Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Buying furniture in Germany

First things first, thank you to commenters regarding Hailey Edwards' Everlong. As promised, a copy of this wonderful book will be winging its way across the Ethernet to one lucky winner. I wrote the name of every commenter on a small piece of paper, shuffled them around on my desk and picked one with my eyes closed. I couldn't get any more random. J The winner is…drum roll please…Gale Stanley, better known as GPS. Gale, please email me at and I'll get it out to you today.

Now on to furniture shopping in Germany. Before we came here, we read a lot about the people, culture, etc to be as prepared as possible. One of the things that we read concerned the size of German apartments. That they were small. So I worried about bringing my living room furniture because a) it was fairly new – about 3 years old, b) it was large so possibly wouldn't fit in a small apartment, and c) being new in a foreign country, I wouldn't know how to go about storing pieces that wouldn't fit (see b). Since it had taken me about 2 years of looking to find exactly what I wanted in the first place, I wasn't taking any chances and we left it in storage in the States. Fast forward to our life now in Germany.

Yeah, the small apartment? Not so small. The living room is quite large, in fact. Could've fit my furniture no problem. So now I have this big room and no furniture. So last year, we shopped around and finally decided on a big couch and chair. I'm not fond of the German styling so it was months of searching before we finally settled on what we have now. So for the past year, we've had a U-shaped couch, a chair, and a TV stand with our TV in the living room. Nothing else.

I've searched for other components but I have expensive tastes. Without even looking at price tags, I gravitate towards the most expensive items available. This means that furniture we've been looking at has been about 4000 euros, which is about $5500, for one piece. Yikes! So we've kept looking. We finally found a set of furniture that we both liked and was reasonably priced so we went on Saturday to do the deed.

They must have been short salespeople that day because we waited about 20 minutes or so without seeing anyone available to help. Then we caught sight of a man and he stopped to ask if he could help. We told him we wanted to purchase furniture. He said he needed to finish with another customer first and would come over. No problem, we said, and we happily went back to the area and waited. I should mention that German furniture stores look just like American stores, with sample rooms laid out for inspiration. So we lounged on the furniture there and waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, about 20 minutes later, the man bustles over to us, ready to help. Yay! So we point out the pieces we're interested in. Now, at this point, we expected to pay about 3200-3400 euros for all the pieces that we wanted. This salesperson proceeded to knock off euros here and there and everywhere. We sure weren't complaining. When all is said and done, our bill is about 2500 euros. Then we whip out the VAT form. This is a form that, if the store accepts it, means we don't have to pay the German tax. Germans pay 19% tax on everything and it's included in the price. So, with our VAT form, we paid about 2000 euro. Oh, happy day!

The downside is that we have to wait 8-10 weeks for it to be delivered. What? My household goods from the States only took 6! Apparently, they wait until the furniture is ordered before they even make it. Then it's shipped, hence the long wait. So, I've waited this long. Another couple of months isn't too bad. Below are pictures of what we ordered. The first one, we got all four pieces, the TV stand, the cabinet and the two shelves. The second is the matching coffee table. The third is the sideboard. The last picture is the last piece of the set and we're waiting to see everything in place in the living room before ordering it because hubby thinks he wants 2. I don't think 2 will fit but proof is in the pudding so I'll let him see for himself.

What do you think of my new furniture? Do you have any shopping stories to share?


Susan said...

Your furniture is beautiful!! All our furniture is Ikea shei├če (as my husband calls it).

I see you live in Bayern -- me, too! Whereabouts are you? I'm near Lindau. I just happened to click your blog link on the Outreach Yahoo group, thinking, "Hmm...another writer in Germany." Small world, eh?

Darah Lace said...

We seem to have similar tastes, it's lovely. Except I'm still in the dreaming stage. My dh needs a new recliner; the one we have is nearly 15 years old and it doesn't want to recline. I'm waiting on a new sofa until my little one isn't little anymore. Thanks for sharing!

Rachel Lynne said...

Nice stuff Riley! We rent a huge house, (over 3700 sq ft) but it is almost empty! See, we've never had a large home and have always rented and moved so the pieces we buy are few and mostly Sauder put together book shelves (we have lots of books :) This house was available, great neighborhood, relatively cheap so ... it echoes all the time cause I said we wouldn't buy stuff to fill it up. No way I'll find another house this size then what would I do with the furniture? The only good furniture we own is our leather living room suit and I got in on clearance for half the price. I love a bargain!

Maeve said...

It's beautiful. Are you going to go back and visit it every now and then until your set comes in? When we were stationed in Guam, they lost our personal goods. Accidently, shipped all our household furniture to Australia. Took them 8 months to get it all rerouted back to us. At the time, my oldest daughter was six months old and I had just found out I was pregnant with our second child. Needless to say, I was a tad emotional. Poor hubby! But we survived!

Mary Ricksen said...

Wow! It's lovely. And all real wood. I sure hope you can bring it home with you when you come back!
Good luck!

Riley Quinn said...

Susan, we're only a few hours from each other. I think you're closer to the Austrian border? I'm closer to the Czech border in Grafenwohr. How close are you to Zurich? We're planning a weekend there in June.

Darah, we both have excellent taste. Hopefully you can get your new furniture soon.

Rach, our house in Texas was half empty because it was the largest place we'd ever lived. I'd never gotten around to finding furniture but if we go back there now, I'll be set.

Maeve, how frustrating. I would be emotional with out the pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep from a little one. Thanks for sharing your story.

Mary, I'm definitely bringing it back. I love it too much to leave it.

Cohen said...

No furniture stories, but I do long to switch our IKEA stuff for "real" furniture. Although, putting various pieces from IKEA together into a bookshelf is a Swede's favourite past-time. Your choice is just beautiful, I can understand you want to bring it back to the US:

Kathy said...

Riley are you military? We spent 4 years over there in the 1970's. Germans know how to make furniture. Solid sturdy things. Do they still have junkin' days? We left the states with 2 footlockers and a couple of suitcases and our dufflebags. Nobody mentioned to either of us. we were both on active duty, about shipping household goods so we stored everything. We came back with several thousnad pounds of stuff-lol. We were in the Hanau area and would save our gas coupons and use them on trips.

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The furniture were simple yet elegant and it can go both ways to modern and contemporary styles very stylish!

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Andrei Mainea said...

Hi all,

I am running a research with no budget :| for my bachelor's degree paper and i need some information from your side if possible. The information needed is regarding
- How germans choose they furniture?
- From where they buy it? (online stores or offline?)
- What are the most popular furniture stores (both online and offline)?
- Do Germans buy Kids Furniture?
- How much they are willing to spend on Kids furniture?
- From where they buy Kids furniture? (online stores or offline)
- How often they are buying kids furniture?

Thank you very much for your help - i will really appreciate your support on this since on the internet the information is 0 about this field.

I am looking forward to receiving your help (answers) as soon as possible.
Please contact me at

Best regards,
Andrei Mainea

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Meja Makan Minimalis
lemari pakaian
toko furniture
kursi tamu
Dipan Jati
Mebel Jepara

Ethan Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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