Thursday, October 6, 2011


It's almost embarrassing to admit this. You know how once is awhile you hit a new ceiling on something. Maybe it is your income, your debt, the number of drinks you have in a week, the miles you can run, the hours of sleep you can get by with, the number of shoes you can own and not feel guilty....Well, I hit a new ceiling last week: the price of a light fixture. No client names. No vendor names.

I needed a light fixture for a large dining room in a gorgeous traditional home in New York - hoping to go a little more modern, even a little rock n' roll. So I found a beautiful fixture that I knew would be expensive, but as that was all they needed for the room, it seemed reasonable to spend a little more on something memorable. I saw a gorgeous fixture in a showroom, took an iphoto, sent it to my client and they asked for the price.

 Later that week, I swear, I was walking home from a restaurant and walked by what is reported to be Madonna's townhouse on East 81st and looked in at night though a lovely sheer Conrad-like shade and there was the light fixture! Well, I told my client, surely "if it works for Madonna....."

I got the dimensions of the table and of the room and then asked for a quote for a custom fixture that would fit the bill - I asked for two options. The quotes I got back were for these amounts:  $24,600 and $43,000. If I add my margin to the lights, I think we are looking at the price of a car, and not a Ford Focus! A 3- series BMW and possibly a 5-series BMW.

This is what I told the client. "You could just buy a BMW, hang it on the ceiling and turn the lights on." This BMW would cost him the same, be very Joseph Bueys a la 2011 and a commentary on the high cost of decorating.

I don't like to presume anything about my clients. How they spend their money is their business - at least until they ask my opinion. I'm all about beautiful rooms. But...I'm not feelin' a $50,000 light fixture.

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