Happy radiators.

This is not a happy radiator. This is a sad, rusty radiator covered with peeling paint that’s probably filled with lead. We’re constantly having to sweep up the chips so the dogs don’t eat them, and in the winter we have to wrap the whole thing in foil because it’s such a mess when the heat is on.

We’ve had two other radiators in the house sandblasted and powder-coated, and as great as the results are, it’s expensive. We have ten of these cast iron monsters, so there’s no way we can have them all done professionally, so we have to limit ourselves to the ones that are too far gone to take care of ourselves. This one in the living room is definitely on that short list.

Let’s look at some HAPPY RADIATORS instead!


Home of stylist and interior designer Jo Berryman, as seen on 1st Option

Yeah, I know, I’m not really looking at the radiator either (why is Damien Hirst following me everywhere I go?). But see it over there in the corner, all cute and black? I love how it looks in this mostly-white room—it grounds that corner really nicely. My only concern with a black radiator is that we already have black doors and a black wall in the living room, and I hesitate to add a third shade of black to the same room.


Photo by Christopher Baker for Blueprint magazine (I still miss you, Blueprint!)

YESSSSSS. I love this bright, screaming yellow. I showed this picture to my mother (I’m sure she appreciates me linking to those photos again, hah!) yesterday, and she said that my house isn’t “eclectic” enough (!!!) to have a yellow radiator. Oh, I see—it’s like THAT. Huh. No, I understand what she’s saying, but at the same time, I’m really not afraid of having a radiator be such an eye-grabber in what is otherwise a mostly-neutral room.

Like Tim Gunn says, though…it’s a lot of look.


Home of J. Abbott Miller and Ellen Lupton; see more in Lupton’s Flickr set

My mother’s suggestion was to go with red instead of yellow, but I dunno. I really like how the red looks with all of the warm grays and the floor coverings in the Lupton/Miller house, but I don’t know that red feels as nice when it’s mixed with a lot of black and white. Plus, our wood floors have such a reddish tone to them already that I worry a red radiator will just look muddy and blah in our house.


Brooklyn homes on Bergen Street and in Park Slope with interiors created by Wary Meyers

I’ve posted the photo of the gradient radiator before, but it’s too great to leave out of this post. I love love love it. Probably not right for our house (and not really suitable to powder-coating, I don’t think), but still amazing. The photo on the right wouldn’t work for us either for obvious reasons, but it’s good inspiration. We do have seven more radiators left to contend with, after all…

93 comments
  1. Amy@OldSweetSongSep 15, 20114:29 pm

    OMG. yellow. It’s amazing. 100%. If you do anything else I’m actually going to be pretty hurt.

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  2. VeronikSep 15, 20114:32 pm

    I hate to disagree with your mom, but I think yellow would look wonderful in your living room. I wouldn’t repeat the colour elsewhere, though.

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  3. AdamSep 15, 20114:37 pm

    What about a bright light blue radiator?

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I guess if it were like an intense greenish aqua (like my Gravatar) that might be OK, but generally speaking I’m not really a fan of blue. Unless it’s a rich, deep cobalt.

    Adam /

    The color of your Gravatar would be awesome! I also think that the bright yellow would be excellent too!

  4. sandraSep 15, 20114:37 pm

    this is so much fun to look at (may have to do with me for the first time living in a place without radiators). btw, i think the text you’ve added about promoting your site/blog is considered spamming is great!

    [Reply]

  5. Dan @ Manhattan NestSep 15, 20114:40 pm

    Ooooo, I like the lellow, too. D16 could totally pull it off.

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    Anna @ D16 /

    Lellow! hee

  6. TaniaSep 15, 20114:41 pm

    Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Look at your blog. It works. I tiled the front of my fireplace yellow after every single person I asked thought red would be better. I love it yellow. No regrets.

