Quality Matters

Why top-notch fixtures are worth the investment


In a monthly column, Lori Powell, of Fogg Lighting in Portland, offers her expert tips on illuminating your home.

Fogg Lighting
Kitchen Pendant

With so many shopping options, from big-box stores to online outlets, it can be tempting to shop for lighting by price. But we’re seeing an increasing number of clients who are searching for high-quality, customized fixtures that are built to last. In many cases, they’re looking to replace lower-end pieces made with cheap materials that wore out quickly, don’t work with their décor, or don’t offer the illumination they need.

Many people worry that higher-end pieces will break the bank. While they may require a bigger investment up front, clients usually end up saving long term, because they’re not wasting money on replacements or expensive repairs.

Fogg Lighting
Fogg Lighting
Fogg Lighting
Fogg Lighting

What are the issues clients have with lower-quality fixtures?

Pieces made with cheap materials — particularly exterior fixtures — tend to look tired after just a few years. The finishes often flake, appear pitted, or show discoloration. The cheaper metals lose their form after the slightest bump. And because many inexpensive fixtures come with limited warranties, the customer can get stuck with pricey repairs or replacements.

What are the hallmarks of good-quality fixtures?

The fixtures made by Hubbardton Forge are excellent examples of the kind of top-notch products that are on the market. Hubbardton uses traditional blacksmithing methods to craft each piece at its Vermont headquarters, using natural materials like iron and glass. The pride Hubbardton takes in its work shows — you’ll notice the flawlessness of the metal joinery and final finishing. Many pieces also have textural details, like hammered edges, that impart an organic feeling.

How does the customization process work?

At Hubbardton, you can tailor the size, finish, and choice of glass used on any of the company’s fixtures to suit your needs. In some cases, you can also choose from different lamping options, like integrated LEDs or standard bulbs. We love Hubbardton’s coastal-grade finish for exterior fixtures, which is guaranteed not to corrode in the face of salty sea air and punishing New England winters. We work through the customization options with clients to find a solution that meets their illumination needs and fits perfectly into their home’s décor.

How long is the wait for customized fixtures?

The wait time can vary depending on the manufacturer and the level of customization that you’re requesting. The standard lead time for a Hubbardton Forge product out of the catalog, for example, is about four weeks. Adding further customizations, like increasing a fixtures size, extending a hanging rod length or adding a plate switch can add another two to four weeks to the process.

How much does customization add to the price?

Customization charges are based on the cost of the extra materials and labor, and can vary widely depending on the manufacturer and what you’re requesting.

What if there’s a problem with the piece?

With a high-quality piece, a big part of what you’re paying for is the warranty and the assurance that the company is willing to stand behind its work even years after you’ve purchased it. Lower-quality fixtures typically come with one-year warranties that only apply to manufacturing defects. Like other makers of high-quality, handcrafted lights, Hubbardton offers a limited lifetime warranty. We see that kind of service as a reflection of the pride a company like Hubbardton takes in its work.

Lori Powell holds a Certified Lighting Consultant designation from the American Lighting Association, an industry trade group, and she manages Fogg Lighting in Portland. Founded in 1994 by Sanford and Debbie Fogg, Fogg Lighting offers residential and commercial lighting products, lampshades, and consulting services.