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Hiding an Ugly Wall Unit Air Conditioner: IKEA Billy Bookcase Hack

before after

My condo is starting to come together. It’s also echoing less (due to the fact that I have furniture now). My living room had no lighting. I have been eyeing some arc floor lamps from West Elm for a while but couldn’t justify the $300+ price tag right now, so I picked up this lamp from Target and put it next to my couch. It made a big difference lighting my living room, but immediately drove the eye to my wall unit air conditioner. It’s very necessary but also quite ugly.

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I started brainstorming ways to cover the air conditioner where it was still easy to access in the summer. I realized my IKEA BILLY Bookcases were tall and wide enough to cover the unit. My brother confirmed he could cut out the back and I was sold. Off to IKEA!

My brother helped assemble the unit and line it up against the wall. He traced and measured where the air conditioner unit would fit and sawed out a rectangle.

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Next I bought a wood board from Home Depot and cut it to fit in the top shelf. I painted it white to match the bookcase. I picked up gold door hinges and knobs from a local hardware store.

Done.

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From left to right. Sphere (gold spray paint DIY from Marshalls). Threshold Candle Holder from Target. Home Goods find.

 

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Open in the summer. Closed in the winter.

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Not only is my AC unit covered, but I also have a cute bookcase that adds some decor that adds to the living room. Win win.

covering an air conditioner wall unit

IKEA BILLY Hack

 

For more inspiration, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.

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36 Comments

  • Reply Jessica

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! This is so genius. Would you mind sharing your source for those gorgeous knobs? I’ve been looking for ones just like that!

    February 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm
  • Reply renee

    Saw you on AT! Love this idea, it looks great. Does the Billy come with doors or where did you find them? Thanks.

    February 5, 2015 at 10:57 pm
    • Reply Mara

      Hi Renee! No, the Billy doesn’t come with doors. I made them out of a wood board from Home Depot that I cut to fit and painted white.

      February 5, 2015 at 10:59 pm
  • Reply mattison

    So glad I came across your blog, it’s fantastic. Can I ask where you found the tufted leather sofa and the b&w Ikat rug? Also, yours is the fifth blog I’ve seen that turquoise Ikea cart on- I think it’s a sign I need to schedule a trip and score one for myself in the very near future!

    February 5, 2015 at 11:53 pm
    • Reply Mara

      The black and white rug is the LAPPLJUNG RUG from IKEA so you can pick it up when you go grab the cart! http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40260519/

      The sofa was from Carson’s Furniture. The store near me still has it in stock (I’ve gone recently) but I can’t seem to find it online.

      February 6, 2015 at 10:19 am
  • Reply Before & After: A Genius Air Conditioner Coverup | ShoutYourSite

    […] a bulky air conditioning unit. Click through to see more about how she created her coverup! Thanks, Mara! xo, […]

    February 6, 2015 at 5:56 am
  • Reply Laura

    Really beautiful and simple. I also love your accent tables – where are those from?

    February 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm
    • Reply Mara

      Hi Laura! They are the Box Frame Nesting Tables in Mango Wood from West Elm: http://www.westelm.com/products/box-frame-nesting-tables-g558/

      I bought two sets and I use the larger ones side-by-side as a coffee table smaller ones as side tables.

      February 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm
      • Reply Laura

        Such a great idea because you can move them out of the way if you have a lot of people over. Thanks for sharing!

        February 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm
  • Reply Sheri

    I have been trying to figure out a way to hide my AC wall unit when not in use and this is brilliant. I’m so glad I saw your post on Apartment Therapy. My unit sits along an odd slanted wall area between my living and dining rooms (the space is very open but there’s an odd turn in the walls) and this is where I have my desk/office. So this idea is perfect for me as I can use the bookcase for office storage as well.

    February 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm
  • Reply Tina

    What a brilliant idea!

    Also, I’ve been eyeing an arc lamp from Crate and Barrel but it costs $329! Thanks for posting the one from Target. I have the same color combination in my living room except I have dark blue paint. I’m thinking of painting it with Sherwin Williams Dover White but I think yours is better, what paint did you use? Thanks!

    February 7, 2015 at 6:21 am
  • Reply dawn

    this is brilliant! we are headed today to go to IKEA and get a Billy

    amazing job and thanks for the inspiration!

    February 7, 2015 at 11:34 am
  • Reply Before & After: A Genius Air Conditioner Coverup | homedesignmagz.com

    […] a bulky air conditioning unit. Click through to see more about how she created her coverup! Thanks, Mara! xo, […]

    February 7, 2015 at 12:37 pm
  • Reply Shawn

    Great idea and execution!

