Buying Furniture in Indonesia
Once the long search for a home or apartment has been successfully completed, your next challenge is to furnish your new home. You may have shipped your entire household from home or your last posting or you may be coming to Indonesia with a small air freight shipment or even with just a few suitcases.
Your home in Indonesia may be much larger than in your home country. You may be expected to entertain for business purposes and therefore may require additional furniture pieces.
If you are in need of furniture to furnish your new home, you are in luck. A wide variety of locally produced as well as imported furniture is available in Indonesia. Indonesia produces a lot of furniture that is exported to showrooms around the world. Well-known American and European brands source suppliers in Indonesia to produce sofas, dining room sets, book shelves, cabinets, and lighting because of the competitive pricing they can offer.
By supplying these brands, local manufacturers have had to meet international standards therefore greatly improving the quality of furniture in Indonesia. Many Indonesian furniture producers manufacture products that meet or exceed the quality of items that you can find abroad. Expat and Indonesian residents that appreciate well-made furniture using luxurious fabrics now support the Indonesian furniture industry and are willing to spend money on quality items. From tropical favorites like bamboo, rattan, teak and other hard woods, to antiques and knock-down bargain furniture, you'll find what you require within your price range.
Indonesia has for many years supplied teak wood to some of the premier furniture manufacturers in the world. Now, much of this beautiful furniture is actually made in Indonesia. When choosing teak furniture, be sure to ask if the furniture was made with plantation grown teak wood to ensure that the teakwood was not sourced from a non-virgin rainforest. Enjoy beautiful teakwood patio furniture, teakwood dining furniture during your stay and include it in your outgoing household goods shipment when you leave!
Many expats enjoy the versatility and durability of rattan furniture. With colorful tropical prints covering the cushions, rattan furniture is great for the patio as well as the living room. Manufacturers of rattan create furniture for other rooms of the home as well, including: bedroom sets, wardrobes and bars. The lightweight nature of rattan makes it very easy to move around.
One thing to look out for are the infestations of small bugs in the rattan. If you find sawdust near your rattan furniture, you will probably need to take it out into the yard and give it a good overall spraying with bug spray. Sometimes a long period of "soaking" in the hot tropical sun will also reduce or kill off bug infestations.
Prior to your initial purchase, ask the manufacturer what they do to the rattan to guard against insect infestations and what guarantees they offer that their furniture is bug free. If the infestation seems to be severe, you might want to return the piece to the store and ask it be replaced as the infestation can spread to other wood pieces in the home.
A range of quality is available in rattan furniture, so ask other expats what shops they recommend for quality rattan furniture. A manufacturer's claim of 'export quality' doesn't necessarily mean that they actually do export the products, but just that they think that it is good enough to export.
A bit heavier than rattan, but very sturdy is Bamboo. A lot of furniture made from bamboo is available in Indonesia. Previously characterized by it’s bulky nature, this material has gained new popularity because of it’s eco-friendly nature and its fast growing rate. No other wood in the world grows as fast as Bamboo. This scratch proof material is now being used for both interior and exterior furniture including bedroom and living room furniture, lamps, mirror frames and even wallpaper. It is actually one of the hardest woods in the world making it resistant to insects and moisture. This is something to consider: if you are planning to bring bamboo furniture back to your home country, it will not be prone to splitting like many other tropical woods.
Good quality upholstered furniture is also available in Indonesia's major cities. Locally made sofas may seem to be a bit small to accommodate a tall frame, so test them out! Many manufacturers are now using international standardized sizes so the sofas are built at a height and width that accommodates taller expats.
If you're looking for a sofa that matches your ideas of comfort, a wide variety of styles are available. Good manufacturers of sofas will offer you a choice of cushion firmness - from those that you can comfortably sink down into to ones that are extra firm with little give. Upholstering can be done with local batik or ikat (woven cloth) or imported fabric. Needless to say, the imported fabric is more expensive.
Sofa beds can be found, though some may not utilize the heavy metal framework of a typical sofa bed from the west. Instead, they use thick foam padding which folds out of the sofa onto the floor. Others may have a well-structured wooden frame under and around them and can be used as both a sofa and a bed in a guest bedroom.
True antiques are hard to come by and the authenticity is difficult to prove. There are a lot of antique reproductions, sold off Jl. Ciputat and in Jl. Kemang Timur, that are often just as beautiful as the real thing. 'New' furniture is often left out in the rain and sun to 'age' the piece.
Popular too in recent years, is the furniture that is made from antique wood. Old furniture is taken apart and the wood is used to make 'new' furniture. One advantage of making furniture out of old wood is that it is much less likely to crack or be bug infested as it's served the test of time.
