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 of furnishings 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. From tropical favorites like bamboo, rattan, teak and other hard woods, to antiques, to knock-down bargain furniture, you’ll undoubtedly 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 no virgin rainforest. Enjoy beautiful teakwood patio furniture, teakwood dining furniture and more !
Many expats enjoy the versatility of rattan furniture. With colorful tropical prints covering the cushions, rattan furniture is great for the patio as well as the living room. 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. 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.
A full range of quality is available, 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, just that they think that it is good enough to export.
A bit heavier, but very sturdy, is furniture made from bamboo, mostly preferred for patio furniture. A long-term expat resident of Bali has been cultivating bamboo and researching many new bamboo products. We have her, and many other designers, to thank for the proliferation of different styles of bamboo furniture and other furnishings.
Good quality upholstered furniture is also available. A comfortable sofa is probably one of the hardest things to find in Indonesia, as the motto goes … the harder the better. seems to be the norm. Fortunately, there are some manufacturers who know that most expats are taller than most Indonesians, so the sofa is built at the proper height and width.
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, an average price is about $50/meter.
Sofa beds can be found, though they don’t 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.
True antiques are hard to come by and the authenticity is difficult to prove. However, there are a lot of antique reproductions, sold off Jepara, in Central Java 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 old 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 infested.
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, even tigerwood burl and rosewood, and many 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.
Of course, 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. In these cases, you will soon find your beautiful new piece of furniture with a split right through the wood. Find a furniture manufacturer that will assure you that the wood has been property kiln dried. Laying a log 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.
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.
Check the completed furniture at the workshop, before it is delivered to your house. It’s much easier to refuse delivery at the workshop, until your specifications are met, than to be faced with the delivery men trying to carry your new sofa 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 at a very high price tag. Most expats opt for locally produced furniture.
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.
Closets and wardrobes
One distinctive feature of Indonesian homes is their lack of built-in storage space. If your new home features bare walls throughout, you will probably want to have a wall unit or other cupboards constructed for each bedroom as well as an entertainment unit made for the living room or dining room area. Some homes that are leased to expatriates already have these lemari in many rooms. When you tour prospective homes, ask if the furniture stays, or if the landlord can make closets for each bedroom.
Mattresses with springs are called ‘spring beds’ in Indonesia. They feature an all-in-one mattress with coil springs underneath the mattress. Separate mattress and box springs aren’t available. One caution about mattresses – they are not necessarily made to standard international measurements. If you decide to buy a bed in Indonesia, but bring your sheets from home, you may find that the sheets don’t fit. In that case, it’s better to bring flat sheets so that fitted sheets can easily be sewn up from them to fit your new beds.
Also, most spring beds in Indonesian will not accommodate very tall people. If a family member is over 6 feet (2 meters) that person may feel more comfortable in a bed brought from home that will accommodate their length.