Ceiling Fans & Eye Candy

Ceiling fans are no-nos to many a decorator.  I'll be honest, I generally try to avoid them whenever they're not needed for comfort to get the opportunity to bring a great light fixture into a space.  

{One of my favorite Cottage Living Houses with a ceiling fan on in the pic }

Men seem to looooove ceiling fans.  (Stay tuned for my upcoming post "What {Most} Men Love.") I've scared plenty of husbands with the removal of a ceiling fan but many have been reassured that if things get too hot, they can always bring in a cool vintage-style floor fan, like the Allaire from Restoration Hardware:

In all of my ceiling fan replacement-experiences, I think I've yet to hear of anyone actually bringing in a floor fan...  except me!!  I have a thing for fans and tend to leave the AC off longer (because having open windows makes me really happy) than I should, so people would wilt in our house if we didn't use fans.  In my new house, especially, fans are pretty much a necessity.  

We have lots of massive windows and skylights letting in a ton of sun and pretty much baking us inside.  Additions were also added previously & the owners at the time didn't do a very good job of making sure the new spaces would heat/cool adequately.  (Fixing this kind of thing is really just  SO FUN!! $ $ :/  )   Add to all of that the fact that our AC is BROKEN right now (shouldn't normally be an issue in April but we've had highs or almost 90 already this year!!) and I really have ceiling fans on my mind.  In the Fall, we replaced the ceiling fan in our breakfast room (see above pic of our house "BEFORE"  in the background) with this one from Restoration Hardware:

I love how it's ended up looking and -of course- feeling when our AC stopped working.  I should mention that it's a LOT lighter & more silvery than pictured here.  Definitely a galvanized steel finish, but fresh and bright, not moody like in the photo.

In our bedroom, (BEFORE photo, below) we still have the ceiling fan that was here originally. At first I thought I'd replace it with a light fixture but we love sleeping with our patio door open (We've knocked out the entire wall you see below with the windows on it & replaced it with a massive glass door, which opens to out little garden.) and I've been absolutely LOVING my ceiling fan at night.  So... we're replacing the original fan with a new ceiling fan and I'm on the hunt.  I love the Restoration Hardware one we selected for the breakfast room so I might go there again and possibly paint it black.

  So... even though ceiling fans are a typical designer "no no," I have to say that they do give a house a certain type of feeling that I really love.  Tom Scheerer - who is probably my absolute favorite interior designer- uses them in his work a lot.  His projects feel fun, fresh, laid-back, cool, relaxed and totally down to earth.  There's an authenticity to his work that really resonates within me.  Some of the homes he's worked on feel so perfectly "undecorated" which is the best type of design to me.  I can appreciate a perfectly pulled together room -and even go gaga over them- but I truly love and get excited about the more imperfect spaces.  

Here are a few (okay way more than a few) examples of Tom Scheerer's work so you know what I mean:

The bones of the homes he works are typically so interesting.  There's an age and a patina to the houses themselves.

He might even love botanicals as much as I do:

So many of the elements he uses are unexpected:

I can't imagine pitching this flag idea (above) to a client but it's perfect!!!  His work inspires me to think a bit more outside of the box.

This living room, below, is such perfection to me:

I could move right in.  When I first saw my new house, I thought about that room.

In his work, I've noticed lots of photos of great transitional spaces.  Hallways and stairways are often overlooked due to budget constraints and priorities being elsewhere, but when I look through his work, the hallways seem to lead you through the story of the home so perfectly.  It really shows how important these often-overlooked spaces are:

Love this stairway shot:

...And the foyer, below, is so down-to-earth and inviting.  It really feels collected as most of his work does.

This bedroom, below, is such a great mix.  It's got more going on than a lot of what I've shown does, but I just love it.  His style is just so much fun and so fearless.  His spaces feel happy, which isn't always "in," especially not right now, but it's the type of spaces I strive to create, and he does them so perfectly.  There's a cheerful clutter to this pretty room that I love.  It's the epitome of "charming" to me...

This room, below, is a little "cooler" (both in color scheme and in style) but it still has a that great relaxed-collected feel:

...So... now that you see how crazy I am about Tom Scheerer's work, you can see how ceiling fans might have grown on me:

I think about the vibe in the room above more often than I should.  I just love its simplicity and the cool vintage island feel it has.  Tom Scheerer seems to have quite a bit of work in the Bahamas and I find myself just wishing we could go on a vacation in one of those homes.  (He did India Hick's guest cottage there!!) 

 Ceiling fans definitely affect the vibe of a space.  To me, they make a room feel more summery, a little lazier in a way.  A little more relaxed and they call to mind vacation or "island time."  They make me think that the windows are open and that relaxing is going on.  I don't associate ceiling fans with suits and work, but more with bare feet and fun.  They don't work in every house and with every type of architecture- especially in DC-  but it's the feeling I'm after in our place, which is sort of contemporary-natural, so I'm excited about that.

