Cheap & Easy Ceiling Fan Makeover {a Tutorial}. - Pretty Real

Cheap & Easy Ceiling Fan Makeover {a Tutorial}.

7:00 AM

So in a really random moment I decided to try to make something of Genevieve's boring 'ol ceiling fan.  I'd purchased the sweetest chandelier for her nursery and was beyond sad when we realized that due to wiring we needed a light with a switch on it.  Since we don't have central AC, a fan would also be practical if not essential.  Have you ever tried to find a cute, non-cheesy, affordable fan?  I'm convinced that they don't exist (much like my search for inexpensive modern toddler bedding except for worse). So we settled on a plain white fan and hoped it would just fade into the background.

Flash forward a year or more to when I started transitioning her nursery to a toddler room.  At that point, I thought of spray painting it or modge podge-ing it (which is when I pinned this).  But both of those options seemed labor intensive and prone to error.  Then the other day in between a million other thoughts (yes, literally a million) it occurred to me that I have a fun stash of washi tape and contact paper--both of which might assist in operation-make-ceiling-fan-less-boring.    After doing a mini mock up with washi tape in a simple striped pattern, I decided to go with the contact paper.  I have both gray and teal chevron but went with gray since I was already afraid that a patterned fan might look silly. Plus it would match her wall.

I'm going to attempt a tutorial for you.  Here goes:

Items needed:
Contact paper: I used this one and it's only $10! (or even less if you can find it at HomeGoods or TJ Maxx)
Screwdriver (or whatever tools necessary to take the blades off of your fan).

That's it!

Step 1: Take your fan apart.  Be careful to hang on to all the pieces and put them in a baggie or bowl so they are easily accessible later.

Step 2: Wash that bad boy.  I almost took a picture of mine in its dirty state but I was too embarrassed. Make sure you dry it thoroughly.

Step 3: Lay out your first blade on the contact paper (with the backing of the paper still on!).  Make sure if yours has a pattern you lay it out in such a way that the pattern on the front makes sense.  i.e. I tried to keep a chevron peak in the middle of each blade.  Note: I was unsuccessful.  But if you're careful and super type A, you can do it, I'm sure.  Honestly it didn't matter much!

Step 4: Mark where you need to cut and cut in a straight line. Because I was centering my paper/pattern, I ended up with quite a bit extra on either side (maybe 2 to 3 inches).  I didn't trim it down to size at this point. It was easier to remove the blade and be able to cut the paper freely. If you don't need to "center" your paper, then you can just leave 1 to 2 inches around. You just want to have enough to be able to comfortably wrap over the edge of the blade and stick to the other side.  I feel like I might be losing you now.  I promise it will make sense as you do it (and if not, leave a comment!).

Step 5: Place the blade back on the paper with the sticky backing STILL on.  For the first couple I traced the blade with a pencil.  I then trimmed a little of the excess paper off.

Step 6: At this point, the contact paper is the right size and you can follow the instructions on the contact paper to apply it.  If your'e like me, you get excited-slash-impatient with projects and either don't read directions or read them too quickly.  The trick with stuff like this is to take your time!  So read the instructions and follow them!
Helpful Hint: Make sure to apply the paper to the right side of the blade!  I might have put it on the wrong blade once or twice.  Ok twice.

Step 7 (optional): Now that the paper is on the blade, you can trim a little more if necessary but make sure not to over-trim.

Step 8: Okay here is the only tricky part.  The fan blades curve so that's where wrapping the paper is a little bit of a pain.  What I found that worked well was to snip the paper just before the blade starts to curve at the top and bottom.  That allows you to be able to wrap the paper over the edge of the blade easily without worrying about the curves just yet. Note: the photo is only to show where I cut the slits; it was taken after I finished covering the blade so don't let that confuse you.  Also, you can see that I cut slits on either side just before the fan curves at the top--I also did that at the bottom which the photo doesn't show. So basically you'll cut 4 slits (2 on each side) and wrap the paper over the straight edges. Clearly I didn't take enough photos! 

Step 9: At this point, the blade is covered with the contact paper on one side and the paper is wrapped around the middle of the blade on the other--just the ends aren't wrapped yet.  Next, I trimmed the paper around the ends into a little bit of a curve; you still want to keep plenty of paper to wrap over. Note: Because of my pattern placement I barely had enough to cover the ends of the blade.  You will/should have more contact paper to wrap over the top and bottom of the blade.

