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Furnish your place in Dubai without blowing your budget

Furnish

Dubai is expensive. Ask anyone you know that lives here, and I am sure they will agree. For that reason, many people ship their furniture from home rather than buying furniture here. We didn’t do this. We decided we would furnish our place from scratch, bringing about 13 boxes of with us from New Zealand, and a few pictures and paintings. The furniture we had in New Zealand wasn’t that valuable, so we sold most of it or gave it away. We had no idea what it would be like to furnish a house in Dubai. Boy, were we in for a treat. I’ve struggled, and you don’t need to! Instead, use this guide on to furnish your place in Dubai without blowing your budget.

Of course, we knew about IKEA, but we really had no idea about anything else. I’d quickly glanced around the supermarket when we visited in October 2016 – Waitrose, of course, because it was at Dubai Mall. I’d googled the prices of things at IKEA, and calculated what I thought we would need to furnish a three bedroom apartment. I forgot to add some crucial things to the list, like all the junk you need for the kitchen, cleaning products, a vacuum cleaner. Frames. Pot plants. Coasters. Costs started piling up.

We didn’t want to spend too much on furnishing our place, so we were very careful in our spending. We wanted our place to feel like home, but we didn’t want to end up in debt to do so.  The following is a list of all the places I have found in Dubai, or been recommended, to help furnish your home.

As a bit of a disclaimer, I like minimalism in my furniture and furnishings. This list reflects that. I’m not a fan of heavy wood furniture, given thats all you come across in New Zealand. If you have anything else useful that you can think can be added to this list, please leave a comment!

THE SOLID BETS

Furnish your place in Dubai without blowing your budget
Photo credit: IKEA

IKEA. How could I make a list without IKEA? It is basically full of ex-pats trying to furnish their apartments and villas on a budget. The thing about IKEA is that you can find some really lovely stuff in among the cheaper products. We have a solid oak table that looks exactly like one you can get at a much more expensive shop, for a third of the price. I love it. IKEA is great for staples like bedroom furniture and bookcases. Just make sure you go early. And not in the weekend. Festival City.

WEST ELM. Mid-century modern at its best. I love all the furniture at West Elm, but some of it is out of my price range. However, West Elm does have some great sales. I’ve picked up things like a table runner for 20AED, and my favorite household item… Basil the Alpaca. Clearance furniture and rugs, along with linen, are very reasonably priced, and of a good quality. The Roar and Rabbit range is particularly nice. Dubai Mall. 

POTTERY BARN. Like West Elm – beautiful stuff, but best in a sale. If you visit down the back of the Dubai Mall store, you can often pick up bargains. Pottery Barn Kids has a really nice range, too! Dubai Mall.

CRATE AND BARREL. The third of my American trio of furniture stores, but the one that probably does the best sales – and offers stylish, neutral furniture. It also has an impressive range of homewares, which it discounts regularly – you can pick up some real bargains here if you are willing to wait and scrounge around a little. I usually find the best deals lurking in the middle of the Mall of the Emirates store. Their stoneware kitchen items are beautiful. Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Mirdif. 

SILENTNIGHT. Our bed is from SilentNight. Beds in the UAE – and couches, for that matter – seem to be rock solid by default. We opted for one of the softest beds from SilentNight, and have been really pleased with it. Better yet, Silentnight does a pretty solid Platinum Card discount. There are lots of other options for beds in the UAE, such as Tempur and KingCoil, but SilentNight are a much more reasonably priced option. In saying that, a bed is one area you shouldn’t skimp on… definitely don’t buy an IKEA bed for anything but a spare room, and make sure you splurge if its important to you. See website – various locations.

CARREFOUR. Going to the Mall of the Emirates Hypermart after lunchtime is a nightmare, and the layout is confusing, but Carrefour is a lifesaver when it comes to cheap and cheerful household accessories. Its Tefal cookware selection is actually pretty good, and you can pick up a decent bargain on home appliances. Hypermarket – Mall of the Emirates. 

I know you are probably wondering about a few exclusions from this list, such as Marina Home, Danube Home and The One. The thing is… I don’t really like anything there! A lot of it seems hideously overpriced for what it is, large, clunky and gaudy. Some of it is nice, but seems to be much more expensive than similar items. As I said, I like simple and minimalist design.. so apart from maybe checking out their rug selection, I’d give them a miss, if you have similar tastes to me.

