A Rare Idea for hiding the radiator + Happy Anniversary!

Hi Everyone,

Happy first day of winter. The sun is returning!

In a bit, we’ll get to an idea I’ve been thinking of for hiding a radiator.

But, first, yes, TODAY, as I’m writing this, December 21, is the first anniversary of when Quatti and I drove with a car crammed with stuff to my new place in Boston.


Poor Quatti passed away.


Ummm, if you don’t remember or are just tuning in, Quattro (Quatti) was my 2003 Audi A4 wagon with 183,000 miles on it.

However, I’m totally fine without a car here in Boston. Almost everything I need/want to do is within a 1.5-mile easy walk. Last night, for instance, I walked to the Boston Opera House and saw The Boston Ballet do the Nutcracker. Albeit, it was freeeeeezing, but otherwise, a lovely walk. The ballet was gorgeous too!


A little personal story. If you aren’t interested in that, please go here.*


It’s funny. But, I had had ties to Boston long before I moved here. And, it began with my passion for ballet.

Many of you have seen the above photo in this autobiographical post about my youth.

Yes, that is the Great Rudolph Nureyev and underneath his left armpit is me, age 17.

However, the two exquisite ballerinas holding Nureyev’s hands are to the left, Edra Toth and Anamarie Sarazin. Both Edra and Anamarie were principal dancers with the Boston Ballet. Edra now owns a ballet academy in New Hampshire, and sadly, AnaMarie passed away in 1999 after a long battle with cancer.


This was in May 1973, and I was just finishing up high school, a year early.


But, two months before the final rehearsals and performances with Nureyev, E. Virginia Williams, the founder of the Boston Ballet, came to our little ballet company in Madison, Wisconsin. She came to stage this ballet, Les Sylphides, on us.

As you might imagine, the entire experience was one of the highlights of my life.

So, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Boston Ballet.

Still, I never dreamed I’d be living in Boston. That wasn’t until my son went to college here, and I grew to love the city.


*Now that I’ve moved to my dream home and I’ve had a party, I’m seriously working towards doing the renovations I’ve been talking about since October 2020.


In my fantasies, I was going to begin all of that right away.

haha. Isn’t that a scream?

But, I’m ready now. Well, I am getting ready.

As I mentioned in Sunday’s post, I had a terrific meeting last week with the contractor I’m planning on hiring.


One thing he stressed is to get cracking with the kitchen cabinets because they will take the longest.


Therefore, I have been working on the lower level. haha.

Well, I have, and I’ve also started writing out in great detail everything I want to have constructed.

Then, I have to go over the drawings and add some dimensions. But, yes, I will get those cabinet measurements over to him very soon.

The thing with the lower level is that it does affect the upper level because of the new stairwell.

Now, I was going to go over all of that today. But, I know that y’all are quite busy right now.

In fact, I would love to share the latest plan for the downstairs. I’ve made some tweaks that are making me love it more and more.

Sorry for the tease.


However, what I will share with you, is an idea I have for hiding the radiator.


What’s odd is that it seems like a natural solution; however, I only found one example of it. And, it wasn’t even the complete idea. You will see that shortly.

But first, let’s look at the current layout for the downstairs so that at least you’ll get some idea of the space.

lower level Boston ApartmentThis is very close to what it currently is and absolutely fine for our purposes of discussing what I think is a clever way for hiding the radiator. Well, as long as it isn’t too big.

Please notice at the top of the floorplan is a gray box attached to the two walls.

That is the location of a small radiator.

bedroom radiatorAbove is the radiator in real life. I have to say that it does the job quite nicely. In fact, I have to remember to turn it down sometimes.

There is also a forced air floor radiator behind my bed and the wall separating the bedroom from the spiral staircase.

When it drops below 50 degrees, the baseboard isn’t sufficient to heat the bedroom, at least as it is currently functioning. But, even if it was, do I want a strong source of heat cranking away behind my head? No, I don’t.

It gets mighty cold here in Boston. Plus, the windows are rather “leaky.” In some ways, I’m glad because it does let in some fresh air at all times. But, it is also letting in the frigid air.


So, I will most likely still need the supplementary heating source.


Laurel, what is your idea already? I have presents to wrap.

Yes, of course. Sorry.


The back wall is roughly ten feet long.

The middle section will be “furred-out,” as we called it design school. That means brought out, in this case, about six inches or so. Notice above that there is a hole cut around the radiator I want to hide.


Larry's List - radiator with fireplace mantelAndy-Warhol-Paul-Czerlizki-Friedrich-Kunath-sammlung-FIEDEThe radiator will sit inside that furred-out wall, something like this. Image via Larry’s List.

