7 ceiling fans for a midcentury home

Roseana writes:

I’ve looked and looked on your site, but I’m not seeing much in the way of what folks have done about replacing ceiling fans in their ranch or modern homes. Here in Texas, they are just essential. I’ve used fans from Modern Fan Company (the Ball fan) in a couple rooms, but I’m looking for something that’s less “minimal” than that design. And NO light fixtures in the fan, please! Who’s got some great leads on ceiling fans that aren’t garish and still fit in with the retro look we’re all after?

Okay, I started poking around and came up with some thoughts:

retro ceiling fan emerson traditionalRoseana, one of the first stories I ever wrote on the blog — back in Nov. 2007 — provided some ideas to Kelly about decorating an attic in retro style. Haha, I had NO readers! Back then, I found Emerson Traditional Fans. I still like the look of these.

Also, the Prima Deluxe.

Roseana, as you have said, the Modern Fan Company fans are very… modern/contemporary … they are not what I’d call “retro – authentic”… not that I know exactly what retro-authentic means. But what I “tend” to believe is that they would be… simple and traditional: Wood blades… Chrome or probably even more so, unlacquered brass base.

Where else to look for a traditional / retro ceiling fans?

Some very nice looking classic – traditional – therefore, retro — designs at the Monte Carlo Fan Company.

Above: Fanimation seems to have some basic ceiling fans.

Above: Hunter has a number of traditional ceiling fans, but I think their styling with those pfoufy attachment-to-the-blade designs are a big much.

This Sterling Manor design from Kichler is pretty basic.

Progress has a basic design.

Readers, do you have ceiling fans original to your house?
What do they look like?


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. Chutti says

    Great story, Brian! I don’t remember any ceiling fans in the actual mid-century period either. That may just be a California thing, as they would be swell in a humid climate. I do remember, and actually have, a few great table and box fans from my folks.

    When I was a kid there was a box fan about 28″”square at the top of the stairway to keep things flowing all summer. And none of us ever messed with it- just walked around.

    And it was a huge treat to sleep on patio furniture in the kitchen. Why did that seem so cool? It was fun, though.

    Table fans! I loves em! -specially them fancy ocelots. I like feeling the breeze going by in the summer, but it’s a bit much in the home office to keep papers down.

    I got a great army surplus Emerson fan this summer. Apparently, Emerson was THE industrial and basic fan to have. With a tune up, works perfectly and MOVES a lot of air. Looks like this, but with military inventory stencil on back…

    Gotta say, for all the fears about kids losing their fingers in em, I have yet to meet anyone who has been hurt by a fan.
    I like them down where I can enjoy them.

    • Ann-Marie Meyers says

      I can’t remember even having fans in our house when I was a kid. I don’t know whether we didn’t need them in the north woods of Wisconsin, or if it was just that my parents were too cheap to buy them. Probably a combination of both. I do know my dad took the first opportunity he got to put in central air. It was probably about 1965. He gave us a choice, air conditioning or a color tv.
      He may have been a little disappointed that we chose the air conditioning, because he kept trying for the color tv. New vinyl floor in the kitchen, new dishes (Corelle, of course). We were perverse little brats. We always chose the other thing. He finally got wise to us and just went out and bought the color tv one day when I was in college.

  2. gsciencechick says

    We have a funky chrome with cobalt blue bulbs in in our LR. One thing to keep in mind if you have only 8′ ceilings like we do, is thatif you can mount the fan flush or with a shorter downrod. Not every fan model has that option.

  3. Elaine says

    Our 1963 time capsule has ceiling fans. Two of the bedroom ones are newer. The kitchen one was original and beautiful, with pale blue blades and a cream and blue housing. The two new ones are flush mount because the ceilings are quite low and they have five blades. The beautiful blue one had to go as its motor was dying. We got a Home Depot Hammond Bay replacement with a light. It looks pretty good in here. The two remaining ones are older, not sure if they are original. They are not flush mount. The motors hang down from the ceiling. Both have brass metal vented motor housings and four walnut tone wood blades. One has a gold stencil pattern on the blades. One has a stained glass light fixture attached to the bottom, very late 60s looking, orange, gold and cream.

  4. Bruce Metzger says

    In helping to renovate my daughter’s 1962 MCM, I find several good looking fans at both Home Depot and Lowes. Problem is, anything with light included is remote controlled and those components simply do not last. So, still looking for something with pull chains.

  5. James Lehr says

    Back in the day, I don’t recall ceiling fans being in any of the authentic midcentury homes here in North Texas – any kind of fans would have been considered too “old fashioned.” Only Grandma’s porch and really old commercial establishments, like old hardware stores and soda fountains had ceiling fans. Residential central air conditioning was thought (at the time) to be modern and sufficient enough to eliminate the need for fans. Fast forward to the 1970s, however, and people were becoming more aware of conserving energy. I remember two different friends (always with smart decor and up with the times) finding genuine antique fans and having them restored, then installed. Those old fans were cast iron and weighed a ton! It wasn’t long before new ceiling fans became commercially available and the market was flooded with everything – good, bad and ugly!
    My favorite fan choice is classic black with medium-toned wood blades. Hunter might still make one – I think at one time it was called “Archive Series” or something similar.

  6. James Lehr says

    As an afterthought, the real, classic midcentury fan might not be a ceiling fan, but a Westinghouse Mobilaire! Those came in pink, turquoise and a sort of yellow-beige shade. I still see them sometimes at flea markets and estate sales.

  7. says

    Alas! We are not allowed to surf the ‘net at work, so I can’t participate in comments in real time — only after hours when everyone is away, probably asleep. But, I wanted to say anyway: in my 70’s ranch I have (what I believe is) an original fan. It looks just like the Kichler fan, second image from the bottom of the post.

    When I first started reading this post, I thought “Oh good! Some ideas to update my ceiling fans with!” But by the end of the post, I realized that what I have is exactly what I should have.

  8. Jay says

    Catching up! I think if you want to be authenticlly retro, you need to find an old GE or Westinghouse table fan. My 57 ranch does not even have ceiling lights in the bedrooms and living room – switched outlets for lamps. No central air either because no one ever bothered with the ductwork. Window units in the bedrooms for me. Ceiling fans would be out of place with just 8 ft ceilings.

  9. Colin says

    We have an Emerson Atomical. As the name implies, it’s more “Atomic” than the others show above. It’s a gorgeous fan, and extremely efficient.

  10. says

    My 1960’s split level MCM home came with these types of ceiling fans in all 3 of the bedrooms. I don’t have this exact model, but they look similar, complete with the control box. I’m not sure if they are original to the house or put in by a previous owner.


    I have wood tongue & groove ceilings, so the fan is mounted to one of the beams, and the electrical cord is run against the beams, down the wall, to an inlet. The cord is a bit unsightly, But the fans still work well, and I do appreciate them in both the summer & winter! The upstairs of my split level (where the bedrooms are located) tend to always be the warmest places in the house.

  11. Ali Van Dam says

    We recently installed the most amazing ceiling fan in the living room of our 1958 LA home. The Haiku made by Big Ass Fans. Very minimal, energy star, made in the USA, silent yet powerful, beautiful solid wood blades and dimmable LED light option. I was extremely hesitant that a ceiling fan would take away from the home’s retro vibe, but this one has been perfect.

    They’re expensive with ours costing around $1000, yet worth it for a large room and prevents us from needing to sink money into more costly cooling measures like insulation, windows, and a/c. Now I’m looking for a cheaper knock off for the bedrooms, but we might invest in more Big Ass fans because they really are the best in style and function that we’ve found.

    Here’s our exact one, many other color options available.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *