Contributor, Shanaz, offers her top tips for buying furniture in Belgium, both on your own and when working with an interior designer.
Have you decided to start your life in Belgium with a clean design slate? Do you want to buy new furniture here or add pieces to your existing collection? The two main ways of accomplishing this are shopping on your own, or hiring an expert.
How to buy your own furniture in Belgium
- First, consider your budget and priorities. In Belgium, you will find a full range of shops catering to low, mid, and high-range budgets.
- Next consider your style. Do you wish to continue in the same style as your previous residence? Or have you adopted the attitude of ‘new home, new style’. Stores offering traditional Flemish-style furniture will not have contemporary design furniture. It’s easier if you know your style before you hit the shops.
- Based on these two decisions, make a list of shops. If you are on a tight budget and looking for a modern interior, nothing beats Ikea. It’s familiar, easy, and cheap. If you are looking for something more upscale or unique, you will be better off in shops serving mid to high-range budgets. You can find shopping options through advertising in interior magazines, newspapers, the internet, or by asking your fellow expats.
7 Things to consider when Furniture Shopping in Belgium
- A furniture shop will only recommend brands they sell. You will rarely find a shop promoting their competitor’s brand, even if it’s more suitable for you.
- A bigger shop, carrying a lot of brands, will provide you with more choices.
- However, a bigger shop doesn’t necessary mean better service. Smaller shops with fewer brands are more specialised and will give you more personal attention.
- Take into account the delivery terms. Since low to mid-end shops work with standard items, they will have a bigger stock. The delivery terms in a high-end shop will be between 4 to 8 weeks. Something that takes 16 weeks to be delivered might not be an interesting option for you. If you want something ASAP from a high-end shop it might be better to buy the showroom models. Don’t forget to ask for a discount in that case!
- When a price is quoted, ask if delivery and installation is included. Let the store know in advance, if the furniture has to be delivered above the ground floor.
- Check with your company about the VAT terms. Depending on where you work, there might be special regulations. In Belgium, furniture has a VAT charge of 21%.
- Never sign a delivery form without checking the delivered items.
The other option when buying furniture is to hire an expert. In Belgium they are known as interior designers, interior architects, or decorators.
Hiring a design professional will save you a lot of hassle.
What a good interior designer will do for you
- Guide you with your budget and style.
- Give you neutral advice. A designer is not bound to a brand. It will also not matter to a designer if you buy a table from one shop and your chairs from another.
- Save you time and money by knowing the right furniture stores for your style and budget.
- Be able to identify products found on the internet and refer you to the dealers.
- Get you better service in the shops, since they have an ongoing relationship with them. They might also be able to get you discounts.
- Make a design and concept for a unique interior. This will of course be for your complete interior including furniture, lighting, wall colours, and more.
- Integrate your existing furniture with new pieces. A designer will be open to adding a touch of your old home to your new interior.
- Provide 2D and 3D plans for you using your new and old furnishings. This way you will have a preview of your interior and will be able to avoid mistakes or surprises.
Tips for working with an interior designer
- Communicate well with your designer. Language of course is essential. You will be amazed at what can be lost in translation.
- Trust your instincts. You need to connect well with the designer on a personal level. Trust is a major factor!
However you decide to go about your shopping don’t forget your roots. New country, new home, new interior, but it’s the people living in a house that make it a special home!
Looking for more resources for living in Belgium? Check out our Expat Resources page.
- The Expat’s Guide to Furnishing: Should you Move your Furniture?
- The Expat’s Guide to Furnishing – How to buy furniture in Belgium