And, then, we can add a fireplace surround, similar to what you see above. Only, I want to REALLY hide the radiator, so I want to take it a step or three further.

radiator furred out wall with mantel and fire screen master bedroom


Pretty cool, huh?


Below are some other ideas for hiding the radiator.


hiding the radiator fireplace mantel with verdigris grillI would paint the radiator black, and there could also be a return grill, either new or antique, in the opening. I think that the door and stone, or maybe even wood painted to look like stone, would be on hidden hinges. That way, the entire thing can open for easy access to the radiator.

hiding the radiator fireplace mantel with iron grillAnd, we can go another step further.

Fireplace Covers - Ebay - Hiding the Radiator - idea

You can find wonderful antique register panels on eBay. This looks like a clickable widget, but it’s not. However, if you go here, you can find zillions of these cast iron covers.


In addition, if going this route to hiding the radiator, we can go one step further.

hiding the radiator fireplace mantel with grill and screenYes, we could add the decorative vintage fireplace screen. You could add a fender and andirons, too!

Yes, I could put in one of those electric faux fireplaces that we talked about here. However, I’d be paying extra for the electricity, and that could get expensive. The heat from the radiator is from the boiler adjacent to my apartment. And, that is already part of my monthly common charge whether I use it or not.

I promise that we will look at the floor plan very soon. In the meantime, there are some other iterations of it here.

The last one is kind of what a neanderthal man is to modern man. lol

And, here are two later ideas that lead me to what I’m hoping is the final or close to the final design.


Oh, what the hell. I love it so much; I was just staring at it for about an hour last night. lol


For me, designing is the most fun part of interior design. Unfortunately, when I had clients, it was only about 5%-10% of the work.

Anyway, here it is!

114 Comm Ave #2 Garden Level Dec 2021-no furniture 12.20.21No, wait. This isn’t it. Please ignore those escaped stairs; very naughty! However, I can’t say I blame them. haha

Hang on. Let me go and fetch the most recent rendition.


114 Comm Ave #2 Garden Level Dec 2021-no furniture 12.21.21


What I love about this new plan is that the first step (coming down from the living room) will not break through the ceiling until after the wall, so there won’t be a funky angle going three feet across and then stopping.

Also, I put an interior window in the bathroom, and I realize it would give someone passing by a nice view of the WC. lol, Well, I would probably do frosted glass. The idea is to let in light and have another source of ventilation.

Well, I wasn’t going to post this because I don’t want to get into it now. But, I did it anyway.


Besides, you can also see how my idea for hiding the radiator gets integrated into a fireplace surround.


For more ideas and inspiration regarding hiding the radiator, please check out these posts.

Faux Fireplace, Great Idea or a Disaster?


The Ultimate Guide to Fireplace Mantel Decorating


Is Your Baseboard Heater or Radiator Making You Crazy?


So, now it is the 22nd, and I am officially in my second year living in Boston!

And, Friday is Christmas Eve. I most likely won’t be doing the hot sales this Friday unless something can’t wait.

That means I won’t see you guys again until after Christmas. Boxing Day, they call it in some faraway lands. ;]

Therefore, let me finish by wishing you a joyous, peaceful, warm, and healthy holiday.


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41 Responses

  1. It’s an elegant and creative solution. I love it!
    But then again, I also like the look of a vintage radiator, so it doesn’t bother me that it’s visible.

  2. Grew up with radiators in Germany and desperately miss them when it is cold here in California. Would never trade a radiator for a mini split. Don’t do it!

    I would put a marble shelf over it and leave the radiator alone.

    You are very talented and I love faux fireplaces, I just wouldn’t give up usefulness of a radiator for it.

  3. Love this idea with the radiator. It seems a lot of trouble, and expense though for hiding a pretty little victorian radiator. We had radiators in our old house and loved them- the heat is wonderful. We had custom covers made, painted to match the trim, and I had pieces of scrap marble cut to go on top. This made an extra shelf under the windows as they were all under windows. It is nice to have a fire place/mantle in the bedroom though.

  4. re: screen door: research “Phantom screens”, an aftermarket screen system which allows the installation of door screens which roll out from the side of the door on a track type system. This might be a solution that would work in this situation. I’ve used these in two different houses with great success.

    PS your solution to the radiator problem is inspired.

  5. Laurel
    I love the new plan! Especially the radiator camouflage idea. I will say that I have been in two homes that have installed a frosted glass French door in the bathroom and I found that I was very self conscious and uncomfortable in them. Especially in the evening. When someone is in the bathroom with the light on you can see sharp shadows of the person in there!

