What kind of bed/sofa did my grandmother have in Hungary decades ago?
June 9, 2018 4:38 PM   Subscribe

She lived in Budapest and I believe she had it from the 1950s or 1960s until she died in 2008. I live in a small apartment in NYC and I keep thinking it would be the perfect thing, but no sofa beds that I can find (online or off) resemble it, and I don't even properly know how to search. It was meant to be a permanent every night bed, but it folded into a somewhat awkward-sized (by US standards) large and serviceable sofa.

The bed was was changed to a sofa and back every morning and night because it was a two room apartment for a family of 2 adults and 1-2 children, and each room was both a bedroom and a living room. It was long and big enough to be slept on as a sofa (without unfolding it at all). Half could be unfolded for one person, or both halves could be unfolded at the same time and then it was practically king sized. There was storage built in for the sheets, pillows, and duvet.

I don't have anyone in the family I could ask, and I don't speak enough Hungarian or other Eastern European language to do effective googling.

It was massive and heavy and meant to last for ages. It was probably really expensive the way things that you used to only have to buy once used to be. My great hope is that I could find something like it that would fit into my doorway and use it forever.

My next hope is finding the next best thing. So far the closest I could come up with is a very large futon (so it could be slept in either folded or unfolded for a bigger or smaller sleeping surface). I suspect they are less comfortable both as beds and as couches, and don't scratch my nostalgia at all. But if anyone has a specific futon recommendation, or an alternate suggestion, I'd love to hear.

My understanding is that while American style sofa beds have improved a lot and some of the very expensive ones really can be very comfortable, they are still not designed for long term use with every day converting. I think I'm open to spending significant money (by my standards anyway) so I don't need a bargain. But only if I can really get close to what I need.

Thank you!
posted by Salamandrous to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I say it folded it out, but if I recall correctly, it kind of swung out. It looked like a sofa with two seating sections.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:41 PM on June 9, 2018

The Ikea Holmsund does what you describe. It is not Hungarian or built to last forever but it will fit through your doorway. We have one and it is pretty solid.
posted by headnsouth at 5:14 PM on June 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

My Lithuanian grandmother always had something called a daybed. Searching that term brings up lots of hits. Maybe see if that’s more what you want.
posted by FencingGal at 5:41 PM on June 9, 2018

I searched “Amish daybed” to find some that look like they should last forever
posted by FencingGal at 5:43 PM on June 9, 2018

This is the sort of sofa that I remember my Hungarian relatives having in the 1970s. I searched "sleeper sofa" to find it. In Hungarian, "sleeper sofa" is "kanapé ágy."
posted by GreenEyed at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I know exactly what you’re talking about because it’s what my grandmother in Poland slept on. The search terms I would use are “convertible sofa with storage” (or futon instead of sofa).

Here’s one for sale at Overstock.
posted by ellenaim at 6:29 PM on June 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

A higher-end version is the Clara Storage Futon from West Elm.
posted by ellenaim at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2018

headnsouth - I've slept, as a guest, on an Ikea bed that was like that and it wasn't great. Do you sleep on yours every night?

FencingGal - In the other room, there was a daybed - that was the child's room. It just flipped up for storage. But the 'marital bed' was definitely not a daybed.

GreenEyed - I'll see what I can find with that term.

ellenaim - my grandmother's was much larger than that, the back did not flip down, the cushions somehow swung out.

Thank you to all who answered. I'm responding because I'm hoping to find something fairly specific - something more like a bed-sofa than a sofa-bed, but that still is solid and 'grown-up' furniture as a sofa.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2018

I splurged big time last month on a handmade wool mattress from Bulgaria... they are meant to last 20-30 years and are quite comfortable and substantial. Maybe they could help, they are not excessively expensive and do custom orders. They are called “home of wool”...
posted by catspajammies at 11:35 PM on June 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

try 'kanapéor fotelágy'

Maybe something like this?
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:47 PM on June 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I slept on a sofa bed a bit like that for most of 1997 in the former east Germany. It folded out like this. Not as big as you're describing, but the two halves definitely folded out separately, and it certainly seemed built to last. I added DDR to the german words for sofa and bed to find it, maybe adding a search term specific to communist Hungary may help. Or "retro" if that's a word that's been borrowed into hungarian.
posted by kjs4 at 4:37 AM on June 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

"rekamié" also brings up images of various Hungarian sleeper sofas.

