Shopping for furniture in Hong Kong can be a headache - the challenges of finding something that fits in your flat and meets your budget can take the fun out of choosing designs and colours. But there are plenty of solutions if you know where to look.
No one needs to be told about Ikea. With three local mega-stores, there is no doubt that the Swedish firm has helped furnish many local homes. Even those who sniff at the suggestion of Ikea often end up buying a couple of items there.
Perhaps the easiest, one-stop solution is Horizon Plaza in Ap Lei Chau. With 28 floors dedicated to furniture, you have a good chance of finding what you want. Jane Pritchard is a fan of the plaza for the variety it offers, but says the prices can be on the steep side.
"I like that everything is under one roof. And it's good for families. You can take the kids along because there is so much space and there are toy stores," she said.
The sheer size and scale of the complex can be a little overwhelming. Pritchard suggests getting a directory on the ground floor and then taking the lift to the eco-furniture store Tree on the 28th floor, which has its own cafe.
"I love the stuff in Tree. It's beautiful and simple, but it's so expensive. We go to Tree and look at what we want and then debate it for six months. There's a sofa there that we're going to go back and get. And the café is great," Pritchard said.
By starting at the top on the 28th floor, it is easy to work your way down to the shops on the lower floors.
Pritchard always stops in at Indigo and Tequila Kola, which have discounted outlet shops and designer showrooms in the building.
Briton Mally Foster's quest for the perfect sofa took her to Horizon Plaza, but she could not find anything suitable within her budget. "We were looking for a sofa that looked nice and wasn't too expensive. We saw a lovely suede one that was about HK$20,000, but we've got a baby and a two-year-old so that wouldn't work, though I'd have got it if I was a millionaire and I didn't have kids spilling juice," Foster said.
A tip from a friend led her to Di-mension, a Hong Kong-based online furniture store with a small showroom in Tai Koo.
"We went to the showroom, and the owner Darren said he had a sofa on offer at the moment and we could choose the filling and the colour,' said Foster. "They made it to order in a couple of weeks. We're very pleased with it and keep getting good comments about it."
As Di-mension is located in a fairly nondescript industrial building, away from the main commercial areas, it pays lower rents than the shops in Horizon Plaza and is therefore able to offer much more affordable prices.
Di-mension was not Foster's first foray into custom-made furniture. She and her husband heard about the furniture showrooms in Zhuhai and made an appointment to visit one through Art Treasures Gallery on Hollywood Road.
At the gallery's 70,000 sq ft mainland warehouse, the couple bought an antique cabinet for HK$7,000 and two small chests.
Even though Foster never considered Ikea for their key furniture pieces, she did visit Ikea for a Poang chair when she was pregnant. "The chair bounces a bit and is quite comfortable, so it's renowned for breast-feeding mothers," she said.
"Ikea is good for some things; you've just got to be targeted."