HVAC components, vents, and air returns are necessary evils in the home and it's putting it mildly when I say they aren't attractive. They're often bandaid beige, placed in inconveniently prominent spots, and sometime they're just. so. big. While most of us wouldn't trade in our a/c or heat, there's little question that they detract from all the good visual stuff we do have going on. Check out these examples of how to take on these ugly-as-sin features, and win.
Above, Lisa's living room has built-in bookcases that perfectly frame her heating registers. And because everything is black, you don't even notice they are there unless you really look.
But you don't have to go dark to make it work. Mel and Austin's heating duct —and vent — were painted white, and look how they become part of the home's architecture, versus a necessarily but unfortunate looking mechanical part.
Sasha Adler went the opposite route in her living room. Instead of helping vents blend in, she made them a major design statement with gold decorative covers.
You can also swap out the standard grilles and vents on your home's air ducts for more decorative versions, without getting too fancy. A Ruffled Life customized hers with some DIY framed metal sheets, then worked them into a planked tongue and groove wall. They are a lot less obtrusive this way, and you can see in her full tutorial on how to get this look.
In this attic-turned-lounge, Design Manifest's Naomi wallpapered a trap door to her heater, a large return duct and a smaller air vent to disguise its presence. You can just barely see it on the right-hand side of the wall.
Here's a closeup.
An even easier solution is to camouflage any air register within a gallery wall, like this one from Maggie Overby Studios. Your eye is so busy looking at all the artwork, it skips right over any ugly vent.