If you’re asking yourself what the heck is a wall plate cover, they are the pieces of plastic, wood, or metal that surround your light switches and outlets (also known as switch plate covers). In a lot of homes they are basic plastic in white or ivory and are not made to be decorative, which leaves us a lot of opportunity to enhance them. Switching them out is a super easy way to modernize and spruce up any space. This is an area worth splurging on – think of how visible they are, and how often you use them.
Most Common Style
The most common style looks something similar to the below and run a hefty ~$0.50-$1/plate. These are builder grade and are typically made of cheap, flimsy plastic. The ones in my parents house are ivory, and all of their finishes are white – it drives my nuts and makes the house feel dated. If you have an older cape home with oak trim, you may even be fortunate enough to have matching oak covers! If you have similar challenges, an easy way is to just switch them out for white versions. The whites ones were what was in our home when we moved in.
Classic Look & Feel: Modern Update
I recently updated all of the white plastic plate covers in our home to this architectural style cover – I love them because they match all of the white molding and are incredibly sturdy.
I purchased the most recent batch from Lowes – they are the Brainerd Architectural line and run ~$6 for individual and ~$8+ for additional switches/gangs. Home Depot carries a similar line from Hampton Bay at the same price points. Like all home finishes, these come in a plethora of colors, materials, & design styles – white, ivory, brown, black, copper, brushed nickel, brass, pewter, chrome, stainless steel, stone, ceramic, wood, bamboo, etc.
When selecting your style, think about the finishes, colors, & textures that are in your space. I choose the white architectural line because it matched the white trim and could easily carry through every room in our home. In a bathroom, you could match to the vanity. In a kitchen, think about matching to cabinets or backsplash. Just make sure everything blends well from room to room, especially in places with clear sight lines.
Aspirational Plate Covers
Our home has a very classic, simple design to it. However, I couldn’t help but notice these really cool options below as I was initially searching for ours. Some would undoubtedly be a lot for an entire home (like the arcade switch!), but could be a really cool update for a themed room or restaurant.
- Models in series: Before falling in love with a particular model, make sure the series has all of the different styles and gangs in your home. If you are shopping online, websites should have that info somewhere on the item page. If you are shopping in a store, simply flip the package over on the nicer covers – they’ll have a list of all of the types on the back. If you found a style you love and there’s a missing piece, ask yourself how noticable will the different one be? If its in a 6-gang switch in the back entryway hallway, you’re probably the only one that will ever see it and its probably not worth selecting a series you don’t love as much for that one plate.
- Painted metal screws: A lot of plate covers (even the nicer ones) come with metal screws that are painted to match the plate. All of the white ones in my home fall into this category. The challenge becomes as you’re using metal screwdrivers to places the screws in – the paint can easily get chipped, and cause your brand new covers to look old & dated. Be careful as you install them!
- Invest where you can see your investment: You don’t need a $20 outlet cover behind a bureau no one will ever see. Help manage the cost of the project by only updating the outlets and switches that are visible. As you’re moving furniture around, move the plate covers around as well!