The decorative accent that will set your home apart

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118902532821399.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of ARA Content’, ‘Optimal placement for a ceiling fan would be 8 to 9 feet from the floor. ‘);

Look around your house and you will likely notice a lot of coordination. The brushed nickel knobs on your cabinets match the kitchen sink; all of the lighting fixtures on your upper level contain alabaster glass; and every window in your home has those same wooden blinds.

Matching looks and materials allow you to create a sense of cohesion—in essence to tie everything in the house together. You may think you have done a good job of it, but if you look around, there may be something that just does not seem to fit in—the fans.

“It’s not so unusual to see homes with beautiful designer kitchens and upscale entertainment rooms have fans that look out of place. If I’m describing your home, it’s time to do something about it,” says Dan Blitzer, consulting director of education for the American Lighting Association (ALA), who points out that fans have come a long way in the past few years.

“People never used to think of fans as decorative pieces, but now they are, thanks to the wide variety of options available,” says Blitzer. Among the trends he is tracking, a much broader selection of fans, particularly in the modern or contemporary style, a richer choice of materials and detailing, and the availability of fan integrated lighting that is much more energy efficient.

Nathan Frampton of Zionsville, Ind.-based Fanimation says one of the biggest trends he has noticed lately is that decorators are treating fans almost like pieces of furniture. “You’d think an interior designer would rather use a chandelier from a decorating standpoint, but now you can have the best of both worlds,” says Frampton. “A beautiful light fixture that has the functionality of a ceiling fan.”

Frampton points out there are now fans on the market, like his company’s Air Shadow fan, that feature an exquisite lighting fixture with retractable fan blades. If you are looking for more of a retro look, how about a fan with a metallic housing and single matching blade that pushes a lot of air around. For outdoor decorating, there are units that feature decorative plastic blades that look like they are made out of wood or metal.

Kim Noerteman of St. Louis-based Regency Fans says a trend she has noticed is the prevalence of fans with larger motors and intricately-decorated blades. “The larger motors allow the fans to move air around more efficiently,” says Noerteman. “As for the blades, leaf-shaped wooden blades were the most popular decorative accents for years, but now we’re seeing blades with new designs and different materials. Points and swirls are popular,” she says.

In addition to an array of decorative options, today’s fans are also more energy efficient than ever before. Blitzer points out that many now carry an Energy Star rating, which means they use improved motor and blade designs that require less energy to run than conventional fan/light units. During the summer months, a fan can reduce the apparent room temperature by as much as 8 degrees. This can save you $15 to $20 per year on utility bills, plus any additional air conditioning or heating savings gained when the fan is operated properly.

Here are some tips from ALA that will make finding the fan that works best for your home a breeze:

Bigger rooms need bigger fans. For maximum efficiency, choose a fan to fit your room size. In a room up to 75 square feet, like a bathroom, choose a 29- to 36-inch fan. Medium-sized rooms up to 144 square feet can fit ceiling fans with 36- to 42-inch blades. The larger bedrooms and family rooms around 225 square feet work most efficiently with 50- to 54-inch blades.

Ceiling height is also important when choosing a fan. Place the fan higher than 7 feet above the floor in the middle of the room for maximum comfort, circulation and aesthetics. Optimal placement would be 8 to 9 feet from the floor.

Fan blades determine the amount of air being circulated throughout the room. The fan blade brackets should be positioned to hold the blade at a 12- to 15-degree angle for optimal circulation and be weighted and matched as a balanced set to avoid having your fan wobble.

The heart of every ceiling fan is the motor. The motor is responsible for producing quiet operation while driving the blades for air movement. Look for a high-quality motor with heavy-duty windings and sealed bearings that are permanently lubricated.

Consider the warranty. When you choose to purchase a ceiling fan, look for a good warranty for the life of your fan. Some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty and in-home service.

For more information about how to utilize ceiling fans for year-round comfort in a fashionable style, log on to There you will also find a tool to help you locate a lighting showroom near you. from the Sept. 5 – Sept. 11, 2007, issue

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