Making a hole in the wall look pretty while still being accessible

Long-time readers may recall that a while back we got a whole-house water filter.  It was a saga.  One of the things they had to do was cut holes in the drywall, which they then taped back up.   Since one of the holes was in DH’s closet, he decided to make it prettier.  Then he wrote up this post and sent it to me.

Picture of a square hole in the wall and ugly tape marks

The hole

The plumbers had to cut into the closet to access the pipes when they installed the whole house water filter. When they were done, they just used duct tape to stick the drywall plug back in the hole. The duct tape looked pretty hacky, though luckily it is in a really out-of-the-way spot (the corner of a closet, right beside a built-in, right above the baseboard).

I like having access to pipes/manifolds, so I didn’t want to just seal/patch over the hole. I wanted a framed door, and could not figure out how to make one easily. So instead, I glued the frame (really baseboard I hand-cut to fit) to the drywall plug, added a knob (with a large washer in back to spread out the force on the drywall), and touched up the paint.

The resulting “door” looks much better, and it just pulls out. It could almost just stand up by itself, but was slightly tilting forward and would fall out, so I added a small square of velcro to the top of the frame to hold it to the wall.

I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. If I were to do it again: 1) I found it hard to cut the 45 degree angles on the baseboard by hand since we don’t have a table saw, so I would see if I could get Home Depot to cut at least a couple of them nicely, and 2) I don’t like the way the velcro is visible from the top and it results in a gap between the frame and the wall, so I would probably try removing the velcro and instead placing some kind of foam around the drywall plug so that it would be held in the hole by the force of the foam around it. I should probably still go around that corner of the closet with putty to fill in the various little gaps.

So I (#1) think that’s pretty cool.  I don’t normally pay much attention to aesthetics, but this is a really nice example of form follows function.  We had long discussions about how to make this area look nicer while still allowing access, and, importantly, letting future home-owners/renters know that there’s something important back there should they need access (say there’s a leak or a plug).  Making an actual door would be too much effort and would probably allow drafts in (given hinges etc.), but this looks like a door so it signals that there’s something behind there, while still looking pretty.  We also discussed the merits of velcro vs. magnets, but magnets are potentially more dangerous (given kids and animals), and it’s not like this is going to be opened and closed frequently enough to make the velcro wear out.

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15 Responses to “Making a hole in the wall look pretty while still being accessible”

  1. rose Says:

    WONDERFUL. Thank you. Looks terrific!

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    Oh, I really like this. Especially the knob!

    Speaking of walls and holes, I called both my senators today. One my normally super-conservative senators has publicly opposed Trump’s recent declaration of an emergency, so for the first time ever I could thank him. My Rep (who seems to have swung even further into the Trump camp) has a full voice mail box and I can’t get through that way. . . . . yet. I’ll keep trying.

  3. Leigh Says:

    This looks super classy! Great idea!

  4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    That’s neat!

    Hitting up faxzero again today.

  5. Debbie M Says:

    “I like having access to pipes/manifolds, so I didn’t want to just seal/patch over the hole.” Yes! Yes! Yes! Me, too.

    I have a cut-out like this in the hall to access the bathtub plumbing. When I moved in, you could see they had removed part of the wall and then patched it in. Then the hole had to be re-cut to make a repair and the plumber just slid the piece back in. Then years later, that hole wasn’t big enough, so the wall was cut again. I kind of just want a really big door or maybe removable wainscoting or something. Except now we have a bookcase in front of it, so the prettiness is all moot.

    So, good for you for keeping accessibility and actually making the access easier with the knob and also making it look nice. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Matthew D Healy Says:

    That’s clever. Worth remembering. If I have such an issue in future what I might do is buy a picture frame of a size bigger than the hole, put a printout of fake wood where the photo goes, and stick VELCRO® on the back.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That sounds like it would work.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        In a previous residence the plumber had to cut a hole in the basement ceiling underneath a shower stall to fix the drain pipe. Since it was a basement, I merely stuck a piece of cardboard in the hole. I’ll bet it’s still there right now.

  7. Alice Says:

    My husband has done things like that in a couple of places where he’s done work in the house. The center panel of our kitchen island is held on using 6 screws that have flat covers over them. (Our oven is in the island.) He’s planning on doing something similar to lower master bath surround when he finishes it. If we had doubloons, I would want to hide them in that part of the bathtub. It would be a great hiding place.

  8. chacha1 Says:

    very clever and nicely executed. I know some DIYers who need to pay attention like that :-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It seems like whenever we have experts come in to do/fix things, they always leave duct tape scars. If you want attention to these kinds of details you really need to do them yourself. Or get a really good handy-person to take care of the odds and ends.


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