Here's another space that's really inspired me.  (Remember Justin's old nursery with the blockprint-inspired canopy we made?}  I'd never noticed the ceiling fan until now:

Ceiling fans almost always look great on porches:

When are you not relaxing or having fun if you're sitting on a porch??

And, in the photo below, the ceiling fan is just one of the many clues that the home is somewhere wonderfully warm:

 A lot of his fans are black and I love the contrast here:

Something like that would be great in my bedroom.  

This modern fan, below, just seems to disappear, which is perfect for this room, which actually does feel a little but more "put together" than some of the others.  If you mentally take out the fan, you can see that the formality goes up a hair...

And finally, one of my favorite spaces, check out this dining room:

The fan becomes this interesting sculptural element that again, plays up the island location of the home.  It's the perfect example of functional beauty and appropriateness.  

...So.. and I know it's a fairly controversial topic ;) ;) ... what are your thoughts on ceiling fans?

Does location matter?  When are they appropriate?  Are they ever okay?  Love them or hate them??

ps- I am SO in the mood to go somewhere tropical for a project after these pics!! Anyone need a decorator??

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.



I'm sure whatever ceiling fan you select will look fantastic in your new bedroom :) Can't wait to see it. Have a great week!


Lexanne said...

I've always objected to ceiling fans too and recently have given in because they're sooooo nice to have (in a bedroom especially). Most recently I just did a classic white in our bedroom so it blends into the ceiling and doesn't draw attention to itself. It's nice to see some other options though too.

Katja @ Shift Ctrl ART said...

I have searched for hours and hours for a good looking ceiling fan for our Master bedroom that did not cost an arm and a leg. Like you, I am not a fan of the fan ;). I finally ended up with one that I L O V E. It has curved wooden blades and no light source (that was a must). I am surprised how much I actually love it.
Our master is still a work in progress, but the fan is up if you want to see it.

Brynne said...

I'm not crazy about the way ceiling fans look, but I live in Texas, and practically, they help a lot! There are a bunch of unnecessary ceiling fans in our new home, so I'm going to remove most of them, but definitely keep fans in the bedrooms.

kthappy76 said...

I agree that designers don't seem to use them a lot, which is too bad, and they would look out of place in formal settings, but they are practical and most people need their homes to work for them. Not in every room, but where it makes sense to have some air circulation. I prefer them in white (or whatever blends w/the ceiling), but statement ones (straw on a porch or in a beach house) are nice too.

Tiffany Leigh Interior Design said...

Funny, I had never really given much thought to the ceiling fan, other than that the majority of them are less than attractive. I definitely think they look better with no light.
Thanks for making me rethink!

LC said...

I live in Alabama where ceiling fans are almost always a must - especilly in old houses that are not energy efficient. It is not my favorite look, but, to my husband's relief, we kept the fans in our living room and master bedroom. I changed them out for low profile fans without light kits and it really does seem to disappear after a while.

Suzanne said...

I love fans! Love the air circulating around me especially soft warm air. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of good looking ones and if you need a light on one, forget it. I never do ones with the light and overall don't like overhead lighting but have had some clients who really want it. Hard to agree to it. I wish someone would work this design problem out. Gotta be a way.

Jennifer @ MillerMusings said...

We're in the process of turning our formal dining room in to an office and my husband and I were having the ceiling fan discussion yesterday. We live in Texas and fans are basically a must have! When it's 110 outside, you need the fan + the AC! I'd almost had my husband convinced to not go the ceiling fan route, and now you have me doubting myself! ;)

Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

Ceiling fans take a bad wrap.
Let's face it...no one wants to look at them.
If we were decorating a bathroom...no one wants to look at the toilet either.
But both are necessary.
Only one is optional...unless like me you live in Texas...
were my farmhouse has one toilet and one ceiling fan in my bathroom! (both necessary) :)

Thanks for shedding some light on the subject of fans...
I'm curious...speaking of lights, is it better to have fans and alternate lighting or fans with light kits attached? That would be a similar post worth reading. Pat

Tawna said...

I think the fan/light combos are the problem. Our remodel had them everywhere....I hate them! However, we do have some areas that need the fans in the summer. They are also the only light source of the room :(. So, I might work in some lamps and do fans without a fixture. I actually really like this fan...I think it could work in your home too.

Minka Aire F823.

It has a simple beauty about it that I love.

Sonja B. said...

Call me practical, but we'd have to redo the lighting in four rooms if our ceiling fans did not incorporate lights, so for now we have them. I like the one we got in our sunroom; it is brushed nickel, contemporary/understated and works with the slope ceiling. But this is one I really like, but not sure for a master bedroom: (wonder if it is the one with curved blades mentioned above):http://www.lampsplus.com/products/58-inch-artemis-maple-finish-ceiling-fan__46957.html

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

I love them in all of the images you have shown. I have a ugly builder grade ceiling fan with uglier lights above my bed and I just haven't found anything to replace it yet. I usually dislike them but I totally get it in the casual space.

