Dear Readers. This column is just for you. Every other week I’ll answer one of your interior design questions. Just send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. This week’s question:

Do you have any advice in choosing a ceiling fan?

There are two things to consider — function and style. For the best performance in a room with standard, 8-foot ceilings, the fan should not be less than 8 inches from the ceiling and two to three feet away from any given wall. It goes without saying that you want it to be high enough to clear everyone’s head.

Large fans move more air than small ones so it is more efficient to run a large fan, even on a low speed, than a small fan on a high speed. This (large fan on slower speed) will decrease both your energy bill and blade noise. The wider and/or longer the fan blade, the more airflow it generates. The more blades you have the more powerful the motor must be and, therefore, the more noise the motor will make.

Pay attention to the blade angle. The greater the angle, the more circulation it will produce. Most people think of using their fans during the summer but you can also lower your energy costs during the winter. In the hotter months, rotating your fan counterclockwise blows air downward and cools you off. In the winter, rotating clockwise blows air upward and redistributes warm air, which has naturally risen, downward.

How many blades should your fan have? It depends. Not only does the size of your room, the size of your fan, its speed, and the tilt of your blades come into play, but so does “ceiling fan efficiency and power consumption.” This refers to the amount of air movement generated. This is calculated by the cubic feet per minute or “CFM” in watts, or “W.” If this Napa heat doesn’t give you a headache, the math surely will. But I have an easy answer coming up.

Get home and garden tips sent to your email inbox

Dividing the airflow generation by the power consumption gives the fan’s efficiency. The average ceiling fan efficiency is 5,500 CFM and 70 W. So the easy answer is to just look for 79 CFM per W or better. Here’s a tip. This efficiency is not dependent on the number of blades. One blade can be just as effective as six.

If you thought that answer was difficult, finding a stylish fan may be even more so. But, contrary to what I thought of them in the past, designs have come a long way and suit many styles from farmhouse to industrial, modern, and tropical.

If you have a large space, consider adding two or more fans in a row. This will not only increase the circulation, but also add an interesting geometry to your space. Of course, match the style of the fan to your décor and if possible, choose one without lights as they tend to make a fan bulky, invade space, and interrupt your eye’s line of vision.

Have a question? Send to with “NVR Question” in the subject line.

Patti L Cowger is a credentialed, award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at call (707) 322-6522; or email