Let's turn this weird design bug into a feature
June 25, 2021 6:18 AM   Subscribe

So I am in the throes of an unexpected local move (LONG story short - old landlord sold the building, new landlord is a bastard). I found a new space and I'm in the where-to-put-stuff pre-move planning stages - but the new space has a weird feature I'm trying to figure out how to work with. Help?

Instead of the big-ass steam-heat radiators in most NYC apartments, we have more workable low-to-the-ground heat registers, which can be controlled by our own thermostat in the room. Which is great. However - the registers aren't the slim ones that hug the baseboard like this. Instead, they are housed in these big, boxy units that run along portions of some of the walls and stick a full 8 inches out into the room (actual photo from the realtors' ad here). They're in three rooms, and in each room they only run along one wall of the room, and only a portion of the wall in each case. But they still mean I can't place furniture in those spots because the units stick out too far.

I should be okay insofar as furniture placement goes (I'll be in a duplex and my roommate is turning the lower level room into his own "bachelor suite", so I get both of the upstairs bedrooms and the living room all to my own). But I'd still like to try to figure out something to do with those registers. The housing seems sturdy enough to put lightweight things on them; but it's a little low for a display shelf. I might try stacking some shallow crates on them in one room and making a mini bookshelf or whatnot shelf, but don't know if the rising heat would hurt things at all. So I'm generally a little stumped. Any ideas?

(There are a couple other weird features I'm figuring out how to address - like the iron gate surrounding the stairs to the lower level - but I may just put some LED string lights on that and call it a day.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A pressure pole system, like from Ikea, should let you put things above it.
posted by Sophont at 6:24 AM on June 25, 2021 [9 favorites]

Could you put a leggy sofa table, something like this there? in the summer you could slide an ottoman up next to it for extra seating. or something like this
posted by domino at 6:27 AM on June 25, 2021

Response by poster: Will sit on my hands after this, but just wanted to say that SOPHONT, YOU ARE A GENIUS, because not only would that let me use the space, it would also solve the "I'm a renter and don't want to drill too many holes in the wall" problem. That could DEFINITELY work for the bedroom, especially with open shelving.

Will sit on my hands now for a while.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you're at all handy you can make shelving units that bear all their weight on front legs and lean back against the wall behind. Even quite tall units made to this pattern end up super stable. Build the frames out of iron water pipe and T fittings and use glass shelves for extra funkiness. Pads of closed cell foam taped behind the frame at contact points with the wall will stop the wall getting dinged and marked up.
posted by flabdablet at 7:13 AM on June 25, 2021

Best answer: I'm gonna push back a bit that you can't put anything in front of them. You can; it just won't be up against the wall. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, especially if your furniture has tall, skinny legs that would still allow the warm air to circulate underneath. Or, depending on the traffic patterns in the rest of the room and the intensity of the heat, the furniture could be perpendicular to the wall. Maybe like a reading nook with an armchair facing the door and a small table and lamp in between? That could be charming.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:00 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Remember that you're relying on air circulating around these thigns for your heat, so don't cover them too snugly!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

If they aren't too long, you could try to find a sofa to slide over them, like this like this though I can't tell the height. but actually I think there's nothing wrong with having the sofa be 10 inches from the wall.
posted by melamakarona at 9:37 AM on June 25, 2021

Response by poster: Remember that you're relying on air circulating around these thigns for your heat, so don't cover them too snugly!

Just coming in to clarify - I would definitely avoid putting things in front of them, for precisely that reason. But it looks from the design of the thing that the bit that radiates the heat out is just in the front, and the top is more like "the top of the box we have made to protect and house this thing". That's why I'm concentrating on things I can put on top.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

A heated shelf would be good for starting seeds (when they're really young, before they need much light) or soil sprouts. Could probably also put some narrow trays on it to dehydrate fruit and vegetables - I've done this with the radiators in our current place a few times.
posted by sibilatorix at 9:56 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think the "iron gate" is actually the stair and landing railing. I do like the festive lights idea.

Your baseboard heaters are also a perfect spot for drying wet boots, so plan to leave a spot open for that.
posted by mightshould at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've seen 'iron gates' like that also with climbing/trailing plants, or faux flowers/plants too.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:11 AM on June 26, 2021

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