All the people out there with window units raise yo’ hands!
As many of you know, the Smith household does not have functioning central A/C. Sure, our house has all the duct work in place, but it also has two units that date back to the Reagan administration. Since the cost of replacing these units would be around $20k, Mr. Smith and I decided to take the au naturel route of ceiling fans, open windows and window units in the bedrooms.
Ah, the window unit. Such a money saver, and yet such an eyesore…
Ever since I started my master bedroom makeover in June, I’ve been brainstorming ways to remedy those unsightly plastic accordions and their dingy calk. After a bit of thinking, I learned that dressing up a window unit is easier than I thought! All it takes is an hour, good measurements and a few simple materials.
CONFESSION: I gotta be honest, I procrastinated for weeks on this damn project. Don’t you ever get tired of always working on something?? It’s the peak of summer, it’s blazing hot and I’m just NOT in the mood to do anything! But, of course, that attitude won’t work because I hate sitting around all weekend with nothing to show for. So here is how I trick myself into getting stuff done: I tell myself that all I have to do is one teeny tiny baby step. In this case, all I had to do was look around the house for a box. “That’s it, Leilani. Just find a box and then you can spend the rest of the day napping.” Next thing I knew, the project was finished.
With that in mind, are you ready to dress up that unsightly window unit? All you have to do is find a box and keep reading. 😉
Dressing Up A Window Unit
You will need:
*A large sheet of sturdy cardboard (I used a size “small” Fed Ex shipping box)
*1 yard of fabric (I used a leftover scrap of toile)
*Needle & thread
*cotton batting, optional
Step 1: Take Measurements
In essence, you will be creating a fabric-wrapped cardboard frame that fits snuggly around your window unit face. Therefore, you will need to take accurate measurements of all the surrounding spaces between the unit and the window frame.
Tip: Don’t assume spaces are equal on each side of the unit. For example, the space between the right window frame and the right edge of my A/C unit was 3cm wider than the right side.
‘Nuther tip: I drew a rough picture of the window unit and window to help me record my measurements in their correct places.
Measure out the dimensions on your cardboard and use a straight-edge to create smooth lines.
Step 2: Make Your Cuts
Place your cardboard on a safe surface (I set a piece of old plywood underneath), and cut out your “frame” with box cutters, using a straight-edge to guide the blade along your lines.
At this point, I was thankful for that 7th grade art lesson where learned how to cut cardboard!
Once you’ve made all your cuts, your results should look something like this:
Tip: Fortify any creases in the cardboard with a couple layers of duct tape.
Step 3: Measure Your Fabric
The first thing you want to do in this step is establish the direction your fabric pattern will be facing in the finished product. Since I was using toile, the last thing I wanted was for my pattern to be upside down when all was said and done.
Next, place the fabric face-down on your work surface (in my case, the floor). Center the cardboard frame over the fabric, then carefully cut out a square of fabric from the center of the frame.
Do NOT cut right up along the interior edges of the cardboard frame. Instead, leave about a 2″ border so that you can fold this flap of fabric up over the cardboard.
Finally, cut small slits in the corners of the fabric inside the frame. These will allow you to fold the flaps over the cardboard.
Step 4: Sew Fabric Together
Using large zig-zag stitches, sew the flaps on each side of the frame tightly together.
TIP: To provide more insulation for the areas covering the accordions, I added a thin layer of cotton batting. Only do this step if it’s convenient for you. 🙂
Step 5: Place Frame Over Unit Face
Once you’ve finished sewing, flip your fabric frame over and gently pop it over the face of the window unit. It should fit nice and snug. Thankfully, cardboard allows for wiggle room.
And there you have it!
Not only does this frame look better, it blocks the heat that seeps through the thin plastic accordion. Likewise, I’m sure it will block the chill in the winter.
I’m pleased by how much this scrap of fabric-covered cardboard tidies up what was such a grimy looking window.
Here’s the before:
And here’s the after: