I FINALLY Found a Way to Camouflage Our Awkwardly Placed Switches

10 Materials
3 Hours

There’s a wall that’s front-and-center on our main floor that has awkwardly placed switches. I’ve tried so many things over the past 5 years to camouflage them. I’ve tried different art pieces. I’ve tried placing MANY art pieces. I’ve tried placing tall vases on the table. I’ve tried shorter vases with tall flowers. But nothing I did seemed to look right. I also considered floating shelves, but the way everything didn’t line up it just wouldn’t work. And every time I sat on the couch my eyes were constantly drawn to those switches. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-switches…but these were just an eye sore I couldn’t seem to ignore! One of them controls the bathroom fan on another floor. Wait what? Why?! I’ve spoken to a few people about having it removed, but apparently live wires dangling inside a wall is a bad thing. Who knew! ;)

I recently purchased a plate rack from an online auction for $2.  It appeared as though the center shelf was sagging so I assumed it was cheaply made, but thought I could use the spindles on the sides and build something to fit the space. But once I picked it up I was delighted to see that it was from Bombay Company and solid wood! Score!!

Plate rack

But it was not going to fit like it was. So I took it all apart, which was very easy as it was just screwed together with the spindles. I didn’t even need to use tools! Once it was apart I cut two shelves (not the sagging one) to my maximum width that would be required in order for it to clear the light switches on the left and still remain centered on the wall. I used a miter saw, but a hand saw would work just as well.  

I then sanded the edges and drilled new holes to accommodate the spindles. I used a metal plate as a guide to ensure my holes lined up perfectly.

A guide to drill new holes

Then I re-assembled the shelf to its new custom size. I used gel stain to cover the ends, where it had been cut. I just dabbed it on with a cloth and it blended perfectly!

Then I attached the new custom sized shelf to the wall.  

The next step was to stylize the shelf. The framed art that was originally on the table was the perfect size to cover the useless fan switch! And given that the shelf was a plate rack it already had the little grooves to hold the frames securely in place! So I printed out a couple of new pictures to freshen up the artwork. I’m loving highland cows and owl imagery these days, so I went with those!

Then I thought maybe I could mask the thermostat a little if I had something that would flow off to the side. I immediately thought of ivy, so I went off to the dollar store to get some faux foliage. I used a little tea light holder I recently bought for 10 cents at a thrift store as a base for the foliage. I didn’t have any of that foam stuff for arranging flowers, and they didn’t have at the dollar store, so I improvised and used a regular sponge. I poked a few pilot holes through it with an awl. But even with pilot holes, I wouldn’t recommend using regular sponges. It was pretty hard to work with!  

Once the foliage was in place I pulled back the foam from the edges of the holder and filled it with gold crushed stone I picked up at the dollar store.

Hiding the sponge with crushed stone

And finally, after 5 years, when I look at that wall my eyes are no longer drawn to those ill placed switches. They land squarely on that sweet highland cow! :)

And added bonus, I still have wood & spindles left over that I’m sure to use for something!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Linda Premo
    on Apr 13, 2019

    Bravo for rebuilding your great shelf find. Have you thought of decoupaging your 4 switch plate to blend with your decor? Also, I see you are not aware of the Golden Mean Rule for aesthetic balance. If you research the rule of thirds you might want to rethink the placement of the large frame between the 2 shelves and your plant arrangement. Really good work on changing the shelf.

    • Linda Premo
      on May 10, 2019

      Hi Valerie,

      If you saw a painting and there was a large vase with a huge bouquet of bright colorful flowers on the left side, no color or objects on the right of the painting your brain would register that there is imbalance. If you walk into a room and you notice the furniture is all arranged on one side only, let alone that it would be very UN Feng Shui (another design theory), you would see that the room didn’t make sense because it’s not a good use of the space, it doesn’t look comfortable,

      it seems too heavy and cluttered on one side and empty on the opposite side, your brain is already discerning the rule of thirds. It’s a ratio that most people already perceive but just aren’t aware of it.

  • Joe Jones
    on Apr 20, 2019

    Is your thermostat behind that plastic foliage? You know covering the therm can interfere with it

    • Valerie Burge
      on Apr 20, 2019

      Thanks Joe. The vents on the thermostat are on the sides and there's nothing covering those. It's been a couple of weeks and no changes in furnace function or house temperature so far. But if I notice any changes I'll definitely move the foliage away.

  • Lari
    on May 10, 2019


Join the conversation

4 of 51 comments
  • KO
    on May 10, 2019

    Very creative solution!! I love that you could change out the foliage for seasons, too.

    What in the world were they thinking on the fan switch?? I think someone wasn't checking their work that day... 😄

    • Valerie Burge
      on May 10, 2019

      Thank you! I was thinking the same thing about seasonal foliage too. But I'll definitely look for the proper foam so it's easier to swap out.

      And I agree - something went wrong with that switch somewhere along the way. A total mystery. LOL

  • Angela
    on May 30, 2019

    Love it! Love the gumption to not just put with the ugly switches and the creativity to come up with such a cute (and easily changeable, if you want!) solution. Awesome and good on you, gurl!

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