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How to Shop for Funky Radiators

Has all this time spent stuck at home this year accidentally turned you into a DIY QWEEN?!

I don’t know about you, but with all the money I would usually have spent going out and about, I’ve swapped brunch mimosas for a reasonably priced mop & midweek meals out or a decent set of frying pans (the number of cooking video rabbit holes I’m stumbled down on YouTube is astronomical).

Pretty much every room of my home has had some form of DIY love in the last six months, but one area I still haven’t plucked up much courage to investigate, and change, has been my radiators. These big chunks of steel just sit there ticking along throughout the year.

Now that we’re getting into the colder months, where mornings involve having the heating on, while you pick your favorite coat before using walking the dog as an excuse to venture out and get a Pumpkin Spice Latte, your radiators are about to become the most prized possession in the home. So why is it that they’re so difficult to shop for?

Amid my lockdown DIY obsession, in between painting walls and masking everything in sight, I did start to wonder why we settle for plain white radiators in most rooms. And why is it that we don’t think of radiators in the same way we do with chairs, lamps, and pretty much every other detail we can control in a room?

After digging around online, I think the big issue is that people have a lapse, or lack of knowledge when it comes to radiators and will simply opt for the easiest option when shopping rather than taking a step back and considering how having a funky or exciting radiator can really help a space. The truth is that it can be incredibly easy if you know where to look and what pitfalls to avoid.

The first step in choosing a funky radiator is to go for something you actively like. Have you ever been able to point at a radiator in your home and go “I really like this”? I’m going to presume that’s a big no; if it isn’t, well done you on already acing radiators. Radiators used to be something people would actively take pride in. I’ve been looking at some lovely cast iron radiators at Trade Radiators, which come with these ornate details and hand-sculpted features on the front. Go back a century ago, and this was something people wanted to see on radiators. Little things like this help add character, which brings me to my top tip for buying funky radiators.

Find something with a little character that can help lift a room. It doesn’t have to be a cast iron radiator; in fact, such a radiator might not work for your space. But you can get modern radiators with design features and accessories that make it useful and unique. I liken it to choosing a cushion for your living room chairs. You want to pick items that people will look at and enjoy, rather than breezing on by.

Speaking of things to look at, color is your best friend when it comes to radiator shopping. Again, plain white radiators can do the job when you don’t care but being able to add a pop of color from a big hulking bit of metal will lift a room. Unlike painting your walls, I would recommend either getting a professional in to paint your radiator or buy a pre-painted radiator. You need to get special paint and primer that reacts well to heat; otherwise, a DIY project to paint your radiators could result in your getting into a fight with an inanimate radiator which will look blotchy and not take the paint as you’d hoped.

Finally, accessories are your best friend when it comes to having a funky radiator. When you don’t have the budget to buy a new radiator, swapping out those little plastic valves which look a little musty with a sleek metallic handle, or getting little robe hooks so you can hang things on, add a little funk just like that.

Just remember that you want to add safe accessories, so nothing that covers the radiator or prevents it from working effectively. I’ve seen some people put blankets over the top of radiators and drape down, but that completely blocks warm air and leaves you with a cold room.

Liked these tips? Then make sure you visit the For Your Household section, which has dozens of articles on having a better-looking home.

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