Are Ceiling Fans Out of Style? Not By A Long Shot, Design Experts Say

Are ceiling fans out of style? Far from it. According to our most recent Top Agent Insights Report, 34% of real estate agents say that ceiling fans are a feature that modern buyers love to see in a home, placing it in the top five energy-efficient upgrades you can make.

Shirley Weems, a top real estate agent in Palm Bay, Florida, echoes that almost every house she sells has ceiling fans. In bedrooms, great rooms, sunrooms, you name it: ceiling fans offer a refreshing respite from the heat, akin to a tall glass of lemonade on a summer’s day.

However, 46% of the agents we surveyed also say that buyers view outdated ceiling fans as a telltale sign of a home’s age. In this guide, you’ll find some of the benefits a ceiling fan brings, helpful tips on choosing the right one for your space, and photos of how interior design professionals are using them to enhance their clients’ homes. We’ll also share some of the most popular ceiling fans on the market today so you can shop for a stylish one.

A ceiling fan that is not out of style.
Source: (tammykayphoto / Shutterstock)

Benefits of ceiling fans

Ceiling fans have their perks — particularly on a hot summer day or night. With the flip of a switch, a ceiling fan becomes an energy-efficient companion to the air conditioner and offers the following practical benefits:

Year-round comfort:

Ceiling fans aren’t just for hot climates. They’re designed to regulate the indoor temperature year-round by strategically directing the flow of air. For regions with four seasons, the blades can spin in two different directions: In the summer, they should spin counterclockwise to push air downward into the room to create a cooling breeze; in the winter, they should spin clockwise to pull the air up, which then pushes the warm air down from the ceiling and back in the room.

Energy savings:

Although ceiling fans probably won’t eliminate the need to run the A/C or furnace altogether, they can enable you to rely on it a little less. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, when running a ceiling fan in tandem with air conditioning, you should be able to raise the thermostat by around 4°F while still maintaining the same level of coolness.

For maximum energy efficiency, look for a fan with the ENERGY STAR® label, which means it meets the criteria of using at least 20% less energy than what is required by federal standards.

Better sleep:

Installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom could help promote more restful sleep by keeping the bedroom cool and providing soothing white noise that helps drown out intrusive sounds.

Extra lighting:

Many ceiling fans come equipped with built-in lighting, a great feature for smaller spaces that can’t accommodate a floor lamp or table lamp.

Space efficiency and safety:

Anyone who’s ever tripped over a box fan while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night will appreciate the convenience of having a ceiling fan that doesn’t take up any floor space. Using a box fan can also create a hazard for pets or small children. Ceiling fans provide the same level of comfort while remaining out of the way.

Selecting the perfect ceiling fan for your space

Who says ceiling fans can’t bring the same “wow” factor to your home as Carrara marble or solid hardwood floors — along with plenty of practical function? Here are some of the most important things to consider on your crusade to find the ideal fan:

Pick the right size:

The larger the fan, the more air movement it will produce. But the size should be appropriate for the dimensions of the room—an oversized fan would dominate a small space, while a small fan in a large room would have minimal impact, both in terms of design and air circulation.

Hunter Fans, a company with over 135 years of experience creating ceiling fans and fixtures, offers this handy chart for choosing the right size fan for your space:

10’ x 10’ (small room) 30” to 48”
20’ x 20’ (large room) 50” to 54”
More than 20’ x 20’ (great room) 56” or larger

Source: Hunter Fans

For spaces larger than 18 feet, you may want to consider using multiple fans or a dual fan.

Need more guidance? Use this step-by-step guide to measuring your space and determining the ideal ceiling fan size to suit your space.

Consider ceiling height:

Ideally, ceiling fans should be installed at least seven feet above the floor, or eight to nine feet for optimal airflow, according to Energy Star. If you have a low ceiling, you’ll want a flush-mount ceiling fan. If you have a higher (or vaulted) ceiling, you’ll want a ceiling fan with a downrod, which connects to mounting hardware on the ceiling and drops the fan down lower into the room.

Justin Riordan, an interior designer, architect and founder of the Portland, Seattle and LA home staging company Spade and Archer Design Agency, only uses ceiling fans in spaces where the ceilings are higher than seven feet and wider than 10 feet.

“If we install ceiling fans in spaces with very low ceilings, we run the risk of them feeling or even being dangerous,” he notes. “If we install them in small rooms like bathrooms or laundry rooms, they can easily overwhelm a space where a recessed exhaust fan would have worked, and looked, much better.”

According to Hunter Fans, to calculate the right downrod length, you’ll want to take the ceiling height (in feet) and subtract nine feet. For example, if your ceiling height is 12’ high, you should go with a 3’ downrod.

Choose a complementary design:

Rustic or contemporary, simple or ornate, there’s no shortage of ceiling fan styles. If you’re using the fan in a smaller room and want it to blend into the surroundings, consider a basic white model that mounts flush to the ceiling.

But if you’d like the fan to serve as more of a statement piece in a large room with vaulted ceilings, you can choose a more ornate style with dramatic blades and a downrod to suspend it from the ceiling.

For the motor of the fan, you can choose from finishes like bronze, nickel, brass, or pewter. The fan’s blades are usually made from solid wood or veneer, and then finished in a wood tone or painted.

Decide between remote vs. switch operation:

Before buying a ceiling fan, check to see whether it is controlled by a switch or if it comes with a remote control. Remote fans have grown in popularity, as they allow homeowners to control airspeed, light levels and the direction of blades. A standard wall switch would need to have at least two switches with two dimmers to achieve this.

