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Creative Concealment: A Decorating Secret

by | Jun 24, 2008 | Creative Before & After

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Creative Concealment: A Decorating Secret

Southern Living


As I promised back in the day (sorry for my slowness), I wanted to share in more detail one of my decorating methods sure to shock anybody out there with money to burn. I call it CREATIVE CONCEALMENT. This is not Architectural Digest material, folks. So if you are going to be appalled, step away from the blogs right now. I’ll excuse you and not take offense. Now, this method won’t really be a surprise those of you who face the same issues I do, namely: lack of time and money. Eh hem. If we had a lot of both, we could do whatever we wanted. But, to make things pretty when you have “limitations” you have to think outside the box.

Creative Concealment: A Decorating Secret
Jeremy Samuelson Cottage Living

In the house I live in now, we had to do some major creative thinking. There were some real eyesores that had been added to this house, and we absolutely couldn’t afford $15,000 to $40,000+ to redesign several issues when we had other expensive things like a kitchen to update. So, we did our very best to “conceal” rather than “fix perfectly” whenever possible. We can always fix later if time and money allow.

Here is what I mean. Prepare for some gasps of horror! Here is my office, before. This photo doesn’t even do justice to how the room looked. Every wall was painted a hideous color. Some yellow, some orange, some pink. You can’t see that in this photo.


Creative Concealment: A Decorating Secret

That window was so out of character both in size and scale for our 1930’s house. In a contemporary setting perhaps it wouldn’t have been so bad, other than it was very poorly constructed. From the outside the whole dormer was atrocious (more on that in another edition of Creative Concealment!). But, in order to even put in a new window, the cost was going to be outrageous. So, as a way to put that expense off, we had to come up with a creative concealment.

The window was so large it exposed us to everyone walking by the house. Privacy and sun protection needed to be addressed. And with just using curtains, it looked ridiculous and messy from the outside! And those metal blinds had to go. So, here is what we came up with.

From the inside, creative concealment involved paint, curtains, old shutters (so the window would look good from the outside), a garden fence (to conceal poor construction and old ugly curtain brackets that I didn’t want hassle with removing!) and furnishings. While this after is not perfect or “done,” or magazine cover worthy, it is how things look right now. And that is the point. It isn’t about making something perfect, just better than it was so you can move on to other projects!


Creative Concealment: A Decorating Secret

Now, it is your turn. Let’s share ideas.

I want to see YOUR Creative Concealments. Show me anything from the big concealments to the little ones and everything in between. On Monday I will set up Mr. Linky again (blech, I don’t like Mr. Linky, but I don’t know any other way to do this) and if you want to share something you’ve successfully concealed, link up on Mr. Linky to your post! Only brave, authentic and real people need link up.

Note: If you spent a fortune redesigning something, than it is not creative concealment. We need to see your creative ideas for making something look better than it did using more ingenuity and creativity than money! Ugliness and unsightliness in all forms, CONCEALED! If you have before AND afters to share, that would be great! I’ve seen many of your ideas and I hope you will share them all with us here! Don’t forget to come back Monday to link up what you’ve creatively concealed in your house. I will also share some of your before and afters in subsequent editions of “Creative Concealments.”

I will share more of my concealments in subsequent posts. Yes, there are more. Lots more.

Creative Concealment: The act of camouflaging, hiding or disguising something that is ugly, distracting or unsightly with whatever creative means are necessary. This method requires far less money than resorting to the perfect solution, yet yields acceptable results that can be either temporary or permanent.

Related articles by The Inspired Room:

Creative Concealment: Solving Flaws

Creating Visual Serenity (Christian Women Online article)

All Authentic Living kindred spirits, here is a link to your button! Just copy code and paste to your sidebar!

