Hiding something ugly on the ceiling
August 25, 2014 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Our family room has a really ugly, broken fluorescent light fixture installed flush in the ceiling. Help me figure out how to cover it up.

Picture. It's probably about 6 inches wide and 2 feet long. Clearly, it is ugly as hell, and broken in several places. There is no bulb in it; we will not be using it. I want to cover it up with something that will cover it completely so you don't see it from underneath or the sides, but I'm not sure what that could be.

The closest I can imagine is something like this scarf trick, but that looks juvenile and I'm hoping for something a little more sophisticated looking.

Please answer assuming the following things: A, we are not having it removed and replaced, B, we can do anything we want to disguise/cover it up (no worries about needing something temporary/easily removed), C, our budget is unlimited. Thank you for your help.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Unlimited budget you say? Suspended ceiling. Air con. Artwork. New light fitting over the top with rectangular base (does not need to be turned on).
posted by devnull at 6:44 AM on August 25, 2014

Best answer: Could you do something similar to the magnet solution on that same page? Get a fluorescent cover, like this one, maybe build or get a nice looking frame for it, and install it over the existing light. It will look like a light, but will be cleaner and fresher looking. You don't ever have to turn it on.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:47 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looks like the ceiling tiles are kind of ugly and water stained, too. Why not replace the ceiling entirely, if budget is no issue?

If it kinda is, I'd paint over it. The result would not be fantastic, but it would certainly look as good as the unattractive ceiling tiles.
posted by arnicae at 6:48 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Buy this poster, frame it cheaply, and mount it on the ceiling.
posted by Flood at 6:52 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

It looks like a drop ceiling, so replace the tiles and replace the lighting cover, both of which are incredibly cheap solutions, and you're done! No need to ever turn on the light.
posted by xingcat at 6:54 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe something like this? suspended ceiling panels

You could probably attach the directly to the ceiling rather than suspending them. They seem like they'd be lightweight enough.
posted by peep at 7:16 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just stick a ceiling medallion over it. This one would be perfect!
posted by Ostara at 7:23 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mount a couple of 12" wall-mountable digital photo frames?
posted by drlith at 7:28 AM on August 25, 2014

Best answer: Here's one more idea, maybe a bit iffy. They make these replacement covers for fluorescent lights, obviously designed to have light shining through them. But I wonder how they'd look without it? You'd still have to use some kind of lightweight frame & mount it to the ceiling, but at least you wouldn't have to worry about fit.
posted by peep at 8:40 AM on August 25, 2014

Your ceiling isn't a suspended ceiling, those are surface-mount tiles like this product.

Those are some great ideas for covering it up, but you can do this right, and make it look like the light was never there. Switch off the power to that room at the breaker box. Look inside the light fixture for screw heads that might be holding it to the joists inside the ceiling, and loosen those. Take the metal frame of the light out, though there will be wires connecting it to the junction box in the ceiling; undo the wire nuts, twist the wire pairs apart to free the fixture, then put the wire nut back onto the house wiring as a protective cap. To be thorough, you should tuck those wires up inside and screw on a junction box cover.
Now you have a gaping hole in your ceiling. Look at the tiles around it, and make sure they match the product I linked above. Remove any partial tiles; they might be glued up or there might be staples along the tongue-and-groove edges. Replace those tiles with new tiles. Done.
posted by aimedwander at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2014

Best answer: Cover it with a colorful cloth suspended from the ceiling. Or if you want to go all-out '70's hippie glam, try a parachute suspended from several points in the ceiling. Oh yes, this was a thing, back in the day!
posted by Lynsey at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2014

New tiles will be clean and will stand out. I would consider painting the ceiling, including the light. Or, paint the ceiling and the nasty frame of the light. Take out the guts of the light and have a power outlet installed by a person who is competent. Get new clear plastic. Plug in LED fairy lights above the plastic.
posted by theora55 at 11:56 AM on August 25, 2014

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