Hiding in Plain Sight: Trompe L'Oeil Electrical Outlet Covers

Hiding in Plain Sight: Trompe L'Oeil Electrical Outlet Covers

Taryn Williford
May 31, 2013

I say, "the more, the merrier" when it comes to outlets in the kitchen. Whipping up a serious Sunday dinner is made a bit easier when you can plug in the mixer, bread maker, and food processor at the same time. But a backsplash spotted with bright white outlets and covers can be kind of an eyesore.

The solution for the eyesore dilemma? Switch out your outlet plates for something similar to the color of your tile, wood, granite, marble, or rock backsplash. But there's only so many shades of outlet covers. A way cooler solution? Make them (visually) disappear!

Trompe l'oeil is a painting technique characterized by optical illusions that trick the eye into believing the depicted objects exist in reality in three dimensions. It's been used by artists for centuries, but it's finding a modern resurgence in home design and decor in the form of murals or faux wall textures.

But there's an even better use: visually hiding outlets and light switches by painting the plastic cover and outlet/switch to match the texture of your kitchen or bathroom backsplash behind it.

There are two ways to add trompe l'oeil to the home:

1. Find a local artist to paint your switchplates.
The photos above show off the great work of Karen Wilden in Chicago, Seize the Day Designs in Charlotte, NC, and Moonblossom Signworks in Rochester, NY. See if any local artists specialize in trompe l'oeil home finishings; expect to pay anywhere from $8-$20 per cover, depending on the complexity (faux-tile is at the low end of the spectrum, while faux-granite paintings seem to fetch more).

2. Do it yourself.
All you have to lose is a .50ยข switchplate. Buy some extras from your local home store, then try to mimic the colors and texture of your backsplash, tile or other surface onto the plastic plates. Youtube can be a great resource here. Search for something like "How to paint a fake tile backsplash" to get some tips on trompe l'oeil.

(Images:  Karen WildenSeize the Day Designs, Moonblossom Signworks)

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