August in Newport is a lot different than my childhood Augusts in
Riverside. When I start to complain about the heat, I give myself a
reality check. I flash back to 110 degrees in the shade, opening the
front door and feeling an oven-like burst of heat in my face, being
able to fry an egg on the sidewalk.
Our house was air-conditioned, and we were comfortable. Keeping
things cool in the summer was paramount.
One summer, my mother had ceiling fans installed in every bedroom.
The idea was good -- better than the actual fans. They worked, kind
of. They wobbled and hummed, but they circulated the air. What was
the ceiling-fan downfall? They were ugly -- shiny white metal with
bright brass fittings. It was the best the 1970s had to offer. Since
then, I admit to being something of a ceiling fan snob. If it's
white, bright, makes noise and has dirt accumulated along the edges
of the blades, I'd rather swelter.
Now ceiling fans have entered the 21st century. Mechanically, they
are better-engineered -- not as many wiggles and noises.
Aesthetically, ceiling fans are now comely accessories. Although you
can probably still find white fans with polished brass hardware, why
would you want to? Fashion has hit the ceiling. You can choose from
oil-rubbed bronze, satin nickel, pewter, and textured bronze. Blades
come in hardwoods that are stained or painted every color in the
rainbow. Blades can be made with sea grass inserts or be large
reinforced palmetto leaves. You can have stainless steel,
powder-coated metal or mesh blades. You can mix and match metals and
woods. You can order fans with or without lights. The sky is the
limit. I recently perused a few ceiling fan websites and found some
fresh designs to give you plenty of reasons to cool off.
The Fanimation Ceiling Fan Company has introduced products that
bring a twist to the ceiling fan market. The "Punkah" is a length of
fans that simultaneously move back and forth. The length can expand
up to 36 feet with as many as nine blades on one motor. This fan is
cool, literally and figuratively. Fanimation has another innovative
design with its "Palisade" model. The Palisade has two sets of palm
leaves that rotate vertically instead of horizontally. It's the
perfect application for a very tall ceiling.
Casablanca Ceiling Fans has added several new designs to its
traditional upscale repertoire. The "Key Largo" fan has an oil-rubbed
bronze motor casing and five split bamboo blades. The "Marrakesh" is
a Moroccan design with three teak blades. It looks fancy and simple
at the same time. The "Moorea" combines dark walnut accents with sea
grass or rattan inserts. If you're trying to sell the idea of a
ceiling fan to the males in your home, add this perk -- Casablanca
ceiling fans have a remote-control option. You can turn it on, off
and regulate the speed from anywhere in the room.
Another extra? Fans now have a blade-rotation switch. By running
the blades counterclockwise in the summer, the fan creates a
downdraft effect that forces the lighter, hotter air to mix with the
lower, cooler air creating a lower room temperature. Running the
blades clockwise during the winter forces the hot air to recirculate
without creating a cooling effect. Think about that, a fan for all
* KAREN WIGHT is a Newport Beach resident. Her column runs