This is a little trick I tried and loved years ago in our old house. When I was slowly working away at fixing up our horrifyingly outdated master bedroom, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try it out one more time.
Updating these kinds of fixtures in an outdated room is really one of the best things you can do to bring it into the present. It’s a subconscious thing. You don’t really think about them too much and no one’s going to come visit you one day and say “Wow! You have really nice vent covers!” but when you see old dingy brown vent covers, you kind of automatically know how old and neglected a space is, even if everything else looks freshly updated.
Ours used to look like this:
10 bonus points for you if you can find all the other things in this picture that need updating too! The fixing up is already under way on the other side of the room, but today I just felt like doing something quick and fun. Yes, this is fun for me. (Note to self: Clean the floor under this side table more often.)
I started out by pulling the covers out of their holes and giving them a good vacuum. I know. It’s pretty gross in there. At least no one can ever accuse me of not keeping it real around here!
Next I took a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol and gave them a good wipe down to get them nice and clean. Mine were actually a bit crusty and rusty too but you’ll see that it didn’t matter at all. I like rubbing alcohol because it does a great job of cleaning but evaporates quickly so you can get to painting right away.
It’s painting time! I used Krylon satin finish spray paint in Ivory. I did 4 light coats with about 5 minutes of drying time in between. 2 coats coming from one direction, and then 2 coming from the other direction to get under all the slanted bits. There’s no need to do the sides since they’ll be hiding inside the hole. It looks like it should be more complicated than that, but it really isn’t!
OK, so it’s not the most dramatic before and after because of all of the other updates still needed around here, but as far the vent cover goes it’s like night and day. If you’re planning on updating an outdated room, keep this little idea in your back pocket. You’d never know that these weren’t brand new now and you’ll easily save yourself $50 on replacing a whole room’s worth of covers. They look great when they’re done in a crisp white or an oil rubbed bronze spray paint too!
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