The Great White Fan Debate

When Scott and I closed on our condo waaay back in 2007, we were given a teeny, tiny credit to purchase lighting for the home. It had been recently rehabbed, and as the owner’s first occupants, they threw us a bone, so to speak, by allowing us to pick out our very own lighting with a very small budget. At the time, we picked out a few Ikea fixtures here, a flush mount there, and in the living room? A ceiling fan.

Looking back, we wouldn’t purchase many (if any?) of the fixtures we chose 7 years ago, and while we loved what our ceiling fan provided us – cool air! movement! – it wasn’t the most attractive; what ceiling fans are?

And now, here we are again, needing a ceiling fan for this living room. We don’t currently have air conditioning, and we were planning on sticking it out for a summer to see how hot it gets, and so far, we’ve been alright! It’s been a cooler summer than usual, we’ve got a killer cross breeze when we open the front and back windows, but we’ll see. In any case, we still wanted two ceiling fans for now, the other being in the studio.

The problem? Oh, there are many! Here was our wish list for both rooms:

A white finish with clean lines
At least 3 fan speeds, with a winter/summer switch
52″ wide
A dimmable light
A wall switch or remote (no hanging chains!)
Within reason, price-wise

It didn’t seem that our demands were that nutty, but we quickly realized while searching online stores, Pinterest, and in-person that it was really hard to have it all. If it had a dimmable light and 3 fan speeds, it didn’t come in white. If it covered the first five bases, the price tag was out of reach. If it was white, had 3 fan speeds and was 52″, it didn’t have the option to add a light! Of course aesthetics played a large role, and it turns out there were other checklist items we were mentally adding to the list – a slim down rod, a maximum of 4 blades, sleek, but not too industrial. You know.

Scott, the smarty that he is, suggested we back away from the computer and turn to you, so we asked, where can we find a not-ugly ceiling fan?! You guys had a lot to say! (Thank you!) We hunkered down over your responses, scoured the web a bit more and wound up finding some finalists, some of which had us questioning all of our must-haves all over again (and we found ourselves running in circles more than once [punny!]):

fan-search-01

  1. Casa Vieja Courier // 52″ // $250: First, it doesn’t come in white. I know, then what’s the point? The shape and style had our hearts, and we seriously considered the brushed nickel finish. Even though we’re not a brushed nickel family. But look at those lines!
  2. Casa Vieja Exclaim // 52″ // $250: Again, no white! Why? The schoolhouse-esque shade is too cute. The cutest, we think.
  3. Restoration Hardware Riverside Hills // 56″ // $319: It’s slightly larger than our ideal size, but it is quite beautiful! When we first saw it, we felt that it looked right for this style and period of home, but we weren’t ready to give up on the search for white – not just yet.
  4. Casa Vieja Turbina // 60″ // $260: We loved this one! Yes, it was large, but could we make it work? We were thrilled to see it in a white finish, but! The white finish was the only finish that didn’t have a light kit included! We had the option to add a light kit, however, (and for whatever reason!) that frosted shade and style was not available for white.
  5. Minka Aire Aluma // 52″ // $280: We really, really liked this one. We think. Do the screw holes look too visible?, we asked. But it fits the bill in every other way!, we said.

In the end? We went with #5, the Aluma! Two of them! It hit all the nails on the head – every. Single. One. (And quite honestly, it was the only one that really fulfilled all of our requirements while, most importantly, not having an enormous price tag. It’s just a ceiling fan, after all!) Our entire goal was to have a fan that blended in with the ceiling and didn’t compete with anything we decide to do with the room. It’s not meant to be a statement piece, but we certainly didn’t want an eyesore.

Of course there was some slight drama (who, us?) during installation, as this one had a wall switch to control both the light and fan independently of each other. We ended up having to run an extra electrical wire through the ceiling to be able to use it properly, for which we hired Harry again (love that guy).

ceiling-fan-001

The Aluma is so quiet. So cooling! So invisible! It has a flat white finish that really allows it to blend right into the ceiling, which is very, very nice. We truly love it, and while I wish this was the end of our story, sadly, there’s more to tell.

ceiling-fan-003

When it came time to run the necessary electrical for the studio, Harry found armored cable in our ceiling, making it not possible to do so quickly and efficiently. (Downstairs was a different story, as that was all brand new, not armored, and super fast to install!) He recommended that we find a different fan that has a remote, which will allow us to keep all the cabling as-is, and it will be easy enough for us to install the light ourselves (which was our original intent anyway!).

Back to the drawing board.