If it's the side-by-side style, this page appears to be about someome fixing up a family member's that had failed. So maybe they aren't that universally well made.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:41 AM on June 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

A different option you might consider is a combination Murphy bed/sofa. I had a Murphy bed (without sofa) in a small NYC apartment. Since it holds any regular mattress, it's just as comfortable as a regular bed. You just have to deal with the annoyance of changing it back and forth, but it might be slightly easier than the sofabeds you're considering, since you could leave the sheets on. I even left the blanket and pillows on (tricky to do depending on the design).
posted by pinochiette at 6:55 AM on June 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Now *I* want the kind that snuffleupagus linked to! Please update if you find something like this in ‘murica.
posted by ellenaim at 8:24 PM on June 10, 2018

Aww, snuffleupagus, I'm tickled you found that site! It was nostalgic just scrolling through. The photo with your word didn't look right, but I it's helpful to have the keyword.

I'm still looking and will update if I find the perfect thing. So far it looks like my closest bets are:

A super luxe sofa that turns into a bed with a 10" mattress
A murphy bed with an inline sofa

Thank you for that idea pinochiette. I knew about Murphy Beds but I never knew anyone who actually had one, so it's good to hear about your positive experience.

catspajammies - fascinating! I had no idea Bulgarian wool mattresses were a thing :)
posted by Salamandrous at 5:15 PM on June 12, 2018

Final update from the OP:
Coming back to update! I ended up waiting until this winter and buying this sofa bed: Innovation Living Cassius Deluxe Excess. I got a previous year's model on sale from a local store, but it was still close to $2k.

After my research, Innovation Living seemed like the best/only brand for a sofa bed meant to be both a sofa and a bed. I got the Deluxe Excess because I was worried that the Excess would be too hard for me, but in retrospect, I had to adapt to the softness of the deluxe after the relative firmness of my Ikea mattress. If I had to do it over, I might go for a deluxe mattress model - though honestly I'm not sure because it is so so comfortable as a sofa and I love how it looks and feels, and I am more used to the softness now.

I would say that it's better as a sofa than my grandmother's was - more comfortable and takes up less space), roughly equal comfort as a bed (maybe a bit less, but I have youth and nostalgia working against me here), and somewhat less practical since it doesn't incorporate its own storage or fold out quite as large.

I love my room that is now a living room during the day, and to my own surprise, even during quarantine I've been converting back and forth every day because it is so nice to have that couch/living room feel. I bought this 'shoe shelf' from Ikea to store my linens in during the day. I adjusted one of the shelves to be large enough to fit my big winter comforter. The sliding door makes it convenient and it's a bit large but still unobtrusive enough for me. It fits my two (squishy) pillows, a sheet, my comforter in a duvet cover, my pajamas, and my sleeping slippers.

This was a big purchase for me even on sale, but for anyone else thinking of it, I have occasionally seen models of Innovation Living Sofa beds on Kaiyo for much less. Also, I do sometimes miss my amazing Ikea mattress, but I love this so much and I only wish I'd done it years earlier.

Last thing - the mattress size when folded out does NOT match USA mattress sizes. It does seem to match European mattress sizes (I think it would be a Euro king). At some point I want to try a euro king size fitted sheet for it. But with making and unmaking every day anyway, I've found that a full size flat size sheet works great for me, and I don't mind the lack of perfect flatness/tautness.

My only regret is that I haven't been able to sufficiently combat the cat scratches :(
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:55 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]

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