Debbie said...

I am definitely pro-ceiling fans, even in formal spaces. They make your a/c AND heating more efficient.

My house is teeny-tiny and there's no way a floor fan would work - it would constantly be in the way. Plus it doesn't do the work of bringing hot air down from the ceiling. Function definitely trumps form here.

I do think there needs to be better options - especially for ones with lights.

Recently, I've seen bloggers put drum shades on their ceiling fans, which seems to make the problem worse. Why call attention to something you don't like?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I guess i'm a guy here -they're so ugly admittedly but I HAVE to have a ceiling fan in my bedroom! Just the plainest white, with no light if possible - you can always have switched lamp outlets and if you have a white ceiling I think it just sort of blends in. The worst are those 'over designed' ceiling fans - gag me. I love the look of these black ones though you're featuring!

BaileyWife said...

I love this post, thanks Lauren! I love my fans, pushes our breezes throughout our living space, but always felt like we were going "against" good design! ~Kim

theanatomyofdesign.com said...

great inspiration photos! I love that giant paper lantern in the stairway... i have a stairway with the same proportions and I think I might copy that idea!

TheThrifty30Something said...

Have to say I love a ceiling fan in the bedroom, even if it doesn't look great! Could not live without it in the summer even if we have central AC. They have been making them a lot less hideous lately too.

Kathysue said...

I think we have been taught to not like them, but I have to have a fan in certain rooms. I love pretty lighting more than the average person, but I also love comfort and living in Calif. we need a fan in our main living area. A necessity in life. I like your thought about a fan represent a warm, tropical vibe!

Anne Hardock said...

Hi, Lauren,
As you know, we have a double height family room that is open to the upstairs hallway and bedrooms. This area and the family room are instantly comfortable on the hottest days of a DC summer when the two ceiling fans are on (and the AC, too!). You can pump up the AC and without the fans it doesn't properly cool our spaces and, like you, we love our house so I say "Yes, thank you!!" to the ceiling fans.
xoxo, Anne

pve design said...

I love ceiling fans. We did not have air conditioning when we bought our home but added ceiling fans and I love them. It helps to keep the air circulating. I think there are many designs to choose from now. I love the sort of "white' noise they propel.

emily said...

I worked for Tom Scheerer and can honestly say that his spaces are far more enchanting in person than in photographs. Tom doesn't decorate rooms, he changes lifestyles. He used ceiling fans when that would enhance the clients experience in the space, without apology or self consciousness. It's about the life, not just the look.

Lauren, I think it's no surprise that I love your work and that you love his. Thank you for your blog and sharing so much with us.

tokyojinja.com said...

Like so many, I am would prefer not to have ceiling fans. Most of the time they are not intrinsically attractive and you lose out on the decorative possibilities of a light fixture. But with our beach house at the shore, they are a necessity in every room, plain and simple. I've taken inspiration from Tom Scheerer as well and installed the plainest fans possible, without light fixtures, and they have since simply ceased to be noticeable. I've jazzed up lampshades in consequence too - giving the lamps more decorative presence.
There is nothing light open windows and the breeze of a fan to make it feel like early summer!

tokyojinja.com said...

Like so many, I am would prefer not to have ceiling fans. Most of the time they are not intrinsically attractive and you lose out on the decorative possibilities of a light fixture. But with our beach house at the shore, they are a necessity in every room, plain and simple. I've taken inspiration from Tom Scheerer as well and installed the plainest fans possible, without light fixtures, and they have since simply ceased to be noticeable. I've jazzed up lampshades in consequence too - giving the lamps more decorative presence.
There is nothing light open windows and the breeze of a fan to make it feel like early summer!

melinda said...

Here in Illinois a ceiling fan is a must. We run ours year round. In the winter we reverse the direection of the blades and that keeps the warm air down. I took the light fixture off the bulb hardware and rigged up a wicker lampshade from Pottery Barn in place of it. It looks more modern. Lowes has a pretty cool light fixture / fan combo that I have been thinking about for our bedroom. Here is the link.allen + roth 30-in Sun Valley Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan with Light Kit

Contemplating Cadie said...

Hi there!

I've been reading your posts for a loonng time, but this is the first time I've felt compelled to leave a comment.... I had to laugh when I pulled up your blog today to unwind, and find a post on ceiling fans. You see, all this morning I was on the computer, looking for some validation that my decision to take down original chandeliers and hang ceiling fans, when everyone else is taking down fans to hang chandies, wasn't crazy. I could have saved myself some torment had I started here.

