a problem spot

I have a problem.

It is not particularly big or of great importance, but it has bothered me for, oh, six years now.

Here it is:

What were our builders thinking putting all of these switches, thermostats, outlets on one wall with such random placement?

From the front door, this is what you see going into the living room. Not really enough space to put a piece of furniture on the wall.

And from the living room looking toward the dining/entry. The wall sits at the foot of the stairs.

What in the world do you do with a wall like this?  I’d love any suggestions!

And while we’re at it, please share any problem spots that you have in your own home. Maybe we can brainstorm together to find a simple solution.

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195 Responses to a problem spot

  1. Julie August 30, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    I read quickly through the comments….there are a lot of great ideas! The only other thought I had was that you could do wainscoting up half the wall–maybe just above the light switch (or if that’s too high you could do it right underneath and then paint that switch cover to match the wall). If the wainscoting was painted white the outlets and switches would blend in. That still leave the thermostat….but maybe you could disguise it with a gallery like many other suggested.

  2. grace galrand August 30, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    what about a full length mirror with a nice frame?

  3. Christie August 30, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so I’m sure my idea has been mentioned several times already. I think I’d curtain the entire area with a curtain rod spanning the entire wall, from the left side by the dining room opening to the right corner. I’d casually open the curtain on the left side, maybe a swag or maybe just pull it open to the side, and leave the right side “closed” so that it covers the apparatus on the wall. It would be asymmetrical, but I like that look. I’m sure you could do asymmetrical right!

  4. Traci August 30, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I didn’t read all of the other comments, so I don’t know if this has been suggested, but I have a similar thermostat in the center of my living room wall. I put an old barn window (no glass) that I had painted with a wreath on it over the thermostat. The thermostat fits nicely in one bottom pane of the window, which is just where it ended up based on where I wanted the window, and the wreath disguises it, but we can still easily get to it. Good luck!

  5. Suzanne August 30, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Yikes! I don’t have any bright ideas for you, but I do wonder if covering the thermostat and carbon monoxide detector would affect their accuracy…

    By the way, another blogger friend had an interesting carbon monoxide detector adventure earlier this week. It seems that the detector expired (who knew!) and somehow the local fire department was notified. They showed up just in time for breakfast — with my friend in jammies and all! Just a tip for those of you who might have a carbon monoxide detector wired into your home security system…

  6. Denise August 30, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Since everything “essential” is so randomly anchored, I would make it an eclectic gallery wall! Lots of family photos and memory pieces to blend in with what you have to work with.

    My biggest pet peeve with our house is that all of our smoke alarms are hard wired,(which means it’s stuck there….) and the builder put one just a few feet away from the oven. Every time we open it, it goes off. I’m sure all our neighbors think I am a terrible cook.

  7. Alicia August 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Lol, I have the same problem, in the same spot, with the same views; from the front door to the entry way. You just forgot one extra view, coming down the stairs. ;)

  8. Lydia August 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    How about a wall of photos, and to cover the switches, and thermostats place hinges on the back of a framed photo or canvas so you can still get to thermostats.

  9. Amy August 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I recently saw a Pin for a project using an antique door with an inexpensive full length mirror attached to the front (liquid nails and half round trim?). It’s difficult to tell the scale of the spot, but a casually propped mirror might work if you don’t need to access the thermostat or outlets frequently (the switches might stick out just to the left side).

  10. Danielle Brumbley August 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    I was thinking maybe a tapestry that comes off the wall a little from a rod. It would cover the switches and since a tapestry could have any design, pattern, material, or style, it would be a good conversation piece to walk into from the front door and easily changeable with season.

  11. abby August 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    you could use chalkboard paint!!! itd be stylish and cute and hopefully useable!!!!!!! glad i could help!!

  12. Kate August 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    We have a similar wall and so I hung a row of baskets (with the underside facing out) from top to bottom. Easy to move a switch around :)

  13. Lisa from London August 31, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    In the background in the room next door you have a grid effect black and glass door. Copy this onto the wall – mirror 50% radomly then leave yourself with 50% free for some random art pieces childrens art, a wreath around a switch, an ornate vintage mini frame “within a frame” around the carbon monoxide detector – you cannot I assume cover them as you use them – covering a carbon monoxide detector is not an option/ Pick up all the colours in the matching area’s so it becomes work of art that you can have fun with change at whim. If the grid is done with a enough of a lipping small vases of flowers, sea shells collected on holidays etc Memory wall. Art Wall Fun Wall instead of Problem wall.

