Much like a stand mixer in the kitchen, a table fan sits out in living spaces for all to see. For that reason, it’s important that it performs in style. James DeSmet, who leads the engineering and operations divisions for Big Ass Fans in Lexington, Ky., says before buying this warm-weather essential, one should consider how well the fan moves air, how much noise it makes and the quality of materials — really, the overall quality. “If you can put your hands on the product, that’s the best way to get immediate feedback,” he says. “If you’re looking at a box label or a website, I always encourage people to look at the product reviews. Do you see complaints of cheap feel, of noise?” Price, too, matters, and for that, you should decide whether you need a powerhouse fan to cool down a hot room quickly, or whether you just need to move some air around while the AC is on low. Either way, how much you have to look at the fan will determine the importance of aesthetics. The style-minded experts we talked to agreed that, for most interiors, the choice is between futuristic modern and nostalgic vintage-looking fans — because there’s nothing worse than the cheap, little white plastic fan that falls over. If you’re in the market for a cool-down, take a look at these five options that marry form and function.
“I consider Stadler Form to be one of the best fan makers in the business,” says Sean Juneja, chief executive of interior design service Décor Aid, out of New York. “All of their products are virtually noiseless, are easy to maintain, and are built to last without being a complete splurge.” Juneja has used the Charly Little ($149.99, wayfair.com) in almost every house he’s lived in, because of the extreme wind-blowing power for its 12-inch-diameter. It moves 85,000 cubic feet of air per hour, cooling up to 220 square feet.
If interior designer Genevieve Gorder of the home reality show “Trading Spaces” had to pick her favorite fan for looks, it would be one of the many she’s snapped up at vintage stores. “The Midwest has a plethora of these fans,” she says. “When there wasn’t air conditioning, that’s when they made the most beautiful things for the home out of metal.” To make sure they perform well, too, Gorder takes them to get cleaned and rewired. (Watch those fingers with real vintage fans, though.) A similar retro look can be found in the Vornado Small Vintage Air Circulator Fan, which circulates in a vortex-like fashion and comes with a five-year warranty ($59.99, bedbathandbeyond.com).
The Urban Jet Desk Top Fan ($179, rejuvenation.com) is a favorite of Kevin Faul, the founder of the consumer electrical company Conway Electric in Seattle. He likes its retro metal look as well as its tilting and oscillating features. “It has weight to it, so it stays in place,” he explains. “It has speed control and direction control. It’s something you’d be happy to have in any room because it becomes a showpiece.”
For a high-performance fan, Allan Torp uses the Dyson Cool. As the author of the book “Scandinavian Style at Home: A Room by Room Guide” and blogger at Bungalow5 , he approves of its future-forward looks. Lack of blades and grilles make it completely child-safe. “It’s on the pricey side, but on very hot L.A. summer days, it’s worth every penny and just perfect if you are in a no-AC environment.” Recently, Dyson added an air-purifying feature to this fan, calling it the Dyson Pure Cool ($449.99, dyson.com).
The Holmes Lil’ Blizzard 8-Inch Oscillating Fan ($16.63, amazon.com) sits on DeSmet’s desk at work. “I look at it as a rugged, cost-efficient thing,” he says. “For what I want and when I want it, it’s powerful.” The oscillating feature helps cover a larger area, and although the fan is plastic, it’s solid, with an artful design of the ribs — which also keep the shroud from vibrating, reducing noise, DeSmet notes.
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