10 Minute Ceiling Fan Upgrade

Upward and onward folks!  After we had the kitchen all spruced, both the surrounding living room and dining rooms really made it feel out of place.  It looked fantastic, they…well, not so much.  Things are changing though, starting with the living room.  I painted it a few weeks ago and started tweaking with decor and I’ll share all of the details soon but first, tilt your heads to the sky…ok, not really…just keep reading.

The ceiling fan in the living room of this little house is the saddest one in the whole place.  The metal parts are shiny gold and their days of gleam and glam are gone (lit and fig) as rust and rough spots have nestled right in.  We’re not going to replace the ceiling fan in a house we’re renting though so I made a couple of quick changes to it last week to make it way more appealing and it only took me about 10 minutes and five bucks.

Here’s the sad thing before:

You can’t really see the rust spots in the picture but you will be able to when we get a little closer later.  On top of those, the blades had some really awesome, gold, scrolly designs on them, typical of older fan blades and those glass shades…doozy’s.  The way they flared out at the ends really injected me with a dose of motivation to whip this thing into shape asap.

First, I flipped the fan blades to reveal the plain, unscrolly sides.  Did you know most fan blades have two, usable sides?  Sometimes one side will have a pattern on it and the other will be plain (like ours) and sometimes one side will be one shade of (usually faux) wood while the other will have a different shade.  This is what’s on the opposite side of ours:IMG_8195
Zero scrolls.  Smart, huh?  I remember my mom flipping my fan blades over as a child and I’m thankful that that knowledge stuck with me!

It’s so easy to do too!  There are screws on the top of each blade that hold it onto the spiraling metal arms…just make sure they’re not spiraling while you do this.  HA!  Obvious but it does make a fun mental picture, right?  All you have to do is grab a screwdriver, remove those screws, flip (and probably give a quick wipe-down), and reinsert the screws.  

Flipping the blades alone made a big difference in our ceiling fan but I still had those fluted shades to contend with.  I thought about going my usual drum shade route but this light kit is so wide that the shade I’d have to make might look awkward being so big.  So, the hunt was on for new, simpler shades.  I still have two of these shades left from our old bathroom spruce up and found myself wishing I could find two more.  No luck though…until two weeks ago.  I’ve been regularly stalking our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a pantry cabinet and while doing just that one day, I found not a cabinet but, these shades:

They’re similar to the two shades I’ve got, not exact matches, but that didn’t matter because they had four and they were only $1.20 a piece.  I looked way past the fact that the gold stripe around them wasn’t in the best condition in some spots and just made a mental note telling myself that I’d install the shades so the gold stripes that were scratched would be nearest the ceiling.  (I also could’ve slapped some painters’ tape onto them to repaint the lines but I needed this to be a quick project so I could get to the other 395739 on the assembly line.)IMG_8199
If you knew that you could flip fan blades, you’ll probably know this too and so I might just be playing Cap’n Obvious but just in case, here’s how you can go about switching out glass shades.  PS, this applies to lots of different ceiling lights.

First, take out the light bulb.IMG_8197
The base of the shade probably isn’t wide enough to slip over that and you don’t want to break a bulb trying. 

Next, find the three or four little screws going straight into the metal around the bulb socket.IMG_8196
Unscrew them, while holding the shade so it doesn’t fall out.  Don’t unscrew them all the way though…just enough so that the shade slides off.  They are what’s holding it in place.


Grab your new shades, slide them up and over the bulb socket, and tighten those screws again.  I find that the shade sits the best if you tighten the screws little by little – turn one a few times around followed by the next and then the next and then start over again so that they all end up being screwed in the same amount.  Don’t let go of your shade until you’re sure you’ve tighten the screws enough to hold it in place.  Oh, and don’t tighten the screws too hard.  They should just rest against the edge of the glass.  If you tighten them too much, they’ll break the glass and then you might cry.  I’d cry with you.  Especially if you found your shades at a thrift store like me, making them basically irreplaceable.

I was so excited after I had only put in two shades that I stepped down to take a picture.IMG_8202
Maybe I’m lying to myself (quite possible) but man, what a difference between old and “new”! 

This is an easy update anyone can make to an old ceiling fan if you’re renting like us or if you’re just not ready to bite the bullet and buy a new one!


You can also take it a step further and spray paint the metal on your fan, like Brittany did here!  If you go that route, you just might want to be stuck with your existing fan for years to come.  ;) 


I mean really though, who wants to spend money on a ceiling fan?  I’d rather buy a three month supply of ice cream.  

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