I recently went on a hunt for a display cabinet to protect my books and photo albums from the ruthless climate and dust of KL. I didn’t fancy more painted MDF in the house but also didn’t want to spend a fortune so started looking for an old, wooden cabinet with glass doors. With these parameters the hunt took quite a while! However, I did manage and I acquired a few tips on places to look for retro and vintage furniture that should be shared.
As can be seen from the new trendy restaurants and cafés nostagia is in – hence old furniture and collectibles are in high demand. Apparently most of the nonya pieces from shophouses in Melaka and Penang are long gone, and collectors are now looking for colonial furniture and 50s and 60s style teak furniture. Wooden shutters are flying through the doors as they come in, told one shopkeeper. I am glad to see the appreciation for history and heritage, but at the same time it was very frustrating to see the prices of 1960s bookcases and cabinets that can be picked up in any junk store in Europe for some tens of Euros. Scroll to the end to see what I decided ot get in the end!
But here we go – where to start looking for vintage furniture:
Mudah is the eBay of Malaysia and I tend to get lost there for hours on end. Try different key words and filter the companies out of your results. Most of the vintage collectors sell on Mudah, too, so always check “all ads by the seller”.
Many of the collectors in KL are to be found in the Sunday morning madness in the basement of Amcorp mall in PJ. There is some real antique, lots of coins and some outright crazy stuff (like 80s toys and shoes) but sometimes you can spot treasures. There are also a few shops here selling furniture and old glassware. Read about our visit to Amcorp Mall here.
Not only furniture, but other collectibles are rare items like jukeboxes!
This huge space in MK1 has both vintage furniture and collectibles and new gift items. The prime location comes with a higher price tag but it’s worth checking out. They also do customised pieces.
With a nice showroom in TTDI Recrofurniture (ex. Second Charm) has a small selection of beautifully restored vintage pieces. They also make furniture to order, and restore customers’ old pieces.
I stopped here to have a look at some cabinets I saw on Facebook, but ended up staying for a kopi and a chat. The friendly owner has a passion for collecting old things and the store is full of knic-knac from Malaysia and elsewhere. They also have a location in PJ with more furniture.
Another small store selling vitage furniture on Mudah and Facebook – shop is only open by appointment.
Keep checking Facebook pages of these shops and Mudah sellers and ask them to Whatsapp you photos of any interesting pieces to avoid driving around town.
Sometimes you can also get lucky in the junk shops, but they tend to sell newer items. If you know of more good shops for hunting for treasures, leave a comment! And finally, I found something that is sturdy and solid and will last for a few more generations: