How to choose a comfortable sofa bed for your home
A sofa bed really is a nifty piece of furniture — it gives you an extra sleeping option without sacrificing your seating options. From regularly hosting house guests to making the most of a small space, there are many reasons why a comfortable sofa bed could be ideal for your home.
But, whether you're looking for the best sofa bed for everyday use or a comfortable piece that will only be used occasionally, there are a few things you need to think about first. Buying a sofa bed can differ slightly from buying a regular sofa and, with so many different options on the market, it can often be difficult to know where to begin.
With this in mind, we’ve created this guide that will look at all the things you need to think about when shopping for a sofa bed, so you can choose one that's right for your home.
Start by considering these key questions
With so many different types of sofa bed available, it's vital that you know exactly what you're looking for before you start shopping. Not only will this ensure you invest in the right one, but it will also save you a lot of time and effort during the process. So, start by considering the following questions to begin narrowing down your search.
What will be the function of your sofa bed?
As we've mentioned, there are many motives for buying a sofa bed, but considering its functionality can help you pick out the right one.
For instance, should you be looking for an everyday sofa bed that will see regular or daily use, you will want to ensure that it offers maximum comfort and support as a bed first and foremost. This might be the case if you're trying to make the most of a compact bedroom or you're preparing your home for the arrival of a long-term house guest, both situations where an everyday sofa bed will probably be necessary.
On the other hand, if your sofa bed is only going to be used infrequently as a bed, you will need to check it offers a high level of comfort as a seat. You may find that this becomes more of a focus if you're looking to add an extra bed to your home "just in case" or you only host guests occasionally.
Unfortunately, thanks to the prevalence of cheap, mass-produced models, sofa beds have acquired somewhat of a reputation for compromising on comfort and support when compared to dedicated beds and sofas. But, if you invest in quality, handmade piece, it's possible to get a comfortable sofa bed that offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to cover all the bases we've just mentioned. We'll take a look at exactly what to look for in a quality sofa bed later in this guide.
What room is your sofa bed going in?
Another thing that you'll need to consider is what room you're buying a sofa bed for, as this will influence the style and size you will need.
If you're planning to invest in a bed for a room with limited space, such as a small spare room or study, you will need to choose a model that can fit comfortably. This might mean choosing a single sofa bed or a futon to ensure that you aren't overcrowding the room. Alternatively, with something like a living room sofa bed or one that will be situated in a master bedroom, you may be able to work with a more spacious double sofa bed.
Additionally, the location of your new sofa bed may affect some of the design choices you make when shopping. For example, if you have modern décor, you may prefer a sleeker, contemporary design, while a traditional home calls for a sofa bed with a more classic look. There are also designs, like Chesterfield sofa beds, that can work with a wide variety of interiors, making them a very versatile choice that can match your home no matter how often you update its look.
To start your search with the right information, it's very important that you take the time to measure up the space you plan on putting your new sofa bed, remembering to take into account the size of the bed when it's fully extended. Here at Timeless Chesterfields, you'll find each of our sofa beds dimensions listed on their product page — you'll also find our sofa measuring guide useful for working out the measurements of your home.
What size sofa bed do you need?
Lastly, consider what sofa bed size you need, as there's little point choosing a bed that's not fit for purpose. Think about who is most likely to be using it and what they would need from a regular bed. Do you regularly host house guests who are a couple? Are you planning on putting the sofa in the spare room so that your taller son or daughter can stay over? You will probably be better off choosing a larger double sofa bed. On the other hand, if you're simply getting a sofa to add an extra bed to your home, a single sofa bed could potentially be a better choice.
You'll also need to think about the size of the sofa bed as a seating option. If, for instance, you're planning on using it as the main sofa in your living room, you'll need to choose one that's large enough to sit you and your family. Alternatively, if it's going into the spare room, you won't need to worry as much about providing enough space for everyone. Take this question into account and you're sure to invest in the most comfortable sofa bed for your home.
What are the main types of sofa bed?
There are quite a few types of sofa bed, and, while each one does the job of providing both a sleeping and sitting option, they differ in how they convert from one to the other. And, some can be more suited to your needs than others. With a variety of mechanisms available, it can be tough to know where to begin — we've rounded up the most common types below to help you get started.
Pull-out sofa bed
When you think of a sofa bed, there's a good chance that you're picturing a pull-out bed. They look like a traditional sofa, but a spring-loaded, folded mattress is hidden within the base and it can be accessed by simply removing the cushions and pulling the handle. The result is a bed with a full frame and legs that can provide a very comfortable night's sleep.
The big advantage of this type of sofa bed is that they offer a much more comfortable experience as both a bed and a sofa than any of the other types. This is because they have full-depth sofa cushioning as well as a fully supported mattress. Additionally, because they can make use of the full length of a sofa, it's possible to fit larger mattresses within the base of the sofa bed if required. They also benefit from the fact they look exactly like a regular sofa when stowed, so they can easily be worked into your décor as a permanent piece.
