This what our intake register looked like when we moved in. That is our home inspector, once again doing what home inspectors do while I take photo after photo of the house! This dirty off-white monstrosity was original to the house (as we learned from touring several neighbors houses) and drew attention to itself since it contrasted with the dark stained knotty pine paneling. But I had a vision!
After we moved in, the room got TOTALLY redone--refinished floors, paneling and trim painted glossy white, and I wanted to replace the industrial ugliness. I looked into buying a decorative cover, but the size is large and everything I liked was around $300. WAAAAY too much for me. So I took it upon myself to design a decorative trapdoor-type intake register cover.
First I searched high and low for this decorative screen that looks like what decorative radiator covers are made from. I wanted a pretty perforated look, whether metal or wood or plastic, that I could paint a glossy white to match the new white trim and paneling. The overall idea was to make a mitered frame out of molding and put a decorative screen in it like a picture in a frame.
Here is an article from This Old House that details how to make a radiator cover where I found a lot of sources of decorative screening.
I finally found some at Lowe's. Let me tell you, however, that it is called EXTRUDED METAL and NO ONE who works there knows what you are talking about when you ask for it. Here are the options at lowes:
This geometric one,
This one that looks like caning:
and finally this cloverleaf pattern
I wanted to find something that would let enough air through so as not to block the intake for our air, but that would block the view into the hold underneath the stairs. I ended up going with the cloverleaf pattern, which fit that balance and also is a classic pattern for our colonial style house. (I'm not going to lie, it also kind of reminds me of the Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection!) They come in pretty large sheets, plenty big enough for me to make my 20 x 20 inch square.
The next step was to pick out the molding to make the frame. Lowe's and home depo have good selections of basic molding like picture molding, chair rail, dental, etc, but if you want something more elaborate like egg-and-dart you might have to go to a specialty store like Woodcrafters.
I ended up with some pretty basic but still decorative crown molding that went with the molding already in the room. Next I needed to get something to help me saw perfectly 45-degree angled mitered corners because we don't have a table saw. I got a miter box and saw at Lowe's for under $10, and the saw has come in hand multiple times since then on other projects! Thank you to my mathematically talented hubby for doing all the marking and calculations for the cutting part!
So then I assembled the basic register cover by cutting the screen to slightly larger than the 20 x 20 hole (I made it 21 x21) then cutting the four sides of the frame from one really long piece of molding. The moulding was large enough so that it extended beyond the screening by about an inch. I then used my handy-dandy staple gun to staple the screen to the back of the glued picture frame! I picked out some cheap little hinges and hooks...
...and spray painted EVERYTHING white!
Voila! Here is the finished project! It hinges out so that we can store paint cans inside the area under the stairs, and blends into the woodwork MUCH better than the other ugly thing. It also, I like to think, adds just a little bit of individuality to the room in a subtle way.
So pretty! Do you all feel the same way I do about the old intake register? Has anyone else tried a project like this one?