I did learn something that day, never having through twice about a wall switch vs. a wall remote. When in doubt (and especially with old cabling!), a wall remote is the safer choice, as there’s no hard wiring at the switch plate involved. However, I refused to let this turn into The Great White Fan Search v. 2, so I quickly jumped online and found one that had a remote and hit, again, all the nails on the head: the Minka Aire Concept I. I purchased it before I could think twice, called in the Aluma for a return, and dropped it off at FedEx so I couldn’t change my mind.

ceiling-fan-004

If I’m being completely honest, upon purchasing, I do remember thinking, well, I wish the blades weren’t slightly curved. And I wish there were 4 of them. And I wish it wasn’t so glossy. But then I got over it. (Note to self: Just get over it, Kim!) Not to mention, it can get downright chilly in here with this fan on! It’s a great fan! And it only took me 5 minutes to find it! (I suppose the hours of research for the Aluma didn’t hurt, right?)

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We don’t want to think about fans again for a long, long time… or at least until we get to the bedroom. We love a ceiling fan in the bedroom, but perhaps that should call for something with more spunk. The opposite of invisible. A little bit of a show-stopper. Ha, that should be another interesting search! (We will see, we will see.)

Lastly, we can’t end this post without thanking you for all of your input. Really, you guys were amazingly helpful! And for those of you that mentioned in the thread that you were on a similar hunt, we hope this helped – even the teeniest, tiniest bit. Man, we feel you.

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  • Kerri - July 17, 2014 - 7:03 AM

    Loving the white. Definitely an upgrade from the standard white fans that most local stores carry.

    PS – you are my hero for getting through the summer with no AC! ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 9:27 AM

      Ha, I say this now, but our summer has been really mild so far… but the fans are a huge help! We do plan on adding AC down the road!ReplyCancel

  • bella - July 17, 2014 - 8:43 AM

    Great job. I like both fans. I don’t know if you are a fan (pun!) of fans in the bedroom, but my husband and I are not. We prefer a table top fan in the bedroom, as a ceiling fan feels like too much wind to us, even on low. It also dries out our sinuses. ha.

    I have a really cute retro fan on the dresser, but alas, the motor gave out (We keep it on 24/7 for air circulation) and have a more utilitarian (read: ugly) fan sitting on the floor, pointing upward.

    My ultimate plan is for a nice chandelier in the bedroom…someday. ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 9:28 AM

      We LOVE the idea of a chandelier in the bedroom, but we had a fan in our condo bedroom and loved it so much. Right now, we actually have a big ugly box fan pointed right at our bed since we love the breeze (and sound) it creates.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - July 17, 2014 - 8:47 AM

    I love the fans! Have you guys ever thought about a whole house fan? My parents have one in their house in Pittsburgh, and it’s perfect for cooling off the house at night after the sun’s gone down. They just drop the curtains during the day to help reduce the amount of sun inside. There is an AC system for when it get’s really hot, but most days, it’s not touched.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 9:30 AM

      I’ve never heard of a whole house fan! Our honeycomb blinds help to keep the cool in (and the sun out) during the day, so we also keep most of the blinds drawn when it’s really sunny.ReplyCancel

  • jaimie - July 17, 2014 - 8:51 AM

    I too know the woes of trying to find the right ceiling fan. In my case, we need 42-44″, which is already a pretty small pool to start, and also ceiling hugging. And white. There are fans that fit that criteria but man are they almost all ugly and cheap looking.ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - July 17, 2014 - 9:15 AM

    We have been on a similar search to find white fans to blend in with the ceilings in our two smaller bedrooms. We finally picked a petite model with three blades that we’re actually going to install this weekend (similar to your studio fan). Hope they look as good as yours! I do agree that white ceiling fans are nice and subtle – especially in your house, when you’ve got so many more interesting features going on, you don’t want the fan to be the first thing people see. Good choice(s)!ReplyCancel

  • Joyce H. - July 17, 2014 - 10:14 AM

    Thank goodness, you guys are like the only real bloggers who use ceiling fans. I don’t understand how people live without them!

    I like both ceiling fans too, but I can see why you don’t like the gloss on the Minka. Maybe a light sanding/matte spray paint will help?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 10:29 AM

      Now there’s an idea! Or a matte finishing spray? Now that it’s up and installed, the gloss doesn’t bother me as much (although we much prefer the finish of the Aluma), but we’ll live with it and see if it’s worth fussing with. It’s already a MAJOR improvement over the “boob light” we’ve had for months!ReplyCancel

    • Erin Haslag - July 22, 2014 - 10:59 AM

      @ Joyce – I loved this comment! Seriously – I often wonder things like “do they have a TV? do they have fans? do they have wires for their electronics??”. I love that Kim & Scott are real about everything when it comes to their home and the final products.