If you're looking for a sofa bed that will provide permanent extra sleeping space in your home with no compromises on comfort and support, a pull-out couch is your best option.
A futon is made up of a metal or wooden frame with attached cushioning that forms a sofa but also unfolds into a flat sleeping surface. Through the use of a hinge, the back rest can be moved down so that it sits horizontally alongside the base, with the attached seat cushion acting as a mattress. As well as these bi-fold futons, there are also tri-fold models that provides a foot rest when upright and extra sleeping space when flat.
The biggest advantages of a futon is that they are lightweight, easy to use, and can easily be transported to the location they're needed. However, they're generally much less comfortable than a full pull-out sofa bed due to their lack of suspension and thinner cushioning. They also have a very casual appearance that often does not work with the décor in a home. That being said, thanks to their small size, a futon can be a great choice for small apartments that have an informal look.
Clic-clac sofa bed
With a clic-clac sofa bed, you can access many of the portability benefits of a futon, but with improved seating options. These sofa beds can vary in design and size, but almost every one features a mechanism that locks the back rest into place alongside the seat to create a flat sleeping space, as well as adjustable back legs that will support the bed when converted.
Generally, clic-clacs are very easy to use and are ideal occasional sleeping options that can be moved around the home without much trouble. And, thanks to their focus on being a chair first and foremost, they usually offer a much comfier sitting experience than a futon. On the other hand, comfort levels are never the same as high as a quality pull-out sofa, thanks to thinner cushioning and a lack of suspension. Much like a futon, most clic-clacs also have a more relaxed design, which can make them unsuitable for some living spaces.
A day bed is a type of sofa bed that consists of a mattress supported by a wooden or metal frame, usually positioned around the sides and rear of the bed to mimic a sofa's arms and back, not dissimilar to a chaise longue. The mattress is usually held up by a linkspring, a system of cross supports and mesh that provides a level of suspension. In most cases there is no need to convert the piece to a bed, as they are primarily designed for lounging and lying down, though a pull-out trundle is present in some models to add a second bed or to expand the sleeping space.
As they're primarily designed for reclining or lying down, a day bed is a good choice if you're looking for an everyday sofa bed that will provide a permanent sleeping option in your home. However, thanks to their rigid wooden or metal backs, they won't be able to provide the same level of support as a pull-out sofa when it comes to sitting, even if extra cushions are added. Additionally, a day bed with a link spring system won't be able to provide the quality support found in the fully sprung mattress of a pull-out sofa bed, either.
How to spot a quality sofa bed
Whether you're looking for a sofa bed that will be used regularly for sleeping or one that won't be converted that often, it's important to know exactly what you're looking for if you want to shop for a quality piece of furniture. You need to find the right balance of functionality and comfort, as well as investing in a sofa bed that will last you for many years to come.
To help you out, we've listed some of the key features that you should look out for that set a quality sofa bed apart from the rest of the pack.
The frame is an essential part of any sofa bed as it provides key support for both sitting and sleeping on the piece. A quality frame will also keep all the essential moving parts of your bed in the right place, ensuring it will stay in shape over the length of its lifespan.
When you're looking into a particular sofa bed, pay attention to the material that the frame is made of, as the use of a cheap material is a sure sign of a poor-quality product. The best models are made with hardwoods, which are rigid and sturdy enough to stand up to regular use, while mass-produced models are likely to have metal or soft wood frames that cost less.
Additionally, be sure to find out how the frame was constructed, as this can also be a key indicator of the quality of a sofa bed. A good sofa bed frame will have been built by hand with solid jointing, whereas a cheap bed will probably have been put together on a production line using metal staples in the joints, a process that can create a weaker frame.
Here at Timeless Chesterfields, the frames of our sofa beds are made using beech hardwood, a timber that's recognised for its impressive strength and durability. And, our joints are dowelled and glued by hand for extra rigidity, ensuring everything will stay exactly where it should be for years to come. We also rigorously check all of our frames during production to confirm construction is up to our own high standards.
The opening and closing mechanism of your sofa bed should also be a priority when checking for quality, as it directly affects the ease of use and reliability of the bed. With a premium mechanism, your piece should be able to convert from a sofa to a bed and back again with minimal effort every time, and a poor-quality system could potentially break down and prevent this from happening.
You should be able to lift or pull out the bed section of your sofa without any sticking or snagging, and there should be no tell-tale squeaking or crunching noises that could indicate something is not functioning correctly. If you can, take the time to inspect the inner parts of the mechanism for sharp edges or points, as these could potentially tear up bed sheets or cause injury further down the line. Lastly, your sofa bed should lock into place securely either as a bed or a sofa, ensuring that you can sit or lie down comfortably without any unevenness.
