curb appeal

7 Ways to Hide the Ugly Things Your House Can’t Do Without

Call them necessary evils: the utility boxes, septic tanks, and random receptacles that houses require for functional reasons. That doesn’t mean we like looking at them, though. To downplay the visual impact of those homely household helpers, check out the following brilliant disguises.

By Debra Immergut


  • Before: Blue Blemish

    Air cond

    Recycling is a good deed (and it’s the law in many U.S. locales), but it does raise a question: where to put the extra bins needed to sort the trash?


  • After: Boxed In


    To add polish to her yard and a hiding place for the bright blue recycling containers, this homeowner fashioned a nifty cover from spare 2×4 boards that she had left over from building a chicken coop. She screwed it together and stained it an attractive dark brown.


  • Before: Ghastly Gadgets

    Diy wood screen 14

    Our friends at the gas and electric companies don’t always have the greatest taste in gadgets. Their meters are pretty unsightly.


  • Afte: Clever Curb Appeal

    Diy wood screen 18

    A neat, slatted screen comes together quickly with a brad nailer, plywood, and 2×4 boards—and even features the home’s address number as well. Before you attempt a similar project, be sure you understand your local utility company’s needs for clearance around and access to the meters.


  • Before: All Tangled Up

    Hose hiding planter before tml

    A garden hose gets tangled and dirty just lying like a snake in the grass, and detracts from your yard’s beauty.


  • After: Get Growing

    Hose hiding planter 2 pieces tml

    This homeowner built a neat wooden box to hold the hose, then topped it with a lid that features recessed planter. The flowering plants disguise the purpose of the container and add color to the landscape.


  • Before: Uncool Cooling Unit

    Old ac ugliness

    This incredible hulk is a genius at cooling your home during the steamy season, but let’s face it: the rest of the year it looks pretty monstrous.


  • After: No-See AC

    Slat ac after 1

    A creative use of segmented wood slats creates a truly eye-pleasing screened cover for the AC unit. Steel rods at each corner allow the screen to hinge and fold away for winter storage. This DIY project is a bit labor-intensive, but the results make it worth it.


  • Before: Beat Up Back Door

    Backdoor 3 two days ago

    On many homes, the utility meter sticks out like a very sore thumb. Whose home is painted that drab institutional gray, after all?


  • After: Camouflaged with Color

    Backdoor 10 5 with deck

    Simply take a cue from the chameleons and paint the box to match the surrounding wall. Suddenly, the offensive box just blends into the scenery. Use rust-resistant outdoor paint (and consider checking with your utility company before painting).


  • Before: Chipped Paint

    Scraping paint

    Painting a less-than-lovely cinder block foundation helps a little bit, but it’s not a long-lasting fix—and when the paint begins to peel, it can really detract from a home’s curb appeal.


  • After: Fresh Facade

    Foundation refacing

    A product called Ledgestone is designed just for spruce-up jobs such as this. It comes in easy-to-use sheets, but you’ll need a diamond blade saw to cut the edges to fit. Epoxy and a sealant keep the whole thing together.

    Photo: akadesign.c

  • Before: Unsightly Septic Tank

    Screen shot 2016 03 31 at 10.54.11 pm

    The concrete lid of a septic tank is definitely an eyesore in this otherwise verdant landscape.


  • After: Secret Garden

    Screen shot 2016 03 31 at 10.52.23 pm

    This clever gardener covered the lid with mulch, which can be easily swiped to one side when access to the tank is needed. A few potted plants, surrounded by more mulch, and a pretty bird feeder top it all off. Guests will never know what’s lurking below.




Custom Contracting, Inc. 1267A Massachusetts Ave. Arlington, MA 02476 Phone: 781-648-2835 Fax: 781-648-0907 Email:

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