Most low to mid-range Shanghai rentals come fully furnished with beds, tables, couches, TVs and telephones. Landlords are keen to achieve a foreign-friendly decor, so ask to remove anything you don't like and negotiate a furniture allowance, if desired. Landlords are susually willing to part with up to one month's rent to cover furnishing. Expensive renovated homes geared to foreigners maybe left empty, as most high-end tenants prefer their own furnishings. Most apartments are equipped with washing machines, although dryers or dishwashers are rare.
If you wish to refurnish your apartment, reasonable outlets and opportunities to order custom-made piece abound. In Shanghai, furniture and soft furnishing markets such as the South Bund Fabric Market in Huangpu or the Qingfeng Market in Putuo offer negotiable prices, a vast selection of goods, and tailors and furniture markers willing to copy or creat pieces. Cost and quality vary, with curtains ranging from CNY 150 to CNY 400. The city also has several large home marts along Yishan Lu, near the Xujiahui Metro Stop. These multi-storey warehouses showcase a dizzying array of domestic and imported furniture and home goods. The gilded Victorian-style furniture loved by local Shanghainese is among the more expensive but slightly more subdued styles are cheaper.
The third option is to pay a visit to the individual furniture stores in malls or on shopping streets. These outlets tend to be more expensive, but with higher quality items. Areas around Taikang Lu in the French Concession have several boutique furniture and home accessory suppliers. When all else fails, the IKEA store across from Shanghai Stadium in Xuhui(5425 6060) is an old standby for reasonably priced furniture, fabrics and kitchen equipment. Hordes of Shanghai families enjoy browsing the gigantic showrooms on the weekends. Any of the city's several Carrefour locations also have furniture and bedding sections, again for decent prices.
If you want the aid of a professional, several interior designers in the city specialize in residential space. Many have specific experience in renovating and restoring Shanghai's colonial homes, so it can be worth getting a quote for their services.
Buying furniture from another expat, however, remains the easiest route. The chances are that as someone is moving into the city, someone else is usually moving out. Check out local furniture listings in city magazines such as that's Shanghai or City Weekend to Shanghai.craigslist.org;
and place furniture ads on the bulletin boards in City Shops or Pines.