circulate heat and air efficiently. Image: Rodriguez Studio
A custom oak radiator cover was fitted over the original unit to flow better with this transitional craftsman home. Image: Spaceworks Joinery
Radiator covers that double as a bench or window seat
If your radiator sits under a window, why not box it in so you can sit and enjoy the heat inside and the view outside? Here are some ideas on how you create a radiator cover that also doubles as a bench or window seat.
This radiator cover looks more like a built-in piece of furniture with enough ledge area for sitting. Image: Ohara Interiors
In this kitchen, you can pull up a small breakfast table to sit and enjoy coffee or a snack by the window. Image: Berlin Rodeo
The radiator cover was built deeper and larger than the actual unit so that the area can serve as extra counter space or a daybed (with just a few pillows). Image: Think Contemporary
This built-in banquette cleverly hides an old, functioning radiator . Image: Sadro Design Studio
Here’s how you can create a wall bench around a radiator. Don’t leave pillows over the heating openings when in use so that your unit doesn’t overheat. Image: Blanchard Design Studio
White radiator covers
For a crisp and modern look, choose simple white radiator covers that freshen and modernize the space.
A zen-inspired living room features a white radiator cover that also serves as a small shelf for objects. Image: Chris A. Dorsey
The white radiator covers in this room are part of built ins around the desk area in a Moroccan-style living room space. Image: Laura U Interior Design
White radiator covers are a great way to modernize a baby nursery – and also create a little more distance between the hot unit and a baby or small child’s fingers. Image: NS Photography
This custom white radiator cover mimics the modern architectural lines of the stair railing. Image: Granit
Furniture-style white radiator covers feature legs and flush-mounted countertops for a polished living room look. Image: SLK Interior Decoration
Modern radiator covers with a recessed look
If you’re prone to running into your radiator or other furniture pieces, consider flush-mounting yours (or building out the surrounding area) for a recessed look.
The radiator recessed into the wall allows enough space for the kitchen cabinet drawers to open and close easily. Image: Pearl Interiors
Designers of this elegant small bedroom inset the radiator under the window to make the most of the floor space. Image: Taylor Howes
Do you have old-fashioned radiators in your home? If so, which of these radiator cover ideas appeal to you?