From an electrician that “puts in the expensive, couple hundred dollar light fixtures” to client expectations of a good lighting budget, I felt the need to share some thoughts about lighting costs today.
I remember the final construction phase of our first home. When it was time to pick out the light fixtures, I had extreme “decision” exhaustion. This was before I went to design school, and I didn’t know that lighting should have been one of the first things picked out…not the last. Everything else was done, but we needed fixtures. When I walked into lighting stores, I was overwhelmed by the amount of fixtures that were there. I wondered what size to buy and why they were all SO expensive?!
Does this sound familiar?
Almost a decade later, I’m designing new construction homes for other people. I’m in charge of making their dreams come true, but within the context of their budget. I’ve watched dreams dashed to pieces when clients hear what their dreams will really cost. I’ve watched frustrated installers try to make weak materials and strange connections hang perfectly for my clients, knowing they will get the brunt of the blame if it doesn’t look right. I wish with all my heart that lights never became discontinued or that finishes online looked like the finishes in real life, but I can’t. It’s the nature of design in Wyoming (with no showrooms to view in person) and life.
What does quality lighting really cost?
It’s a hard question to answer, because my knowledge is always growing and the market is always shifting, but I’ll give you my best answer today.
I think it’s hard to find good-looking sconces for under $100, and decent chandeliers start at around $1000. If you want a quality fixture, a flush mount will start at $500, and you’ll need to spend $3500 plus on a quality chandelier. Size has a huge impact on cost, but this is the best general range I can come up with.
Is this shocking?
I understand that we want to stretch our hard-earned dollars. My goodness, we work hard for our income! So it is natural to want to stretch that money as far as we can. Surely there’s a company out there that can make the look for less?
But let’s talk about what a cheap fixture will cost you. You may get the look for less. But you will also purchase weak materials, poor engineering (think a million pieces even an experienced electrician has a hard time assembling), and horrible customer service. You demanded that it cost less, and certain companies tried to comply by cutting their support staff. When you call with complaints, there won’t be anyone to listen. Or you’ll be listening to elevator music for 3 hours until someone can get to you.
I know it’s hard to pay for expensive light fixtures, but those companies (usually) are able to pay for support staff and insane packaging that will make sure your fixture gets to you unharmed. When something goes wrong, they’ll have your back and will go to the ends of the earth to make you happy. I don’t know about you, but in the long run, that sounds like a better deal.
Remember that every home you are in fits your life stage as well. I am always pushing for quality, but if you are newly married or it’s your first home, the cheaper light fixtures are all right. It’s ok to go to IKEA and Home Depot. Don’t worry that you don’t have “the best” right now, and don’t expect everything you purchase to last. Knowing this ahead of time will give you peace of mind.
But when you are ready to really invest in your home, I want you to consider one more thing.
Light fixtures to a home are what jewelry is to an outfit.
Do you really want to put plastic beads with that Vera Wang dress?
Tam Stone says
I’m going to use your plastic beads on a Vera Wang dress comment… Love it! Great post Tawna.
Sondra Abbott says
Well said, Tawna! You bring up very good points. I love the comparison of lighting a home to trimming a Vera Wang dress – great image!
Thank you Sondra! I appreciate you reading.