Creative Concealment: A Decorating Secret


  1. Lisa

    That is so clever and lovely!! I love it!! I really like the idea of creative concealment – who has the time & money to completely redo everything in the house? Now you’ve got me thinking…

  2. Rhoda

    That’s a great solution & would work for me. I doubt I’d go back & change this at all, it visually looks so good. I can’t think of any concealments right now that I’ve had to do in my house, but I’ve got a lot of from plain to pretty spots that I had to work on, namely my office nook AND my laundryroom, but I don’t think those fit this.

    I’m sure there will be a lot of great ideas shared.


  3. Chris

    Wow. Talk about an “after”! I love that you thought of the concealment from both in and outdoors. When working with a window, we have to remember that we’re working with two rooms essentially. Well done!

  4. kari and kijsa

    What a fun idea! Can’t wait to see what everyone’s ideas are!

    Have a blessed and wonderful day!

    smiles, kari & kijsa

  5. the Farmer's Wife

    WOW is all I can say. What a huge difference. I’m afraid I don’t have anything to post because I haven’t any success stories in this regard.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  6. Alison Gibbs

    What a fabulous makeover. You just wouldn’t recognise it.

  7. Jan

    Love the painted brick look. I have a place to do that one.

    I love all of your ideas. Very creative solutions.

  8. Deserae

    Very creative solution and it looks fabulous!!! I can’t wait to see evertone elses creative solutions too!!! Should be fun :o)

  9. Design for Mankind

    Melissa— I love what you’ve done!

    My only creative concealment is using a projector and retractable screen in my living room so you can’t see our television unless we’re watching it. I absolutely hate when the TV is the focal point!!!!

  10. Amy

    Wow what a difference! I absolutely love what you did with your creative concealment. I feel like my entire dwelling is in need of creative concealment. Hopefully I can come up with something to share.

  11. Christine

    I WISH my studio was so tidy…
    hmm…I’ll have to get my thinking cap on…
    ever the inspiration you are!! Your office is beautiful.
    Isn’t that what it’s about though, taking something and seeing it’s potential?!… Making it your own? Gosh, I should be able to come up with something in my 108 year old house…..LOL
    I know so many of us would looove to live in the perfect home… perfect symmetry… the perfect colors..
    I think you have a wonderful gift of helping us live in our imperfect world, helping us decorate it beautifully!! Transparent..true…
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Have a beautiful week!

  12. Nancy Hood

    Wow, this blew me away!!! Wouldn’t you just LOVE for the prior owners to see it now?!

  13. bj

    oooo, your window is just fabulous now. How smart and talented you are !!
    I will give this some thought and see what I come up with….
    hugs, bj

  14. Monica

    Lovely! I think what you accomplished is simply beautiful and it is amazing how wonderful your window looks with those lush window treatments. Great job!

  15. Brittany

    Wow! You did a wonderful job! It looks beautiful. And I love the idea of making your blah cement walkway into beautiful brick. I only wish I had some ideas to contribute!


  16. My Mélange

    I love the idea’s you have up there, especially what you did with your window.

    My whole place is an eyesore in need of creative concealment :) Wanna come over and work your magic over here :)

  17. snhamlett

    Hey Melissa!

    I’m out of hiding!!! YAY! Girl, you almost got me in trouble at work; I’m checking out your blog instead of working on invoices and I burst out laughing when I read “this isn’t magazine cover ready…” and then see the picture that follows. If you figure that’s not magazine cover ready, then I’m afraid of what you’d think of my poor attempts at concealment!!! Your office looks fabulous and the way you handled that window is just awesome!

    I can’t wait to go back and see more of what I missed while I’ve been in hiding… there are fresh “Drive-bys”!! Be still my beating heart :)

    Xoxo- Shauntelle

  18. Ruth Welter

    Hi Melissa, happy summer time to you. Glad you liked the garden. Gardens bring such happiness but so do some creative concealing tricks that you are showing.

