Basement

Powerless

Well, that sounds overly dramatic. An electrician was here this morning, installing GFCI circuit breakers, and so I had no power for the first half of the day. But while I’m thinking about it, I really should find something to cover up the 31″x16″ fuse box. It’s the first thing you see when you come down the basement stairs.

A quick Etsy search for vintage tapestry wall hangings brought up some interesting choices (Led Zepplin? JFK? Kitties?), but perhaps some more searching is in order.

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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Crys
    March 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    A canvas on a hinge is always a great choice. Easy access, and stylish!

  • Reply
    jenni o
    March 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    be aware that codes believes anything flammable within 36″ of your fuse box is a no-no (just got done redoing our utility room and found this one out). Not that you “can’t” do it, but in this case, I sort of agree with them, and a nice, flame-lickin’ curtain in front of all that electricity sort of makes me hyper-ventilate…especially in older homes like yours and mine!

    just something to think about!

  • Reply
    Nicole S.
    March 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Exactly what I was going to say, Crys. I had a similar situation at my last apartment and always thought a slighyly larger canvas would be nice.

  • Reply
    Allison
    March 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I saw a really cool cover for a thermostat on pinterest the other day (but can’t find it now)… It was basically a cupboard door on a hinge. It was super pretty.

  • Reply
    janet
    March 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    One time I recall searching ebay for vintage quilts and LOVING some of the items. But I just searched again and nothing caught my eye. Such is ebay, I guess!

  • Reply
    Amy
    March 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Just watched an episode of Sarah’s House on HGTV where she put a hinged picture frame over the panel so it could be covered and still easily accessed. It episode was the Mid-Century house where she designed/built the Laundry and Mud rooms in the basement.

    • Reply
      Darcy
      March 21, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      I just saw the same episode and it came out great!

  • Reply
    Lauralou
    March 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Sarah’s House on HGTV just covered such a box in the newest episode. It was a picture on piano hinge…I’m not sure about the flammable aspect.

  • Reply
    Natalie
    March 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    i just used a canvas to cover mine- i painted my own family version of the Aardvark Manifesto. :)

  • Reply
    Tricia @ {every}nothing wonderful
    March 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    We have a ravinia poster over ours…or maybe it’s something else. Whatever. It’s art of some sort. Clearly we need to focus on design a little more int eh basement department.

  • Reply
    Kim
    March 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    We have a hinged shutter over ours painted the same as the wall–but a hinged canvas would work just as well and probably be prettier.

  • Reply
    Kate A
    March 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve been at a home where they had it covered in the same wood finish/style as the surrounding molding and cabinetry…sort of a mock door affixed in front. Perhaps something in a similar style as the nearby window?

  • Reply
    Gina
    March 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    My 2 year old would vote for kitties, he’s usually correct. :-)

  • Reply
    Liz Oller
    March 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I am putting a frame around mine, painting the metal and using it as a magnet note board!

    • Reply
      Krystina
      March 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      GENIUS! I love this idea.

  • Reply
    Maura
    March 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Just typed an entire comment and then read the comments above. Ditto to Amy. It looked chic and was super functional.

  • Reply
    Meg W.
    March 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I thought I would be clever and reference the recent Sarah’s house, but looks like I am one of many who love her show. It was a great idea though and looked great too!

  • Reply
    ell.uu
    March 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    i hadn’t thought about the flammability risk before (mentioned by poster above) but i have an Indian tapestry hanging in front of mine that a friend brought back from her travels through India. it’s about 36″x48″ and i have it hanging with simple clip-on curtain rings and curtain rod.

  • Reply
    Christi
    March 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    in my old apartment I hung a big framed piece over the electrical panel to hide it. It was on the only empty wall in the kitchen!! Very easy to access the panel. Just lift the frame off the hook/nail above.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    March 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I agree with everyone worried about the flammable issue. My dad is an electrician, so I know such things! What about a fun decal or something? That way, you could fancy it up without sacrificing your safety or access.

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Heart Tree Home
    March 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I second the idea of a large framed artwork hung to the wall by a piano hinge… Saw it on Sarah’s house and it looked great!

  • Reply
    Katie
    March 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    What about something in tin so you don’t have to worry about flammability? There are cute vintage trays, tin ceiling tiles and ‘children at play’ road signs on etsy. These handpainted tiles are the right size and the maker will customize colours http://www.etsy.com/listing/70298706/large-wall-art-set-of-2-gray-graphite?ref=v1_other_1

  • Reply
    Rachelle
    March 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I’ve seen people cover them with picture frames and chalk boards hung with hinges.

  • Reply
    Alison
    March 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    If flammability isn’t an issue, maybe you could put paper over it. It might be nice since you have so many cool wallpapers and so little time. Or maybe just around the outer part and make the door a magnetic note board as others have suggested.

  • Reply
    Alicia
    March 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    We put a cork board over ours.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    March 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I think something like this would be really cool, Nicole:

    http://www.countryliving.com/crafts/projects/make-a-painting-into-a-cabinet

  • Reply
    Nora
    March 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I took mine off the hinges and had it re-sandblasted at an auto painting shop to the color of my walls so it blended in.

    My uncle is an electrician and explained why it can’t be hidden too much. The firemen need to know where it is. I will never put anything flammable in front of it. Too much of a hazard.

  • Reply
    Beth
    March 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Would you like a “things that are round” poster from us? It’s 16×20, and quite humorous (or so we think).

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/58499536/letterpress-poster-16×20-things-that-are

    We’d happily send you one! Just shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested.