      @ Kim – I am still so in love with that couch and color. Every picture I get a little green with envy! Looks so so good!ReplyCancel

      • Kim - July 22, 2014 - 11:29 AM

        Thanks, Erin! Haha, we have ALL of those things, and battle with them just like everyone else ;)ReplyCancel

  • Heather - July 17, 2014 - 10:43 AM

    I am totally with you that hunting for ceiling fans can be totally challenging. Here in New Orleans, ceiling fans are a must. They need to be on 24 hours a days/365 days, especially with our 12 ft. ceilings. In the summer it’s for the cool breeze and in the winter it’s to pull down all that expensive hot air that’s hanging out way above us. :) I really like an all white fan too, and purchases a gorgeous Hunter fan a few years ago for the kitchen. My current annoyance is that I have been scouring the web for one more and come to find out Hunter decided to discontinue it. AARRGGHH.
    I shouldn’t even mention this, but we ended up tweaking our bedroom fan by changing out the fan blades. :) Just saying….in case you never get over the curved blade. I am smitten with how the living room is coming together.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 10:48 AM

      Isn’t that the worst when something you love is discontinued?! Where did you purchase the fan blades that you liked? And did you find it difficult to get blades that fit the fixture properly? Not sure if fan blades are a standard (I’m guessing not)…ReplyCancel

      • Heather - July 17, 2014 - 2:24 PM

        I purchased the replacement Hunter blades at Home Depot, but it looks like Minka fans are not as easy to tweak. I just got done chatting with Lumens, asking if they had replacement blades for the Concept 1 and they do, but they are all curved like the current blade. Then I asked since the fan itself looks quite similar and the blade size is the same, could you use the Aluma blade with a Concept 1 fan? She checked into it and even contacted the manufacturer, and she said no. Boo.
        From the online manual, the blades look fairly easy to add and remove, so if you got a really wild hair, you could take one off the Aluma in the living room and see if it snaps into the Concept 1. That is probably way more information/advice that you need or want!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Cara@theprojectaddict - July 17, 2014 - 11:48 AM

    Mandi at vintage revivals just got the most amazing fan that I really want. I just can’t bring myself to spend $400 on one….. Yet. I really want to change out our super generic fans. We use them all the time so can’t switch for light. Yours looks nice.ReplyCancel

  • Graylin - July 17, 2014 - 3:36 PM

    This is actually the post I needed! We just bought a house and the fans leave little to be desired…I’ve been looking for some alternatives.

    Fantastic!

    Love your blog,

    xoxo

    GrayReplyCancel

    • Jen - July 17, 2014 - 11:48 PM

      My job title is Lighting Professional, and I missed the post where you were asking for thoughts on Fans. LOL Minka Aire is an amazing line. I like a lot of their fans.

      When you described your requirements, the Concept 1 popped right into my head, because I spend a lot of time selling them. Honestly, one of the best fans around because it has the light kit, the remote, and such included included. (Although, building a fan with a client can be fun as well, the price point increases greatly!)

      I am personally thinking about a concept 2 traditional for our house, so I need to see if that can be done with a two-wire vs. three-wire install since we don’t have a a fan currently. I like the little indent in that to give it a transitional feel. The Aluma is new to my showroom, so I will have to keep it in mind.

      Anyway, enjoy the fans.
      ~ JenReplyCancel

      • Kim - July 18, 2014 - 8:52 AM

        Thanks, Jen! I wish we had known about you before the whole debate, ha. We love, love, love the Aluma and while we love the Concept I, we just wish it wasn’t so glossy… just personal preference. The Minka Aire brand has our heart though! They’re such great quality.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 18, 2014 - 8:52 AM

      Glad we could help!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - July 18, 2014 - 3:17 PM

    Looks great! Who knew it would be such a challenge to find something so simple? Maybe it will bring attention to manufacturers that we want the fan, but we don’t want to see the fan. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kara - July 23, 2014 - 11:59 PM

    You guys crack me up… because I fear you suffer from the same ill fate as I have – the need to carefully consider all options before making a decision! Thank goodness at the end of that often tiring process we normally love what we chose, right? Also, I’m thrilled to see a home design blog installing ceiling fans rather than taking them out. Yea for real life and personal comfort occasionally winning out of the latest trends! : )ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 24, 2014 - 9:28 AM

      Yup, it can totally be considered a sickness. Weighing ALL the options until you’ve fallen so far down the rabbit hole that you’re running in circles. We feel you!ReplyCancel

  • […] nailed our living and dining room lighting. Well, not the fixtures (we’ve been content with those for a while!), but the actual […]ReplyCancel

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