How to Hide an Air Conditioner Return

Today, I’m SO excited to share how we hid the air conditioner return at Loblolly Manor as we celebrate week 2 of the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda creator of the One Room Challenge. You can catch up on Week 1 The Laundry Room Design Plan here if you missed it.

I can’t even start this post without saying a HUGE thank you to my parents for building this project! I came up with the concept but I had no idea how to execute it. Had it not been for their quick response and my dad’s laser focused attention to detail, this surround to hide the air conditioner return would not have even been possible.

The surround is 8 feet high and was built in my parent’s garage at Bliss Barracks.   Once it was finished, they hauled it to Loblolly Manor which is a few hours from their home. Believe me, this was no small feat.

I was finishing up some work for another client so I wasn’t able to be there when they were building it. They kept me informed, sent me lots of pictures and we kept in touch via phone throughout the process. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I knew my dad could pull it off because he is so incredibly talented and my mom is crazy awesome patient as an assistant.

I gotta tell ya, once I saw it installed I was blown away!

I mean, can you imagine building this beast and hauling it several hours from your primary home? Best DIY parents ever – for real. I am so lucky they are on Team Crowned Goat!

Full disclosure, my dad has been an electrical engineer for many years and we have a very specific type of unit that allowed the air conditioner return to be surrounded by a wooden screen/cabinet in this way. DO NOT attempt this project until you’ve spoken with an engineer and an air conditioning professional for advice and counsel. They can help you decide what surround is best, if any, for the type of unit you have. This entire surround is completely mobile and can be easily moved when needed.

After the air conditioner return surround had been installed, I taped off the edges near the wall and protected the laundry room floor with a drop cloth.

Next, I set about trying to give this new pine wood the look of aged European Oak which is my mom’s favorite wood in the world. We started out by brushing the entire surround with a metal brush in an effort to help raise the wood grain.

I created a gray wash using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen and applied it over the surround.

It took a while because there are so many nooks and crannies to have to work in between.

And I had to make sure I kept the gray wash consistent on each side of the air conditioning surround which was probably the toughest part of this project.

The next day, I brushed a dark furniture paste wax over the entire piece.

But the minute my mom saw it she was all, “Wow, that is really rustic!” which was my first clue I was way off the European Oak mark she had envisioned.

So, I created a white wax with clear furniture paste wax and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White and brushed it over the air conditioning surround,

taking extra care to get into all the nooks and crannies with the white wax.

This picture is probably a little bit lighter than the actual color because there is no light in the laundry room and I have my light kit set up so keep that in mind.

Using the white wax definitely made the finish a lot lighter though which she loved so much better. Troubleshooting how to hide the air conditioning return was a tough project to take on especially this early in the challenge. But the laundry room at Loblolly is so tiny there’s no way we would have been able to do anything else in this space until we had this cabinet completed. Week 2 was a biggie but it’s given us the motivation we need to tackle week 3!

I hope you all have a peace filled and happy weekend. We have a great week coming up next week. I have so many projects to share from Loblolly Manor! On Monday, I’ll share how we married several pieces of furniture to create a vanity table in the master bedroom. Tuesday, I’ll share a fabulous bookcase my dad recently built from two columns. Wednesday, I’ll share the progress we’ve made on the master bedroom. I’ll be back here on Thursday to share an update on Week 3 of the One Room Challenge and the buffet we finally found!

Whatever you have planned for the weekend, I hope it’s something you’re really excited about. I can’t wait to see you back here on Monday! Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,


Similar Posts


  1. Great job! Can’t wait to see finished project.

  2. This is fantastic! What a wonderful structure and a beautiful solution to what could have been an eyesore for your space. Y’all are a great team and we can’t wait to see what you create next! Hugs to a happy and joy-filled weekend.

  3. What a beautiful, creative solution! Love the finish and design. Can’t wait to see this room come together!!

  4. I think you should just send your Dad to my house Coco. This idea is really creative and he did a fabulous job. You can’t even tell there is an air conditioner behind there at all. I love this idea so much.

  5. Is it just me or is that X spot on? This piece is amazing. I can’t even imagine the hard work it must have taken to pull this one off. Great job on the painting as always Coco but I do believe your dad has upstaged you on this one ha ha

  6. Way to go Dad! You nailed this very creative idea. I can see where you get your creativity from Coco. I love this idea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *