hvac systems home

Can HVAC Systems Actually Add Design Value To Your Home?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Think of the ultimate design piece in a recent home you designed or visited, and your mind may conjure up a brand new Italian marble kitchen island, the graceful pendant lights in an entrance hall, or a chic vintage coffee table jazzed up with clever paintwork. Items such as HVAC systems and furnaces are usually seen as ‘eyesores’ that are best hidden in an unseen part of the home – but do they have to be? Archute’s post on Shipping Container Homes showed how ‘ugly’ can be converted into aesthetically pleasing through creative thinking and planning. These are just a few ways a HVAC system can be incorporated into a key feature of a home’s design.

Air Filters With A Designer Touch

According to hvac company Foley, air filters are a key component of most modern HVAC systems, with studies showing that they can reduce indoor air pollution by 60%. However, little thought is often given to their placing or style, and they are usually reserved for an unnoticed part of a space (of course, they tend to get noticed anyway). Architect and designer Ernesto Santalla shows how air filters can be ‘converted’ into functional, visually impactful pieces by strategically placing millwork to hide air intake and supply vents. A ‘floating shelf’ and artwork hung below or above air intakes creates a sensation of wall furniture from the new millennium. This work can easily be recreated whether you are using standard 16x25x1 air filter squares or rectangular ones. The latter can stand alone, while square filters can be placed side by side and covered by millwork or a stucco design.

Paint And Decorative Covers

Another way to incorporate vents into design is to paint the covers in a similar hue to another design feature directly above or beneath it. Designers can also opt for vent covers containing artistic patterns – for instance, Arabic lattice shapes or diagonal squares. They can also create an artwork within the vent space using the same material that surrounds the vent – be it wood, stone or marble. It is the ultimate designer touch for those who see artistic potential in every corner of the home.

Built-in Frames

When designing a large home with various HVAC entrance points, architecture can play a major role in hiding elements behind built-in frames, screens and molding. For pre-existing homes, renovation does not have to be major. Storage furniture with built-in holes or self-ventilation (via wood or wrought iron lattice work) can be placed directly in front of air entries. These items can serve the dual purpose of storing and shelving items. Their utilitarian spirit can easily be hidden with artwork, photographs and other items that stress the artistic.

Nothing has to be an eyesore in a home -not even systems that have a strong practical value like HVACS. There are many ways to turn your HVAC system into just another decorative element by building around it or making it a central feature in your design. From fitting central gaps with marble and wood to opting for built-in frames, your HVAC system can become a curious component that turns heads and proves a fascinating source of conversation.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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