Your home's visible pipes or plumbing lines may seem like an unattractive tangle of metal or plastic, but it's possible to see them instead as an opportunity to flex your decorating muscles as you find ideas for hiding them -- or, better yet, working them into the decor.
Fabric Skirts and Panels
Don't let exposed pipes, such as those under a laundry tub or floating sink, offend an otherwise good-looking space when you can hide them behind a fabric skirt or panels. Fabric adhesive or double-sided tape makes this a no-sew project, and peel-and-stick, hook-and-loop tape means easy removal for laundering.
For overhead pipes, swag or drape fabric panels from wall to wall. Or, hide an exposed utility room's pipe jungle behind a fabric doorway. Choose a fabric color and print that complements the room's decor.
Never use flammable fabric near electrical wires or heat sources.
Under a sink, a paisley, polka dot or floral pattern camouflages drips and splatters better than a solid color.
Wrap It Up
Decorative tape isn't just for crafts or trendy packing boxes; use it to camouflage your pipes as abstract art. If your home boasts a bold primary palette, for example, wrap pipes separately in red, yellow and blue tapes. For the room that's all about animal prints, cover pipes in leopard-, zebra- or tiger-print tape -- or, if your nerves allow, use snakeskin-printed tape to play up snaking pipes.
Alternative wraps for hiding pipes:
- Wrap pipes in decorative fabric tape.
- Wrap them with wide ribbon, tying occasional bows for whimsy.
- Wind rope around pipes for a western or nautical twist.
- Swathe unattractive pipes with silky scarves in shabby-chic fashion.
- Conceal them under a meandering trail of artificial ivy.
Paint the Pipes
A paintbrush and sandpaper may be the only tools you need to blend your pipes sleekly into the background. Latex paint should be fine for clean, lightly abraded plastic lines or clean, noncorroded metal pipes, as long as you start with the right primer, such as water-based metal primer for nonferrous metals -- metals that won't rust -- or bonding primer designed for plastic. Choose a paint color that closely matches the wall or ceiling color behind the pipes.
Hot-water lines or radiator plumbing may cause standard paint to peel. Instead, use high-temperature paint, which withstands heat. Typically, this specialty paint comes in limited colors, but likely you can find one that blends with even a rich or bright wall color better than PVC-waterline white, aluminum-duct gray or any other existing pipe's hue.
If you're using bright or dark paint, have the primer tinted to match to reduce the number of coats you have to apply.
If You Can't Beat Them, Industrialize Them
When you can't settle on an appropriate way to hide your pipes, celebrate their industrial loft or urban persona. Metal pipes -- iron, copper, aluminum, steel -- naturally speak this hip cosmopolitan design language, but PVC pipe needs a couple of coats of matte black or metallic paint to join in the style conversation.
For a greater industrial effect, purposely expose ductwork and more pipes throughout the space.