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  7. KarreySep 15, 20114:42 pm

    Well, look at how nice the yellow looks with all of the black and white on your blog! Or what about a mustard yellow? You can never have enough mustard yellow bling in your house.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I do love mustard! I’d have to pay very close attention to the powder-coating swatches, though. I’d hate to wind up with a color that resembles ’70s “harvest gold” by accident!!

    Karrey /

    Harvest gold would be wretched! If that happened to me, I’d probably be on my hands and knees every year, going over it with paint and tears.

  8. ElizaSep 15, 20114:42 pm

    YELLOW! i love it. and then just put a tiny tiny little hint of it somewhere else in the room so that it isn’t a random yellow island. but why am i telling you this stuff? you teach me about these things!

    for real, though: yellow.

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  9. Courtney KrishnamurthySep 15, 20114:44 pm

    *Sigh.* One day I will get around to building the beautiful bookcase in that second photo. I remember when you first posted it, and it’s been on my to do list ever since.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Hah! Yeah, me too. Someday!

  10. sandraSep 15, 20114:45 pm

    and what i forgot > yellow!

    [Reply]

  11. miss alixSep 15, 20114:48 pm

    what about orange? a nice happy medium between the yellow and the red. basically the middle color on the gradient radiator. just a thought.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Orange and I aren’t really friends. I like it in the context of the gradient, but orange on its own…not really a color I gravitate toward. I don’t know why!

    miss alix /

    orange loves you even if you dont’ love her back. :)

  12. LiviSep 15, 20114:57 pm

    I would do yellow.

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  13. AnyaSep 15, 20114:58 pm

    Yellow…but I also think either orange or hot pink would look pretty cool too.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I suggested hot pink to my mother, too! I think her response was a delayed, “Uh huh…”

    gail /

    I was going to suggest the hot pink as well!
    Either that or I’d go with a neon chartreuse.:)

  14. PeetuSep 15, 20115:16 pm

    Red!! Definitely red.. But, then again, I think red goes well with everything..

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  15. elSep 15, 20115:25 pm

    Yellow is pretty amazing.
    I’m lusting over all those happy radiators, I only have those standard white plastic looking radiators.
    Hot pink would look great too though.

    [Reply]

  16. MaxwellSep 15, 20115:51 pm

    I just peed my pants looking at the yellow one. In a good way. I want.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    There’s a bad way?

  17. MaxwellSep 15, 20115:52 pm

    Ughgg and yes, blueprint was THE BEST. I think Living is trying to make up for it in some ways.

    [Reply]

  18. Sarah BSep 15, 20115:54 pm

    My vote is for yellow :)

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  19. DeborahSep 15, 20115:58 pm

    I vote for the yellow raditor, but not that yellow. Maybe more like the yellow of the cushion in the first photo?

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  20. ilyanaSep 15, 20116:12 pm

    I’m all about the yellow.

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  21. Barb FisherSep 15, 20116:26 pm

    Definitely yellow. Definitely NOT red!

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  22. heatherSep 15, 20116:35 pm

    Team yellow! And I do love the gradient too.
    What about an apple/lime green?

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    You know, I do keep thinking about the acid green door in this post! Hmmmmm…

    PamDammage /

    Definitely ACID GREEN. The door you mention has a lot of yellow in it too. However, yellow might be a more versatile color you can live with for a longer time. But acid green is so much more unpredictable and also offers the ‘pop’ that yellow does.

  23. adalgisaSep 15, 20117:46 pm

    have you considered purple? like aubergine, dark, almost black purple? just wondering. anyway, i (always) love yellow.

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  24. mommySep 15, 20118:36 pm

    I won’t say out loud the color I like most of all, because then you won’t do it. I do like yellow, but why the radiator when it’s so expensive to powder coat? How about some yellow M&Ms? By the way, the glossy white radiator upstairs is so pretty.

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  25. LHSep 15, 20119:21 pm

    Considering how it’s a big pain and a lot of money to get a radiator done, I’d go neutral. Judging from the replies, it’s not the popular choice, but it is a practical one.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    If we ever stopped liking the bright color, we could just paint it white or black or whatever.

