Ceiling fans are a lot like orthopedic shoes. They serve an important function but aren’t all that attractive.
Interior designers aren’t fond of them. And you rarely see them in magazines like House Beautiful, Elle Decor or Architectural Digest.
Local interior designer Jan Kyle attempted to point out ceiling fans in photographs of her clients’ homes. She could find only one and surmised it’s because they’re not interesting, so photographers intuitively crop them out.
“A fan is not something you normally want to emphasize in design, but it is a necessity in this climate, so I do use them,” she said, adding, “I’m sitting under one right now.”
What she doesn’t care for are ones with lights, especially if they have glass tulip-shaped shades sprouting off them.
“Generally speaking, designers don’t come in hopping and skipping saying, ‘Oh, good, I get to pick ceiling fans today,’” says Bobby Wilson of Wilson Lighting.
That’s changing, though, thanks to sleeker, more sculptural designs that complement modern and contemporary decors. Traditional style fans with brass hardware are still popular, especially among home builders, according to Wilson.
“But we now have customers, including designers, buying fans based on looks rather than function,” he added.
Ron Thomas, of Rensen House of Lights in Lenexa, noticed a shift in ceiling fan designs a few years ago.
“They’re getting better and better and better looking,” he said. “There’s also a wider range of looks, and it used to be that 52 inches wide was the traditional size, but we have them up to 84 inches now.”
Wilson attributes the growth in fan size to bigger rooms.
He recommends a 44-inch fan for rooms that are about 100 square feet; a 52-inch fan for rooms that are 120 to 200 square feet; and 60-inch fans for rooms that are more than 300 square feet and have tall ceilings.
Or, put another way, the ends of fan blades should be at least 3 inches from all walls and 8 inches from the ceiling.
You can adjust the height using a downrod. Installing a fan between 9 and 11 feet from the floor gives the optimal balance between appearance and air flow.
The number of blades on a fan is purely aesthetic, while their pitch and the size of the motor are integral to performance.
“Less expensive fans have blade pitches that are 10 and 11 degrees, while the best fans have pitches of 14 and 15 degrees,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like much, but think about the incline on a treadmill. Put it on 8 degrees, then move it up to 15 degrees.”
The pitch is not usually marked on the box, but the retailer can look it up in the manufacturer’s catalog or website.
One big update in fan design is that the blade irons that hold the paddles to the motors are no longer only crescent or horseshoe shaped. Sometimes they’re nonexistent, with the blade iron gently curving and twisting out into a sleek paddle in one linear piece.
Other styles feature acrylic blades in bright colors (Minka Aire’s Artemis), blades that look like ribbons swirling through the air (The Torto), blades that arc like the spines of an umbrella (Quorum International’s Flex), and blades that look like glass shark fins (Quorum International’s Angel Collection).
With its various size round blades all placed at different heights, Minka Aire’s Cirque fan is futuristic and sculptural.
One of Wilson’s favorites is Minka Aire’s Aviation fan.
“It looks like the propeller from a 1950s or 1960s prop-engine plane,” he said. “Even the light kits are different. No one ever comes in anymore asking, ‘Do you have a four-armed glass tulip light kit?’”
Keep it clean
To clean your ceiling fan without getting dust all over the room:
Place a pillowcase around the blade. As you pull it off, wipe the dust from the top of the blade so it falls into the pillowcase.
Repeat on each blade.
Now that you have most of the dust off, use a damp rag to remove residual dust.
Take the pillowcase out to your trash and dump the clumps of dust, then turn it inside out and shake it. Throw it in the washing machine inside out.
If you can’t reach your fan with a ladder:
Cover your floor with a drop cloth.
Wear a bandana or scarf over your nose and mouth to prevent inhaling dust.
Use a long-arm fan duster that fits around each blade to simultaneously clean the top and bottom.
From Real Simple and QuickAndDirtyTips.com