BE PICKY AND YOU WILL BE PLEASED

Furnish your place in Dubai without blowing your budget
Photo credit: The Bowery Company

WYSADA. Wysada is an American store that have a warehouse in the UAE. Its products run from very reasonably priced to pretty expensive. We ordered a coffee table and some accessories from it, and were pretty pleased. I’ve googled a few reviews of Wysada, and people have complained about the amount of time it takes for orders to arrive. When you go to buy something off the site, it will tell you how long its likely to take – sometimes, up to six weeks. I’d give them a call first to double-check a time frame, if you are worried. They currently have an extra 25% off. Online only.

HOME CENTRE. Home Centre is the ultimate mixed bag. While most of the furniture is a little.. erm… jazzy for my taste, it has some fantastic value towels, homewares and frames. Some of the furniture isn’t too bad, but you do really need to sort through it all to find it. It also offers a Platinum discount, and online shopping specials. Mall of the Emirates, Karama, Mirdif City Centre.

HOMES R US. Similar to Home Centre. We found a lamp at Homes R Us that cost us 300AED, almost identical to one retailing for 1275AED at a higher end store. We’ve also bought rugs and a side table there, and they’re pretty good quality for what we paid. Keep an eye out for specials. Don’t bother with the website, except to find out locations – there is a larger range in-store. Mazaya Centre, Oud Metha.

HOMEBOX. HomeBox is an even cheaper version of the two stores above, but some of the basic sideboards, dressers and bookcases aren’t too bad – and worth a look. It would be good for a kids room. Bur Dubai, Oasis Centre, IBN Battuta Mall.

BOWERY COMPANY. Everything at the Bowery Company is gorgeous. Buying it all would be a little bit out of my budget. It offers modern, Scandinavian inspired design items for your home. Keep an eye out for their sales to pick up some stylish accent pieces. It’s items for kids rooms are gorgeous. Check out its current sale items for inspiration! Online only.

INDIGO LIVING. When I first moved to Dubai, I managed to pick up an Orla Kiely towel set from Indigo for around 150AED, a real bargain. Their clearance section is pretty amazing – definitely worth a look. Right now, for instance, it has Maxwell and Williams cutlery going for half price, a beautiful grey linen bed set down from 1300 AED to 325AED, and a huge range of kids furnishings. Sheikh Zayed Road.

SAND INTERIOR LTD. Sand Interior Ltd make custom made furniture, and also post a number of items on its Facebook page for prospective clients to enquire about. It specializes in creating upcycled furniture. If you are looking to get something made to a certain specification, I’d recommend contacting them for a quote. Silicon Oasis.

JOHN LEWIS. Located inside Robinsons at Festival City, John Lewis has a great range of British homewares and furniture. Most of it is quite expensive – there is only a limited range available in the store – but you can also order online and get it shipped to the UAE. Festival City.

THE EXTRA BITS AND PIECES YOU NEED 

Furnish your place in Dubai without blowing your budget
Photo credit: MUJI

DUBAILOVE. I’ve already written about how much I love these prints and homewares. Their modern, geometric designs are fabulous, and look great in a monochromatic color scheme. Online only.

GALLERYONE. A good range of prints and posters. Some of them are quite expensive, but for a cheaper alternative, you could always buy some of the beautiful greeting cards on offer and frame them. They are currently having a website sale, which is worth checking out. Various, see website for locations.

DAISO. A Japanese institution, there are various Daiso’s dotted around Dubai – my favorites are in the Dubai Mall and Festival City. It stocks a huge range of homewares, stationery, craft items and storage. It is my favorite place to get cheap kitchen utensils. The colander and tongs I bought for 7AED each are still going strong months later. Various, see website for locations.

MUJI. Muji is like an upperclass Daiso. It has a huge range of Japanese stationery, clothing, home accessories and fragrances. It has some great specials from time to time. Muji also stocks a few minimalist furniture items with a Japanese design aesthetic. JBR, Dubai Mall and City Centre Mirdif.

