Our previous posting in Kuala Lumpur meant that my husband and I would finally get to have our own home. A place where we could call the shots when it came to the furniture and the whole look and feel of the place.
Thankfully, we were on the same page when it came to what we wanted – something classic and cosy. It’s the same view I have with clothes: It should still look good years from now when I look at photos and I should love wearing them. In the case of our home, we must enjoy staying in it. After all, this is where we will be recharging after a long day.
It also must look presentable enough – fit to host my husband’s counterparts, diplomats from other countries. Spoiler alert: the pressure during the furniture and decor hunting paid off. In the span of our 2 years and 10 months stay in Kuala Lumpur, we’ve had over an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, an Ambassador, an Undersecretary, an Assistant Secretary, a couple of directors, and even members of the media. My hosting skills were really put through a major test. It was exhausting but made for really good memories.
Another factor was of course, we wanted to save as much as possible. I’m married to a government guy at the end of the day.
We were lucky enough to find an apartment with so much space for a crazy-affordable price. It was an old building so it was an unusually-large cut that gave us ample wiggle room for furniture sizes. So, there was no need for an interior designer. I was also pretty sure we can do this on our own.
The husband, being a diplomat, also means we’re not staying in Kuala Lumpur forever. Lugging around big, expensive furniture would be such a hassle when it came to finding a new apartment – be it in a different posting or back home in Manila. And imagine if you get expensive pieces that will get damaged during shipment? Que horror! My heart won’t be able to take it.
(In case you want to see how we decorated the apartment for Christmas, click here.)
We didn’t want to be constricted by such a long-term (possibly forever binding) investment. We wanted to tailor our home to the place we’re in and the space that we have. The furniture we were buying would also end up being sold at the end of our posting in KL.
Buying and Selling Due to Our Constant Moving
Now that we’re in Berlin, I can honestly say that it was pretty easy selling our furniture after the posting. A, because they were still in tip-top shape due to my husband and I having an obsession with keeping things the way they are. And B, because we were able to part with the pieces at such affordable prices – especially since we got them at good rates to begin with. Friends came over for ‘shopping’ and the rest were sold via expat groups on Facebook.
I love having guests and we were always complimented for the home that we built. Friends loved hanging out at our place and our home was always filled with laughter and fun dinners.
We just decided to pick and choose the furniture and decor ourselves. To make the place have a luxurious feel, we would sometimes mix in some pieces that are a little pricier with the bulk that’s on the more affordable side. A (gifted, even!) Diptyque candle here, a gorgeous lamp there.
I grew up with an Ilocana grandma so saving on things is truly a thrill for me. So, without further ado, here are the places I can truly recommend in Kuala Lumpur for furniture and home decor.
Yeah, yeah. It’s not the usual place where you will see diplomats buy their furniture. It’s where middle-class locals go for furniture so it was, of course, part of our list. We’re not brand snobs. As long as it’s the style I want and the quality is good enough without overcharging us, then we’re on board. 😉 If you’re willing to spend time finding the perfect piece at an affordable rate, you really should give Courts a chance.
While some designs may not be for us (some were a bit gaudy, imperial-ish, and there were even some that looked like they were designed for King Louis XIV), a good combing of the place will help you find some pieces that will do you proud.
Our sofa, the tables in the living room, and even our guest bedroom set all came from there. Oh, and the dining set too. I distinctly remember the two sofas costing us about MYR1500 (USD365.72, PHP18,400). They were the exact shade of light grey that I wanted and were too comfy for words. Those two sofas always had us snoozing while watching television at night. I envy the people using them now!
The dining set was really elegant and looked great in photos during those dinners we hosted. I can’t remember exactly how much it was, same with the bedroom set, but they were definitely way less than MYR 2000 (USD487.33, PHP24,524) for each set. That’s like shopping at SM Home in Manila and I’ve heard the prices have gone up there too.
Well of course this was going on the list. Ikea is a little bit premium in Asia. Were you shocked? It’s not as expensive as designer furniture. However, it’s still a smidge pricier compared to its local counterparts. I did get my work desk there (not in photos) and some of our decor, especially for the holidays, were from IKEA. If there’s one thing Scandinavians know, it’s Christmas.
An online store – but I suggest you visit the showroom like we did. MyFurnitureShop is located in Sri Kembangan. It’s a bit of drive from KLCC where our apartment was and we went there when we still didn’t have our car. You can take the KTM Train but I would recommend getting a Grab Car or an Uber instead since the place is far from the station. You will still have to take a car once you get off the train anyways. Do not take a taxi. They will overcharge you.
What we did was we looked through the site for pieces that we may like in the price points within our budget and asked to see them while we were there.I still remember the guy who took down our orders – Laltu.
Not all were available since the pieces are made to order. We did see a real, heavy, wooden bed frame there which I liked the look of. Laltu said he will make us one exactly like it for MYR400 (USD97.53, PHP4,904). I thought he was kidding.
That was incredibly cheap and he threw in a mattress which my often-sore back really loved for just an extra MYR200 (USD48.76, PHP2,452). I was dumbfounded. They never get this affordable anywhere else, do they? When the orders came, I even double checked the mattress thinking Laltu will sell me a used piece because I still couldn’t believe the price. It was new, thank goodness. And the bed frame? Really sturdy. I knocked on it with my knuckles and heard deep thuds. Also, they got really sore.
The thing about the website is expensive items are usually shown first. So when you check online and you see the prices are pretty high, look through the next pages of the category you’re in. Also, when you visit the store, you can haggle!
How About the Decor?
This is Southeast Asia’s version of Amazon and we’ve found a couple of really good items there. The driftwood lamp in our living room that everyone seemed to love and some even thought was a designer piece from Bangsar Shopping Centre? It’s from Lazada and it was a little less than MYR200 (USD48.76, PHP2,452).
This Australian chain is popular for their fabrics and home decor as well. I highly recommend their holiday decor as well as kitchen and bathroom knick-knacks. A great place for gifts as well. The items are a little bit pricier but they really do go all out during their sales. We once got a classy pump bottle for liquid soap for about MYR20. You can also get organisers for your home and makeup stash here.
This store carries affordable home decor and other cute knick-knacks. We got our huge prints on canvas here and even the huge lamp we hung on our balcony. Kaison is also a great place to buy pretty little things that you can add to a vignette or if you’re making centrepieces.
Lastly, I would also recommend the department stores in KL. My favourites are the ones in Pavilion (Parkson), Suria KLCC (Isetan and Parkson), and 1Utama (Aeon and Tangs). They are amazing when they go on sale. I got some of our Canon bedsheets at 80% off. Nothing makes a bed look more luxurious than it actually is other than high thread count sheets. They’re also great for decor as well as goods for your kitchen.
There you have it! So, if you’re moving to KL and thinking of getting your own furniture, here are some places you should consider. Living in Kuala Lumpur is insanely inexpensive – that is, if you’re smart about where you’ll go. Remember – money can’t buy class. So don’t pressure yourself to own expensive things if you’re on a budget. It’s how you carry yourself that dictates how people see you and the life you live. 🙂
If you found something you like and I didn’t mention where it was from, do hit me up in the comments section below. I’ll answer with the name of the store.