From Ugly to Pretty – A Wall Vent Upgrade!

Good morning my sweet peeps!
How are you all doing this lovely Tuesday morning? It’s a rainy, gloomy day here – but that hasn’t dampened my mood one bit!
I’m feeling excited & happy to have finally tackled some projects around here and I am ready to start sharing the details and photos.
So….  Let’s talk about return air wall vent covers. I’m willing to bet that most of you have these plain, builder grade vent covers on your walls. Just like me. Just like I’ve always had my entire life.
Why do we settle for these things? Why aren’t there more economical options for prettier covers? I don’t know about you, but I’m not spending $100-$250 per vent cover for some company to make one for me. Let’s get real here. Pretty is not a necessity. It is a want. A desire. An option. But it should NOT cost that much!
I was raised by a single mom, then started my family at a young age and had 4 children  in 7  1/2 years – so I learned early on how to be frugal. How to get the things I “wanted” for minimal cost. I watch for sales. I clip coupons. I use online grocery store and retail store apps for even more savings.
Aside from necessities – I don’t buy anything at regular price!
But that’s REAL LIFE for the majority of people, right?!!
When we first built this house 3 years, one of the first things we did was replace the floor register covers with these
We got them in the dark oil-rubbed bronze for our wood floors, and the satin nickel for our tile floors.
Now I really want to upgrade the return air wall vent covers, as well.
But you want to charge me $222.27 for this one 16 x 8 vent cover?  That’s a definite NOPE!!
So….  Game on!!!
I know it isn’t a new concept to make your own decorative covers – I first saw these ideas on Pinterest a few years ago, I just never had the time to devote to it. (or so I thought) But, starting this blog really brought it to the forefront of my mind. Photos just don’t look good with ugly white wall vent covers in them.  Like this…
Unfortunately, they’re a necessity in a home. And sure, I suppose I could just edit them out of the photos for aesthetic reasons, but in my everyday life they still stand out like a sore thumb! Boo!
Time to tackle this “problem”
I made a thrift store run Saturday armed with my measuring tape and sanitizer wipes – which, BTW, one of my favorite bloggers, Karianne from Thistlewood Farms, just made a post about this exact thing on her blog yesterday – and you can just imagine my big smile as I read her post about her “kit” that she now takes when shopping at thrift stores and yard sales, because it’s exactly what I did, too!!
Anyhow, I ended up with several great, small finds!
Including this brand new photo frame that was just the right size for one of my wall vents. Yay! For $3.99, it was a done deal.
I immediately headed to Hobby Lobby and used my 40% off online coupon to buy the decorative metal sheet I needed. This link shows the 12″ x 12″ version, I couldn’t find the larger one online – but I purchased this pattern in a 12″ x 24″ sheet, regular price $11.99, and I paid $7.19 with my coupon.
Time to get to work…. I started by painting the frame and the photo matte the same color as our walls. Which is BM  Nimbus 1465 
(not to be confused with Nimbus Gray 2131-50, which is a blue color)
It’s a neutral grey color, that leans more towards a beige. Depending on the time of day and the lighting, it can look different. I love it!
Next I cut the metal sheet to fit inside the frame. I used the matte that came with it as a guide.
After the paint was dry, I set the matte into the frame and then laid the metal sheet in and tried to use a staple gun to attach it. That didn’t work so well. Thank heavens for my trusty old hot glue gun. The great thing here is that it doesn’t need to look good on the backside – nobody is ever going to see it anyway. So I hot glued the heck out of it! lol
When the glue was dry, I took it upstairs to see what it looked like as is. I didn’t like it with metal showing. So I painted the decorative metal sheet AND the metal inside the wall vent itself the same Nimbus color. I wanted it to look pretty, but also camouflaged as much as possible.
And now ~ for approximately $14, including the supplies I already had on hand ~ it looks like this!


As a recap – here is a before and after:

And here is a great close up!
And it wasn’t hard! All in all, it only took me about an hour!
What do you all think? Yay or Nay?


I also wanted to share – aside from my great (little) thrift store finds, I had my first thrift store heartbreak when I went there on Saturday. Sigh…
I spied this beautiful round end table
Isn’t she pretty?
I was already imagining grey paint with some distressing. I was picturing it in our bedroom, next to the chair. With my old fashion looking fan sitting on it, and a pretty vase with flowers. Perhaps some magazines. Maybe a home decor book. She instantly had a home in my heart and my house.
It looked like the Broyhill attic heirloom piece – going for anywhere from $225 to $384 online!
And this one at the thrift store – just waiting to be taken home and loved and given new life, was ONLY $19.99.
I about did a cartwheel right there in the store, I was so excited!!
And then, my hopes & dreams were shattered.
As a newbie I’m still learning about thrift store shopping. As I looked closer, I saw the half ripped off paper with the price tag, that said SOLD.
And then I wanted to cry.
Am I ever going to get lucky and score a great piece of furniture like this?
The thing is, I’m still waiting for my first (big) lucky find ~ and a small end table like this is what I have been looking for.
That Brett guy reminded me that I will be that person someday! I will stumble across something equally as beautiful, and I will be doing cartwheels and dancing in my head again, when I do.
It just wasn’t my turn yet.  And that’s ok!
On to my next project – giving these vases a makeover….
Have a great day everyone!!

About Holly

married mom of 4, Mimi to 2, finding my way home, lover of FAMILY and all things decor, gardening, DIY

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6 Comments on “From Ugly to Pretty – A Wall Vent Upgrade!”

  1. Omg I love ur idea…I have those pesky air returns too and the other night was looking at them thinking the same thing…I will be trying ur idea too

  2. Your vent looks great! I have always painted mine the same color as the wall but your idea really dresses it up.

    1. Thank you Mary Ann, it was a fun project and I’m really glad I did it! I can’t wait to get the other ones in the house done, too.

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