Disguising Air Returns With Paint! + A Giveaway!

April 6, 2016

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

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This post is sponsored by FilterEasy, an unforgettable air filters service we’ve used for the past year that’s smart and simple. We’re giving away free filters to 150 readers + a chance to win a Target gift card at the end of the post.

We’ve had the downstairs painted for a couple months, but I haven’t talked about the paint colors we used down there yet. We really wanted the room to feel light and bright, so 3 out of the 4 walls were painted Simple White by Benjamin Moore color matched to Valspar Reserve paint. However, one wall in particular had a few issues that painting white could have the opposite effect.


That wall was farthest from the only window down here. It also had a dropped ceiling that was filled with duct work and our two air returns for our home. It already felt dark, adding recessed lights to the dropped ceiling like we did in the rest of the space wasn’t possible, and I really just wanted those air returns to disappear! I asked on Instagram, only in jest, if we really needed those air returns. But of course we do! Not only do we need them, but we needed easy access to them (ie. blocking them is not an option) since we change our filters every 3 months. We came up with the solution to paint that wall (that extends into the hallway) and the vents a really dark warm black with green undertones; Vintage Frame by Valspar for Ace in a matte finish.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We actually painted it before the carpet went in, but we never had time to do touch ups after we sprayed the built-ins white (there was some overspray), so I snapped a few pictures of painting in action this past weekend.



This is a paint color that I really want to try in a place that gets lots of natural light because it’s so beautiful with lots of depth and warmth. As usual, Chris rolled and I touched up above the baseboards and the vents. When I initially painted the vent covers, I took them completely off (they easily unlatch) and rested them on a couple of paint cans so they could dry without becoming stuck to anything. I used my same old brush I always do and it took about 3 thin coats for them to be evenly covered.

The vents were the number 1 reason we decided to go dark on this wall. While looking at them pre-painting, I realized the dark slats are never going to be light. So, the only way to camouflage them would be to make everything dark.


(Mouse over photo for sources)

It worked! Obviously the room isn’t complete, and we’d still like to hang Chris’s guitars on that wall to the right of the piano, which I think will only disguise them more. It’s always amazing how paint can transform a room.

Like I said earlier, we change our filters every 3 months like clockwork thanks to an air filter subscription service we signed up for over a year ago called FilterEasy. Before signing up, we would be lucky if we remembered to change our filters twice a year (which is the national average) but now our filters come right to our door and I can change them myself in less than 2 minutes.



IMG_0288 (1)


After a large renovation project like this one we’re wrapping up, our old filter (on the right) is always especially bad. Bleh! FilterEasy stores our home’s filter size in their system so I never have to remember what size we need, but it seems like the service itself keeps getting better, too! For instance, since we’ve signed up, their prices have actually gone down due to growth. Love that!

One more before and progress shot:



Today, FilterEasy is giving away free air filters to the first 150 CLJ readers!

To enter, click here and enter your email address. Choose which filter size* your home needs. The promo code will automatically be applied to the first 150 readers. Sign up for the service and get your first shipment completely FREE! From our own experience, FilterEasy is extremely hassle free. You can modify or cancel anytime, no problem.

*FilterEasy offers just about any and every size filter, but if you’re having trouble finding your size, simply email with the size you need, mention Chris Loves Julia and you can still get your first order FREE!

Entering your email will not only get you free filters (plus free shipping!), but we’re also giving away a $250 Target gift card to one lucky reader! Go, go, go! Giveaway ends 4/16/16. Take luck!


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What do you think?

  1. Mary says:

    We took our Christmas tree down yesterday & emptied our living room, dining room, & kitchen. We are now prepping to paint all the ceilings & walls. So coming across this post is wonderful. I want to paint our air returns. I was just wondering if you need to sand & prime them before they’re painted? And since they’re metal, can I use my regular latex wall paint?

  2. Samantha says:

    I love the statement that wall color makes. Looks great. Still looks light and airy since you only did one wall. Great idea.

