Friday, January 11, 2013

DIY Pretty Thermostat Cover

So, after all that work putting in a programmable thermostat, here’s how I covered it up. :)

"six impossible things" thermostat cover

It’s on hinges, so you can open it up and get to the thermostat!

the inside of the cover, hinged to access the thermostat cover

I got the idea from this pin that was for an alarm cover.  I plan on making the hallway where this thermostat is into a gallery of artwork, and this new artistic cover will be the starting point. :) The pin used a canvas to cover an alarm panel, but I knew that the thermostat needed to be able to gauge the room’s air temperature, so I worked on something that I could drill holes into.

I’ve had it installed for about a month now, and so far so good with the thermostat and the furnace trucking along happily.

I was inspired by this paper cut from Etsy that I saw ages and ages ago. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” says the White Queen to Alice, in Through the Looking Glass.

I started by finding this 8”x8” wooden “canvas” at Michael’s.

8x8 wooden "canvas" from Michael's

I printed out the quote several times in several sizes before deciding what I thought would look best size-wise, then taped the paper to the board and used the technique I found from this pin to “trace” the letters on to the board.

"tracing" the letters on to the wood

The pen leaves a light indentation in the wood which you can then follow with paint.

But first, I drilled holes where the ‘o’s would be to allow for airflow to get to the thermostat. I found that a 3/8” drill bit about matched the size of my ‘o’s.

I drilled holes for the 'o's. I used about a 3/8" drill bit

Then I painted the letters.

painting the letters

I started out with white paint because I was so in love with the idea of the inspiration photo. I knew that the holes would be darker, but I just kept thinking how much I like the light look.

I wrapped some sandpaper around a pen to smooth the insides of the holes.

sandpaper wrapped around a pen to sand the inside of the holes

To increase the amount of air that would reach the thermostat, I drilled holes into the sides of the wood canvas. I lightly drew them out with pencil in a wavy pattern and used different sized drill bits to make the whole thing look designed and purposeful, not just that I’m trying to keep the thermostat working. :)

many holes in the side, in a wavy pattern

After sanding the sides, after a few coats of white paint on the lettering, I put about 3 coats of water-based satin clear coat over it for protection.

satin clear coat

I did a very light sanding (with 22o grit paper) in between coats and the results were phenomenal.  The whole piece is super smooth and well-protected, but the satin clear coat is so matte, you can barely tell it’s there. It didn’t change the color of the wood at all.

white lettering and holes

Doesn’t it look so cool?

I wanted to spray pain the inside of the box white, for protection and just in case it helped visibility of the thermostat in any way (white reflects light, right?). So I taped off all the holes (so the spray wouldn’t mist through onto the front) and went to town.

taping up the holes before spray painting the inside

tiny hinges from lowes

I bought these tiny hinges at Lowe’s.  They’re just 1” tall and I made sure they weren’t really wider than the thickness of the wood.

I placed them and pre-drilled holes. If I was fancy, I could have/should have notched the wood out for the hinges so they’d be flush, but I really didn’t want to take time for that step. :)

pre-drilled the holes for the hinges

It took me a minute and some trouble to really mount it level on the wall, and I just sort of trucked along and maybe said some bad words, so I don’t have pictures of that step. I will say I tried to make marks, level it, place one screw, level it, place another and so on. It turned out pretty good. 

the inside of the cover, hinged to access the thermostat cover

My one important tip:  since the screws for the hinges were so so tiny, much too tiny for any kind of wall anchor, I actually put wood glue all over the threads before I screwed them into the drywall, because I didn’t want them to just pull right out. I know we’ll be opening and closing this cover a lot. As we use this guy, I will tell you how the glue in the drywall holds up.

Anyway, after installation, I had this!

I loved the white lettering with the wood and the walls, but the holes didn't look quite how I'd hoped.

I loved the white letters on the light wood with the light wall. But I sort of hated how obvious the holes looked. I totally wanted to set up some tiny LED behind there so that the light would shine through (like above!) but let’s be real, Victoria. That’s ridiculous.

So I just had to re-think it. I decided to repaint the letters in a really dark blue or black. I ended up deciding on a sort of navy color, and the way the lighting is in the hallway, it really does look cool: it’s very dark, you can hardly tell it’s blue, and the holes blend much better.

"six impossible things" thermostat cover

So I actually unscrewed the hinges from the wood side, took it down and repainted it. My painting definitely got a little messier since I was painting 2-3 more coats over the white I already had, but it’s okay to be imperfect. And in the hall where you’re really not staring at it, it looks great.

And I’m really happy to have a new cornerstone for my future gallery wall/hall! Now I just need to start hanging the rest of the pictures!

What do you think? Are you willing to embark on this tedious process to cover up your thermostat? :)


  1. Possibly, because I love this so much, I would be willing to go through the multitude of steps you too on if it meant that mine would look as good as yours in the end. :)

  2. Cute! I've never seen such an artfully decorated thermostat cover before. The text is a clever touch. It adds life to the otherwise bare wall.

    Eric Powell @ TotalGreenEnergySolutions

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  4. Some truly wonderful work on behalf of the owner of this internet site , perfectly great articles .
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