Remodeling an Old Ceiling Fan, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

“Either this ceiling fan goes or I do.” That’s what I said when I fixed up my spare bedroom. Somehow the fan looked a lot worse as soon as everything else looked better.

Thanks to comments from JanL and Mickey Goodman, I went to work. Here’s a symmetrical photo of my “new” fan.

Remodeled Ceiling Fan For context, here’s a link to the previous post.  And here’s the ceiling fan “before” —

Ceiling fan - before

The 1970’s called – they want it back.

With the blades flipped over, plus a new globe and pulls, it isn’t perfect but it’s certainly less obtrusive. A do-over saved the price of a new fan and kept this one out of the landfill.

Ceiling Fan Re-do

“New” ceiling fan – it’s pale gray, not white, but there’s gray elsewhere in the room so it’ll do.

The flip sides of the fan blades had small rectangular stickers on them. They came off when I washed the blades, exposing a little spot of white priming on each one. They’re visible through the fretwork of the supports if you happen to really look. The finicky part of me will probably get some touch-up paint one of these days, but for now, enough is enough, and I’m moving on.

One fan down and two to go…

Ceiling fan with wood blades

Not old enough to be antique, just old enough to be dated. Can this ceiling fan be saved?

Yes, the quilt you can see in the background is old too, but that really is an antique… which brings us to the mysterious line between “dated” and “antique” and makes me wonder if all ceiling fans will be charming if I just wait long enough.

I’ve already replaced this fan’s old wheat-patterned globe with a plain white one, but the shiny brass may be too much for new blades and pulls to counteract. Still, it seems wasteful to replace it when it works well, so I want to come up with something. Too bad these blades are the same on the reverse, so flipping them isn’t an option.

This strategy worked well for me last time, so I’ll use it again  —

“Do you have any suggestions?”

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry


22 thoughts on “Remodeling an Old Ceiling Fan, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

  1. That is fine work with the first ceiling fan. It looks as good as new. Very pretty and even delicate. I bet when you first went up to it, it was covered in dust. Does it actually work? I suppose it’s one of those old fans that don’t spin very fast. As for the second one, I don’t know. I’m coming up blank. Maybe put it up on e-bay the way it is and see if anyone wants it. Someone might like that decor.

    • Well yes *blush* they do get dusty. The old fans work quite well, the sad fact is they are sturdy and probably better quality than new ones would be (at least new ones I feel like I can afford) — they just don’t look as pretty. On the brass one: I’m thinking I might try a new light kit with a sleeker silhouette, and a light neutral for the blades. I’ve seen articles on painting the fan itself, but not sure I’m up to that.

      • Interesting you mention the old blades are more sturdy. I have noticed that the newer ones tend to be as thin as paper…if they do break while in circular motion, it wouldn’t be very pretty. But I suppose the older brass one is not just sturdier but heavier too and maybe doesn’t spin as fast.

        Sounds like you got a few ideas on how to jazz it up. Sometimes the simpler it is, the better 🙂

      • I think the old ones are sturdier because they were built with more “real materials” – the new ones seem to have a lot of plastic and veneers, at least the more affordable ones do. The sleek modern styles that go for over $300 should be well built, but two new fans would blow my budget. (at this point it might be my head that’s spinning, not the fans — too much to do!) And oh my, a broken ceiling fan blade! That would make an awesome mess wouldn’t it?

      • Ceiling fans are much more expensive than we all think. Standing fans are generally cheaper. However, they tend to be very flimsy and after a while will start to bend to one side. That’s my experience with two of them in my flat.

        At the end of this fan project, I am sure it will all look better than before. Getting the fan and the blades up and down from the ceiling is probably the hardest part.

      • It must be a regional thing. I’d never had a ceiling fan until I moved to the southeast, and here nearly all houses and apartments have them. I had a standing fan among my things when I moved, and kept it to use if I have a painting or refinishing project. I think ceiling fans are more useful for really high ceilings (which I don’t have).