  3. Sarah says:

    Love the colour! I wonder if painting the bulkhead as well would make it disappear and perhaps bring the eye up to the ceiling?

  4. Sally says:

    I want to hang out in your basement! Looks so cool, great job and love the colour. I bet you were holding your breath with Chris painting on your new carpet – dropcloth or not, always a risk! I second Brenda’s suggestion to make those outlets disappear, too.

  5. Brenda says:

    I love the color…so good!

    P.S. I might take it one step farther and ‘disappear’ those outlets as well.

  6. Dara says:

    Loving your basement, makes me wish we had them here in Houston. I love your style and the way you are carring it out through your whole house.

  7. Wow, it hid them so well! I love the dark color too – I keep telling myself I’ll find a space to go dark in… I just need to work up the courage! Our house is super weird in that we don’t have any vents. It was built in 1932 so just doesn’t. I’m not sure how I feel about it!

  8. Rosie says:

    You guys do nice work, and has me thinking how white and bright isn’t always the best answer. I’d love to see it with the guitars! I used to play guitar, and had several, but just kept them in their case on the floor. Not very attractive. Those vents are just about invisible!!

  9. thelady says:

    We are finishing our basement now–so glad you turned to this project to detail! Not enough basements in the blogosphere, I think :) Did you do your both trim and walls Simply White? And what is the ceiling–I want to do a Simply White bathroom but I’m assuming the ceilings will be a cooler ceiling white–what did you decide? TIA!

    • Julia says:

      Our baseboards are off-the-shelf Valspar White in semi-gloss. And we picked up ceiling paint in standard ceiling paint color. The Simply White walls really look kind of ivory next to the bright white trim, but we love that look.

  10. Kristen says:

    The color looks great! So smart to think about the openings in the air return will always be dark, I would’ve have thought of that.

  11. Gina says:

    Love the color!

  12. Lina says:

    Can’t wait for the full reveal!

  13. Cheryl says:

    Hi! I just wanted to ask about painting those metal vents with what I assume to be a latex paint – does it stay on? Does it get scratched/easily chipped off? I want to do the same thing in my dining room but was just afraid the paint would wear off even though the vent I want to paint isn’t one that we open/close.


    • Julia says:

      If you don’t open and close it, you should be just fine! This one, we do open and close and we’ll likely have to touch up withers the latch does so over time. Still worth it!

      • Cheryl says:

        I know some folks were kinda mean with their comments not so recently so I just wanted to pop back in and say a genuine thank you for taking the time to respond to comments! It really makes your readers (well at least me!) feel so engaged! Appreciate it and appreciate all the wonderful posts! We’ve made some changes to our first home by copying yours and its looking so dapper now!

      • Julia says:

        That is so nice of you. Thank you, Cheryl!

  14. melissa says:

    Just came across your blog through IG. What a delight:) My husband and I have been renovating an 1834 farmhouse for the past 4 years. I have been searching for the perfect farmhouse look exterior doors for our home but can’t find what I’m looking for. Your front door is exactly what I want. Trying to find a door with only four glass lights has been more difficult than I thought. Do you mind sharing where you purchased yours?

  15. Nikki says:

    The wall color looks great! love the light you chose!

  16. sawan says:

    Where is your light sconces from? It’s everything I want and more.

    • sawan says:

      i figured out i could click on the picture and find it. Thanks for making it so easy to shop for it.

      • Julia says:

        Oh, good! It’s the first time trying it like that. Still trying to figure out what works best for our readers. :)

  17. Rebecca says:

    I love that wall color! Good choice!

  18. Noelle says:

    I am LOVING your carpet. We are in the market for new carpet for our basement playroom after a leak. I think I may go with this!! It’s gorgeous.

    • Julia says:

      We couldn’t love it more!

    • Neale says:

      First, I’m LOVING the basement! Looking at the design throughout your home has really helped me to hone in on my own personal style!

      Second, (has nothing to do with your beautiful home) where do you get your Nike’s and what style are they? So random, but I totally adore yours :)

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