If you’re looking for a way to decorate your home after moving to Seoul, you should know that interior design has become a popular profession in recent years and you can hire a professional to complete your home furnishings and decorations without lifting a finger. There are many independent shops around Seoul where you can find a designer to suit your needs, although it should also be mentioned that Korean style home furnishings are, at times, quite a different style than those you might find in your home country. Bright, colourful wallpaper is quite popular while muted furniture and “French Country” style decorations are used more and more often in home furnishing these days.
There are some places in Seoul (in areas listed below) to buy custom-made, wood furniture but as wood is a scarce commodity in Korea these pieces are usually quite expensive. Most Koreans furnish their homes with things found in Homeplus, Emart or some of the more upscale department stores (for more information on these stores, see the department store section). There are a few other stores in Seoul that sell home furnishings, and if you don’t want to use an interior decorator, you can still buy wallpaper, beds and other items from their shops (you’ll find these shops in any neighbourhood in Seoul). Second hand furnishings are virtually nonexistent among Koreans as second hand shopping is not a common practise.
Here are some of the main home furnishing chains/areas in Seoul:
At Casa Mia, you’ll find Korea’s version of IKEA. Offering interior design services as well as selling furniture, kitchen furnishings and home decor, you will usually find what you’re looking for at this store. You can find Casa Mia outlets in Apgujeong, Seocho-gu, Samseong-dong, the Jamsil area, and in Mapo-gu. While other independent shops may only carry Korean style furnishings, you can find more Western style furniture here as well. Prices are much lower than in custom made furniture shops.
Bangbae Furniture District:
To get here, take subway line number four to Isu Station. This district is full of furniture shops at varying prices and styles. Chances are, if you couldn’t find what you were looking for at Casa Mia, you will find it in this area. You can find furniture of any style and price range in this area, but remember: in Seoul, wood is expensive because they import it! Since there is so much competition in this one area, though, you can find great deals on very nice pieces of furniture.
At Costco you can find various home and office pieces at fair prices and decent styles. For more information on Costco in Seoul, see the food section or you can check out the Sanbong location’s website here:
If you like antiques and custom made furniture, there are a few independent shops on the main stretch of Itaewon and just off the main road as well. It is well worth it to take a day strolling around the area looking for good deals at the antique shops. For example, you can take a look at Chosun Antiques for Asian style furnishings and home decor (telephone: 793 3726 address: 124-5 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu). While this isn’t the only antique shop in Itaewon, it is representative of what you can find in the area.
For antiques and unique home decor, you can head to Insadong in Jongno-gu and browse amongst the many shops that line the street. To get to Insadong, take subway line number one to Jonggak Station, exit on the left side of the road, go straight and take your first left. Insadong is really just one long street full of pedestrian shoppers, gift and decor shops, and street vendors. Whether you find the perfect conversation piece or not, Insadong makes for a great day out!
Yongsan Used Furniture Market:
If you are on a budget, or aren’t sure how long you will stay in Seoul and you don’t want to splurge just yet on new furniture, you can find some great used items here. Everything from bedroom furniture, to sofas, to stoves. You should visit the shop to see what you like, and then you can have it delivered to your home for a VERY small fee. There is always at least one person on hand who speaks some English, but bring your address written in Korean for the delivery service.
Telephone: (02) 794-8665
To get there go to Noksapyeong ( line 6) station and exit through number 2. Walk straight and take the underpass to cross the highway. Once on the other side go out to the left of the underpass. Walk to the end of the street and cross to the other side (there will be a restaurant called Noxxa on the corner). Once you get to the same side of the street as Noxxa make a right and walk up the hill. Make the next left into the alley and you will be in front of the furniture store.