    I think this is a fabulous idea because we don’t always have time and the mega budget for a full blown redo. When Chris and I owned a victorian house, while in pretty good shape overall, it had a few areas that needed major help and honestly, we just couldn’t afford it at the time. Creative fixes really helped us live with the stuff we couldn’t fix right away.

  19. Deanna

    I love what you did with your window! I do not have many concealments, although I need to do something in the basement with the laundry area! Mostly we have just “charmed” up the place!

    I enjoy your blog and your wonderful ideas and inspiration!

  20. Lisa

    Great ideas! I love how that electrical panel is concealed and the lady making her own bricks out of paint is pretty awesome too. Although I’d be afraid to try that with anything other than totally washable paint in case I mess up-lol.

  21. Elzie

    What a change!! You can’t even believe it’s the same room. It really looks great. Sorry, I don’t have anything like that (right now!) but hopefully I can come up with something later on LOL.
    Looking forward to see the result of this next week.
    Have a great day!!
    Love Elzie

  22. Sharon Goemaere

    That is an awesome before and after Melissa!!!I LOVE the creative changes you made to your window!Simply lovely!Sharon in Salem

  23. Kari

    Ya darn right I nominated YOU…… rock!!! :) :)

  24. Diana

    Wow – amazing work! I live in an apartment so I can’t change much. But I don’t like it when the washer and dryer are exposed…so that would be something I would want to conceal.

  25. Teresa

    wow- it’s amazing what a little paint and fabric can do— well and it helps that you have the “Magic talent” to put it all together. I have done a few “concealments”, not sure if I have the before picture…but I will check- it will be great fun to see what others have to share.

  26. LondonCalling

    You took creative concealment to an art form with that window!

  27. Jen

    These are phenomenal ideas!

  28. anne

    A truly amazing transformation…love it :-)

  29. Rachael

    Fabulous, your office dosn’t look anything like its original and scary self. I could do with a lot of creative concealment right now, like my mess!!!! Take Care, Rachaelxo

  30. megan duerksen

    that room is so very pretty!
    you would NEVER know…it looks very grand with the window and drapes and shutters and the light coming through.

    love it.
    i will have to think if i have a creative concealment??? i think i just leave the flaws and forget they are there…
    there are many of those.
    then after a while you don’t notice them at all.
    till a photo is taken and you say “oh that room looks awful!”

    i love your office.

  31. Toni

    eh hem….not magazine worthy?? I think its great, and quite frankly, I prefer creative ideas on a tight budget to a predictable expensive solution!

  32. Melissa

    Thanks everyone. I love having to think outside the box and imagine how to fix something on a tight budget! Anyone can come up with a perfect expensive solution, but can we create something out of nothing? That is the true challenge! I hope you all will join me in creating a little concealment somewhere in your house! Will you? I hope so…inspire us to what can be done with a little ingenuity or creative thinking. You can do this.

  33. Christi from Charm & Grace

    Melissa, you truly do inspire! Yes I have done creative concealment many times, only not as much in my current home. Wish I had taken pictures of the previous ones to share… but no digi-photos back then. I did grab your magazine cover and put it on my new Charm & Grace Cottage blog. I can’t remember if I told you about the new blog, so I linked to it in my signature this time. I am still keeping the old blog, too, as my main “personal stuff” blog. But the Cottage has some regularly recurring features… Anyway, I just wanted you to know how happy I am that my life is really like a magazine cover! LOL… I appreciate you!

    Love ya,

  34. Holly

    I am loving the “creative concealment” idea… I have quite a few places that I could utilize this idea ;) I just love what you did to your window area.. the desk is so darn cozy, I just love it!! I am so obsessed with desk areas, so this picture is right up my alley!!

    See you tomorrow for the “vacation”!!! xoxoox

  35. Fifi Flowers

    GREAT IDEAS!!!!! Love that faux brick! Sliding message boards! WOW!

  36. Aubrey

    Awesome awesome post–I can’t wait for the other installments. I need lots of creative concealment ideas. And, I wish I had a patio to paint bricks onto.

