Whether you’re short on space, looking for ways to accommodate family or friends overnight, or simply want to add additional purpose and flexibility to your living room, den, or home office, then a sleeper-style sofa, day bed, or futon may be the perfect answer. But, which one is right for you, your home, your potential guests, and your lifestyle? Well, we’ve put together some important facts and information that will help you to consider all of your options and decide just what’s best for you.
Just like with all furniture, there are certain key factors to consider when making your furniture purchase choice such as personal preference and style as well as space and size restrictions and of course cost considerations. If you are thinking of buying a day bed, futon, or sleeper sofa, however, there is one other key factor to consider due to the dual-purpose nature of these pieces (each can be used for sitting as well as for sleeping) which is,… do you plan to use it more often for sitting or for sleeping? Answer this one essential question and you will be moving in the right direction when it comes to deciding the sleeper sofa vs. futon vs. day bed dilemma.
If you plan to use your sleeper sofa, day bed, or futon more for sitting and less occasionally for sleeping then a sleeper sofa would likely be the best option for you. This is because a sleeper sofa is essentially a sofa first with a hidden/fold-away bed compartment and thus constructed to be the most comfortable for sitting among the three options as it is inherently constructed as a sofa for sitting. That’s not to say that you (or your guests) are doomed to a night of tossing, turning, and restless sleep when using the fold-out mattress portion of the sleeper sofa.
There have been numerous updates and improvements to sleeper sofa mattresses and mattress support structures over the years ultimately leading to a much more comfortable sleeping experience. Many of today’s modern sleeper sofa designs feature an updated and re-engineered horizontal support system for the mattress that eliminates the horizontal bar that in the past could cause back pain/discomfort. Look for a “deck” or mattress “trampoline” that has a sturdy and durable wire-mesh construction if possible fashioned in an “X” or “criss-cross” design to provide proper mattress support. Beneath the deck or trampoline – in the center section – the support legs will provide the best strength and support if they are manufactured in a U-shaped, single unit. With regards to the mattress itself, select a sleeper sofa with a mattress no less than 4” in thickness. Some manufacturers even offer mattress “upgrades” for ultra sleep comfort.
Don’t forget to consider the amount of room that you will have for the sleeper sofa, not only when used as a sofa for sitting, but remember that you will need proper room/space to extend the mattress when using it for sleeping. You’ll find sleeper sofas in twin, full, and queen sizes available with some manufacturers also offering custom size options. When opened for sleeping, a twin-sized sleeper sofa will take up approximately 54 inches of space in width as well as 84 inches in length. This size “sleeps” only one adult-size guest/visitor. For a full-size sleeper sofa you will need to reserve at least 72 inches of space width-wise and 90 inches of space length-wise in order to unfold and use the mattress. This size would work for two adults in terms of sleeping. A queen-size sleeper sofa measures approximately 84 inches in width and 90 inches in length when the mattress is opened and in use. Also to note, the queen size is the most popular – as well as most readily available – in terms of sleeper sofa size. It provides a spacious sleeping space for two adults as well as ample seating for 3+ people when used as a sofa.
Other important factors to consider when purchasing a sleeper-style sofa include:
- A durable, hardwood frame. Make sure that you pay attention to the type of wood that the frame of your sleeper sofa is made of. It’s important to select a sleeper sofa with a sturdy, durable, frame that can support the weight as well as the constant motion and functionality of the sleeper sofa along with its bed/mattress frame.
- Quality steel-constructed bed/mattress frame. Sleeper sofa bed/mattress frames manufactured of steel are sturdier than light-weight aluminum or alloy frames. Keep in mind your guests when making this decision.
- Easy/Smooth Operating Open and Close Mechanism. The latest designs in sleeper sofas ensure for a much easier-to-operate folding and unfolding (opening/closing) process. It’s more-balanced construction eliminates much of the weight and stress placed on the open/close structure.
- Try Before You Buy. Try out the mattress before you make your decision. After all, if you don’t think that the mattress is comfortable then your family and friends won’t likely think that its comfortable either.
