7 Ways to Hide the Ugly Things Your House Can't Do Without

Call them necessary evils: the utility boxes, septic tanks, and random receptacles that houses require for functional reasons. That doesn’t mean we like looking at them, though. To downplay the visual impact of those homely household helpers, check out the following brilliant disguises.

  1. Before: Blue Blemish

    Recycling Bins

    Recycling is a good deed (and it’s the law in many U.S. locales), but it does raise a question: where to put the extra bins needed to sort the trash?


  2. After: Boxed In

    Recycling Bin Covers

    To add polish to her yard and a hiding place for the bright blue recycling containers, this homeowner fashioned a nifty cover from spare 2x4 boards that she had left over from building a chicken coop. She screwed it together and stained it an attractive dark brown.


  3. Before: Ghastly Gadgets

    Utility Boxes

    Our friends at the gas and electric companies don’t always have the greatest taste in gadgets. Their meters are pretty unsightly.

    Related: 10 Money-Saving Gadgets That Pay for Themselves


  4. Afte: Clever Curb Appeal

    House Numbers Idea

    A neat, slatted screen comes together quickly with a brad nailer, plywood, and 2x4 boards—and even features the home’s address number as well. Before you attempt a similar project, be sure you understand your local utility company’s needs for clearance around and access to the meters.

    Related: Lower Your Electric Bill with 11 Savvy Hacks


  5. Before: All Tangled Up

    Hose Wound Up on the Ground

    A garden hose gets tangled and dirty just lying like a snake in the grass, and detracts from your yard’s beauty.

    Related: The 10 Best Buys to Make Yard Work No Work


  6. After: Get Growing

    DIY Hose Storage

    This homeowner built a neat wooden box to hold the hose, then topped it with a lid that features recessed planter. The flowering plants disguise the purpose of the container and add color to the landscape.

    Related: 10 Totally Unexpected Things to Remake as Planters


  7. Before: Uncool Cooling Unit

    Ugly Air Conditioner

    This incredible hulk is a genius at cooling your home during the steamy season, but let’s face it: the rest of the year it looks pretty monstrous.

    Related: New Front Doors Change Everything in 4 Entryway Before-and-Afters


  8. After: No-See AC

    Air Conditioner Screen

    A creative use of segmented wood slats creates a truly eye-pleasing screened cover for the AC unit. Steel rods at each corner allow the screen to hinge and fold away for winter storage. This DIY project is a bit labor-intensive, but the results make it worth it.

    Related: 10 Backyard Wood Projects for Total Beginners


  9. Before: Beat Up Back Door

    Ugly Back Door

    On many homes, the utility meter sticks out like a very sore thumb. Whose home is painted that drab institutional gray, after all?

    Related: 9 Bright and Bold Colors for Your Front Door


  10. After: Camouflaged with Color

    Backyard Deck

    Simply take a cue from the chameleons and paint the box to match the surrounding wall. Suddenly, the offensive box just blends into the scenery. Use rust-resistant outdoor paint (and consider checking with your utility company before painting).

    Related: Hard Sell: 7 Pretty House Colors That Scare Buyers Away


  11. Before: Chipped Paint

    Chipping Paint on Foundation

    Painting a less-than-lovely cinder block foundation helps a little bit, but it’s not a long-lasting fix—and when the paint begins to peel, it can really detract from a home’s curb appeal.

    Related: Before and After: DIY Facelifts for 8 Home Exteriors


  12. After: Fresh Facade

    Stone Veneer Foundation

    A product called Ledgestone is designed just for spruce-up jobs such as this. It comes in easy-to-use sheets, but you’ll need a diamond blade saw to cut the edges to fit. Epoxy and a sealant keep the whole thing together.

    Related: No-Fail Exterior Paint Colors


  13. Before: Unsightly Septic Tank

    Ugly Septic Tank

    The concrete lid of a septic tank is definitely an eyesore in this otherwise verdant landscape.

    Related: Curb Appeal to Steal from 12 Hollywood Homes


  14. After: Secret Garden

    Backyard Planting

    This clever gardener covered the lid with mulch, which can be easily swiped to one side when access to the tank is needed. A few potted plants, surrounded by more mulch, and a pretty bird feeder top it all off. Guests will never know what’s lurking below.

    Related: 11 Low-Cost Buys to Boost a Boring Backyard


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