decorative wall vent/AC return? Show me links or pics of yours!

dirtymartiniDecember 19, 2010

Ok, not even sure exactly what it is called to Google it. It is 24" by 30" approximately. It is on the wall, down low, and there is the A/C filter behind it. Right now it is just a louvred metal grate. The easiest thing to do is to paint it the color of the wall (an off white.) I am sure there are some decorative grates out there...I have been googling but I keep finding those things that are rectangular and go on the floor.

It is not a focal point of any room. It is on the right when you walk into the house, next to the door that leads to the garage, right before you enter the kitchen/family room area. There is a wall directly across from it, so you are never really looking at the vent from a distance, you kind of just walk by it.

I know many of you will wonder why we want to "draw attention" to it, rather than "disguise it" but I don't really want to get into that debate right now. I just want to see what my options are for decorative, and we may end up making it disguised after looking at the options.

Thank you!

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Custom sizing on these

Here is a link that might be useful: Decorative Grates

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 10:30AM
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Also custom

Here is a link that might be useful: American Wood Vents

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 10:31AM
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It's called a cold air return vent. I've never seen a decorative one.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 11:24AM
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Thank you for the links, palimsest! Now...since the one I have is I have to replace it with a louvered one? Can I use something scrolly?

graywings-will any of those on the links that pal posted work? I see wood louvered. Wood would be pretty...although I had in mind something like iron (black.)

Thank you both for the responses!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 11:36AM
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The ones I posted could be made to any size and I found under "cold air return" You could possibly use something scrolly but the degree of openness may allow you to see into the duct too much. A metal one of that size would be very heavy and very expensive,--I am sure they exist but I haven't seen one that big at Reggio or other metal grate places...

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 11:49AM
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VanDykes has one: it is $550.I think even the wooden louvers look better than the metal ones even though they are both just louvers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Van Dyke's

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 11:55AM
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I hesitate to post the following photo of what we did because the last time I posted a similar photo, I got several "opinions" on the decorative screen that we used to hide our return, and how it may accentuate, rather than hide the air return. It works for us, and that's all that matters. We painted the return the same as the walls and then placed the screen in front of the return.

Look at the hall in the background and you should be able to see the screen hiding the return. I have a better pic somewhere, but had the Christmas photos on my computer already.

Also, my neighbors had a simple frame built around their air return, and then hung two shutter frames with hinges and a middle clasp. The inside of the frames are a punched, metal type of material that let the dust filter through.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 2:51PM
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We have the black scrolly look for our cold air returns.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reggio Registers

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 3:01PM
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patser-are your cold air returns on the wall...or on the floor? I only have one, it is on the wall. Just wondering if that will work. I looked at the black metal scrolly one, I love the price, too. Just wondering if it works on the wall as well as the floor...or maybe that is a dumb question. I live in SoFla and I never see those vents on the floor in anyone's home...I only see them in pics of people's homes up north.

newhome-I can't quite envision what your neighbors did. I would love a pic, but I am sure you don't want to ask them to take a pic (although they would probably be flattered!) I do like what you did w/your cold air return for a few is that I like that look anyway and would put that decorative screen against a blank wall, so why not against the return? Also, you have something over it...the mirror, so to me it is just a pretty wall with two pretty things on it.
This would not work for me, unfortunately, because the CAR is in kind of a mini hallway. I mean, there is a wall (the walk in pantry) directly across from it, so it has to be pretty flush to the wall. Maybe I will take a pic and post in a sec.

palimpsest-haha, my DH will unleash hell on me if I spend $500 on this!!! Thank you though for those links, I will contact them and see if they have what I am looking for.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:21AM
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Thank you for posting this, Dirtymartini! I hate our returns and grilles. I recently found decorative vents at HD, but they didn't have our return vent size. This site lists quite a few websites that sell vent covers. (No affiliation!)

Here is a link that might be useful: list of websites that sell wall/floor vent covers

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:42AM
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here is a picture. The french doors are the front doors of the house. That red door leads to the garage. Directly across from the CAR is a short wall...that is the walk in pantry in the kitchen.

Anyway, just wanted to show that the CAR is really only a focal point from where I am standing taking the picture, which is at the kitchen peninsula. So, in some ways I figure "why bother? Just paint it the color of the walls!"

On the other hand, I like catching a glimpse of something unexpected and pretty in a home. Like, even though it is NOT a focal point, someone took the time and spent some money to make it look as nice as possible.

BTW...we are going to paint that cat door in the garage door either the same red as the door, or black. Also, we are *thinking* of hanging a picture with a black frame under that candle insert in the wall. I feel if I do indeed get the black scrolly grate for the CAR it will be balanced out. won't be this big ole black thing on the wall going THUD!!! It will be balanced out with other black items on the same wall. Does that make sense? My home is 1970s ranch with that faux spanish twist. I am going for a cozy look...not contemporary...not traditional...maybe transitional? I am always drawn to "eclectic" when I look at design and decor ideas, though! So keep that in mind.

Thank you soooo much. Love opionions and suggestions on this board!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:48AM
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thank you, hoosier!!! I am going to the link now. We were posting at the same time!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:49AM
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Unfortunately the price is related to two things, sheer size (5 square ft) and lack of volume production. Most people don't really "see" these vents so can ignore them. I am in the nice vent cover school myself but they are pricey.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:07AM
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dirtym, Our black scrolly Reggio grille (not the register) is on the bottom white oak riser of a 7 step flight of stairs. I don't have a picture, but it is definitely placed upright. It's just a flat piece of metal which is screwed into the wood, one screw on each of the left and right ends. A corresponding sized hole was cut into the riser and the return is under the flight of stairs.

