A few places we have found useful…
7C & 9 Binjai Park
T: (+65) 6468 7116 / 6468 7119
Li Peng is great and knows pretty much everything about all of the pieces for sale here. They sell a mixture of modern and antique stuff: some ‘antique’ and some proper antique. You can usually get a discount of some sort (nothing huge) and they have a handyman who will add rails/remove shelves if you want to change the use of a piece. Definitely worth a look if on the hunt for a proper antique. Nice pizza place a few doors up for lunch, or try the Nyonya offering a few doors down which is very local and very good. Keep walking down the street and you will see a bunch of other furniture shops which are worth looking at to get your eye in over pricing. We’ve also bought from some of the other ones (Chinese Art Centre, #25) but had more luck with Art Trend.
Opening Times: 10.30am-6.30pm daily
TAYLOR B FINE DESIGN
43 Keppel Road (#03-01/02)
T: (+65) 8469 7705 / 9177 0004
E: firstname.lastname@example.org (they don’t have a website)
You may have moved from a flat, which had everything built in, to a house, withnothing in it at all in the way of furniture. Or maybe you’ve just arrived in Singapore. Either way, you need furniture and you need it now. Bin the idea of saving money by buying stuff from Ikea. First off, by the time you’ve factored in assembly and delivery, it’s not actually that cheap. Or certainly not as cheap as we feel it should be. Spend a little bit more, and get some proper stuff that will not only hold its value, but looks lovely and solid….and it will be made of real wood vs that unacceptable plywood our Swedish friends can’t seem to get enough of. If you are nodding in agreement, then Taylor B should be your first port of call. Owned by a Canadian and an American lady who met through their children’s school, they have a background in interior design and have lived all over the world, including China (where they source a lot of their stuff from). Staff are really helpful and one of the owners is most likely to be there when you visit. Quite hard to find (call ahead and get directions from them), park and then walk round to the back of the building where you take an enormous cargo lift up to the 2nd floor. Walking from the dingy corridor into their huge and often bustling shop/showroom is a bit like being in Alice in Wonderland and falling down a rabbit hole. In a good way.
Pieces we love from here include antique Chinese chests (around $200), Chinese style cupboards (often these are shelved as opposed to having a hanging rail – not a problem as they have an on-site handyman who can whip out some or all of the shelving and put a rail in for you.) Has the feel of an auction house but with stuff you actually want to buy (vs expat auctions which we haven’t had much luck with recently). While you are checking out Taylor B it’s worth popping in to Skanteak too – see below
Opening Times: 11am-5pm Mon-Fri; 12pm-5pm Sat & 3pm-5pm Sun. Do call ahead if you are planning a weekend visit just to double check they are open and not on a buying trip. Weekdays are safe enough.
T: (+65) 6255 1911
THIS IS ABOUT TO CLOSE. BIG DISCOUNTS ON OFFER! May has owned and run this shop for 25 years and is the lady to come to if you want anything made of wicker. It’s all imported from Malaysia and the showroom is a jumble. If you can’t see what you are looking for (in our case, a pair of planter’s chairs) just ask her and things can be made and, crucially, stained to order – that orange lacquer must be avoided at all costs. Check out their adorable wicker rocking horses.
Opening Times: 10.30am-7pm Mon-Sat; 2pm-6pm Sun
Tong Yuan Industrial Building (#02-01)
85 Playfair Road
T (+65) 6281 8465
Design. It’s all about design. I want beauty with practicality, functionality and form. If you, like me, want items of furniture that make you smile just to look at them, knowing that whatever you paid for them you will probably get back in thirty years – oh, and yes, they will still be functioning and beautiful in thirty years, so you probably won’t be able to bear parting with them – then look no further.
It was all I could do not to leave with an eighties braun record player, a walnut bookshelf room divider and a stunning glass table with logic defying, twisted, cherry trestle legs. I wanted to sit or sleep on everything. Each item has been carefully chosen by Nathan Yong himself (a multiple award winning furniture designer) so you can actually hold real conversations about the designs and share informed appreciation for the pieces. The whole showroom is set in the most fabulous seventies building – almost worth the trip itself if you are in to that sort of thing. (There is another outlet in Park Mall, called their ‘City Spot’; open 11am-8pm daily – see website for more details).
BTW: While you are there, check out Egg3 upstairs (see write up below) – very different but fun if you are into slightly more ‘frou frou’ replica distressed French items, funky stuff, leather and diamante chesterfields a la ‘Scarlet Hotel’, punctuated with the odd fun design or two and some really quite nice handbags!
Opening Times: 12am-6pm daily
Tong Yuan Industrial Building (#07-01)
85 Playfair Road
T: (+65) 6281 2197
Kitsch, funky, cool and sometimes a little crazy, if it is a replica Bubble chair, a white leather chesterfield or a distressed french renaissance style mirror, this is your place. It is also full of some really quite nice little people’s clothes, good pressies and a few quite interesting larger pieces, but mostly it is just fun. Over-sized replica regency chairs sprayed silver with grey velvet upholstery stand next to some really very nice aluminium french cafe style chair remakes – it is nothing if not eclectic!
They have a few outlets but this is their HQ where they also have an interiors service. They are open by appointment only during the week but go on Friday or Saturday between 10am and 6.30pm under your own steam. Make it around noon and you can go and check out the rather more elegant and accomplished designs (that come with a rather larger price tag) at Grafunkt in the same building.