  2. I showed my husband, he said its possible that having them sodium blasted might remove the shiny part. (he said it is a milder version than sand-blasting). He said to search for sand-blasting places and then ask them if they have the milder equipment & if they think that would work. Of course, his first comment was ‘what is wrong with the shiny?’. and just for the record, I just looked around my house & note that we have several versions of ceiling fans, including some with shiny brass. and unfortunately, dust on top. I cleaned them all last fall, so am really shocked at the dust I can see. We live in southwestern Ohio and love our ceiling fans. We use them instead of our air conditioner in the summer much of the time.

    • Thanks– I like that he said “what’s wrong with shiny?” I don’t know if I’m up to taking them down for renovation, I’ll have to think that over. I love fans too, and the one I use most is the one on the screened porch. I did have to buy a new one for the porch a year or so ago, as the old one was not meant for outside use and it was failing. Just to show you the dangers of getting a new fan, the first thing that happened is: the installer broke the light globe. He paid for a replacement, but I had to order it. (It was really flimsy) Thank you so much for looking into this. I know what you mean about the dust too — and I even found a little spider web hidden on top of one of mine. I hope you’re staying warm! — Sandy

  3. OH, how easily the ceiling fans become part of the background and one has no idea what they actually look like… so I just walked through my house to investigate. In computer room: fan is brass trim with white blades, and four white glass holders for the lights. In the kitchen: darker bronze trim with wood blades, the glass has little tiny yellow flowers (oh, my, I think these are DATED!!), in grandson’s bedroom: bright brass trim, wood blades with wicker inlays, the light fixtures are white hobnail glass; in our bedroom: all parts are white; in living room: brass trim and motor, wooden blades, three white glass light fixtures. We own a rental property also and put new ceiling fans there last year. Since we were installing all at once, we did match them throughout with the more medium-bronzey color motor and sort of a medium color wood blade to match the wood flooring.

    • You’ve said it exactly, the fans become part of the background. I knew in the back of my mind that these needed attention, but again, they worked, so I moved on to other things. But once the balance was tipped on getting other things fixed, the fans started to stand out. Thank you for your generosity in all this. It sounds like brass with white blades has a precedent. (and I think we should keep our flowery “dated” globes because things come back around, and in a few more years they will look good again)

  4. PS – I realized that of all the things in my home, I mainly considered worrying about if the fans worked! We live in a Craftsman-style bungalow, was built in the 1950’s. I think if I were replacing the fans in my house now that I would go for all white so it rather blends into the ceiling. I love that you have a fan on your porch. We screened our back patio last year and have considered putting a fan there. We love our screened-in porch!

    • Yes, the porch is the thing about this house that I will really miss. A Craftsman bungalow is my favorite style of house! I spent years addicted to the ‘Old House Journal’ and ‘Style 1900’. (so how did I end up with a 70s house – it was close to the office) Thanks again – Sandy

  5. one more comment and then I will STOP!!! I updated our ceiling fans/lights by getting pretty pulls to add to the chains. I found some beautiful blue glass ones at the Dayton Art Institute Gift Shop; another on a trip to Tucson; another at a nearby small artsy-crafty shop… so maybe if you put pretty pulls on them, you won’t even have to look up and see what the fan actually looks like. As the says “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”. Regarding our weather – We had an additional 7.5 inches of snow on Saturday, so our scenery is just beautiful today. Luckily we don’t have all the ice that the mid-southern states have (my siblings in NC and SC have lost many trees due to the ice damage). I love reading of your progress. You inspire me to look at my many objects in different ways.

    • Don’t stop, I love hearing from you. I did get new pulls for the one that’s now plain, one small clear crystal and one about the same size with a little fan logo on it (so I could remember which is which). Blue glass sounds wonderful. I’ll keep my eyes open for something pretty for the 2 brass fans, and also have an existing white fan in another room that could use new pull chains. I’m sorry to hear about your siblings’ trees – I shudder every time the forecast here mentions “ice” – this is a heavily treed neighborhood and somebody always loses at least one. Stay warm, and thanks for commenting!

  6. Pingback: Symmetry: The Making Of | My Atheist Blog

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