How To Paint Ugly Utility Boxes & Propane Tanks So They Blend

We’re not about to suggest that green camouflage is our new favorite pattern when it comes to pillows, curtains and duvet covers – we’re just taking this opportunity to point out how a little bit of curbside camouflaging can go a long way. Here’s what our house looked like after we did a little bush maintenance (aka: getting perfect strangers to dig up our old bushes for free).


Yep, she was looking pretty naked thanks to all the overgrown and overcrowded hedges that we removed in favor of a less bulky and overpowering new landscape (more details on that project can be found here), but what’s that you see on the left near the chimney? Why it’s a huge unsightly propane tank that looked pretty darn terrible without all those overgrown hedges blocking the view.

You can see that we planted two dwarf alberta spruces (one in front of the the tank and one on the opposite side of the house for balance) that will fill in to be about 6 feet tall and 30″ wide (effectively blocking that ugly propane tank in the future). But we’re a bit impatient when it comes to these things… and paint is such an easy option…

Do you see where I’m going with this? We realized that if we could paint the propane tank a dark brick red tone, it would blend right in with the facade of the house. So first I called our propane company (we don’t actually own the tank, and since it’s theirs we wanted to ask if we could take some deep red paint to the old gray tank). It must have been our lucky day because we got the green light. The funniest quote from the company: “don’t paint it anything crazy like black, but red is ok.” Doesn’t red sound like the crazier color of the two? Anyway, we were beyond thrilled that we could get our paint on, so we snagged a quart of exterior red paint (we held paint chips right up to the brick for the closest match) and applied two coats with a brush. Here I am just getting started:


Here she is all purty and painted:


And here’s the full effect from the front of the house from the street, this time with the tank artfully camouflaged- all for about $14 worth of paint:


And I didn’t stop there (I’m kind of a crazy person once I have a paintbrush in my hand). I also called our power company to confirm that I could paint the annoying gray utility boxes on the back of our house (they confirmed that anything installed on our house is ours to paint). Here they are mid-project (I told you I’m a crazy person, I was so excited to get painting I forgot to take before pictures):


And here they are after a quick coat of brick red paint. They’re hardly invisible but they’re a lot less jarring, especially from afar.


So that’s the story of a quart of brick red paint (Sherwin Williams Red Barn to be exact) and an indescribable passion to camouflage the ugly gray eyesores that had our house surrounded. Do you guys have any quick painting projects on the agenda? And are you at all surprised that I’m still finding things to paint? It’s a sickness, people.


  1. says

    Great job Sherry and John! (wuh hoo – am I the first to post a comment? – yay!). I have another question for you (if you’re always with the paint, I’m always with the questions). Your painting is so neat and tiday – any tips for keeping the pesky paint off the walls and surrounding areas? Did you remove the wires or just paint very carefully?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Amy,

      The only method to my painting madness is a pristine angled brush (I clean them methodically and replace them the moment they start looking frayed). It’s really easy to stay in the lines when you have a good brush on your hands, so we didn’t tape things off or remove any wires, just worked the angled brush and in about an hour: voila! Hope it helps.


  2. says

    Interesting! You guys DO come up with solutions to every problem!

    I bet black is crazier to a propane company because it would disguise the tank in the night more and that’s the last thing you want with something holding compressed gasses.

  3. Ashley says

    Looks great! But I was hoping for a final picture with white lines to mimic the brick pattern! ;) haha

  4. Beth says

    That is a great idea! Why is it that every picture you have has NO clouds in the sky? It always looks so sunny in Richmond compared to the crazy rain we’ve had here in ATL!By the way, great new house pic on the header :)

  5. ErinEvelyn says

    Closet doors. Bedrooms, especially, can seem much more expansive when wall color isn’t broken up by a closet door. “Paint ’em out” is my motto. Semi-gloss on your trim? Get a quart of semi to match your wall color, and VOILA! I started this habit in our first home, where all doors were white like the rest of the wood trim, but once I “erased” the closet doors in the master bedroom, I was hooked! It made such a huge difference! I urge everyone to try it! (Those who don’t have IKEA-curtain closets, that is.)

  6. says

    I go paint crazy too! If I start a paint project, it isn’t long before half of the furniture, frames, accessories, etc in my house are drying on a drop cloth on my back porch. There’s just something about that crisp, new look a coat of paint gives to plain old stuff.

  7. Mary Lynn says

    Looks fantastic! My guess is the reason they don’t want you to pant the tank black is because black would trap heat and could possibly be a safety hazard if the tank got too hot.

  8. Kim says

    Great idea. I hate all the utility stuff attached to my house, and ours is a brick like yours, so this would look much better. Your experiments are making me braver!

    Now, if you can let me know you you deal with wires (cable wires, telephone wires) on the outside of your house.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Thanks so much for noticing the new header everyone! We waited for all the azaleas to do their thing and snapped pictures like crazy people.

      Kim- We actually painted one cable wire that runs along the side of the house (also with our brick red paint while we had it out) since it was bright white and oh so obvious. Now it’s nearly invisible since it was so thin to begin with! Hope it helps!


  9. says

    I love it! We did the same thing at the Farm where we’re getting married next month! I know what it’s like to have the OCD Paint Brush hand! It can be a tragedy or a blessing but you never know until you finish haha. To make you feel better though it’s better then getting spray paint finger – you can’t move it for hours!


  10. Jill says

    Great solution! In the early 90’s I was into spray painting EVERYTHING imaginable with “fleck stone”. I even did some ornaments for Christmas as a gag for my family who told me they were planning an spray painting intervention on me!

    Great new pic on your header!!

    I just did my daily vote and show you guys have a slim lead (196) right now……….so VOTE PEOPLE VOTE!!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jill,

      It’s actually Nicole over at Making It Lovely who has the lead by 196 votes! We slipped into second place. Thanks so much for your support (and for taking the time to vote each day)! We need all the help we can get!


  11. srabee says

    what a smart idea! sherry, i was watching the real housewives of new jersey yesterday and you look so much like Dina, are you related?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Srabee,

      Well, I am a Jersey girl (born and raised) but I can happily declare that I share no blood with any of the Real Housewives. Although I did google Dina and I must admit to seeing a bit of a resemblance… just not in the blonde hair/big boobs category.


  12. Cate says

    On the electric box – actually the only thing that belongs to the power company is the meter and wires that run to it…the metal box and rod that they are contained are yours…and they are expensive things actually! We’ve had ours pulled off our house twice by some big limbs!

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