  26. LouSep 16, 20112:14 am

    I would give it a yellow coat by hand to see if I like it or just to enjoy that colour for a while, then i’d get it sand blasted and powder coated a neutral shade. what you like now may change in the next 10 years or so… but before you spend all that money, you could have a bit of fun with some colour. just a thought.

    [Reply]

  27. SophiaSep 16, 20112:28 am

    Yellow seems like the obvious answer. But hot pink is a color that seems to fit you in many ways(clearly judging by the appearings of it around your site/home) and it’s such an interesting one. The problem is that I can’t really figure out scale properly to actually suggest it or not.

    [Reply]

  28. LucySep 16, 20112:36 am

    big yes to yellow. or hot pink. :D

    [Reply]

  29. sparrisSep 16, 20115:04 am

    While I do like the yellow one I think I’d try painting the radiator a teal/petrol color, like the wall behind the yellow one, but go for a shade that’s a little livelier.

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  30. Rachel KaySep 16, 20115:21 am

    Oooh, I do envy your lovely radiators. I have butt-ugly storage heaters in my apt, can’t wait to be rid of them some day.

    I whole-heartedly agree with yellow for the radiator, I think it would look pretty damn nice. But I also love the idea of hot pink. Whatever colour you choose, my opinion is that it should really pop. Those lovely rads deserve to have attention drawn to them :)

    [Reply]

  31. Pour PorterSep 16, 20118:41 am

    So I’m curious have you guys thought about doing the sandblasting and powdercoating yourselves? It’s probably a giant pain in the arse, but I’m curious if one is determined to try it and are willing to go through the headache, if it’s possible? Or is it just one of those things that you need a ton of expensive equipment and experience to do it well?

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I’m guessing you’ve never been to a sandblasting/powder-coating facility. ;) It’s definitely not a DIY project unless you’re planning to do a LOT of powder-coating for a long time and for many projects and want to set up a real shop at home. We have neither the space, resources, nor interest in doing something like that. Keep in mind also that these radiators weigh hundreds of pounds and a very hard to move around.

    We’ve already had two radiators, a sink and a bathtub sandblasted and powder-coated, and it’s well worth the investment. They all would have been unsalvageable otherwise.

    Pour Porter /

    Ha ha, yeah definitely no. I really have no idea how it works, although I imagined something sort of similar to painting a car which requires skill, a space to do it in, and the right equipment so it makes sense why you wouldn’t want to tackle that! Have you decided on the colour yet?? I’m partial to the hot pink myself

  32. jenniferSep 16, 20118:42 am

    i gotta say, white. seems it just costs too much to change if you get tired of another color.
    however, i’d have a very hard time NOT painting it acid green!!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Well, it would be really easy to paint over it ourselves if it got to that point. The only reason it’s a pain now is because it needs to be sandblasted before a new finish can go on.

  33. kimSep 16, 20119:13 am

    I have just started on my radiators and in my research I find they look best if you do them all of the rad’s the same colour through out the house.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Ha ha, how do you research something like that? Every house is different—rooms open into each other in unique ways, light affects color, there are spacial considerations to think about…

  34. carrie @ brick city loveSep 16, 20119:17 am

    I painted the radiator in my bedroom orange and still love it. It’s not one of the fancy ones like you have but there was lots of wire brushing and then even more time painting. 3.5 coats. But a quart of regular old wall paint (which is perfectly fine for radiator) is certainly cheaper than powder coating.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    We will definitely be stripping and painting the other radiators ourselves, but there were a few in the house (this one included) that are far too rusted, pitted, and covered with layers upon layers of peeling paint to effectively make it a home job—this photo doesn’t really convey how bad it is. If we did attempt to do this one ourselves, we’d have to do it all over again in a year or two, and I don’t think that’s a good investment of my time! Sandblasting and powder-coating should last for a minimum of 20 years without having to re-coat, so I consider it worthwhile in certain cases.

