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Easy DIY #73 Make A Quaint Cupboard To Conceal A Breaker Panel

This is a quick and easy one for this episode – I’ll show you a little cupboard I made to cover up an ugly trip switch or breaker board – and hopefully inspire you if you’re looking for ideas to do something similar!

There are probably a lot of reasons why you’d want to cover up a breaker switch board – and let’s face it, they were designed by electrical engineers, not interior decorators or the like – so they’re plug ugly (no pun intended), they’re bulky, obvious, and usually stuck somewhere in your house where they’re hard to ignore. They also gather dust because they’re not covered, and typically they’re high up where you can’t easily reach them to do any dusting!

Fear not! Innovation DIY is here!

The unit I’ll be talking about today is the one that operates the electricity in our outbuildings – which accounts for the small number of switches present! The point being, that it used to be inside the small garden shed I demolished in 2018 and replaced with a larger dining area for when we had braais (barbeques for you non South Africans) before this COVID pandemic turned us all into recluses!

Since the new dining area is open to the side and has no actual door – and the trip switch is located close to the corner of the wall (and the edge of the roof) I thought it wise to build a little enclosure to cover it up and shield it from the weather! I also wanted to make something that would look less ugly, jarring and displeasing to the eye than an old plank with a selection of old switches screwed onto it. Face it, these were old 1970’s switches – not even cool old-school steam-punk mad-scientist type breakers with chunky wooden handles on them – or space to allow raw untamed electricity to stream between them like the Jacob’s ladders in Frankenstein’s laboratory! They also gathered dust and cobwebs like nobody’s business!

What I had in mind was to build a box-frame around the wooden base of the trip switch or breaker board, which was mounted to the wall, and put a door on it. I dug in my wood pile and extract some bits of likely looking old pine ceiling or wall planks and set to work!

It’s worth mentioning at this point that whatever planks you use, you should use something wide enough to accommodate the switches behind the door. I measured the height and width of the base, and then cut sides, top and bottom accordingly. Once I was sure I’d done cutting them, I sanded and cleaned the side panels and then assembled the box, screwing it together with self-tapping screws. Then I slipped it over the base to test it for fit. Satisfied with that, I lifted it off again, and then measured the opening to determine door measurements.

Since the opening was wider than the wood I was using, I had to join two pieces together (as you can see from the photo of the inside of the door) and then cut the door to size. After that it was easy – just a matter of fitting hinges, a funky old handle I had lying around – and attaching the door. I added a magnetic catch to help keep the door closed. A couple of coats of varnish made it look nice and shiny, and then all I had to do was slip the box over the base again, and screw it on so it would stay in place.

Done and dusted! One hidden breaker switch panel, replaced by a rustic little cupboard that can even act as a shelf for candles, air fresheners or bric-a-brac! You could adapt this idea to cover larger breaker panels, and I’m sure someone will!

That’s all for this time!

Pictures included – enjoy!

Have a DIY day!


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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2021.

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