How to choose the perfect sofa bed - a five-point checklist

Category_Real Furniture

Are you sitting - and sleeping - comfortably? Here’s our guide to choosing the perfect, stylish sofa bed for your home... Sofa beds have come a long way in terms of style and comfort. Anyone remember sleeping on a hard as nails or wafer-thin version at their parents’ or grandparents’ home? Many 21st century sofa beds are elegant and often sumptuous pieces of furniture that can grace a home and, these days, no home seems to be without one. But, just like traditional sofas and beds, sofa beds vary in terms of size, shape, comfort and quality. So how do you choose the sofa bed that is going to work best in your home or workspace?
Above and top: The Malrose sofa bed

Choosing a sofa bed

Whatever your budget, our five-point checklist will help you make the right choice:
  • Where will you use your sofa bed?
  • How will you use your sofa bed?
  • When will you use your sofa bed?
  • Who will use your sofa bed?
  • What’s the best material for a sofa bed?

Where will you use your sofa bed?

This is all about size and shape. Is the sofa bed destined for a spare room or a room already used for something else – a home office or the main living room? Will it have to fit into a small space or a large open-plan area? Make sure that you know the dimensions of the space where your sofa bed – open as well as closed - will be located. When you start shopping, in person or online, check all sofa bed dimensions, including the mattress, and remember that the size of the sofa does not necessarily equate with the size of the mattress. Appearances can be deceptive; a generous-looking sofa may not mean that the mattress is as large as you might assume. Unless you know that only one person will be using your sofa bed or that room space is at an absolute premium, our advice is to choose a size and style with a good-sized mattress. As one sofa bed shopper observed, ‘I want to make sure that my guests sleep well.’ With such a wide range of sofa bed styles now available, you won’t be restricted to a standard two or three-seater sofa. If you are looking for an L-shaped sofa bed for a large open-plan sitting room or to fit a corner space, Raft’s Lincoln, Manhattan, Marlowe, and Melrose styles, all offer this option. Or for luxurious reclining, the Manhattan is also available in a chaise version. Another factor worth considering, as pointed out by a sofa bed owner, is the possibility that you may, at some point, want to move your sofa bed to another room. Her family’s apparently compact two-seater sofa bed was bought to fit an open plan area as overspill seating and as an occasional guest bed. A few years down the line, they decided to move it to one of the children’s bedrooms for friends’ sleepovers, only to find that, once opened out, it was too big for the room All Rafts’s sofa beds are made to order – you decide on the size, from two seater to jumbo, and shape that works best for you.

When will you use your sofa bed - and how?

Daily or occasional use – this is key. If your sofa bed has to act as a main bed, in a studio apartment, for example, where it will be used frequently or every night, or if you have a busy home and social life, with a constant flow of overnight guests, go for maximum mattress quality and size - for comfort and to guarantee a good night’s sleep. Double-fold sofa beds are likely to have deeper mattresses than triple-fold. All Raft sofa bed are double-fold construction, which provide a larger sleeping area, and the Lincoln and Manhattan styles offer a choice of memory foam or orthopaedic mattresses. When it comes to sitting or relaxing, it goes without saying that your sofa bed should be comfortable but, if it’s going to be in regular or daily use, make that it is strong and robust too. Always check the cushion fillings; Raft sofa bed cushions are made of feather and down over foam, for extra comfort and durability.
Raft's 4 seater Manhattan sofa bed with chaise and an orthopaedic mattress
Manhattan 4 seater sofa bed

Who will use your sofa bed?

This is all about wear and tear and ease of us. There’s a world of difference between a sofa bed used as an occasional bed by a solo adult and a sofa bed that functions mainly as a sofa and is used daily by a family with children – and possibly pets. As one Mumsnet member said, their sofa bed is the preferred sleeping and lounging spot for the family dog – otherwise known as the ‘dog bed refuser’. If this sounds familiar, you need to be looking at durability (see ‘best material’ below). Check to see how easily the sofa bed converts into bed. If you often have older overnight guests or any who have strength or mobility problems, especially if you are not always around to take care of bed-opening, make sure you test before you buy to see how easy it is to:
  • open out the sofa bed
  • get in and out of the bed
  • make the bed.

What’s the best material for a sofa bed?

Whatever the size and shape of your sofa bed, look for a cover fabric that is strong but comfortable to the touch, hard wearing, and easy to clean. We think that single-colour fabrics rather than patterned work best; they’re more versatile and will see you through years of evolving trends in interior design. You can always ring the changes with colourful and patterned throws and extra cushions. We’ve included some suggestions at the end of this post. Raft sofa bed and cushion fabrics come in six different types and in a range of textures and colours. House Weave, for example, is simple and durable, with a textured finish that makes it ideal for family and frequent use, while Crushed Velvet has a luxurious soft pile that catches the light – perfect for relaxing.

Styling your sofa bed

Once you’ve chosen your sofa bed, it’s time to think about those little extras that can make all the difference. A warm and inviting throw in a contrasting or complementary colour or pattern always adds something and can double as a blanket or bed cover at night. Ring the changes with more cushions, which you can order from Raft, again in contrasting or complementary colours and textures. If you have wooden or tiled floors and no underfloor heating, simple rugs take the chill off getting out of bed. And don’t forget bed linen and duvets; choose good quality, natural fabrics such as organic cotton or wool – don’t be tempted to stint on quality. The right bedding will look good and last longer and will help you or your guests sleep soundly. Raft double-fold sofa beds are available in a range of styles, sizes, shapes, fabrics and mattress types. Handmade in our London workshop, from solid hardwood or metal frames and slatted wooden bed bases, they are beautifully designed, strong and comfortable. Browse the full range of sofa beds here.

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