We use an incredibly reliable opening and closing mechanism for our sofa beds here at Timeless Chesterfields, which is fitted within our hand-built furniture to ensure smooth action every time. Our bed mechanisms are made using tubular steel frames for strength and durability, ensuring that they will last the lifetime of your sofa.
Cushioning and mattress
The cushioning is an essential part of any sofa, providing vital support that ensures you can sit on it for hours without any discomfort. And, with a sofa bed, there is also the need for a quality mattress that will allow you to get a restful night's sleep without any aches or pains in the morning.
Foam is the most commonly used cushion filling for sofas, but it's important to realise that not all of foams are created equal. Many mass-produced models will make use of lower density substances that use softer material that's full of air bubbles to fill their cushions. These offer less resistance and will lose their shape much more quickly than higher density foam.
However, a quality sofa bed will make use of premium foam cushioning to give you a higher level of comfort. For instance, at Timeless Chesterfields, we use the high-density reflex foam to provide ample resistance and support when you sit. This also gives our sofa beds fantastic longevity, where they keep their shape much longer than cheaper models.
The mattress of your sofa bed is equally important for providing comfort and support whenever someone sleeps on it. Like the cushioning, many mass produced, cheaper models will skimp on build quality, so it's vital that you check this on any bed you're considering. Look for a mattress that's comfy when you lie down: you shouldn't be able to feel any of the bars, slats or coils digging into your back. A memory foam or a fully-sprung mattress is a good choice, though many people find that foam can overheat due to a lack of breathability, so this is something you should keep in mind.
At Timeless Chesterfields, the fold-out mattresses in our sofa beds are fully sprung using high-grade interior springs for maximum comfort and breathability. With a thickness of 4 inches on top of a slatted base, you can be sure that you or your house guests will sleep soundly in luxurious comfort.
Like a regular sofa, the covering material of your sofa bed plays a huge part in the feel and aesthetics of the piece, so it's important to choose something that you like and that works with your décor. In addition, your covering needs to be of sufficient quality so that it lasts and can be cared for easily. However, there are a wide variety of coverings to consider, each of which can differ in quality.
Leather sofa beds are a good choice for their classic look, durability, and easy-clean attributes. But, it's also important that you check the covering's quality to ensure it’s real. Many cheaper sofa makers will make use of poor faux-leather, "genuine leather", or split leather (leather made with the lower part of the hide), which simply doesn't have the characteristics of premium hide. To find out how to choose the best leather, take a look at our leather sofa buying guide.
On the other hand, there are quite a few fabrics that look and feel great on a sofa bed, including wool, linen, and tweed. Not only that, but many of these are durable and easy to care for, making them a practical choice for your piece. But, similar to leather, the quality of fabrics can vary, so it's worth taking the time to find out more about your options before investing in a fabric sofa bed. A great place to start is our fabric sofa buying guide, which will talk you through the best choices.
Here at Timeless Chesterfields, we only use the very best coverings for our sofa beds. From our gorgeous range of leathers to our outstanding fabrics, our experienced team take great care to source quality materials for our handmade furniture. Or, if you've already got a certain leather or fabric in mind for your piece, our team will happily work with you to create a bespoke sofa bed.
How to care for your sofa bed
Now that you know exactly what to look for in your brand-new sofa bed, all that's left is to find your ideal piece. But, it's also important to know how best to care for your bed so that it stays in top condition. Below we've provided a few top tips to help you get started.
Find out about any specialist cleaning needs
Whether you've got a leather or fabric sofa bed, you should take the time to find out how best to clean your piece's covering, considering any specialist care requirements. For instance, a leather sofa bed will require conditioning and buffing to maintain its sheen and to keep it protected, while a velvet sofa bed will need brushing to keep it looking lush.
The easiest way to keep your sofa bed looking great is to clean it on a regular basis and take care of any spills or accidents straight away. Almost every type of sofa can be safely vacuumed with a soft brush attachment and dusted with a cloth to get rid of any crumbs or debris that have accumulated, so be sure to include this in your usual cleaning routine.
However, it is important to remember that a sofa bed has more nooks and crannies than a normal sofa thanks to its interior mechanism. So, as well as removing all the sofa cushions to clean, you'll need to open out your bed and vacuum both the compartment inside and your fold-out mattress.
Rotate and air the mattress
One of the most important pieces of advice for keeping a mattress in good condition is to rotate and air it regularly, and this also applies to the one attached to your fold-out bed.
Try to air it without any bed sheets on at least once a week, as this will prevent any lingering smells or dampness taking hold. Rotating and flipping your mattress will make sure pressure is applied to each area equally when you sleep on it, stopping any dips from forming that could create an uneven surface. Aim to rotate your mattress every three months and flip it over at least twice each year.
Follow the advice in this guide and you will be able to choose a comfortable sofa bed for your home. If you have any questions about the advice here, you can get in touch with our team and they'll be happy to answer them.