  6. Great idea! Maybe put an outlet in there to plug-in a “flame” light bulb to have some flickering light come through the openings. Ambience! 😉

    I have split ACs and the heat works very well.

  7. You bring light and interest to my life and I appreciate it. Your perspective and creativity make my day when open your emsils. Im still discovering articles that make swoon.
    Wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year.

  8. My Great Aunt Helen took me to see Neureyev and Dame Margot Fontayne do Swan Lake.. he and she …but he was amazing!!!! They were touring with NYC Ballet. Patricia McBride and Suzanne Ferrell signed my pointe shoe.

  9. The newish/modern radiator in the latter pictures in the post appears to be one from Europe that Laurel found and is using as an example, judging from the European 220V plug to the left of the mantel in the picture. The first picture of a radiator in this post is the one in her apartment, I believe.

  10. Funny! When I saw the next-to-last drawing, I thought, “Nooo! The symmetry of the walls on either side of the curved window wall is gone!” But in the last drawing, you fixed that.

    Count me among those worried about the loss of heat when the radiator is enclosed. Maybe you could line the “firebox” with a reflective surface?

    1. Hi Anne-Marie,

      Oh, that’s funny because what looks like a wall line is a measurement line which is why it’s gray. Although, it should be thinner. However, you’re right. It does look better, so I might leave it in. It would provide even more insulation between the bedroom and the exterior common vestibule and hall area. The only thing is that it would reduce the square footage of the apartment a little. There could also be storage there, but it would require moving the nightstands and lamps to access it. But a secret door panel behind the bed would be cool.

      If I were to have a radiator, people have been putting radiator covers over radiators for a long time. This is no different, just a little taller. There would need to be plenty of ventilation.

      The other thing I forgot is the radiator might be a moot point. I’m also wanting to put in a mini-split system. I can do that because I can put the condenser outside on my patio. The mini-split is more for AC as both the current window AC and the portable while better than nothing are horrible to live with.

      The point is, the mini-split systems do give off heat as well. In addition, it’s not the only source of heat in the room. And, finally. Of course, I am going to work with experienced HV/AC people who’ve also worked with my contractor.

      All will be fine. I’m not doing the work. I’m not a D-I-Yourselfer. My scope begins and ends with concept and design. How it happens technically, I would always leave to an expert.

  11. I am so impressed that you enjoy doing architectural drawing and planning. I cannot visualize anything in 2 dimensions so your being able to do it so well is impressive.

    I grew up in Wisconsin in a farm house with radiators. The radiators were always placed against a wall, usually under or between windows. We were only allowed to place a cover on one of them (living room) so we could place a much needed reading light there. It was my favorite place to read; under the light with my stocking feet placed in the radiator curves for all the warmth I could get. Covering up your radiator will definitely make it invisible but it will probably also negate much of the warmth it produces for you. The older I get the more I appreciate all the winter warmth I can get, but I also love your ideas. Best of luck!

  12. Hi Laurel,

    I just love your design posts. Design really is your strength. I aesthetically love your furred-out radiator enclosure, but as others have said, you’ll lose some heat. You could just plug in a little portable space heater on the coldest of nights. We recently bought a Lasco Ceramic $25 portable space heater, and OMG! that little guy heats the frosty room over the garage in just a few minutes. Just an idea …

    Merry Christmas to you & your sons!

  13. I love cast iron rads Laurel, but I love your idea even more! Especially with the antique painted fireplace surround. Brilliant! You are a genius. Thanks for all your informative and entertaining blogs. XOXO

  14. About those leaky antique windows: there are INTERIOR storm windows that are nearly invisible which will immensely assist your comfort. Many times the reason that those antique windows are drafty is because they were originally built with the intention that they would be used with removeable screens for summer, and exterior storm windows for winter. I made some DIY interior storm windows which helped a shocking amount. My heating bill was noticeably lower, too.

    1. Well, the windows are another issue altogether. That’s because of the window guards. I need them because I’m on the ground level.But the ones I have are not my thing at all. In addition, there’s no screen door on the door, so I can’t even open the door, except on a mild day now or in April before the bugs come. And, yes, I have a lot of bugs because there’s a garden.

  15. You’re so creative Laurel. I like the idea despite those who prefer seeing the rad. Built-ins, shelving, trim, fireplaces, etc add so much interest to a room as well as storage and visual depth. I say, go for it and ….Merry Christmas! Hope your holidays are special!

  16. That ‘furred out’ area you referred to is called the “chimney breast” in architectural terms. But be aware that if you carry out the design as shown, you will lose up to 30% of the heat from that radiator. It might get pretty chilly in your room. I do understand the urge to cover it. I just bought radiator covers for all of mine, and it is more aesthetic. What about a theatrical scrim, to allow more hot air through? If you are thinking outside the box, why not? You could still have the faux mantle, but the “fire scrim” would allow the hot air through. It’s a thought. You could even have some flickering lights behind the scrim. Happy Holidays, Laurel!

