I finally did it. After our beer fridge died twice from overheating, Scott and I finally created a solution.
You see, on the other side of that shutter is a 19" wide beer fridge. When we remodeled our kitchen, we created this space for it, but the space won't accommodate a standard sized built-in fridge (nor will our bank account). And stand-alone beer fridges aren't meant to be inside a cabinet – they need ventilation. A few inches of space around the edges of the fridge won't cut it.
So after we killed two fridges in six years, we decided enough was enough. Out came the drywall knife and up went...a shutter.
Yep. Because, as you know from this post, I think standard vents and cold air returns are ugly. I can live with the ones that I don't see often, but I walk down these stairs every time I go from the kitchen to the backyard, to my bedroom, or to the garage. So this ventilating solution couldn't make my eye twitch.
I got the shutter for $5 from the ReStore. Scott cut it to an appropriate size before cutting the hole in the wall. I trimmed the shutter, primed it, and painted it. Then I screwed on some D-rings and hung it on the wall. It seriously took me an hour of active work time and I had all the supplies lying around, save for the shutter itself.
What I think is great about this solution is how many problems it could fix. Used shutters are available in so many sizes – you could easily use trim to join a few shutters and cover a wide space like a cold air return. If your cold air return cover needs a filter, it would be easy to attach one to the back of the shutter. Also, shutters hang easily and are easy to remove if you want to clean behind them. (What? Did I say that?) And if you don't do trim (don't have a saw, don't have random pieces of lumber lying around your garage), it would be simple to join a few shutters using a mending plate like this before painting and hanging on the wall. This really is a simple, cheap, and accessible project that just about anyone can do!