DUBAI GARDEN CENTRE. A Dubai favorite! As well as offering a Platinum discount, it has a massive range of plants and housewares. It also has a lovely café, Roseleaf, if you want to grab a coffee while you are out! My Green Chapter also has a good range of garden products available to order. Al Quoz.

ENABLE UAE. As featured previously, these little succulent arrangements look fantastic. They have lots of different styles to choose from, with my favorites being the glass bowls. I have one in my lounge! At Dubai Garden Centre or online.

LITTLE MAJLIS. For some interesting accent pieces, look no further than the Little Majilis website. The Little Majilis brand offers some cool cushions – I happen to have one of the handsome falcons – and there are also a range of other companies selling stylish homewares, such as colored Moroccan poufs and Scamp candles. Check out their home edit for some inspired home design ideas. Online only.

NEXT. While theer are Next clothing stores in the UAE, they don’t stock the homewares here. I bought our bedroom linen from Next in the UK. It was the only place where I could find frames to fit a particular print I bought from New Zealand. Shipping to the UAE only took a few days for 20AED. Well worth it! Online only.

ZARA HOME. While we unfortunately no longer have an H&M Home in Dubai, Zara Home has some high quality linen available to buy. Just remember to take a measurement of your bed along, as mattress sizes in the UAE vary like crazy! The hotel quality linen collection is particularly nice. It’s currently running a great online sale. Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Festival City, Jumeirah, JBR.

MARMARLAND. While it mainly stocks (gorgeous!) kids gear, Marmarland also has an adults section featuring handcrafted rugs, kitchen accessories and bedding, which would be great for a teens room. Its sale section has lots of modern bronze and wire items on special, and its a great website to pick up kids clothing if you are in need of a gift. Online only.

DEBENHAMS/MARKS AND SPENCER. While the selection at these stores is nothing compared to their UK counterparts, I have picked up decent linen from both. They wash up well and are cost effective compared to some of the other brands available locally. They are also available in British sizing, with a UK Super King seeming to relate to the Dubai size King bed we have. Debenhams ‘Home Collection’ is reasonably priced, and of good quality. Various, see websites for locations.

ACE HARDWARE. You’re going to need some way to hang up all of those prints and pictures you have bought! ACE Hardware is your go to for home and hardware supplies. and it also offers a half decent range of kitchenware and gardening items. The best one is located out at Festival City – team it up with a trip to IKEA! Al Quoz and Festival City.

For home appliances, you can also look out for specials at Plug Ins, Jacky’s, LuLu’s and Sharif DG.

PAINTING AND CURTAINS

Furnish your place in Dubai without blowing your budget

We used Jaya Painting (+971 52 707 7803) for our painting, and Naem (+971 50 545 8850) for our curtains. The curtains ended up costing around 4000 AED for two bedrooms of black out curtains, and white roman blinds in the lounge. We didn’t bother with the third bedroom, as we just use it as a study. There are a number of other painting services available through ServiceMarket – you can list your requirements and they will contact you for a quote.

If you have a space where blackout curtains aren’t necessary, it might be a good idea to check out the furnishings department at IKEA. They have some great ready to hang options. You can also get curtains made to fit. I haven’t dared venture to DragonMart yet, but I understand that – if you are willing to risk getting lost – you might find some great curtain fixings and material (and potentially other exciting bits for your home!).

WHAT HAVE I MISSED?

Edit – a few additions courtesy of readers! Thank you!

  • H&M HOME. A small collection of H&M Home goods are available at the H&M store, Mall of the Emirates.
  • FLAMANT. Belgian home interiors – a bit dearer, but often has specials. Dubai Mall.
  • 2XL. A range of furniture, some of it quite classic and others more modern in style. Al Ghurair, Uptown Mirdif, Jumeirah
  • MAISONS DU MONDE. A French furniture store offering some very stylish pieces. Mirdif City Centre
  • CASHCONVERTERS. If you don’t want to take a gamble with Dubizzle, you can pick up some bargains at CashConverters. Stock is constantly changing. Al Quoz

Is there anywhere that I have missed? Be sure to let me know so I can update my list!

Last updated – June 3, 2018. 

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The 58th Floor is the travel and lifestyle blog of Belinda Birchall, based in Dubai. It provides advice and information on travel throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as well as useful information for living in Dubai - and anything else of interest!
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