Aha! Hack: Turn a Radiator into a Shelf

Corinne Gilbert's Kitchen, Photograph by Matthew Williams

I have a tolerate/hate relationship with the steam heat radiators in our 1920s home. They work—so that’s good. But while being warm when it’s frigid outside is a definite plus, I wake up most mornings angry that we don’t have radiant floor heating. That’s because around 4 or 5 a.m., the cast-iron behemoth in my bedroom starts to hiss and rattle and clang—and I’m suddenly not asleep.

This clever radiator-as-side-table hack, though, spotted while I was leafing through Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, may just soften my resolve against radiators: In the tiny, storage-challenged kitchen of designer Corinne Gilbert’s Brooklyn rental apartment, a rectangular tray sits atop hers, providing both a barrier against the heat and a flat surface on which to store things (Gilbert’s collection of black lacquerware rests on top). It’s a practical solution that happens to look quite charming.

Julie uses a slab of marble on top of the radiators in her living room and bedroom, but any slab of natural stone, come to think of it, would make a good shelf. I’m thinking of enlisting an old wood chopping board and putting something pretty on it. My radiator will still be annoying, but at least now it will be nice to look at.

Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home.

Wiliams-Sonoma Slate Cutting Board
Above: This Williams Sonoma Brooklyn Slate Cheese Cutting Board comes in two sizes—10-by-14 inches and 12-by-18 inches ($49.95 and $69.95)—and would make a useful and stylish radiator topper.
Need more no-work DIY hacks in your life? See these posts:

N.B.: This post has been updated with new prices; it was first published January 2020.

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