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How Exposed Pipes Can Be a Design Plus

If you live in an older apartment building or a refurbished urban space, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to work around exposed pipes along walls and ceilings or as part of bathroom and kitchen structures. The traditional fix has been to install drop ceilings or to rebuild walls, but these pricey solutions don’t have to be your only options. There are a number of ways to make exposed pipes an elegant design feature of your home or to incorporate them seamlessly into your surroundings without undergoing major renovation.

Own Them

Whether your style is retro, modern industrial, or classic, you can find ways to let those pipes show in the chiquest of ways:

  1. Use them: One trend, particularly for those embracing industrial style, is to use pipes functionally. Hang pots and pans from your pipes, install hooks to hang planters or pictures, or even use existing pipes as supports for bookshelves.

  2. Paint them: Regardless of your style, you can paint pipes either to blend in with their surroundings or as bold color statements that match accent pieces in your home.

  3. Replace them: One popular solution has been to replace old unsightly pipes with beautiful new steel or copper piping. This can be used to beautiful effect if you match other plumbing or lighting fixtures in the same finish and you have the added benefit that they last a long time.

Hide Them

If you are just uncomfortable with visible pipes in your home, there are inexpensive ways to hide them.

  1. Use wood or stone: If you’re handy, you can build wood or stone columns that make pipes look like elegant supports. For those wall pipes, try creating built-in bookshelves with clever pockets to hide pipes

  2. Stitch them: For those exposed bathroom and kitchen undersink pipes, an easy fix is to stitch skirting to cover the area. All you need is a material of your choice and a little know how.

  3. Block them: And we don’t mean clog them. Modular block now makes building simple, stylish structures affordable and easy. These blocks click together like the legos of childhood and possibilities for building around pipes are only limited by your imagination.

Disguise Them

Another option beyond actual structural builds is to simply camouflage those pipes a bit. You can either make them interesting (and even useful) elements of your design or make them a little less obvious.

  1. Wrap them: You can buy wood pipe wrappings that actually incorporate rounded tables to make that pipe functional. For something simpler, how about decorative tapes that make your pipe an interesting artistic statement.

  2. Rope them: A unique method for disguising pipes, and one that also adds insulation, is to wrap them in rope. A simple thick hemp wrap can accent seafaring design elements or you can opt for multicolored ropes in unusual braidings for quite the conversation piece.

  3. Green them: Plants can be a simple and eco way to disguise your pipes. Use bushes, small trees, or strategic placed plants to make pipes less obvious. Or turn your exposed pipe into its own bit of greenery by wrapping it in fake foliage.


Ivan Young is a writer in partnership with steel piping distributors, Fed Steel.

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