  37. pauline

    I had an aggragate concrete patio (concrete with rough texture and small pebbles, etc in the mix) and always wished we could have afforded brick like on our front porch, when we first built the house in 1997. In 2005, preparing for my garden to be on tour in late September, I decided to paint that patio to look like brick. It was done in the summer of that year in 90 degree+ heat. The steps I took and before and during and after shots are in my photobucket album if you want to see a “big” project done with this technique. Also, used burlap from the garden supply store to cover a lackluster (inexpensive but practical) patio table and covered chair cushions in the burlap. For my spring garden tour in the same year, I bought an inexpensive matlesse bedspread and made a custom table cover for same set. I have gotten tons of mileage out of that porch furniture. Spring Garden Tour pics are at:

  38. Polly

    Well… does making the walk-in closet a baby’s room count as creative concealment? It was really very cute with handpainted clouds and moons and cows.

    I love your ideas, Melissa! Blessings… Polly

  39. Mari-Nanci

    Wow! Fantastic job. -oh sigh- How do you do that? “Seeeee” things, in a totally different way. -sighhhh-

    And that pic of the gal painting bricks on the plain walkway is so cute too.

    ‘Smilnsigh’ blog

  40. Mallory

    Thanks for stopping by my “vacation” post… oh my gosh! I will definitely be back to YOUR blog! Your “creative concealment” has my name written all over it… your before and afters are so amazing!! …You’ve inspired me! :)

  41. Emily

    I just read your “My House” page and am in awe. It seriously is out of a magazine. So gorgeous. And it’s unbelievable what it started out as. I know all about an “as is” house, so I know how you felt buying it. but look where it is today. Just so so pretty and amazing.

    I need to hire you to come decorate for me. Your idea if not decorated and not done remodeling are not the same as mine, I am ashamed to say.

  42. Laura

    Thank GOD I found this blog. Lately I find I am a stickler for concealing things and I haven’t been inspired in the least on my own. What a fabulous blog!

  43. Donna at The Enchanted Cottage

    That is an unbelievable transformation!! What a beautiful room! I never realized there were so many of us out there who were ‘creatively concealing’!! Just added my name to the list and am having fun visiting everyone!!…Donna

  44. Lynda

    This a fantastic idea, especially for those who have those large windows. They just bring in too much energy into a space – bad for Feng Shui. What I like most about your creative concealment is that you still allow for light and for movement of energy. It’s a fantastic balance and approach to using what you have.

  45. DebbieCalif

    Hey at first I thought this was about clothes…creatively concealing what we don’t want others to see….woohooo. I’m relieved it is about our homes!!! Love this Melissa, can’t wait to see what everyone posts!

    DebbieCalifs last blog post..Fall Home Decorating…

  46. peggy

    I want to creat a classic look in my sitting room and hall but dont know where to start! Sitting room is long and narrow 23feet by 12 and the hall the same. I want cosy and inviting I was thinking of wooden floors but dont want the coffin look more warm shades. maby chandeliers as well. At the moment I have a white marble fireplace which I have to keep and work around. The walls are the problem I have yo use paper as they are not the best! Also a bay window not the functional type as in not to the floor. I would like to see some pictures. can you help?

  47. Victoria

    You don’t know how timely this information is to me right now. My bonus (step) son and his fiance’ just had dinner with us tonight to ask if they could get married in our back yard. We were thrilled, yet my mind started racing — how in the world can I complete all the projects we have planned by spring?!? There’s no way, even if we had all the extra money to do it. But hopefully, with searching your wonderful blog, I can redeem the situation and my home and garden with this amazing idea you’ve shared here. I need a lot of creative concealment to pull off a wedding!

    Thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful knowledge — exactly when I need it!



  1. The Best Kept Decorating Secret (With Before & Afters) - [...] more ideas for creative concealment? Click here for related [...]

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