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Tips and Guides

A Quick Guide to Hiding Your Air Conditioner

And other eyesores like wires, ducting, and drains, too!

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Photography: Vincent Coscolluela and Marc Jao (Main Photos)

Given the heat and humid days we've been experiencing lately, it's inevitable to leave the AC unit turned on almost the whole day. As you relish the cool air, take a good look at the unit installed on the wall—are there wires exposed? While air conditioners were designed to be installed as is, you can do something to keep it from being an eyesore. Whether you have an existing AC or you're planning to install one to beat the heat, here are tips on how you can conceal it and keep the sleek aesthetic of your space:

Wires

No one wants a home taken over by wires. You can't really hide air conditioner wires unless you have the outlet installed directly behind your split-type or freestanding unit. Window types are another story as the outlet should be below or on the side of your unit. Cable hooks (check out 3M's options) can help keep the wires neatly in place.

Ducting

Keep in mind that ducting shouldn’t remain exposed. These are common in split-type units with a companion condenser. The ducting runs from the interior unit to your condenser which goes outside your house or condo unit. Aircon ducting can be cladded inside your existing wall or built on top of it to resemble false beams and columns.

Hiding the ducting inside is possible if you’re working with dry partition walls. These are hollow walls with metal stud or solid wood support sandwiched between two boards. One side of the wall is removed and then later replaced so that the ducting can run through it. For concrete walls, you'd have to clad the ducting on top of the wall which will create a protrusion. Materials used are ½” to ¾” plywood or fiber cement boards with metal stud or solid wood support. The new wall is then finished to match the existing one. You can use paint to accomplish this.

Drains

In photo: Wooden slats help conceal the freestanding AC unit in the living area. It matches the wooden touches used as accents, too.

The drain is not a common problem as these are installed behind the unit itself. In cases wherein you want to install the AC on a different wall where there is no drain provision, make sure that the extension is hidden inside the adjacent walls and ceiling.

Actual AC unit

Unlike the abovementioned, you can’t really cover the vents completely as doing so would render your cooling system useless. If you want to hide any type of AC from view, think of well-ventilated panels in the form of decorative grills or boards, custom-made shutters, wooden slats, and even trellises. These materials can disguise your unit without sacrificing ventilation and air flow too much. They can be used to mimic cabinetry, or create new accents nonetheless for units installed above doors and beside windows, to name a few.

RL Tip: Looking for decorative grills and boards? Ricad and Meilleur have options you can consider. To learn more about Ricad, visit the Ricad MC Home Depot at 32nd Street corner Bonifacio Boulevard, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Meilleur also offers designer panels. Click here to learn more.

Concealing the air conditioner in a well-ventilated cabinet of different scales can work for window, split and even freestanding unit types. This can even apply to the old and bulky units which you’ll usually find on the lower part of the wall. Disguise it by building a console around your unit with an optional ledge on top for decor. Keep in mind that for whatever air conditioner type you have, these panels should be accessible—swing and awning doors are recommended. The doors not only help with ventilation, you also have an option to keep it open while in use.

Aside from being well-ventilated, make sure that the AC unit remains accessible. Remember that at some point it will have to undergo cleaning and maintenance so ease of removal should be considered as well. Take note of ample clearance spaces—these should be explained to you by your supplier, but the rule of thumb is that the unit should and can be removed without any hassle.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]gmail.com.

Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at]gmail.com with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

PHOTOS: Miguel Nacianceno | Michael Angelo Chua | Vincent Coscolluela | Marc Jao | Dairy Darilag

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