  35. susanSep 16, 201110:06 am

    I think the yellow would go great in your house. Don’t really see the problem there. I could picture yellow more readily than I could picture the red. Go for it if it makes you happy.

    [Reply]

  36. SusanSep 16, 201111:26 am

    Oh wow…I love our radiators SO much, and after seeing this, I think one or two need a makeover. A fun one, with color maybe!

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  37. NOJujuSep 16, 201112:59 pm

    Red is way too predictable with black/white/grey. I am wholeheartedly in favor of a yellow though. I think your mom is wrong. Sorry mom.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Well, I don’t care what anyone other than my husband thinks, anyway—including my mother. ;)

  38. Katherine RossSep 16, 20111:16 pm

    Yellow yellow yellow, can’t you see (sung to the tune of Hypnotize by Notorious B.I.G., of course.)

    I miss Blueprint too :(

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  39. DebsSep 16, 20113:33 pm

    I love the yellow but am wondering what is wrong with a beautiful silver, especially if it’s somewhat “fancy.” I like silver radiators, as long as they’re really fresh looking.,

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    There’s nothing wrong with silver, I’m just not a fan!

  40. chrispitoSep 16, 20117:17 pm

    I have crappy old silver ones and they are driving me mental. Shhhh….don’t mention the war…

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  41. roseSep 17, 20117:08 am

    I like the idea of a radiator as art. I never would have thought of it but obviously other people have. :) Have fun with it. I like the yellow or the apple green.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Maybe not “art”, but certainly decoration. :)

  42. MonicaSep 17, 201111:53 am

    Just so I don’t repeat what everyone else is saying, I am going to say “Gelb”.

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  43. the chronic utilitarianSep 17, 20114:15 pm

    another vote for yellow.

    your house could totally pull that hue off.

    [Reply]

  44. hena tayebSep 18, 20119:58 pm

    Happy for sure.. I love the yellow and the multi colored one is cool too.. a great way to make a usually boring functional eyesore of a radiator in a great design element.

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  45. jessSep 19, 20111:36 am

    I like your existing radiator.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Well, it’s covered in peeling lead paint and rust and is posing a health threat to us and our dogs, so…I’m not really sure what there is to like about it. We’re not getting rid of it, just making it safe.

  46. JennySep 19, 20112:14 am

    Hi Anna – While of course I would go for hot pink, and I think it would go great in your house, I really can see the yellow working well for you. Add a yellow cushion or flowers?

    [Reply]

  47. PolkaDot LighthouseSep 19, 20114:07 am

    I never knew radiators could be so interesting…lovely selection! Carla

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  48. KaelynSep 20, 20112:03 am

    clean it up and paint it silver.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Well, I don’t like silver radiators (and I have 7 of them, so I’m sure of it!), but beyond that, this really isn’t a “clean it up and paint it” kind of job. See previous comments. ;)

  49. white collar | green soulSep 21, 201110:20 am

    whatever you do – i vote colour! :) i love the colourful ones – so fun.
    – agata.

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  50. KathySep 22, 20119:20 am

    Kind of makes me wish I had a radiator… inspiring, regardless of your heat source!

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  51. moparbrownstonerSep 23, 201112:41 am

    I say yellow too, and I’m not a big fan of yellow or of radiators that draw attention to themselves. That red looks awful, no doubt about it. Either that or just white.

    Curious how do you remove the radiator without draining the whole heating system? Are you steam or hot water?

    So you can powder coat the *inside* of a bathtub or sink — or did you mean the outside? It’s not the same as baking porcelain enamel like the guys in Chicago do, right? Do they do this in Brooklyn? We’ve got two rusted sinks I’ve got to do something about, but I love them and want to keep them.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    We’re steam—single pipe. The plumber just caps the pipe while the radiator is off-duty. No biggie! We couldn’t do it ourselves, though.

