Bali is well-known as a shoppers’ paradise. Whilst once visitors were happy with a few wooden carvings, a knock-off designer handbag, and the ubiquitous Bintang shirt, the experience has become more sophisticated. Whole streets in areas such as Seminyak, Kuta, Legian, and the hill town of Ubud are lined with small boutique style stores and since I last visited, the shopping experience has diversified to offer a wide range of homewares. Elegant and mercifully, air-conditioned, home living stores have mushroomed. Whilst not the discount shopping mecca of years gone by, costs in Bali remain between half and up to a third less than standard pricing due to cheap wages and Indonesia’s burgeoning manufacturing sector. Hundreds upon hundreds of sellers vie for your tourist dollar and a spot in your luggage.The next time you visit Bali, make sure you leave room in your luggage to bring home more than a tan. Click To Tweet
Heavy pieces of carved furniture in dark tones continue to be popular though these days it is far more likely to be stained mango wood than the over-harvested teak of yesteryear. Daybeds and cabinets are perfect for recreating a Balinese-style pavilion on your own deck or backyard. For those travelling from Australia or New Zealand, there will be a range of shipping options available from most sellers. For those further afield, it may not be as cost-effective.
Far more practical to pack are inexpensive decorative features such as triple-layered silk and gilt umbrellas; carved relief panels in wood and stone; small statues of Buddha that can be set in gardens or water features; and, puppets featuring characters from the Hindu epic, Ramayana. Lengths of Batik in traditional or contemporary prints are perfect as table cloths, tied around pillars or made into cushions. And no matter how tightly packed your luggage is, surely you can find room for some flat rattan placemats or coasters. Most items cost under $10 a piece so you can afford to splash out and theme your whole entertaining area for less than one piece of Swedish pre-fab furniture.
If you’d prefer to leave the Balinese theme behind on the island, there are a myriad of modern options. Hamptons styling is everywhere. Lime-washed furniture; a neutral palate of greys, taupes and creams; decorator pieces in distressed muted colours; and, accents of coir rugs and hurricane lamps that hint at a coastal motif without making your living space look like Captain Snapper’s Seafood Restaurant. This style is particularly suited to open-plan living and there is no shortage of choice in the major shopping districts. Furniture should not be overlooked as much of it is half what is being charged at home.
Punched aluminium trays, cups, boxes and more provide a touch of glamour. They are incredibly cheap at less than $10 for a mid-sized tray and are lightweight to boot. These are available in popular shopping areas from small outlets that specialise just in aluminium ware. Some vendors also sell milk-washed versions in mint, pale blue, and white as part of the Hampton’s look.
Fluoro has seeped into textiles and objets d’art. Rainbow shades abound on prints, pillows, and figurines. Highly embroidered cushions and bags in fluorescent colours are reminiscent of chaotic Mexican patterns and the illustrations of Frida Kahlo. Frida makes many appearances herself, on large canvasses to small prints. Pineapples and owls remain popular motifs but bulldogs and pugs are starting to give them a run for their money.
Balizen on Jl. Raya Basangkasa in Seminyak is a great blueprint for updating your existing decor. They manage to blend the best of both worlds with Hamptons and Shabby Chic styles mixed with bold Balinese prints on soft furnishings such as placemats, tablecloths, bed linen, and cushions.
The next time you visit Bali, make sure you leave room in your luggage to bring home more than a tan.