We also found similar styles in architectural salvage stores, but I didn't want to hassle with stripping paint off them.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:48AM
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DM, Ho De has decorative mesh that could be used to make a cover for you cold air return. I linked to what I could find on their site below, but if the link doesn't take you to them just search their site for "sheet of decorative mesh". In the stores they more styles and two sizes of most. The larger (36"x36") should work for you with some cutting.
I also like NHBs idea.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sheet of decorative mesh

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 10:31AM
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We have Reggio grills (love them). Our returns and most vents are on the floor but we have 2 vents on the wall (kick plate of a kitchen cabinet and riser of stair). Like paster said - 2 screws to hold in place. I think you see them more up north because they are in older (i.e Victorian) homes.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 11:03AM
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"newhome-I can't quite envision what your neighbors did."

It's like the shutters in the picture - link below - except they had a metal mesh insert instead of fabric.

I think you could just make a frame with the mesh insert, and hang on a small strip of trim nailed to the top of the return. Hope that made sense.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:07PM
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Thank you everyone!

newhome-I appreciate the pic, helps me visualize!

justgottobe-HELLO! and merry christmas! I will check those out, not sure if they will have the right size...i saw one big one that I think could be cut down. Thank you!

thanks boston, patser and pal!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 9:02AM
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Hi DM, it's been a long time. Merry Christmas to you too.

Hubby and I just looked at them at HoDe and they had two sizes one by two foot and three foot square. Not all styles were available in the bigger size at the store we were at.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 10:05AM
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I'm one who would vote to paint the return grille so that it blended in as much as possible. However, we built our home and were lucky enough to be able to have some control in where our return is located. It's not noticeable at all, so we have not had to worry with it. I might feel differently if mine were right out in full view. There is a blog, Velvet and Linen, a design husband/wife team. The husband had return and vent grilles custom fabricated. You might search their blog and see pics.

FWIW, I live in the south (TN), and in floor vents are much more common here. You do occasionally see them in the walls (high). I would think from a heat perspective, that lower would be better as heat rises. For our floor vent grilles, we have wood covers that match the wood floors and in the bathrooms and kitchen we have covers that blend with our flooring. Our cabinet guys were great and actually put vents into a couple of places in the bottom of our cabinets (toe kick?).

The only concern in putting something in front of your return is to make sure it does not restrict the airflow in any way.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Thanks, justgotobe! I will definitely check it out. So are you doing the same thing? Please share a picture when you do!

tina-I found the post! Thank you! I linked it below for anyone who may be interested.
Yes, the fact that it is in full view can make you want to go either way...while this is definitely in view, like I said, it is not a focal point, that's what kind of makes me want to make it pretty. Something you catch a glimpse of as you walk in to the main living space at our home.

Of course, some people would say that because it is not "out there" in a main area, we should take advantage of that and make sure it blends in. I really can see both sides.

We are having this issue with our garage door. Our house is not huge, so the 2 car garage takes up a large portion of the exterior. At first, I wanted to just paint it the same color of the house. Now we are pretty sure we are going to faux wood grain it. I mean, we cannot hide what it is, so might as well make it beautiful

I am always impressed when functional things are made as pretty as possible.

Here is a link that might be useful: V&L post about grills/registers

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 8:13AM
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You're welcome.
No we are actually thinking of removing the top two panels in a six panel door and replacing them with decorative mesh for ventilation purposes. We have four long haired cats and don't care for them in our room at night since my hubby is a bit allergic. Our room gets a bit chilly in the winter with the door closed so I came up with this idea. Have no clue when we'll get time to actually do it though.
I understand your wanting to make the register be pleasant to look at. Personally being a fan of Victorian homes like that idea. Though I can go the other way too since I also love MCM homes where things were more simple/clean lined.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 12:34PM
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Just came across this (see link below). It's Kim Kardashian's new Beverly Hills home. Scroll all the way to the bottom to the picture of the foyer. Looks to be a vent of some kind. Large. Definitely not trying to hide that one :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Wall vent in foyer

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 3:56PM
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justgottobeme-Oh, that sounds like a good idea! So funny how we will do projects around the house for our pets! Well, in this case, I guess it is for your DH. :) But still...we just got a new dog at the Humane Society about 2 weeks ago...a 40 lb black lab mix. i ADORE her and she has been sleeping in bed with us...but after seeing the BLANKET of black hairs on the sheets, DH and I decided she MUST sleep on the dog bed on the floor, next to the bed. Hope your cats don't mind being shut out of your room...but at least they have each other!

I know what you mean, I like a few different styles, too. Just want to make sure that a scrolly wall vent will match my 70s faux spanish ranch. Now, I can assure one I know had a decorative wall vent when I was groing up in SoFla in the 70s. Just like crown molding...NO ONE had it. So, since I am trying to stay true to the era (within reason) I feel silly putting the decorative wall vent in. However...if someone KNEW about these things in the mid 70s, and had the option...they probably would have done it, too. I am figuring that a scrolly black design will look spanish, so I will be ok...I am staying true to the "spanish" part, if not to the 70s ranch part.

Hope that makes sense!

jill-Goodness, those pics are just SICK! Saw the one you mentioned...thing is, there is soooo much to look at , I could see where some people would think in *that* case it would be ok! Anyway, thanks for sharing, definitely pretty and along the lines of what I want!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 9:48PM
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DM, though it's a good idea who knows how long it will take us to actually do it. Speaking of doing things, have you found anything yet?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 3:42PM
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Check out my company. Or
We can build any kind of supply or return vent you can dream of.
Or contact me here at

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 2:29AM
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