Furnishing advice

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2013, 2:14am

Whether you're constantly moving flats due to soaring rent or you've finally coughed up your life savings on that perfect property, outfitting with suitable furniture is tricky. Ikea and Pricerite goods don't last, and you can't afford high-end brands. So where do you start?

Keep your finger on the furniture pulse by constantly visiting local listing sites: the transient nature of international companies in Hong Kong often means businessmen are stationed here for just a year or two, furnishing their flats with expensive pieces before having to sell them off quickly when they move.

Websites such as asiaxpat.com, geoexpat.com and kijiji.com.hk are favourites for quick furniture sales. At the time of writing, a Tequila Kola sofa bought for HK$18,000 was selling for HK$3,000, while a desk from G.O.D. bought for HK$4,000 was selling for just HK$800.

Similarly, Eureka Furnishings (eurekafurnishings.com) is the subsidiary of popular upscale furniture purveyors Home Essentials. Its goods aren't exactly second-hand, but a mix of ex-display unit and executive rental pieces sold off at discounted prices. At the time of writing, you could grab a dining table for HK$450, a chest of drawers for HK$1,580 or a three-seat sofa for HK$3,980.

If the thought of used furniture scares you, try hopping on a ferry to Macau for cheaper pieces: Rue de Sao Paulo and its neighbouring streets are home to a host of furniture stores, with the most popular variety being reproduction antiques sourced directly from China. Lower shop rents in Macau means prices there are much cheaper than in Hong Kong, and shipping charges to our city only add a few hundred dollars to the total price.

But if you're planning on crossing borders, why not go to the source? Take an inter-city train from Hung Hom station to Foshan, in Guangdong, and then a cab ride up to the China Furniture Wholesale Market in the city's Shunde district. Known as the world's largest furniture market - its annual revenue surpasses US$1 billion - the entire area extends to five kilometres, with its 20 streets housing more than 3,300 domestic and foreign furniture dealers, along with 1,500 manufacturers.

Everything here is sold at a heavy discount: think L-shaped leather sofas for around HK$2,000, Jacuzzi tubs for HK$4,000, or an entire hotel room set-up for just HK$7,000. Bringing a translator is often necessary and you'll need to bargain hard, but every seller can easily (and cheaply) deliver your goods back to Hong Kong.

If you're looking for something a little more classical and high-end, try the city of Zhongshan, just a one-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong and home to a popular antique furniture market that opened in 2011. With over 100 dealers, prices aren't as cheap as discount furniture shops, but you're paying for high-quality reproduction pieces made from rainforest wood. For example, one of the factories sells a marble-and-wood coffee table for HK$5,000.