The great ceiling fan debate

A ceiling fan can achieve both functional and design purposes in a room, especially one that is used for frequent gathering and that receives good sunlight.

Life spins fast, which means you want to avoid making a bad design decision that can be a regrettable detriment to your home's interior. When it comes to fixtures in particular, few can be as forgettable or fantastic as the ceiling fan, which can make or break a room, say the experts.

Michael Murphy, interior design and trends producer at Lamps Plus, is a fan of these classic overhead air blowers.

"Ceiling fans can help cool a room, add style and, with a light kit, provide illumination. They circulate air in the home, making rooms feel cooler during warmer months and, when the blades are run clockwise, helping to circulate warm air in the colder months," Murphy said. "And with so many options, from finish to size, and styles from contemporary to traditional, there are numerous ways to incorporate a ceiling fan into any personal esthetic."

Rosemarie Zanghellini, on the other hand, has her reservations.

"From a design perspective, ceiling fans are unattractive. For example, a Victorian or Arts and Crafts ceiling fan interpretation is bad design. And I would not install a ceiling fan if you are living in an apartment, a home with lower ceilings, or an urban dwelling in a big city, where a ceiling fan can make things look more crowded," said Zanghellini, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New York Properties.

Pam Faulkner, owner of Faulkner House Interior Redesign in Virginia, said ceiling fans can create other problems, too.

"Some people feel that they hover over them and make them feel uncomfortable. Other ceiling fans create an annoying noise or click," Faulkner said. "Also, when equipped with lights or paired with recessed ceiling lights, the fan can sometimes create a shadow or movement in the lighting that is annoying. And if you are thinking about selling your home, one or more old and outdated ceiling fans in a house can turn off buyers due to the cost of replacing them."

But that doesn't mean you're guaranteed to make a fixture faux pas if you opt for a ceiling fan in one or more living spaces.

"If you choose your ceiling fan carefully, it can add esthetic appeal to a room by enhancing the design," said Rebecca West, a Seattle interior designer. "They work especially well, for instance, in spaces with industrial, tropical or mid-century modern styles."

The first criterion to consider is climate comfort: whether or not the room can benefit from the air a ceiling fan can circulate.

"Sunrooms, converted attic spaces, areas with vaulted ceilings and any rooms that have problems with air flow and temperature control are prime rooms for ceiling fans," Faulkner said.

Additionally, living spaces that receive the most sunlight or heat, enjoy the most frequent social gatherings and where you spend the most personal time are worthy candidates for a ceiling fan.

"Some of these rooms include the master bedroom or guest bedroom, home office, and potentially the living room," said Sophie Robertson, owner of House to Home Design Co., who recommends avoiding these fixtures in dining rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.

The second criterion to ponder is visual appeal: Does the ceiling fan mesh with the design and decor of its surrounding space?

"If you are wanting to achieve a more modern look, choose a fan that has a two-or three-blade option. If you have more of a rustic or farmhouse look, choose a fan in a matching wood tone or that offers a unique light fixture," Robertson said.

If in doubt, opt for a sleek and minimalistic ceiling fan style.

"White or gray-silver metals can be less obtrusive, and contemporary wood tones can transition well in many spaces," Faulkner said.

If you're determined to remove an existing ceiling fan, don't feel obligated to replace like with like.

"You can replace it with a simple flush, semi-flush or hanging light fixture, depending on the ceiling height, that adds both light and style to your room," West said.

And if you still desire better air circulation, "there are portable fans available that you can mount or place in other areas of the room and hide after use," Robertson said.

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.