The reason people drool over the fans on southern porches is the feeling you described in your post. And the reason most interior fans don't give off that same relaxed vibe, is because of the stoopid light kit. :) Ditch the kit, and a fan can be every bit as charming as an original chandelier. Fingers crossed, anyway.

I'm about halfway through my project of swapping out lighting for fans now. I'll have to send you photos when I'm done, so you can judge for yourself. :)

gabrielle904 said...


I really like your flexibility as a designer!

As much as I love aesthetics, I love the feeling of a ceiling fan and would insist upon having one, despite what the designer said. I know a few designers who simply wouldn't open there eyes to them, too preconceived without even feeling them or really hearing the client.

Well done, I look forward to hearing which ones you come up with.
Thanks again!

Emily said...

Hahaha I think the last time we saw each other I told you I was so ready to take down the ceiling fan in our dining room! Just not the right vibe. But this post is interesting to me because we have one in our bedroom that I've been dying to replace with beautiful lighting, but with which I simply cannot part because it gets so darn hot in our bedroom starting now thru September (Gotta love NoVA weather)! We have skylights and it's on the third floor of a townhome so you get my drift... it's just sooo helpful and my husband refuses to budge on it :) This post gave me a chuckle, but also some new perspective to consider. Thank you!!


KNM said...

I love the comment that its about the life not the look. I agree and love the fans in our bedrooms. We used simple while fans from the Modern Fan Company and they just disappear into the ceiling.

Practical Suburban Mom said...

Oooh, I'm glad you shared this! We are about to purchase two ceiling fans for our two main rooms. One is a great room (kitchen/breakfast nook/family room) with 10' ceilings and one is our upstairs play room with 9' ceilings. I know fans are supposed to be tacky or whatever but they are functional and can look nice. It gets hot here too and for us they will help us use less A/C.

I may need to go check out the fans at Restoration Hardware - thanks!

Claire said...

It is about the life, not the look. Refrigerators aren't wonderful looking overall, but you just need them. Toilets are not lovely either but nobody wants to eliminate them either.

Market Decor said...

Claire - you are so right! I need the sound of the fan to sleep and it does help when it is really hot and the central air is groaning to keep up. When it come to ceiling fans, I think the simpler the better - and no lights on the fan.

Pat said...

Finally common sense. Just take off the ugly lights. Overhead lighting, even beautiful looking chandeliers do nothing for me. On the other hand practical comfort means a lot. Most parts of the country have climates that demand moving air and the AC just doesn't do the job alone. I grew up at the shore with open windows and ocean breezes and no AC. I still want to live that way as much as possible. (I can't get that my husband can play golf in 90 degree weather but insists on air the minute he hits the house.) I love my fans.

erin said...

Hey, I'm excited to see some ceiling fan love from a talented designer! What is the point of having a beautiful home if it is physically uncomfortable? I live in Arizona. Our ceiling fans have already been running 24/7 for weeks! In the summer we will need both the fans & the a/c to sleep comfortably! I have chosen really simple models, and they don't bother me. Now, if the only ceiling fan options were: the novelty airplane propeller kiddie fan, the boob-light fan, or the oak blade with shiny, cheap gold finished "tiffany-style" light kit, I would probably choose to be miserably hot. Thankfully there are now a few stylish options if you are willing to search for them! As your pictures prove, a ceiling fan can be unobtrusive!

tanyaj said...

they are everywhere in my house. i don't love the look but do like the function.
my husband has them on all the time. i could live without the fans

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

I have acrylic ceiling fans in our upstairs bedrooms. They blend in and are very helpful in the Dallas summers.

Pam said...

I've found the perfect fan!! You have to go look at the Modern Fan Co. I was in a local store that is amazing and when I looked up it was like hosts of angels singing ;) an attractive fan that didn't dominate the area.

If you need the light feature they were using the Halo and it was understated and elegant. Even looking at the site doesn't do them justice. The scale is just perfect. Which I think is one of the main ceiling fan issues.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Lauren, this post is perfect! I think that often times people shy away from decorators because they feel as if many of their wants will not be taken into account.

Ceiling fans being one of the things that many people like and uses but as you say most decorators do not "approve" of.

It is nice to see so many examples of beautiful rooms that are practical and wonderful.

Gregory Piccini said...

I also love that RH ceiling fan...
I am pretty sure that their supplier is "The Modern Fan Company"... You could set up an account with the company, skip the middle man and the mark up.

Staci said...

I love ceiling fans. That's a given fact since we live in the South. It's both a need and a want for me. And I agree with you that ceiling fans make the house feel relaxed and homey. And since summer is here, I think this is the best season to buy yet another one (we currently have 4, by the way). These photos you shared gave me ideas and inspiration about what type of ceiling fan I'm gonna buy next, and how I'm gonna revamp the room to make my new ceiling fan look welcomed. Thank you, Lauren! Staci Severns

Staci said...

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