Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How To Blow A Budget In 10 Ways - By Guest Stylist Kate Prueher

When my husband and I started renovating our home, we set our budget and decided on the following rule of thumb: 30% of all expenditures will go toward improvements that will stay with the house when we sell (i.e. bathroom and kitchen remodeling, lighting, refinishing floors etc.) while the other 70% will go toward things we can take with us, such as furniture and art. We thought this was a great plan until a) we received our contractor’s estimate which came out to 75%, not 30%, of our budget, and b) I discovered my expensive tastes aren’t limited to clothing and accessories, but home furnishings too. Crap. It is through this process that I learned how to blow a budget in 10 ways.

1) Vik Muniz, Diamonds - Rita Hayworth. Not only is this portrait just beautiful, the way it is made absolutely boggles my mind. Vik Muniz actually rented thousands of diamonds, arranged them in the likenesses of old Hollywood starlets, and photographed them. It doesn’t get any more glamorous than that. Unfortunately the large print at 51 x 48 inches would blow our entire budget! Luckily there is one that is 32 x 30 for half of the price of the large one, but then we wouldn’t get to do any renovations… But who needs renovations when you have this beauty hanging on your wall?

2) Tom Dixon’s Fresh Fat extruded plastic table. Yes, $4,000 for a plastic coffee table probably isn’t the smartest buy for a girl on a budget, but it does double duty, because well, it’s art! And ultimately I’m being budget savvy, because I’m not getting the matching chair. I can justify anything.

3) Jo Braun’s custom mosaic, Inspired by Trees. This one is a double whammy to my budget because not only is it custom and will likely cost a fortune, but if installed the way I want it as it is here, we couldn’t take it with us either. Alas!

4) Tony Duquette’s gold leafed table. At $17,500, this is not the least expensive dining room table on the market, and technically we already have a glass dining table that we both love, but this one is gold! By Tony Duquette! I just might die if I don’t get it. Die I tell you!

5) Cole & Son’s Nuvole wallpaper by Fornasetti. When I started my wallpaper search, I started with Cole & Son. Using books such as Modern Luxury by Richard Mishaan, and Glamour: Making it Modern by Michael Lassell, for my design inspiration probably wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done since these people have their homes published in books with the words “Glamour” and “Luxury” in the titles. Let’s face it; the homeowners in these books have extra dough lying around to spend on things like wallpaper. So, since I started with Cole & Son, I thought it was totally normal to spend $750 for an 8 x 8 piece of wallpaper. Yeah, little did I know, it’s usually more like $100. But look at this wallpaper…it would be stunning in our foyer with super shiny white marble floors, doncha think?

Ice Crystals sconces by William Haines. Well, since I have to have the wallpaper, then I must have the following wall sconces. What?! They are $25,000?! Each?! Guess my husband will have to take up a second job, but they are totally worth it. Not sure he would agree, but eh, I’m sure he’ll get used to the idea, I mean, look at them!

7) Crucifix, by Bert Stern. This is a picture of Marilyn Monroe taken at her final photo shoot before she died. When I inquired with the gallery about the price, my good (read expensive) taste was confirmed when they told me that this was the photo chosen by Bert Stern himself as the cover of his book, The Last Sitting. Not to mention the fact that the red mark on the photo was made by Marilyn herself. My husband and I now use our desire for this photo as a benchmark for how much we want other things, for example, Question: “Would you rather send our kids to college or buy Crucifix?” Answer: Buy Crucifix of course!” I kid, I kid. Maybe.

8) Milo Baughman stainless steel and curly lamb dining chairs. Because I need to sit on something when I’m sitting at my Tony Duquette gold leaf table. They aren’t exactly kid friendly, I can see the half masticated Cheerios and banana goo stuck in the soft curly hairs now. Guess we can’t have kids. That’s cool considering we won’t be able to send them to college anyway since we must have Bert Stern’s Crucifix.

9) Cascade crystal chandelier by Vincent Van Duysen for Swarovski Crystal Palace. Ahhh! We have the perfect place for this! It totally wouldn’t go in our modest home, but I want it soooooo badly. I’ve wanted it ever since I first saw it in the window at Moss years ago. Unfortunately the fact that it weighs 660 pounds and a simple dress with just a few ounces of Swarovski crystals costs hundreds of dollars; I can only imagine what this would set us back. Guess I better start saving my allowance.

10) Stella McCartney tufted wool coat, belt, and boots. What? You didn’t think I could do ALL of this shopping and not find at least one thing to wear? I need some kind of reward for all of my hard work, especially considering I now have to start over and look for furniture and artwork we can actually afford. But thankfully all these beautiful pieces have truly provided me with some divine inspiration, and I hope they have inspired you too!


  1. Thanks for your post Kate, and thanks for giving us 10 new things to adore.... fabulous!

  2. I think I will just DIE if I don't get my cole and son wallpaper soon! I still can't decide between this one or Woods. I could sit around for hours looking at their wallpaper.