- Test it Out. Take some time to open and close the mattress portion of the sleeper sofa before purchasing it as well to make sure that it is easy to move and operate. If you think that it is difficult or heavy to maneuver then your guests will probably think so as well.
Whether you have limited space or don’t want to take up your available space with an actual bed that is rarely used, a sleeper sofa is an ideal solution that provides an extra sleeping space wherever it is placed. Today’s sleeper sofas are made for today’s lifestyles and are as comfortable as they are functional and convenient. What may be best of all, sleeper sofas don’t “look” like sleeper sofas. Meaning, they don’t look any different than standard sofas. Additionally, you don’t have to sacrifice style for function as they are available in a tremendous array of styles and colors and a multitude of fabric and leather options so they can match any room, home, style, or personality.
Day Bed Details
If you have somewhat limited space or want to use the space you have in a multi-functional manner, then choosing a day bed would be an ideal option – particularly if you plan to use the day bed more so for sleeping than for sitting. Since a day bed includes an actual mattress it will also undoubtedly provide the most comfortable sleeping surface from the available day bed, sleeper sofa, and futon options.
Day beds consist of three major parts – the day bed frame, the mattress support (spring or slat system), and of course the mattress itself. The frame is made of three pieces – a larger back panel plus two smaller end panels. The frame/panels can be made of various wood types, metals, or even a combination of wood and metal. And, just as with standard bed frames, be certain to select a sturdy, durable, and well-crafted frame that can easily support and handle the mattress.
Day beds are nearly exclusively designed with twin-size mattresses so are best when needing sleeping space for a single child, adult, or teen, etc. Be sure to reserve at least a 39 inch x 75 inch space to set-up your day bed. The quality of the mattress is of the utmost importance so be certain to choose a mattress that provides the proper balance of support and comfort to meet your – or the user’s – unique needs and preferences.
Day Beds are particularly ideal and useful if you do not have an entire room – and therefore the space – to devote to use as a spare bedroom or guest room. Day beds can be placed as an extra bed in a traditional bedroom, used as a child’s main bed, or placed in a sunroom, den, or home office and used for overnight guests. The space underneath the bed can also be used for additional storage space. Place storage bins or baskets underneath the day bed and fill with extra blankets, linens, towels, or anything else that you may want to store and keep out of sight.
Many day beds can also be outfitted with a “trundle bed” that can be “hidden” or stored away under the day bed providing yet an additional mattress/sleeping area when needed. The trundle bed mattress is outfitted with casters and can simply be pulled out and used when needed and stored back under the day bed when done. There are two styles of day bed trundles – or trundle beds – to choose from. The first is a drawer trundle. Drawer trundles can be pulled out from under the day bed and sit lower than the main day bed mattress. The second trundle bed style is a called a pop-up trundle. Pop-Up trundles are becoming increasing popular because once the trundle bed/mattress is pulled out from underneath the day bed it can then be elevated to match the height of the main day bed thus doubling the size of your day bed mattress into a king-size bed.
Day beds are available in metal, steel, and wood options as well as in a variety of colors and styles from classic to contemporary plus you can complete the look and comfort of your day bed with sheets, blankets, comforters, and assorted pillows and throw pillows. One of the many great things about a day bed is that you can quickly, easily, and inexpensively change the look and appearance of your day bed to coincide with the seasons, holidays, – or just based on your mood – simply by changing out the comforters and pillows placed on the day bed.
So, we’ve discussed that day beds would provide the most comfort and be your best bet if you are looking for something to use as a sleep first and sit/lounge second option. Additionally, we have identified that a sleeper sofa would be ideal if you plan to use it for sitting mostly and sleeping secondly. That said,… what direction do you go in if you want a space-saving, multifunctional piece of furniture that you plan to use equally for sleeping and sitting? Your answer – for reasons of ease of use, comfort, cost considerations, and style – is a futon.
