Sofa so good?
August 20, 2008 8:18 AM   Subscribe

We're reconfiguring our house to make room for a second child. We'd like to continue to have someplace comfortable for guests to sleep, but we're short on space.

A sofa bed seems like a great solution (because we do need some sort of sitting device), but so many of them are both ugly and uncomfortable.

Google has found us these, but they're not easy to find if one wants to look at them in person.

Can you recommend something that is relatively modern in appearance, and actually comfortable to sleep on?
posted by larsks to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I thought some of the ones at Crate and Barrel looked pretty nice. And modern.
posted by Perplexity at 8:26 AM on August 20, 2008

We bought one of these three years ago. We bought it from the Door Store in NYC (Yonkers, actually), got it in grey and I think for a little less.

It's very comfortable for sleeping on (say our guests). I've been generally satisfied but I think in three years it's begun to get a little tired looking - the back cushion has a pronounced slope now.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:27 AM on August 20, 2008

We have an automatic inflatable mattress than is 18" high (easy to climb off). Folds up small and stores. My parents, who have bad backs, do not mind it. Neither does my elderly MIL. And, really, how long do you want the guests to feel comfortable? (Just kidding.) It worked for us when we had people staying here to help after my C-section.

If you need something to sit on, it might make more sense to buy a decent sofa and get an inflatable mattress. Just don't skimp on the inflatable mattress -- you want to spend a good chunk of change on it.

Alternatively, put both kids in the same room. They'll learn life skills, you'll do a bed time routine in one room and you can move them to their own room later. This is what we are doing in our 3BR, since I use the third for my office and guests.
posted by acoutu at 8:29 AM on August 20, 2008

2 ideas:

We got a futon that we use for a couch family room, mostly because we were short on cash and room. It's surprisingly comfortable. Ours is a pretty basic one, but some can look much more couchlike and kind of similar to the ones in your link. We usually only have one guest over at a time, though (side benefit of divorced parents), so I don't know how practical it would be for two people.

You can also consider a trundle bed for your older child and save the existing bed for the second one. They seem to be the rage right now in children's bedroom furniture. This option would work better when both children are older, and you can move the younger into the older one's room for visits.
posted by bibliowench at 8:30 AM on August 20, 2008

Ikea has some really good ones.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:36 AM on August 20, 2008

If you go the futon couch route, look for a good mattress. The one in my daughter's room is a real inner-spring (Sealy or Serta or somesuch) mattress, great for sleeping.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:55 AM on August 20, 2008

If you need something to sit on, get something made to sit on that you like. You'll spend way more time sitting on it (and looking at it!) than a guest will spend sleeping on it.

Then get an inflatable mattress. Given a choice, I'd *much * rather spend a week on a cheap $30 inflatable mattress with a couple blankets as extra cushioning than a questionable sofa bed. You can choose how much to inflate it, you can re-inflate it over time, and if it has a hole that can't be patched (or found!), they're cheap and practically disposable. Never mind easy to pack up and put away. They're easier to clean than sofa beds, as well.
posted by cgg at 8:56 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

nthing the suggestion for an inflatable mattress. I got to buy a good sofa that was just a good sofa, and my guests have all been very happy with the quality of their sleep on my, IIRC, $40 mattress from Target.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:58 AM on August 20, 2008

I've slept on many sofa beds, and in most cases they are uncomfortable because the mattresses are thin and you can feel the springs, and they don't have sufficient support.

But my experience with futons and similar ideas (several sofa beds at Ikea, for example, are more futon-like than sofa bed like) has generally been great. The foam or stuffed mattress is firmer, and the base of the bed generally more supportive. I think it's because old fashioned sofa beds are just folded up too much.

Please do avoid spring mattresses - if they are thin enough to fold into the sofa bed, they are almost guarenteed to be uncomfortable. Spring mattresses are fine on real beds, but foam mattresses (which will sometimes just be in two pieces, and thus can be nice and firm) or futons are much more comfortable than fold-away spring mattresses.
posted by jb at 9:02 AM on August 20, 2008

Alternatively, put both kids in the same room. They'll learn life skills, you'll do a bed time routine in one room and you can move them to their own room later. This is what we are doing in our 3BR, since I use the third for my office and guests.
We will be putting both kids in the same room. Things are moving out of that room (to make room for child number two) into what is currently our office/guest room, which is turning into a play room (craft area, etc). We're getting rid of the bed that currently takes up a lot of the floor space there, but we do want a nice place to sit (the kids get the floor, we get the sofa :)).

I'm not so keen on inflatable mattresses. They're okay for one person, but not so nice when shared.
posted by larsks at 9:08 AM on August 20, 2008

We bought one of these three years ago. We bought it from the Door Store in NYC (Yonkers, actually), got it in grey and I think for a little less.
That looks nifty. I'm going to be in NYC soon so I may try to check that out. I'm not familiar with the Door Store. Do they, um, sell mostly furniture? Not just doors?
posted by larsks at 9:14 AM on August 20, 2008

Also - if you want a comfortable sofa-bed, look for one that either folds out onto the floor, or has wooden slats underneath the mattress. Sofa beds with only springs and some metal framing under the mattress sag terribly, especially when combined with the thin spring-mattresses most come with.