    And yes, we had our clawfoot tub AND our corner sink sandblasted and powder-coated (I posted a little about that here) inside and out. It’s not the same thing as re-enameling, but it’s close—and just as durable. They actually sandblasted the entire existing porcelain OFF and then powder-coated the whole thing. It should last a million years…it’s not like that epoxy recoating stuff. We had major rust on our stuff, but there’s been no bleed-through whatsoever after three years. As long as your sinks are solid cast iron, it should be an option.

    I don’t know about Brooklyn because we’re upstate, but any powder coating company SHOULD be able to handle the sinks for you. Tubs are another story because of the size (our guys had to get really creative), but definitely call around and ask!

  52. VanyaSep 23, 20114:11 am

    I LOVE the yellow, I totally think you can get away with it and it would look fantastic in your space, a great high point against the black & white :)

    [Reply]

  53. private graveSep 25, 20114:42 am

    Maybe do a floor color to wall color gradient. If the floor is light and the walls are dark then reverse it so that the radiator is out noticed without a new color like that vibrant yellow color.

    Don’t get me wrong that yellow is nice, but it would never work if your room is black and white.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I think we might not have the same taste ;)

  54. MoparSep 25, 201111:45 am

    Thank you so much for this info about powder coating, Anna. You may have invented a new method for bath fixture restoration!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I definitely didn’t think it up! If you Google “powder-coating bathtub” you’ll see lots of people talking about it. :)

  55. PollySep 26, 201112:20 pm

    Have you decided yet? I do really like the yellow, but the black could look really good too, matt black perhaps.

    I’m really envious of those rads they are so beautiful. Our house is so 70’s that we’re stuck with beige storage heaters! Thankfully we’ve started spraying them white where we have white walls at least they won’t show quite so much.

    [Reply]

  56. LanMSep 28, 20115:32 am

    The yellow one is the most impressive I think! We don’t have to figure out how to hide radiators. They can be the decorative things in the space!

    [Reply]

  57. MichelleSep 28, 20118:19 pm

    Bloody awesome post! My one radiator is currently at the sandblasters and I was going to paint it white but you’ve got me thinking…

    I defo think the yellow would look fab in your place!

    [Reply]

  58. Sally @ ourdreamlivesSep 30, 20116:40 am

    I lurrrrrrrve these happy radiators! I have huge radiators just like these in my flat, I’d never even thought to paint them, they’re just nice shiney white… but now I reeeally want to! I’m a big fan of the yellow, really like the red ones too. Oh my gosh. I want colourful radiators. loads!

    [Reply]

  59. Jesse LuOct 1, 201110:25 pm

    I cannot get over that ‘bright yellow’ shot up there. I am in love.

    [Reply]

  60. d'AuriaOct 9, 20115:28 pm

    Hi Anna, I work at an amazing workshop called TechShop [...] and we will be opening a store in Brooklyn soon where you can sandblast and powdercoat the rest of those radiators YOURSELF for a fraction of the cost! When the time comes if you’re interested in that route let me know and I’ll help to hook you up!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Thanks for the offer, d’Auria, but that is much too far for me to travel and transport radiators.

  61. NinaOct 11, 20118:02 pm

    The yellow one is my favorite! But I currently have a yellow obsession. All of our radiators need some tlc in the future. Maybe next year…Wonder what my color obsession will be then ;)

    [Reply]

  62. william o'tooleOct 18, 20116:48 am

    Old school here. I have always loved the silver paint on radiators. Or possibly a dove grey.

    [Reply]

  63. la femmeOct 20, 201110:49 pm

    I really love radiators. Those colourful ones are awesome…

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  64. PJPMar 5, 20121:10 pm

    Love. And hate to be all brass tacks and all, but where do you get you radiators powder coated in Newburgh and how much does it cost?

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    I don’t remember the exact cost since we also paid for them to pick up and deliver (you can do it yourself if you prefer), but we’ve used Extreme Powder Coating in New Windsor for two radiators, a clawfoot bathtub, a cast iron sink, and all of the decorative iron work on the exterior of our house. They’ve been GREAT, and I wholeheartedly recommend them.
    http://www.extreme-powdercoating.com/

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