    Lisa xoxo

  14. Tara August 31, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Ok, So I have 2 great ideas: 1: cover the entire wall and header with wood strips (I used a sheet 8×6 of thin plywood cut into 6″strips x 8ft long glued and nailed on and painted white) just like Tracery Interiors Southern LIving Idea home. Those switches etc will blend right in you will never even see them. Plus Everyone LOVES the wood on the walls! 2: Paint the wall in the giant Buffalo Check pattern tan and white Lovely and they will camoflage right in. quite possibly those things will be smack dab in the middle of a white square! perfect!

  15. anonymous August 31, 2012 at 11:02 am #


  16. BJ August 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    A large mirror or piece of artwork set on the floor and leaning against the wall at a slight angle. Not sure how it would affect the detector or thermostat though.

  17. Gretchen September 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Didn’t read through comments but you can paint the light switch and outlet cover with your wall color to make that disappear and then a tall narrow bookcase would fit on the wall which you can decorate with objects and still leave access to the thermostat and carbon monoxide detector. Since you would have an outlet access you would have the opportunity to incorporate a small lamp on one of the shelves.

  18. Michelle DePizzol September 2, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    What about some sort of tapestry on a wooden dowel. It would cover, but not hang flesh with the wall, allowing access if needed.

  19. cara kuester September 2, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    just came across this other blog and remembered reading about your dilemma. you may have already seen this but i think it looks great. here is the link:

  20. Diane September 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    i was thinking mirror wall stickers. I found some at hobby lobby that are circular, which would work around your annoying “decor” and would reflect light. I’m sure you could do something similar with whatever you find. Good luck!

  21. Bethany September 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I just pinned a solution to this problem a couple of days ago. You can create a full gallery wall of white framed pictures and all the fixtures will just blend in.

  22. Abbie September 3, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    My first thought is expensive and impractical ;)….I am a sucker for the barn door craze right now so I thought of a large barn door that could slide over the opening of the dining room (which might look odd with the other opening in the entry). Obviously, the door would be opened most, if not all, of the time so it would cover up your problem area. Like I said, pricey and impractical;).
    My second thought is a mini “mud room” effect with some hooks/shelf and a very slender bench. I know you already have a functional area for this so this one could just be staged with cute bags on the hooks (thus covering thermostat) or scarves or other accessories. Good luck!
    My problem areas in my house are the architectural nooks that builders put in for I don’t know what reason. I have two of them in the entryway and I never know what to put in them!!!

  23. Nicole (veganmama) September 3, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    A curtain rod over the doorway that extends to the right of the doorway with a lovely patterned curtain that covers the problem, but keeps the area easily accessible!

  24. lori September 3, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    I think there are so many great ideas already here… I’m sure you will take one and make it ten times better! I would love to know where you got your curtains I can sort of see.. are they leopard print? Also, Is that a “barn door” style mirror that moves on a track? I would love to know how you did that. Thanks for all your inspiration and ideas.

  25. Big D & Me September 4, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    You could put a gallery wall there and those would blend right in

    My problem spot is the corner fireplace we have. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to arrange my furniture

  26. Jessica September 5, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    These work great for narrow spaces:


  27. Melissa September 5, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    Sorry, but I could not read all the comments, so my suggestions might be dupilicates. First, you can buy a (rectangular) outlet plug in carbon monoxide detector, making the two lower white boxes into one streamlined unit. How about a gallery wall – pictures, mirrors, open frames, and then actually put an open frame around the thermostat and light switch so it blends into the whole design. Looking forward to seeing what you choose.

  28. Angela September 6, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Wondering has a wrought iron console been mentioned. I have one and it’s perfect for hiding things as such.

  29. Diane September 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Don’t know if someone already suggested this, but check out what this blogger did:


    She put hinges on a piece of canvas artwork and used it to cover her thermostat. Don’t know if yours is high enough, but I thought of you when I saw it!

  30. Tamra September 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    This too may have already been mentioned but why not do here the same concept as with the childrens books? The narrow photo shelves. This way you can display lots of pictures and still access the controls you need and use the outlets. You’ll remember that the thermostat is behind the picture of Grandma and the outlet behind Uncle Bob.

  31. Amanda September 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    We have a similar wall just to the right of the…fireplace? What were they thinking? So I flanked the fireplace with Ikea Billy bookshelves whose backs I popped off. I can still access the doo-dads as needed, but the stuff on the shelves hides and camouflages the awkwardness.

  32. E R I N September 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Did you ever think to build a small narrow bookcase on that wall? that way you can still access all the switches and plugs and such.


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