So, you’re here, in Budapest, in a lovely new house, but the furniture is, well, not to your taste. Don’t worry, Budapest has plenty of places to bag a bookcase, snare some leather club chairs or a sofa or procure a pouf.
First, is everyone’s ‘favourite’, Ikea (+36 1 460-31-00, www.ikea.hu). Ubiquitous now in almost every developed country in the world (I hear that Ikea Mogadishu is in the pipeline), Budapest has two, one in Buda, at Budaörs (2040, Shopping centre, Sport utca 2-4), and one in Pest, at Örs Vezér tere (1148, Örs vezer tere). There is really nothing unique here: somehow you always end up buying seven or eight things that you didn’t come for, including a small lamp called Røy and a hot dog. However, if you want cheap-ish and cheerful, and don’t mind dying a little inside as you spend an harrowing afternoon taking part in what is essentially organised looting, then this is the place for you. Also, the cafeteria is very good.
Next up is Kika (www.kika.hu), which, while not cheaper, is certainly more cheerful. Walking around the store is much more enjoyable, not least because there are windows, and you don’t feel like you are taking part in some sort of insane Swedish psychological experiment. The choice is more varied than Ikea as well, but be prepared: there is also some truly horrific looking furniture on offer. There are three in the city, one on the corner of Lehel utca and Róbert Károly Körút (1135 Budapest, Lehel u. 51, +36 1 236 6300), near Árpád híd, one in Soroksár, (1237 Budapest, Bevásárló utca 6, +36 1 289-1211) just off highway M5 and one in Budaörs (2040 Budaörs, Kinizsi utca 5, +36 23 448-000, 448-001).
If you fancy a bit more opulence, then the Material Center (1134 Budapest, Róbert Károly krt. 54-58, +36 1 288 0747, www.materialcenter.hu) is the place for you. It is a small shopping mall, housing a number of boutique stores offering expensive Italian and Spanish furniture, bathroom and kitchen fittings, alongside some stores catering to the standard Hungarian obsession with god-awful fake classical statues and wicker beds.
Other shops of note include:
- Retz Bútor (1135 Budapest, Reitter Ferenc u. 57, +36 1 339-6817, www.butor-konyha-dekor.hu)
- Quattro Mobili (1137 Budapest – Szent István körút 30, +36 1 340 4408, www.quattromobili.hu) on Nyugati tér
- Möbelix (1097 Budapest, Gyáli út 33, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.moebelix.hu)
- RS Bútor (1135 Budapest Reitter Ferenc u.78, +36 1 329 00 50, www.rs.hu)
- Max City furniture mall. 3 levels of furniture shops. Fantastic location to find sofas, and other furniture. Some famous brands like Natuzzi and BOConcept (www.max-city.hu)
- BO Concept (www.boconcept.hu)
- B&B Italia (www.code-decode.hu)
- Hephaistos fabrics (www.hephaistos.hu)
On the market
If you are feeling a bit adventurous, or you are after some antique bargains, then you should head to Ecseri market, on the outskirts of town. Essentially a massive flea market, there are, among the jewelery and tat, a number of stalls selling furniture, from antiques through art-deco and mid-century to contemporary. Be prepared to work hard for your bargain though and haggle aggressively, as any hint of a foreign accent immediately doubles the price.
Then there are the yearly throw out days, called lomtalanítás, where Budapest residents are allowed to dispose of large items like old furniture, building waste, etc. Each district has its own day, and they are a festival of junk, with people milling around well into the night looking for some discarded treasure.
If you crave bargain antique and mid-century furniture, but don’t want to do any of the shovel work or spend a morning arguing with one-toothed old women, then Kicsi Ház, (www.kicsihaz.com) run by two British expats, might be the answer. Rescuing promising looking pieces of furniture from markets, and restoring them to their former glory is a passion of theirs. They are well worth checking out, as they have some truly remarkable and individual items on offer. (Sadly, it seems that www.kicsihaz.com is no longer in operation. – Editor’s note, 2014)
Article by Matthew Shore originally appeared on MoveOne’s Expat Echo website on 25/08/2009.