Custom-built Wood Furniture
It is possible to utilize the skills of master craftsmen to create pieces of furniture to fit your specific desires or needs. Finely detailed carving, beautiful woods and veneers with manufacturing to your precise specifications will ensure a piece of furniture that you can treasure for years to come. Reproductions can even be made from pictures. You can inset copper batik stamps into furniture or have specific motifs carved into furniture according to your design at The Cap Man.
Tropical hard woods are used to construct quality furniture in Indonesia. Teak, mahogany, ebony, tigerwood burl, rosewood, and other tropical woods are made into beautiful furnishings. Much of the teak is now plantation grown.
Be sure that your precise requirements, including measurements, are clearly communicated to the craftsman. Request a drawing, when possible, from the craftsman so that you can be more certain that you're going to get exactly what you've asked for.
Not all carpenters are master craftsmen, so it's best to have good recommendations for the craftsmen before you hire them. Ask for references from other expats that they have done work for recently. Every tukang kayu (carpenter) will tell you that he can make furniture, but that does not mean that his standards of quality will match yours.
The biggest danger with the construction of new furniture, is that the wood has not been adequately kiln dried and the water content of the wood is over the recommended 10%. When the furniture is later exported to a dryer climate, there is a high probability that the wood in your beautiful new piece of furniture will split. Find a furniture manufacturer that will assure you that the wood has been property kiln dried. Drying the wood in the sun for weeks is not adequate to the task.
It may be difficult to obtain a guarantee against split wood from a furniture manufacturer. Be sure to get in writing whatever guarantee they offer for the furniture. Ask other expats who they recommend. Know though that the guarantee is probably only valid while you reside in Indonesia. The furniture may be in good condition during your stay in Indonesia, but a crack may appear soon after your return to your home country where the humidity is much lower. Guarantees won't do you much good when you're on the other side of the world.
Some trusted manufactures are willing to make the furniture “knock down” friendly. This is the ability to easily take the furniture apart in pieces so that it will take up much less space in a container when you move back to your home country.
If possible, check the completed furniture at the workshop or showroom, before it is delivered to your house. It's much easier to refuse delivery at the workshop or in their store, until your specifications are met, than to be faced with the delivery men trying to carry your new furniture in your front door.
Wrought iron furniture is also available, in a variety of styles.
European designer furniture and even La-Z-Boys are available, but are typically more expensive than locally produced alternatives.
Knock-down furniture is available and provides an inexpensive alternative to solid wood furniture. Made of pressed wood and wood veneers, the styles are simple and practical. It's especially practical for children's rooms.
Leather furniture is also available, some of export quality. Be aware that leather furniture will need constant treatment in order to maintain its quality.
Closets and Wardrobes (Lemari)
One distinctive feature of many Indonesian homes is their lack of built-in closets or storage space. If the bedrooms in new home feature bare walls throughout, you will probably want to purchase or have wall units or other cupboards constructed for each bedroom as well as an entertainment unit made for the living room area. Some homes that are leased to expatriates already have these lemari in many rooms. When you tour prospective furnished homes, ask if the furniture stays or if the landlord is willing to make or provide closets for each bedroom.
Many international brand mattresses are available in Indonesia such as King Koll, Serta, Lady Americana and Sealy with a wide selection of materials. Memory foam, latex, and down can all be adjusted to achieve the desired level of firmness that is requested by the consumer.
Mattresses with springs are called 'spring beds' in Indonesia. They feature an all-in-one mattress with coil springs underneath the mattress. One caution about mattresses that are made in Indonesia - they are not necessarily made to standard international bed measurements. If you decide to buy a local mattress, but bring your sheets from home, you may find that the sheets don't fit. Also realize that standard measurements from Australia may vary slightly from European and American standards. A wide variety of linens made locally as well as middle to high end brands, can be purchased and will fit any measurement of mattress.
Also, most locally made spring beds in Indonesia will not accommodate very tall people. If a family member is over 6 feet (2 meters), you'll most likely need to buy an imported mattress.
Used furniture can often be purchased from expats who are about to leave Indonesia and have decided not to bring all their furniture with them. Check bulletin boards in community organizations, the Expat Forum's Cyber Garage Sale, online newsletters, What'sApp groups, and targeted publications for what's currently available for sale. You can get some really good bargains that way! For newcomers on a limited budget, some of the furniture rental companies offer second-hand furniture as well.
More articles relating to furniture on this site:
- The Cap Man - Cap in Hand! - Batik copper stamps inset into custom designed furniture.
Last updated August 8, 2018