  • Reply
    Christina Winters
    March 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    ^that print is adorable

  • Reply
    Kris Mays
    March 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    We always just paint ours the same color as the wall. It helps it blend in without causing any code violations.

  • Reply
    Mandy Hough
    March 22, 2011 at 12:47 am

    “Hang in there” kitty!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    March 22, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Since we don’t have a basement, the builders saw fit to put the breaker box right at the bottom of the main stairs, smack in our living room. We’ve got a mirror over ours – a full length one. Perfect for checking oneself out on the way out.

  • Reply
    samsonizzle
    March 22, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I would think you’d want direct and easy access to that box, i.e. nothing hanging over it. I also second the concerns over code violations and fire safety. (Though it is a bummer when we realize such concerns are really worth heeding). I would paint it the same color as the wall or white like your trim, then use as a magnet board! Perhaps chalkboard paint could be used as well or instead? The fuse box in our old apartment was big and right in the hallway (which I always wanted to make into an art gallery, but never got beyond a few paintings), but I just stuck magnetic letters on there and they ended up making a bit of a conversation piece and a lot of fun as friends would leave us messages and we’d have a good laugh later upon finding the things they came up with. Magnetic poetry could also be fun.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    March 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I’m with you on wanting to cover it up, but I would also be concerned about flammability issues. I’d also be concerned that another person might not be able to locate it in an emergency if it were cleverly disguised. Maybe the covering you choose should feature a fancy, big ol’ lightning bolt or something else representing electricity as a clue. :)

  • Reply
    Shannon
    March 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I bought four of these pinboard tiles, they are made to attach to each other. The back is a hard resin and metal. Then I just hung it over the panel, and it’s easy to remove when I need to. I also put a table under it, so it’s a little entry way on my back porch. I love it, pictures, to do lists, inspiring quotes, a pocket watch, and even a little mirror hanging on the board. Perfect! :)

    http://www.potterybarn.com/products/modular-linen-pinboard-tile/?pkey=e%7Clinen%7C5%7Cbest%7C4294941103%7C1%7C24%7C%252Flinen%252Faccessories-pillows-home-office%7C1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||Category%7CCategory-_-Accessories%20%26%20Pillows%7CHome%20Office-_-Sku_Top_Marketing_Rule-_-

  • Reply
    dg
    March 22, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I had the same situation… painted the cover the same color as the wall ( a medium coral)… looks great, fades into the background, but still accessible. Actually kinda interesting looking. Softens it.

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    March 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Piece of art on a piano hinge…. perfect cover!

  • Reply
    Holiday
    March 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I made a custom canvas with some fabric. Cheap, and easy!

    http://holidayhouserules.typepad.com/house_rules/2010/12/some-things-are-just-ugly.html

    If worried about risk of fire, you could use fabric treated to be flame retardant, I suppose!

  • Reply
    Julie Anne
    March 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    A colleague’s parents just lost their home, and nearly their lives, three weeks ago when their home of 40 years burned to the ground in an electrical fire. the situation was exacerbated by the fact that their panel was in the garage, and a bunch of tools and the lawn mower made it very hard to get to the box to throw the master switch. Access to this box is nothing to fool with.

    The fire risk isn’t just from the proximity of a piece of paper- or fabric-based art so close to the box, but as an accessibillity issue if you were to have an electrical fire elsewhere in the house.

    In an emergency, you really need to get to that box FAST, and a first responder unfamiliar with your home may also need to get to it quickly.

    I might paint it the same color for blending purposes (my box is in an unfinished porch-turned-mudroom, so I haven’t had to make this choice yet), or if it really had to be addressed, one might do something ironic like frame it (al la the front door peep hole on “Friends”), and paint on it “Yes, this is the electric panel.”, as if it were a print.

    • Reply
      Liz Oller
      March 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm

      It isn’t something to mess with, however a lot of houses today that have interior boxes have a main switch outside. This saves the responders from running around the house searching during an emergency. It can really help.

  • Reply
    Erin
    March 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    what about getting some art and then attaching it to the wall with piano hinges to cover the box?

  • Reply
    Sheena Louise
    March 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Oh, this is easy! Just build a wooden frame that fits over the fuse box and then stretch some bright colored fabric over the frame. Or be even lazier about it and do what I did — buy two of the pre-made frames from IKEA, cut up some old bedsheets that don’t fit new mattresses and use that fabric to stretch over the frames. Then hang them up, one on top of the other. Easy!

  • Reply
    Amelia
    March 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I didn’t read all the comments above so sorry if someone said it, but I’ve seen really cool bulletin boards and chalkboards cover those…I forget where I saw it, BH&G perhaps. :O)

  • Reply
    Alichia
    March 22, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    My husband took our panel off and spray painted it to match our bedroom walls (terrible placement), which helps conceal it as it’s only partially covered. I have several large hooks (Ikea) that I hang my purses on in front of it. But now thanks to all the above comments I might have nightmares about my purses burning!

  • Reply
    sara miller
    March 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

    you could just paint it the same color as the wall. It will blend in enough but not fail any codes or risk your family’s safety if something over it catches fire…..

  • Reply
    Kathy
    March 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Wow, looks like you have quite a few ideas to play with. I have an idea that I don’t think anyone has mentioned. It is similar to the Sarah Richardson idea of the hinged picture frame but instead of a picture you use shutters. So it looks like a window frame and shutters that open and close for easy access to the panel. It can be in vinyl so it is not so dangerous with the whole electrical aspect. It will end up looking like another window in the room.

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