    February 10, 2015 at 9:34 pm
  • Reply Jackie Haley

    love the way you hid the ac. have been wanting to do something with mine thats in the wall and it looks so ugly to me, this is a great idea! and that couch like others is to die for, you do good work. thanks for the tips
    Jackie Haley

    February 14, 2015 at 10:22 am
  • Reply Natalie Lavoie

    You could always use wood framed small mesh doors in staid of full ones that way you can keep the doors closed. Like these: http://denbeehomesandinteriors.co.uk/WebRoot/Daily/Shops/eshop244685/4DF0/B426/69A7/878B/F959/C0A8/0ADD/B10D/Oeufs_Mesh_Door_Egg_Cabinet.jpg

    February 14, 2015 at 1:19 pm
    • Reply Mara

      Hi Natalie – Since I only leave the AC on for a couple hours at a time in the summer (it doesn’t need to be on constantly), I decided to go for the most visually appealing approach with the cabinet doors. The mesh is a good idea though!

      February 14, 2015 at 3:10 pm
  • Reply Jen

    So simple, yet so genius! Thanks for sharing!

    March 2, 2015 at 5:12 pm
  • Reply 10 Cool Ways to disguise your HVAC Unit

    […] folks over at Design Evolving used a book case to camouflage their Air Conditioning […]

    April 28, 2015 at 11:53 am
  • Reply Smart Fixes For Really Ugly Things at Home | Trend Inside

    […] credits: Design Evolving; Fermm Living; Emily Henderson; Caitlyn Cartlidge; Heather Bullard; Chris Loves […]

    May 3, 2015 at 8:27 am
  • Reply This Hack For Hiding an Ugly AC Unit Is Genius! - Perfect Your Lifestyle

    […] relationship with your wall-unit AC, this clever camouflaging tip will change your life. Mara from Design Evolving figured out a way to eliminate this megaeyesore while still reaping the cooling benefits. Her […]

    May 4, 2015 at 7:07 pm
  • Reply For my future home... A Wish List - Design Evolving

    […] photo needed for this one. I want central air conditioning (even though my post on hiding my wall unit went a little […]

    May 20, 2015 at 4:59 pm
  • Reply One year after buying my condo: looking back with a home tour

    […] can’t talk about the living room without mentioning the AC Unit Bookcase. Remember this post? It went (semi) viral. I used to work in PR and currently work in Social Media, so seeing something […]

    June 13, 2015 at 4:24 pm
  • Reply Favorite Sources for Affordable Home Decor

    […] I love art, I stock up when I go to IKEA. Second, BILLY bookcases. Even if you don’t stick an AC unit through one, they are a good purchase. Here are some more great […]

    August 16, 2015 at 5:31 pm
  • Reply Home Remodeling and Renovations – From Eyesores to Home Decor Beautify Your Home With These Simple Ideas

    […] can easily be transformed into a secret AC cabinet with the addition of hinges and doors (Mara of Design Evolving made hers out of a simple white board from Home Depot). Open the doors to cool down, and snap them […]

    August 20, 2015 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply Design Evolving - 2015 Year in Review - Design Evolving

    […] surprise my number one post was Hiding an Ugly Air Conditioner Wall Unit. It was a great idea, and went sort of […]

    December 30, 2015 at 12:17 am
  • Reply Nadia

    I want to do this exact project! My neighbor is selling her Billy bookshelf and I’ve been wanting to hide my AC unit. Was it easy for your brother to saw out the back? This would be the only difficult task for me as I’m not very “handy”

    January 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm
    • Reply Mara

      Hi Nadia! It was not that difficult to saw our the back. It’s not a very thick material so it cuts easily.

      January 22, 2016 at 8:33 pm
  • Reply Bennie

    What a great idea! I have a similar situation but it’s the opposite of yours, my wall A/C is at the bottom so I can’t have furniture there but if I find a bookcase and leave the bottom open I can have something up top. Hmmm, you’ve given me an idea.

    June 15, 2016 at 8:37 am
  • Reply Bonnie Engebretsen

    I am wondering if you could saw or route a hole in the top and put a vent in it, if it would let the ac draw enough air to keep the doors closed all the time. Just an idea.

    June 20, 2016 at 2:31 pm
  • Reply Preston Wilson

    I LOVE your hack with the Billy bookcases. It gave me an idea to do the same thing with my bed. A real bookcase headboard!
    You seriously need to consider replacing that antique Fedders A/C with something more modern. There are dozens of modestly-priced A/Cs on the market that are MUCH more energy-efficient, and should fit in the same wall sleeve.

    July 13, 2016 at 7:11 am
    • Reply Mara

      Thanks for the tip, Preston!

      July 13, 2016 at 7:13 am
  • Reply Jessica

    OMG this is great. I’m trying to learn to use pinterest now (because I must give up politics at all costs) and so I have stumbled on to this. It is quite brilliant!

    August 27, 2016 at 2:13 pm
  • Reply 16 Solutions For Common Household Eyesores - Just Girly Things

    […] you can even hack an IKEA bookcase! When the AC is not in use, simply close the doors and forget about […]

    November 5, 2017 at 5:50 am
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