Select the right lighting:

Haylie Lapinskas, owner of a residential design studio in the Chicago suburbs, points out that most of today’s contemporary fans have integrated LED panels, which means you can’t simply switch out the bulb. “Make sure to check the color temperature of the LED panel,” she says.

“Typically in a home, you should look for 2700K (on the Kelvin scale), as this is the warmest, most appealing light temperature.”

The lighting information can typically be found in the fan’s product specifications.

Factor in the level of moisture:

If you plan to use a ceiling fan in an area that has high humidity or could be exposed to some moisture — such as a covered porch, garage, bathroom, laundry room, or three-season room — you’ll want to choose a “damp-rated” model. Damp-rated fans shouldn’t be used in outdoor uncovered areas where they would be exposed to direct rain or snow.

If you plan to use the ceiling fan in an area that is more susceptible to the elements, such as a gazebo or pergola, you’ll want a wet-rated model. These types of fans are made from all-weather, moisture-resistant materials specially designed to withstand the elements.

Ceiling fans in action

Lapinskas recently used a Modern Forms ceiling fan in a three-season porch her team just completed in Downers Grove, Illinois. This fan includes a wall-mounted remote and is Bluetooth-compatible:

A porch with a ceiling fan that is not out of style.
Source: (HaylieRead Interior Design)

In this design, Ariana Lovato owner and principal designer of Honeycomb Home Design in Pismo Beach, CA used a modern 5′ fan with three blades in black. The ceiling at the pitch was rather tall, at 14′, so the fan was needed to move the air around:

A great room with a ceiling fan that is not out of style.
Source: (Honeycomb Home Design)

In this eclectic home, Lovato opted for a wood-toned fan with three blades. The design of the fan has some interesting details and really complements the room:

A living room with a ceiling fan that is not out of style
Source: (Honeycomb Home Design)

For this more traditional beach house, Lovato selected a fan that had a little more detail than the others, but is still very clean in style and blends nicely with the space:

A family room with a ceiling fan is not out of style.
Source: (Honeycomb Home Design)

For this California home, designer Charmaine Wynter — whose firm is based in Southlake, TX — chose this fan to bring the air flow down from the 10’ high ceiling:

A ceiling fan in a sunny living room that is not out of style.
Source: (Charmaine Wynter)

Wynter chose this fan as a supplement to air conditioning for this classically styled primary bedroom with nine-foot ceilings:

A bedroom with a ceiling fan that is not out of style.
Source: (Charmaine Wynter)

Top picks for ceiling fans

If the vast array of ceiling fans has your head spinning, we’re here to help narrow the options. Check out this quick list of some of the biggest fan favorites for various scenarios:

Great for outdoor spaces: 65″ Minka Aire Xtreme H2O Bronze Wet Ceiling Fan ($439.95)

This wet-rated ceiling fan features an oil-rubbed bronze finish. Its 65″ blade span makes it ideal for cooling large spaces. An included remote control makes for easy operation.

Budget-friendly option: Prominence Home Alvina LED Globe Light Low-Profile Ceiling Fan ($60.36)

This top-rated ceiling fan features a low-profile design, reversible blades, a frosted globe light, and dual pull chain/remote control operation — all at an economical price tag.

Modern styling: Minka-Aire Sleek 60-inch LED Oil-Rubbed Bronze Smart Ceiling Fan ($299.95)

This top-rated ceiling fan features a contemporary rustic design. Smart technology allows you to control the fan’s functions from your Amazon Echo or Google Home assistant.

Ornamental design: Fanimation Islander 5-Blade Ceiling Fan in Antique Brass ($406.98)

This fan adds a tropical flair to any space, making it perfect for sunrooms or porches. Rated for wet use, it features a remote control and included light kit. Fanimation fans are the go-to for Lovato of Honeycomb Design: “They’re clean looking, very stylish and come in a variety of colors.”

Streamlined design: Big Ass Fans Haiku L Smart Ceiling Fan ($799.00)

The sleek, simple styling of this fan favorite fits well in most any space. Brooklyn, New York designer Jennifer Morris uses Haiku fans from Big Ass Fans almost exclusively in her client’s spaces: “I like that their lighting is flush, and really bright and useful,” she says. “They have great color options for kids’ rooms, and also have some nice wood options that add some warmth but are still modern.”

Attractive lighting: Hunter Hepburn Indoor Ceiling Fan with LED Light and Wall Control ($219.99)

This versatile ceiling fan combines modern design with a vintage-style round globe light. It features whisper-quiet operation, wall controls, and dimmable LED bulbs.

A white ceiling fan that is not out of style.
Source: (Bersam / Unsplash)

The last word: Are ceiling fans out of style, or here to stay?

Most of the designers we spoke with agreed that the ceiling fan is one of those fixtures that’s never really in or out of style. It’s a functional item that can double as a design element. Sure, there are outdated ceiling fans, but that doesn’t mean all ceiling fans are old-fashioned. The key is finding one that suits your style and decor.

“Ceiling fans are practical and perform an important function in an interior space,” says Morris.  “As we spend so much time inside, adding comfort is a huge part of the overall experience in the home.”

Riordan points out that in some climates, ceiling fans are simply a necessity. “It’s more a question of function and not form,” he says. “We never ask, ‘are chairs in style or out of style?’ Chairs are chairs, we need them to make a home function properly, and the same goes for ceiling fans.”

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Header Image Source: (Im3rd Media / Unsplash)