A quick tip that I wish I’d realized earlier than my fourth year in our fixer-upper rowhouse: If you have central heat and air conditioning, especially if you have registers on the floor, it is DEAD SIMPLE to replace the floor vent covers with something that has more personality. As in, no tools required for floor vents.
I can be pretty lazy when it comes to even the easy things — like changing doorknobs, light switch plates, etc., but this is the decorating equivalent of Megan-simple recipes. Even if you have wall vents, it’s only a couple screws, which is even simpler than most IKEA furniture assembly. This is also a super renter-friendly DIY: just save the old vents to change back when you move, no wall repair required!
You just lift up the old one and drop in a shiny, pretty one in its place. Done: in less time than it took to remove the packaging from your new register. And suddenly that corner is a little more interesting and eye-catching.
I got ours on Amazon for $11, so this is not going to break the bank — especially if you just replace the covers in highly visible spots.
There aren’t tons of choices out there, but there are definitely a few different styles that are way beyond the boring (and in our case, grimy and old) builder grade registers. I saw some modern, Craftsman, Art Deco, and abstract styles, as well as a few different Victorian-esque curly-cued options similar to what I bought. They come in several different metal tones and in wood.
If you want something a bit more offbeat, you could paint them a wild color — or if you’re crafty and ambitious, you might be able to make something really interesting and unique to replace those old covers!
I did the two in our living room and one in our bedroom and they make me smile whenever I notice them. (Homeownership does crazy things — if you’d told me five years ago the joy I would take from floor vents, I’d have raised my eyebrow pretty high.)
Comments on Easiest home upgrade ever: fancy floor vent covers
We did this in the house I grew up in. One thing to keep in mind is that the boring bar ones can hold more weight than the fancy ones. We had gotten kinda cheap ones, and if my dad stood on them they would bend A LOT (luckily he never broke one, but we learned quickly not to stand on them!)
So this is best for ones that are not in high traffic areas.
We did the same thing with our RV! They usually come with super thin plastic ones that break after the first few months of walking across them (you can’t NOT walk on them in such a tiny space). And we ordered that exact same cover, in a different size, from Amazon! Instant upgrade and they don’t heat up as much as the solid metal ones to burn the feets.
Just make sure you measure the gaps. They come in sizes and if yours are nonstandard sizes that can be weirdness
i totally agree! We did that when we moved into our nw house and it made such a difference. It is weird, but that one tiny thing helped me feel like I owned the space more.
And while you are at the hardware store, treat yourself to a new toilet seat. For seven dollars, you can your bum to a new kind of freshness…plus, when you change it you have a chance to clean years of “gunk” left behind by previous occupants.
Yes! This is getting bookmarked.
We have a few of these in our new-house-in-progress. Since the house was converted to hot water baseboard heaters, the vents in our floors go no where. We patched one over with close-to-matching hardwood, but we left a few others in case we put a woodstove in the basement someday; we can run ducts from the woodstove to those vents. I was just going to spray paint the existing ones black, but the ones above seem pretty cheap.
No, the MORE important question….how can we make those baseboard heaters less ugly WITHOUT breaking the bank? They’re that beigey color that just says “blah” and a little dinged up. Can we paint them? And if so, what’s the right procedure? And what would be a good color? Our walls are soft greens and blues, while the trim is natural wood. Paint them the same color as the walls? Black?
My toddler tripped & fell on our bedroom vent cover last spring, resulting in six stitches on her knee. Though she pretty much avoids that area of the room now, we just had another baby & I don’t want to go through that again… I’ve been thinking about finding different covers, and this is a nice nudge. Thanks!
Yes! I know this article is old but I love how easy this DIY is, and what a difference it makes. When selling my now husbands builder basic bachelor pad, I switched out a couple of the noticeable grates throughout the main floor of the house. SUCH a difference! Immediately made the house seem more expensive and less bachelor pad. We also switched out all towel bars, toilet paper holder, and faucets in the house. It was surprising how effective these subtle changes were. Highly recommend!
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