Almost all rentals in Beijing come furnished, so most expats moving into the city do not need to purchase large amounts of furniture. Home ownership is relatively new in China so for locals who have homes, there were few places to find basic, western-style furniture at reasonable prices until recently. There are several large European furniture stores in Beijing, but their high prices definitely match their imported pedigree.
Locals tend to shop at large furniture centers with basic furniture and styles that may not always appeal to western-tastes, although there is always a gem or two among the collections. Some expats who cannot find what they want at stores opt to have furniture tailor-made while they are here. There are places where you can take a catalog and have copies of your favorite furniture styles created. Copying wooden furniture is easiest and has the best results. Sofas and couches may look like the “real thing” on the outside, but the comfort and quality will be lacking. There is always a risk in having tailor-made furniture since technique and artistry can vary widely between what you are imagining and what the local services can provide.
Antiques and reproduction of antiques can also be found in Beijing. Some people like a few pieces of reproduced antiques to add to their décor. These are usually easy to find at furniture markets around town.
- Beijing Xinbiaozhi Furniture Center. 187 Dongsi Beidajie, Dongcheng District (8402 8684). Sells cheap, basic furniture such as beds and bookshelves. Queen-sized bed will cost 1,000 RMB and a bookshelf will cost about 400 RMB. Furniture can also be made to order for a little more. Make sure to bargain 10-30% off the listed prices.
- Chengwaicheng Furniture Mall. http://www.chengwaicheng.com.cn. Chengshousi Lu, northeast of Xiaocun Qiao on Nansihuan, Fengtai District (6765 1234). Another cheap local furniture market with very low prices selling fake leather couches, bathroom fixtures, and anything else you can imagine for a home.
- IKEA. http://www.ikea.com.cn. See the website for multiple location listing. Ikea is a staple of the expat population in Beijing. This massive store selling Swedish-style products for every room in your home also carries household goods like pots and pans, plants, candles, and more. Its furnishings are considered stylish in their simple and straightforward way. It is also the most reasonably priced furniture store catering to western-tastes.
- Ethan Allen (Markor Furnishings). http://www.markorhome.com. See website for multiple location listing. Solid, heavy retro pieces like Victoria four-poster beds and leather sofas, this furniture sells classic western-style pieces at high prices.
- Flexa. http://www.flexa.dk. See website for multiple location listing. Scandinavian modular furniture for children are stocked in this modern store. Expect to pay significantly more than at IKEA or local retailers, but the quality and durability of the pieces are considered worth the price for parents who intend to keep using their children’s furniture for multiple kids. Play pens, wooden kids’ furniture, and items that “grow” with your child are the specialty. The “Flexa” crib can be turned into a trainer bed and sells for 4,743 RMB.
- Illinois Home. 1 Jingang Dadao, inside Goldenport, Chaoyang District (8433 4969). This pricier-version of Ikea sells sofas for 8,800 RMB, funky martini glass-shaped chairs for 3,600 RMB, and other household goods like pots and pans.
- Dara. http://www.dara.com.cn. See website for multiple location listing. Dara specializes in Asian and European designs. This trendy store sells furniture and a small collection of antique accessories, dishware, cushions and interesting lamps. Prices are higher than IKEA but less than other western-style furniture stores. Pieces can also be custom-designed.
- Laitai Flower Market Basement. 9 Maizidian Xilu, Nuren Jie, Tianze Lu, Chaoyang District (6463 5588). Modest selection of stalls in the basement of this market sell Chinese-style lamps, interesting reproduced antique furniture, and other small wooden furniture and goods. A strip of stores across the street from the flower market also has a few stores selling smaller reproduced antique furniture.
- Panjiayuan Antiques Market. West of Panjiayuan Qiao, Chaoyang District (6775 2405). Over 3,000 dealers sell real and reproduced antiques, Chinese paintings, Qing-style furniture, as well as knick knacks and other oddities. There is an indoor portion as well as a vast, tented outdoor section.
Custom Made Furniture
A popular place to get furniture custom-made is at the large Gao Bei Dian furniture street. There are stalls/shops of different craftsmen lining this street who sell classical Chinese furniture (mostly reproductions) and can quote you a price for custom made orders as well. Vendors are most familiar with making classical Chinese furniture, but you will still be able to find many who have made western-style furniture for foreign customers as well. Vendors will likely speak very limited English although some will be able to find someone who can help translate. Make sure to bargain and aim for about 20% off the quoted price.
- Beijing Xinbiaozhi Furniture Center. (See above).
- Tanghouse. http://www.tanghouse.cn. Rm 1132, 11/F, Tower A, Gateway Square, Sanyuanqiao, Chaoyang District (6764 2214). High end shop specializing in custom-made furniture manufactured in Beijing. Their designs bridge contemporary and classic styles, characterized by clean lines and quality raw materials, including hardwoods, skins and stones.