A furnace is designed for function, not decor, which isn't much of a concern if the furnace is tucked into a space of its own. If the furnace is visible in a room that's part of your day-to-day activities, however, hiding it is the only way to keep it out of sight, out of mind. If unable to give the room a structural makeover -- for instance, in a rental situation -- a room divider allows you to hide the unsightly but necessary furnace without sacrificing much space in the room. Keep dividers, no matter what they are made of, at least 30 inches away from the furnace on all sides to ensure safety. Check with the furnace manufacturer's website or manual for clearance recommendations specific to your furnace.
Shoji Screen Style
A shoji screen -- a portable, hinged screen used as decor or as a room divider, typically backed with rice paper -- provides a decorative means of hiding that furnace. These screens feature several panels and are designed to stand on their own. A screen with at least three hinged panels allows you to shape the divider partially around the furnace in the area where the furnace is most obtrusive.
Bi-fold doors, such as the type used on some closets, serve as makeshift room dividers tall enough to hide a basic furnace. Purchase the doors new or repurpose a set leftover after a room remodel or acquired from a charity salvage shop. Paint the doors to match the room's decor, or give them a coating of magnetic paint to turn them into a dual-purpose divider and message board. Add several large, durable hinges to attach one door panel to the next so the divider is sturdy, flexible and portable. Large window shutters may be used in place of bi-fold doors in much the same fashion.
A curtain, even a decorative shower curtain, hides a furnace of any size, making the space around it visually more appealing. A tension or expansion rod spans between two walls, or use a retractable clothesline in place of a rod. A curtain track installed on the ceiling will also suffice for hanging the curtain fabric. Keep a curtain a bit farther than 2 feet away from a furnace to ensure the fabric cannot reach the furnace, or add weights to the bottom of the fabric to keep it from blowing toward the furnace.
A tall portable wardrobe, decorated on one side, serves as a freestanding wall between a furnace and the rest of the room, with plenty of storage space inside to stash belongings. Some of these wardrobes feature decorative fabric on one side, or you can add your own, suited to the room's decor. The wardrobe is easily movable if the furnace needs maintenance or inspection from time to time.