Space is often at a premium in Australian homes, especially if you’re a city dweller trying to cope with limited square meters, but luckily there are plenty of compact options when it comes to putting up your guests. Two of the most popular compact sleeping solutions are futons and sofa beds, two very similar looking choices that actually pose their own set of positives and drawbacks. So if you’re trying to accommodate guests and space is a problem, which of the two options should you go for? Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of each.
What is a Sofa Bed?
A Sofa Bed is a pretty straightforward piece of furniture and does more or less what it says on the tin. It’s both a sofa and a bed and can be easily transformed between one and the other so that you can have the best of both worlds. There are many different types and configurations of sofa bed that make it super versatile, and it can come in all kinds of fabrics and styles, so there’s a great chance that you’ll be able to find what you need when you’re on the hunt for something to fit your room.
Why should I choose a sofa bed?
The biggest reason to choose a sofa bed is its flexibility. Many sofa beds look exactly like sofas when they’re folded up, so there’s no danger that your new sofa bed will look out of place. Many manufacturers make sofa bed versions of their existing ranges, so if you spot something that you think would look perfect in your living room, there’s a good chance you can get a sofa bed just like it. On top of this, sofa beds can be very sturdy and comfortable when they’re unfolded, so they’re often just as good as a bed when they’re unfolded too. Depending on the configuration that you get, you can have a sofa bed that is more of an extended sofa for napping, or one that is virtually a full-fledged double bed. You can also choose from a very wide range of styles and fabrics when it comes to the materials you use, so if you simply must have leather or cotton as your fabric, there are plenty of options and colours to choose from.
What are the drawbacks of a Sofa Bed?
While sofa beds are a great choice when it comes to comfort and style, these factors also bring issues that might be problematic for you. The biggest issue is how big and heavy they are, and if the problem you’re trying to solve is a lack of space, sofa beds may only be a partial solution because of their bulk. Sofa beds have complex internal mechanisms to help them unfold and become a bed, which all has to be packed into the body of the sofa itself, meaning that the whole piece of furniture can often be larger than most normal sofas. They’re also notoriously heavy for the same reason, so they’re not especially easy to move around if you’re concerned about the flexibility of your space. This can be mitigated by choosing a sofa bed that is smaller or less ambitious when it comes to the size of the bed it turns into, but then you also have to compromise on comfort, which is less than ideal. Cost can also be a problem because sofa beds are usually a fair bit more expensive than their normal equivalents, once again thanks to all that internal mechanism inside.
What is a futon?
Futons actually come in many shapes and sizes, which is one of their strong points, derived from the traditional Japanese bed mat that gives the modern Futon its name. The original Futon derives from the Japanese tradition of multi-functional rooms that families use to eat, relax and sleep in at different times of the day. A Futon can be rolled away in a cupboard and stored, ready to be unrolled for sleeping later, and it is descended from the simple straw mats that peasants would have slept on hundreds of years ago. As families got richer and manufacturing became cheaper, the mats became thicker and more comfortable, until they became the thick and soft Futon that is known and loved throughout the world today. While Futons in Japan remain similar to the traditional floor mat, but with pillows and duvets to go with them, in the west they are a little different, and often come with wooden frames more like a traditional bed.
Why should I choose a Futon?
The flexible, easy to store attributes that Futons were originally designed for still make it a great choice for people without much space when it comes to giving guests a place to sleep. While Futons and Sofa Beds may have some superficial similarities, the wooden frame of the Futon is considerably more simple, folding out flat and folding back up into an inverted V-shape to act as a sofa during the day. This means that it is much lighter and much smaller than a Sofa Bed, so it fits nicely into most rooms in the house and can be moved around very easily too. The mattress element of the Futon is also very flexible in that it can come in a wide variety of colours and styles, from fabric Futons to leather ones, and they can be detached entirely from the wooden frame. This allows your guests to use the mattress like a traditional Japanese Futon on its own, and it also makes it very easy to wash and replace whenever you need to, which can be a problem with the much more static Sofa Bed. Finally, all this lightness and flexibility makes the Futon a much cheaper option too, for buyers on a budget.
What are the drawbacks of a Futon?
While the advantages of the Futon can make it an excellent option for people with limited space, it can also be what makes it a less ideal option for other people. Futons are pretty bare-boned and spartan by design, and while that might fit nicely into certain aesthetics, it’s hard to argue that a Futon looks just like a normal sofa. The skinny frame, exposed wood and detachable mattress can’t blend into a normal living room set up nearly as well as a Sofa Bed and hide its real purpose. In a similar vein, there isn’t nearly as much variety among Futons as there is among Sofa Beds, and while you can certainly find a wealth of options in the design and style of the mattress, the frame remains more or less the same in every design. This also plays into another disadvantage, which is the lack of options. Futons are basically all the same, so you don’t get to choose from a large array of designs as you would with a Sofa Bed, and it’s basically a one size fits all approach.
So how do I choose?
Between them, Futons and Sofa Beds basically have all the options for any kind of compact sleeping solution, so the good news is that there’s definitely something out there for you! At Dreamo Living we love them both, and we love to recommend them depending on our clients’ needs. For people with a little more space or a little more money to spend, and who would prefer their choice to blend in, the Sofa Bed is for you. It’s very easy to find designs that fit in with any style or material preference, and they’re super comfy and easy to use if you can handle all of that extra size and weight. On the other hand, if you’re a bit more pushed for space or you love that minimalist look, the Futon is also a great option. It couldn’t be more flexible and easy to use, and its lightweight design makes it perfect for moving about the house. They don’t come with a huge number of options, but they’re great if ease of use is important.
If you’re still not sure and you want to have a chat about your options, we’d love to hear from you here at Dreamo Living. We’ve got a great range of Sofa Beds and Futons for you to take a look at and try out, and we guarantee that we have the perfect option just for you. Give us a call, or pop down to the showroom today!