Opening Times: Mon-Thu by appointment only. 10am-6.30pm Fri & Sat. Closed Sun
Keppel Workshop (#01-05/06 & 02-04/05)
43 Keppel Road
T: (+65) 6225 5261
If Chinese antiques (or we should perhaps say ‘antiques’ as anything over about 20 years old seems to be considered as antique, although we would beg to differ) are not what you are after, or you like an eclectic mix, Skanteak offers clean lines and modern designs accompanied by a reasonable price tag. All their stuff – from beds to desks and cupboards – is, as the name suggests, made of teak and, admittedly, some of it can be a bit officey looking. However, if you choose carefully and can imagine it out of the teak jungle where you are looking at it, the designs are quite zen-on-a-budget. What’s more, if you are spanking a bunch of cash all within a the same month and your cards are taking a bit of a beating, they will also – with no interest added – let you pay in installments. No brainer, even if your cash flow is healthy.
Opening Times: 12pm-9pm daily
#01-03 High Street Centre
1 North Bridge Road
T: (+65) 63387577
It might not be at the top of everyones shopping list, but recently we needed a good office chair. We went to the ubiquitous Ikea and were horrified at the prices – $350 for a remotely half decent one! We stumbled across Solos by accident – it is in a bit of no mans land by the bridge on North Bridge Road opposite the parliament buidings. Park inside the High Street Centre and this store is street facing on the ground floor. They have about 50 different office chairs to try out and choose form, starting at about $75. There is no miniumum order and you can pay them cash when they deliver, which they will for free for any spend over $100. You can also choose from a raft of different colours to make your grotty office chair slightly more bearable and change the arms to whatever shape you prefer. We are going to order one that costs less than $150, in a lovely teal colour with funky arms that will be delivered to my door within three days.
Opening Times: 9am-7.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat. Closed Sun
716 Geylang Road
T: (+65) 6846 9796
If you want a bog standard office chair, this is where to come. Heaps of choice and nice, low wholesale prices. They claim to have 50-300 pieces of each design in stock, so – providing you find something you like – you won’t leave empty handed. The quality is pretty good so do not go expecting cheap, cheap prices. A basic but good quality chair starts at around $98.
Opening Times: 11am-7pm Mon-Sat; 12pm-7pm Sun
9 Penang Road
A one stop shop for those looking to fill a new abode. Vi-Spring beds (for 15k plus), Alessi cutlery and Phillippe Stark furniture can all be purchased here. There is also quite a good bathroom hardware store, with class, at the bottom level, with plenty of chrome and glass, as well as a couple of kitchen shops with ubiquitous Gaggenau kit and Boffi cupboards. Scanteak has a shop here as well as a couple of other local modern furniture stores. Don’t miss the decidedly odd clock shop on the third floor… stacked to the rafters with everything and anything that ticks , from grandfather to cuckoo or predictable expat London/NewYork/Singapore multi faced numbers. There are excrutiatingly expensive, but stunning, lights on the third floor – worth a look – but we have a sneaky suspicion you can get them cheaper at one of the many lighting stores on Jalan Besar.
LIMS ARTS & LIVING
Holland Road Shopping Centre (#02-01)
211 Holland Avenue
T: (+65) 6467 1300
Really worth going out of your way to get to during the Great Singapore Sale, Lims has a reputation of being quite overpriced. Some things do actually represent value for money and their furniture is quite reasonable when compared with the alleged antiques in Demsey. Take a trip around the antique shops at Dempsey for a point of comparison and generally speaking, Dempsey’s offerings will be a lot more. They also do a great, if not slightly predictable, selection of lamps (death by blue and white china). Good pashminas (you can be sure of their quality) and good photo frames and birthday cards, which are surprisingly hard to find in Singapore. They have branches in Parkway Parade (T: (+65) 6348 0686) as well as VivoCity (T: (+65) 6376 9468), but Holland V is Lim’s spiritual home.
Opening Times: 10am-8.30pm daily
Unit 11 (L5)
Citilink Warehouse Complex
102F Pasir Panjang Road
T: (+65) 6278 0511
A great place to pick up good quality second hand furniture and home necessities. TVs, beds, cupboards, dining sets and much much more. They are held roughly every other week on a saturday and can be great fun. Go and view online or check out the weekends offerings on the friday at their warehouse in Pasir Panjang. When you can’ t get what you need from here…there’s always Ikea…….
Opening Times: Office is manned from 9.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri; however note that the warehouse is only open for viewings on Fridays and Saturdays of an auction week.Provided there is an auction happening, they are open for furniture viewings from 10am-6pm (Fri) and 10am-4pm (Sat). Auctions start at 11am sharp on selected Saturdays – check website for more details.
317 Alexandra Road
T: (+65) 6786 6868
Needs no introduction. Ikea is, in the context of Singapore (rather than Asia), quite good value and a great starting point for basics including linen and bedding which can be $$$, and also not very nice, if it’s bought from somewhere like Robinsons. Also a great source of good value glass kilner jars which you need plenty of if you want to keep anything, from flour to biscuits, fresh. Ikea is made thoroughly bearable by the fact that for 6% of the purchase price, they will send people to your home to build whatever you’ve bought. BTW: This is only possible if you have opted for home delivery which comes in at $50 – cheap at the price. Alexandra Road is the more central of the 2 branches; Tampines is the larger of the two (the number, for both stores, is shared – see above). Oh, and while you are at it, Ikea is the unlikely winner of the cheapest, half-decent smoked salmon/gravadlax/lox around. Also check out their cheese, cheese biscuits and, when they’re in, fill your freezer with meat balls for the kids.
Opening Times: Alexandra 10am-10pm daily; Tampines 10am-11pm daily