Dressing Up An Ugly Window Unit

Leilani Smith
by Leilani Smith
8 Materials
Ah, the window unit. Such a money saver, and yet such an eyesore…
In making over our master bedroom, I knew something had to be done! After a bit of thinking, I learned that dressing up a window unit is easier than I thought! All it takes is an hour, good measurements and a few simple materials.
You will need:

*A large sheet of sturdy cardboard (I used a size “small” Fed Ex shipping box)

*Measuring tape

*Box cutter


*Straight edge

*1 yard of fabric (I used a leftover scrap of toile)

*Needle & thread

*cotton batting, optional
First, take accurate measurements of all the surrounding spaces between the unit and the window frame.

Second, measure out the dimensions on your cardboard and use a straight-edge to create smooth lines.
Once you’ve made all your cuts, your results should look something like this:
Fortify any creases in the cardboard with a couple layers of duct tape.
Next, place the fabric face-down on your work surface (in my case, the floor). Center the cardboard frame over the fabric, then carefully cut out a square of fabric from the center of the frame.Do NOT cut right up along the interior edges of the cardboard frame. Instead, leave about a 2″ border so that you can fold this flap of fabric up over the cardboard.

Finally, cut small slits in the corners of the fabric inside the frame. These will allow you to fold the flaps over the cardboard.
Using large zig-zag stitches, sew the flaps on each side of the frame tightly together.

TIP: To provide more insulation for the areas covering the accordions, I added a thin layer of cotton batting. Only do this step if it’s convenient for you.
Once you’ve finished sewing, flip your fabric frame over and gently pop it over the face of the window unit. It should fit nice and snug. Thankfully, cardboard allows for wiggle room.
Not only does this frame look better, it blocks the heat that seeps through the thin plastic accordion. Likewise, I’m sure it will block the chill in the winter.

I’m pleased by how much this scrap of fabric-covered cardboard tidies up what was such a grimy looking window.

For the full tutorial, check out my blog post below!
Leilani Smith
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 7 questions
  • Nerida Warwick Nerida Warwick on Oct 20, 2018

    My problem is that on one side of an 2.400 wide window the a/c sticks out inside the lounge and the curtains hang over it leaving a bulge. Would a deeper pelmet allow the curtains to hang straight in front of the a/c?

  • Julie Julie on Feb 04, 2023

    Did you use another piece of cardboard to cover your stitching?

    We have window u nits upstairs and I'm going to do this with the R5 insulation board. The extra insulation as backing will help hide the stitching and help with air leaks.

  • Aprile Aprile on Aug 09, 2023

    Could you glue the flaps down instead of sewing them

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  • Doreen Kennedy Doreen Kennedy on Jun 02, 2020

    I saw your post quite some time ago. I really liked your idea and was planning on making some covers. I forgot all about it. Seeing your post again is a good reminder. Thanks Again for sharing.

  • Arlene Phillips Arlene Phillips on Feb 04, 2023

    My ac units are through the wall because the windows open vertically and I hate them. The windows and the ac units. If I could I would definitely replace the windows. But in the meanwhile, and because my drapes are patterned, I will try your idea using a solid sage green fabric that will match my walls. Thank you so much.