  17. Your idea is beautiful, but would only work aesthetically with a radiator centered on a wall and not under a window. I love radiators–as long as the paint is intact so they’re not dirty, chipping, and gross. Daniel Kanter added them to a house he was restoring that never had any. We actually bought our new to us 1931 house partly because it still had radiators.

  18. …..and that is just one more reason to hire an interior designer. We come up with creative design solutions! Brilliant!

    ……if the contractor says it will function properly.

  19. Those grates are what I have been looking for to put over my plastered over firebox with its original 1790’s mantel. Im excited.

    I like the radiator. We lay our towels/clothes on them to warm them up. If you do make the fireplace, I think you might need a small electric fan that turns on with the thermostat to convect the heat out of the “firebox”.

    Happy Holidays to you. Glad you are happy in your new town.

  20. That old radiator is beautiful- such luscious curves. Being open to the room makes it the most useful of radiators but I understand if the look isn’t to your liking.

  21. Hi Laurel! Love your posts. I think your present radiator has tons of character and looks like it is out of the way. I’m in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp. You want as much circulation around it as possible and if it is doing its job that’s the most important thing. I grew up with radiators everywhere in our house on the South Shore. As Laurie above just mentioned, we slept with windows cracked open even in the winter. I would feel sad if you replaced your pretty radiator.

    1. Oh, I agree with you on that front, but,the downstairs, as a whole, isn’t working for me in function or aesthetics. So, from my standpoint, it is broken. Plus, I definitely want to do the mantel, even if it’s completely faux or a gas insert.

  22. Love, LUV the Fireplace surround idea for hiding the necessary but ugly. AND – the addition is window in Bath is wonderful. Maybe an Oval or Round with decorative grill work or Plantation shutters. Blessings & Merry Christmas 🙂

  23. Hi Laurel,
    I love your idea. Adding something architectural will make it feel like it’s always been there.
    Enjoy your holiday. I hope you’re spending it with your sons.

  24. Hi Laurel, I think this is a charming idea! And only you could show us how to get all the details right. But please keep in mind that heat rises, so lots of your heat is coming up vertically from your radiator. Make sure yours are putting out enough heat so you won’t end up chilly. I don’t think we’ve had a polar vortex since you moved here. We are all pretty miserable in these old buildings and struggle to keep warm.

    My steam radiators have newer wooden covers with solid tops, and I discovered that I have to pull them away from the wall in cold weather to make an opening in back so we get enough heat. (I have big, drafty original windows, like you!)

    My radiators are under windows (no floor-length curtains). And in 2019 I finally understood why, besides the fact that they don’t take up wall space. Our condo is in a house that was owned by a woman doctor at the turn of the 20th century. She survived several epidemics, including the Spanish Flu. She nursed her entire household through it in 1918, including the servants, and then got it herself. (Everyone lived.) Our radiators are positioned to blast away with the windows OPEN for ventilation! It’s a brilliant idea to counteract the cold air, and I’m grateful for it now. Most of the old steam radiators, like yours, seem super-powerful for the size of their rooms for this reason. It’s why so many old apartments, houses and public buildings seem overheated.

    I’m bummed that we haven’t run into each other around the neighborhood, and I hope we’ll meet in the New Year . . . assuming we are not isolating for safety again. I am SO glad you didn’t buy one of those first apartments you were considering elsewhere but are here in my ‘hood, where you belong. I’m delighted that you’ve found a great circle of friends! Happy Holidays!

  25. Merry Christmas to you! Those fireplace grates are all so beautiful! I loved your party dress btw!You are a beautiful lady!

  26. Love your content and writing style! Please do not get rid of the cast iron radiator ……newer ones do not radiate the heat as efficiently….we placed one in our all radiator house and the room was forever cold afterwards.

    1. Hi Valentina,

      No, the radiator is not original. Where it is right now, was formerly the kitchen. That was undoubtedly heated by the stove which was going all of the time, at least during the day. in the mid-20th century, the owners used part of the house as a rooming house. I don’t know if the basement still acted as the kitchen at that time. I’m guessing that the owners did use it as the kitchen and lived on the next two floors and rented the top two floors. However, I don’t have access to detailed information about that.

  27. Love concealing the radiator in a faux firebox with a lovely mantel, and it’s right across from your bed, perfect!
    On the right side of the new mantel you could also put a jib door and conceal another small closet there so you don’t waste that space.
    Just a thought…

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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