Small Apartment Living: Hide the Unavoidable Ugly

I have a love/hate relationship with our apartment.  My sentiments towards it depends on the day, the weather, how behind I am on laundry, if the floor has been swept, and whether or not dinner is made.  Yes, I realize most of these things are controlled by me, but my knee-jerk reaction is to blame everything on the apartment.  Don’t you judge my irrationality.

But the little place we’ve lived in since that glorious December day a little over a year ago has been so good to us.  It fits our style, it is what is best for our family, and it just feels like home.  And that is the best part.  It is an older building with charming character traits like chair rail in the kitchen, old wooden floors, and, our personal favorite, an old telephone cutout in the hallway.

Telephone Alcove

we use it for the holy family. and yes, the donkey’s nose is broken. “we’re not sure how it happened”, but i’m giving side eyes to the man who’s broken about 7 major items thus far in our married life…

The Small Apartment Living Series is dedicated to helping us renters make the little spaces our own, to truly transform it into an area that feels like home.  Whether that means creating your own storage/décor space, making the room feel bigger by tricking the eye, or making room for a baby (which I will definitely be posting more on!), this series strives to give you practical suggestions for loving your space.

In this installment of SAL, we are talking about the unavoidable ugly features that apartments tend bring with them that we may not particularly care for.  The unavoidable ugly can come in many forms; for us, our big eye sore was a lone, off-centered thermostat on a larger wall that begged for decorating.  Off-centered, people.  It drove me crazy.


The Solution

I already planned to order and hang a larger canvas with a picture from our wedding somewhere in the apartment, and the big-ish wall with the ugly, off-centered thermostat was the perfect place.  Except for the thermostat was in the way.  Bollocks.

But I am my mother’s daughter and therefore I tend to not let little bumps in the road deter me but rather I’ve learned to work around them to make the bumps actually work for me.

The nature of a wrapped-canvas print is that it has some wiggle room to work with in the back.  I figured hanging a canvas print over the thermostat would not only hide the eyesore, but also provided another way to decorate an otherwise dull and dim wall.

Here’s what we did:
  1. Measured the wall and figured out how big the canvas would need to be in order to cover the thermostat and still remain centered on the wall.
  2. Ordered a wrap-canvas print in the appropriate size.  I ordered ours through CVS because they had a killer sale on canvas prints at the time, but Shutterfly is another great option.
  3. When the print came in, I discovered that its backing was not hollow, but rather it was fully wrapped.  That’s confusing, here’s a picture to show you what I’m talking about:


So Dave and I measured where the thermostat would “hit” the canvas, measured its proportions, and used a box cutter to cut a hole in the back of the canvas to make room for the thermostat.



cropped my face out because nobody wanna see dat.

cropped my face out because nobody wanna see dat.

Easy as pie.

  • Does the canvas covering the thermostat effect the thermostat’s function?  And therefore raise my bill?  Short answer: no.  Our bill did not and has not changed once we hung the canvas print.  The thermostat can still get an accurate read of the temperature in the apartment.
  • Won’t it be annoying to remove the canvas every time I need to adjust the temperature?  Again, no.  We are able to adjust the temperature by just raising the bottom of the canvas and peaking under.  But even if that won’t work for you, canvases are incredible easy to remove and hang back up, so you won’t be cursing it too often 😉
  • How do I know if a particular canvas size will fit over the thermostat?  This is where measuring comes into play.  Measure the depth of your thermostat and make sure you order a canvas whose depth is a bit greater.
The Finished Product

SAL Thermostat

We love the canvas print and it is the perfect size for that wall.  It gives that area some personality, all while hiding that darn thermostat.

I’d love to hear from you.  What are your tricks for hiding the unavoidable ugly in your home?  Share below!



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  1. To some degree, you actually make me miss my tiny apartment and I hate that I can’t even think of where the thermostat was now! Our apartment was a total hole though. But it was a cute hole with exposed brick and orange shag in the 2 bedrooms and a fire escape for a porch. Gah, I’m getting all weepy now.

  2. Oh my goodness. I am so lazy. I just look at the not going anywhere ugliness and complain about it. 😉

  3. You are so wise! We were terrible at disguising ugliness in our apartments but in our house we did something similar in our kitchen with a cork board over an old thermostat mark. Whatever works right?!

  4. I have the spot for the old telephone too. I made it into a sort of religious corner like Orthodox do with a corner of a room. However … I tend to allow it to get … very dusty …

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