Including a futon in a guest room, living room, den, or any room in the house is a spectacular way to provide both style, comfort, and a multi-functional sitting and sleeping option for company as well as overnight guests. While a futon is a great choice for any room in the house, it is particularly useful and appealing when used/needed in a highly visible area of your home or apartment such as a living room, den, or home office. It is an ideal choice for those who wish to use the furniture frequently for both sitting and sleeping mainly because of its easy-to-operate and change from sitting to sleeping position nature as well as its look, appeal, and style.
If you are regularly switching or changing your furniture from a sitting to a sleeping position then you certainly want something that is effortless and easy to change. To that effect, a futon can be simpler/easier to convert from sitting to sleeping as you won’t have to remove the cushions and manually pull the mattress/bed out from the inside of the sofa as you would need to do with a sleeper-style sofa. With a futon, you simply have to pull the lower portion of the futon “bench” to lower the “back” of the futon so that it can be slept on. You simply do the reverse if you want to place the futon back in the sitting/sofa position.
Another big advantage of a futon as compared to a day bed is that if placed in a living room or den, a futon certainly looks the part of a couch or sofa more than a day bed due to its construction and style. Additionally, it is a cost-effective choice/option, typically falling on the lower end of the price scale when compared to both sleeper sofas and day beds. Part of the reason for its value and inexpensive price point lies in its simple but sophisticated construction.
Futons are generally constructed of three main components or parts. The first being the frame itself which is typically constructed of metal, steel or hardwood. The second component is the mattress and the third is the mattress cover.
Since the futon frame supports the mattress – and ultimately your (or the user’s) weight – it is important that you select a quality frame manufactured from metal, steel, or hardwood such as maple. There are no shortages of styles, designs, and colors to choose from, however, with many stylish options available. When choosing a mattress for your futon – particularly if you will be using it for sleeping frequently – then take caution to choose a supportive yet comfortable mattress that is no less than 6 inches in thickness. With regards to the mattress cover, since it will be seeing constant use, selecting a durable mattress cover that can handle such usage is vital. However, if you wish to change the color, look, style, or design of your futon mattress cover this can be easily accomplished by purchasing a new one and simply replacing the current cover at any time.
Futons are available in an incredible number of sizes from smaller 28” and 39” futon “chair” sizes to twin, loveseat, full, double, queen, king, and even california king size futons up to 72” in width and 84” in length. So whatever your needs or room size restrictions there is sure to be a viable futon option to meet your needs!
There are three main styles of futon frames as well, the bi-fold, tri-fold, and loveseat frame. The bi-fold frame most closely resembles a standard sofa or couch and is constructed of two connected slat racks – the one that is used for sitting and the other that forms the back of the futon or back rest. To change the futon from a “couch” to a “bed” one simply has to pull the back portion down by pulling on the lower portion of the frame. Bi-fold futons use the length of the mattress as the sofa/couch and thus provide the most seating/sitting area. A tri-fold (or A-Frame) futon employs a tri-fold style mattress. The “unused” third portion of the mattress can then be folded under the main seating area when used as a couch or hung over the back rest portion of the futon when used as a couch. Tri-fold futons use the width portion of the mattress for “couch sitting” so there is essentially less sitting space although they still can provide ample double or queen-size sleeping surfaces. The loveseat style frame is made for a two-piece type futon mattress for twin or double bed-sized futons. The loveseat style frame is like the tri-fold frame in that the width of the mattress is used for the sofa seating area and again, is superb for smaller spaces.
If you’re looking for comfortable and functional furniture that can be used for both sitting and sleeping regularly then a futon may be the perfect solution for you and your home. Futons are generally less expensive than both day beds and sleeper sofas, are lighter and less cumbersome to use and set–up than sleeper sofas (particularly if used regularly for sitting and sleeping) as futons use the same frame and mattress for sitting and sleeping, and provide a more contemporary look and style over day beds when placed in a living room, den, or office.
Sleeper sofas, day beds, and futons are all tremendous multi-functional furnishings that provide the owner and user with exceptional sitting and sleeping options. Which one is right for you and your home? The information above can certainly help point you in the right direction but remember the choice is ultimately yours.