I'd like to say it doesn't matter to me what the grill over the heater looks like, but I care a lot. And this thing makes me sad, especially since we put down a beautiful marble floor and are installing a claw foot tub with classic brass filler and so forth. This thing just doesn't go.
But not to worry, I am prepared. I was at BIG NYC a few weeks ago and I spied a vintage cast iron heat register grill with lovely scrollwork. It was downright cheap so I bought it figuring I would find a use for it. Looks like it will have a place in our house much sooner than expected.
I am thinking I will paint it off-white and mount it about a half inch off the wall, just in front of the existing sheet metal heater grate. I don't want to get rid of the existing grate because the holes are smaller and I don't want any little fingers getting in there through the big holes in the scrollwork grate. Yes, I know that the existing heater grate shows through the scrollwork, but that is just because it is white - I intend to paint it flat black so that (hopefully) it looks empty behind the top grate.