As for specific reccomendations: this Ikea sofabed (it does come in less eye-wrenching colours) is excellent to sleep on (as good as a regular bed), and fine for sitting on a bit, but I don't like it for watching movies, etc (no arms, not very deep for snuggling back into). This very simple sofabed is actually quite comfortable to sit on (my friend has one), but I've not slept on it.

If you like the modernist style, and you have an Ikea you can get to, I really do think (as a sofa-bed sleeper) that their combination of wooden slat bottoms and foam mattreses makes for more comfortable beds than traditional sofa beds, while also being attractive couches (I like modernism in furniture). Futons are the same story (better support, better sleeping than trad sofa beds) - this style is very common, and very comfortable for both sleeping and sitting (I've had one as a couch, regret having to leave it behind when I switched countries; another friend had one as her sole bed for two years).

And yes, my experience is that fold-out foam mattresses are more comfortable than air-mattresses.
posted by jb at 9:17 AM on August 20, 2008

I sleep on people's guest beds all the time, so this is just my preference, but here it is.

- Inflatable mattresses are not so great generally. Rather, they're not like "real" beds, no place to put your head (like a headboard), hard to sink into them and terrible for two people. Some of them are noisy and rustly too which is the worst. They're also plunked down in the middle of the floor often which is suboptimal. Don't get me wrong, they beat the floor or a terrible sofa, but not by much.
- My friends have this (same site as TPAA links to above) and it's okay but not great, flat, hard, again you don't sink in and stabilize. It's awesome as a couch though and bearable as a bed
- sofa beds are hit or miss. I'm short so I'm usually okay on them. Combined with something to minimize the bar feeling they might be okay and they have a real headboard sort of experience and stability that is useful.
- my favorite places to stay have been people's futon couches with relatively new futons. Seriously, just something boring like this and it's more bed-like than either of the other options.

In fact I think the secret to making a futon bed manageable is a mattress topper or some othr thing on top of it. My sister had a roll of egg crate foam that she'd roll out over the mattress but below the sheets when she made up the furon bed and that added a layer of warmth and padding that made all the difference. Really, if you have real bedding [sheets, pillows, pillowcases and blankets/comforters] most things are okay as guest beds for a night or two.
posted by jessamyn at 9:23 AM on August 20, 2008

I have yet to sleep on a sofa bed that's as comfortable as an Aerobed-style inflatable. I've slept on a few sofabeds that were wayyyy worse, too.

Some futons can be nice, but if you use them for sitting the mattresses tend to get lumpy because of the uneven weight.

The main problem I have with inflatable mattresses is that they don't look or feel like a 'real' bed, because they're low to the ground. Placing them on top of a sofa-bed frame (with or without the thin mattress it normally has on it) or futon can alleviate this somewhat.

I spent quite a while sleeping on an Aerobed and really didn't mind it; the trick (IMO) is to inflate it completely (as firm as the blower can get it) a few hours prior to using it, and let the material stretch, then inflate it again right before you go to use it. This helps it retain its firmness all night.

If you have two people, you're better off getting two twin Aerobeds and pushing them together than a single queen-size one; they're not much fun to share.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:36 AM on August 20, 2008

I should note that inflatable mattresses have their bad-for-two-people reputation in part because people inflate them all the way, when the instructions specifically say to underinflate a bit you're going to share it, because that provides enough sag to not have the two people messing up each other's sleeping surface with every twitch. Two-thirds of my air-mattress-sleepees have been couples, who have echoed the single-people's happiness with the situation.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:57 AM on August 20, 2008

I can heavily recommend clic clac brand sofa beds. They're more expensive than a futon, but work much better as both bed and sofa.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:13 AM on August 20, 2008

We have these sofas from West Elm (though in gray, and not configured like that), and they are awesome. The "backs" to the sofas are actually weighted cushions, so they are completely movable and removable. The flat part of the couches are roughly the same size as a twin mattress when you take the back cushions off. Even though we have two other rooms with fold-out couches for guests to sleep on, the living room couches have been the bed of choice for napping visitors.
posted by mothershock at 10:28 AM on August 20, 2008

I can heavily recommend clic clac brand sofa beds.

ArkhanJG: I couldn't find a brand or model called "clic clac". A google search got me these -- is this what you were thinking of?
posted by larsks at 11:53 AM on August 20, 2008

i'm hoping to do something like this as an office/guest room. the apartment therapy site has a ton of other suggestions, too.
posted by msconduct at 1:42 PM on August 20, 2008

clic clac is a french sofa-bed brand. It does look like the 'european click-clack mechanism' in those are the same thing, yes. Basically, you just lift and then fold them back into position - they're really easy to convert between. Since it's just a giant hinge in effect, the sofa itself is a comfy as a normal sofa, with normal cushions etc.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:06 AM on August 21, 2008

As an alternative to msconduct's solution, there's ikea's mysinge sofas, which are pretty much the same idea. If you leave the screws off, you can just pull the back cushions off when needed. The armrest makes a pretty good headrest when angled back (though you can take that off too) and just turn them round to turn into a double bed. I've slept on a mysinge many times, and it's pretty damn comfy. Long enough for a 6'1" bloke, too.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:13 AM on August 21, 2008

We got one of these Dawson sofa beds from Room and Board a couple of years ago, and its great. 4" thick foam mattress = comfy sleeping, and big plump cushions = comfy sofa. Our elderly parents have all slept on it and waxed lyrical about it too. It's expensive, but looks great and its comfortable for everyone.
posted by Joh at 2:08 PM on August 27, 2008

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