Step 10: Then I snipped the paper down to the blade (be careful not to cut too far) so that I could pull and wrap at an angle. This is really tough to explain but I think the picture gets the point across.

Step 11: Do that for both ends and you're finished with the hardest part!

Step 12: Repeat for all blades.

Step 13 (optional): Since my paper was a bit short I reinforced the back in some areas with plain old scotch tape.

Step 14: Put the hardware back on and put the fan back together.  Note: I didn't mark where the screws were but just felt through the paper and used my scissor tip to poke a hole and push it through.  It was easy, though a sharp craft knife would work even better.

-This sounds harder than it is; I promise!  Contact paper is fairly forgiving (much more so than modge podge in my opinion) so you can tweak until you get it right.
-Each blade gets easier! Don't panic :)
-This project took me maybe a little over an hour.  To put it in perspective, it's not out of the ordinary that months lapse between when I begin a project and when I finish it so that should tell you something.
-The wrapped edges are the trickiest part but don't have to be absolutely perfect! Fans are high and you can't really see the detail!
-If you wanted to take this a step further you could spray paint the hardware a fun color to match your contact paper.  I skipped that but was tempted.


This project only cost me $5 since that's what I paid for the contact paper!  So what do you think?  Easy?  Too many steps?  If you try this, I'd love to see it!  Comment with a link to your blog (if you have one) or send a photo to!

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  1. This is so awesome! We don't have any ceiling fans, but I agree, hard to find cute ones. This is a great option! And I think it's easy enough. The only part I would struggle with is getting the fan blades down. HA!

    1. Thanks Jessica! I think it could easily look really cheap/cheesy but hopefully choosing a simple pattern helped keep it classy ;)

  2. I've been wanting to redo the ceiling fan in my son's nursery. You did such a good job! Giving me some inspiration over here... :)

    1. YES! giving inspiration is what I live for! ;) Go for it! :)

  3. “Since we don't have central AC, a fan would also be practical if not essential.” – You bet it would! And while it’s beneficial, you might as well make it something good to look at for your baby. You did a great job with this one. I can’t think of more ways to pin-up mine. Staci @

  4. This is super cute! I am going to look into doing this for my son's room. Thanks for the idea!

    1. Super late but you're welcome! Hope it came out good!

  5. This is so cute and I really like the idea of using contact paper rather than paint! But I wonder about how the contact paper holds up over time. I have a couple things I've done in contact paper and it just hasn't stayed put. Any thoughts on this?

    1. So 1 or 2 blades did start to peel up. Mostly I think due to how dusty ceiling fans get. It's easy enough to re-tape but you have to dust first. A little bit annoying but not necessarily a deal breaker...overall it still looked good when we moved out 2 months ago.

  6. Nice blog thank you for sharing this information

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  7. “Since we don't have central AC, a fan would also be practical if not essential. ” - You bet it would! And while it’s beneficial, you might as well make it something good to look at for your baby. You did a great job with this one. I can’t think of more ways to pin-up mine.

  8. That's adorable! I love how doable it looks. My husband and I moved into a house that finally has a ceiling fan as opposed to our old apartment. The pro is that it saves on air conditioning, but it does need a makeover. I'll be sure to try this, thank you :)

    1. Good luck with it! It was a fairly easy project!!

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. I REALLY like this one, but I'm curious as to how well this one stayed put. I'm in S. Florida where anything sticky doesn't last because of the humidity. Is this design still up?

    1. I had it up for 3 years and a couple of the blades started to peel a bit. I could've easily taped them but it wasn't very noticeable and I never got around to it. I think if you had a little more overlap it might not be an issue (you can see in the tutorial in some areas my paper just barely came up over the edge of the blade), but either way I feel like it's an easy fix and definitely was still worth it. I've done DIYs that sort of fall apart over time and I feel like I should've just bought something but this one wasn't like that! In my opinion totally worth it and I'd do it again! Thanks for visiting!

  10. Sweet!!! Covers didn't make sense to me but this does! And Thank You for the tips on corner slitting and how to get sides covered! Very helpful indeed. I have that darker gold motor cover so I'm thinking a white paper design with a bit of color that is laced with a little gold. ML!