They're space hogs. They make random sounds in the night. They shed (paint). And they catch cobwebs like crazy but aren't so good about releasing them.


Radiators are the downside of hot water heat, otherwise a nice, even heat source. They have a pesky habit of being right below windows, limiting window treatment options and taking up precious wall space. I'm blessed with 11 of them, and I've painted around six of them, grumbling as I went.

Maybe I'd like mine more if they were the ornate Victorian kind. And I envy the sleek modern European designs that look like architectural elements and take up a much smaller footprint. But I'm told the cost of replacing radiators is huge, just for the plumbing bill alone.

A slightly more likely solution: radiator covers. I covet the hand-crafted custom kind, which look much more like furniture or works of art than utilitarian heat re-directors. I bookmark plans for how to build them, because hope springs eternal even if the resident handyman's ambition doesn't. I clip the ads from the back of our neighborhood paper, where craftsmen advertise their wares. I sketch designs for a sideboard version for the dining room, a window-seat topper for the sunroom and a shelf-topped version for the bathroom. They sit neatly in a folder, waiting for that mythical day that the list of household must-dos runs dry.

How do you live with your radiators? And those of you blessed with radiator covers: Is it true they help spread the heat throughout the room instead of right up the backs of the billowing curtains, or is that just wishful thinking on my part to help justify the cost?

I'm also wondering if a fresh coat of paint could help me make peace with some of the less attractive offenders for less money. (Which brings up another paint poser: White? Matching the wall color?) But that's clearly a summer project, so at least I have a good excuse to put off what promises to be a very unpleasant paint job.