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How to choose the best sofa bed for your home


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Nearly every home needs an extra bed to accommodate a guest. Most people don't have enough space in their homes to have an extra mattress-bed. They just can't afford to spare that big space to be used once in a while. Sofa beds (also called sleeper sofa or sofa sleeper) come into the scene as a replacement for mattresses-beds.

Buying a sofa bed can be a tricky job since there are many variants in the market. Most commonly found ones are:

a - Pull-out ones: These have been the standard sleepers in the market for several decades. To make it a bed, you need to remove the sitting cushions away and pull-out the mattress from inside of the sofa.

* They come in many sizes: Queen, full, twin, single.. When the size gets smaller, the name turns into a Love seat bed or a chair bed.
* Bigger color selections: Since some of them manufactured locally, they come with big fabric choices of quality and color.

*They are very uncomfortable: Most Americans, unfortunately, want to sink in their sofas rather than sitting on them. They want them super soft. To have a super soft sofa and a bed within it, the mattress chase must be very flexible and the mattress would be very thin (most of the time they come only with a one inch foam layer as a mattress). This combination makes sure that you wake up with a back ache.
*Sitting cushions tend to slide out under you very easily.
*Mechanism is difficult to operate: It is a big challenge for the elderly and people with back problems to pull the bed out. Especially for bigger sizes, it really is a demanding job.
* No storage space

b - Futons: May be this is the most widely known sleeper type. They are not called sofa beds since they don't look like a sofa at all. They come in metal or wood frames and their prices vary from 149 USD to well over a 1,000 USD.

* Widely available.
*Start from very reasonable prices.
* Rich cushion and frame choices. You can get a spring, foam, wool, cotton or any other cushion.

* They are Futons, not sofas. Not for the living room, good for back rooms only.
* Good quality ones with inner spring mattress are expensive. You can get a better quality European Sofa bed with same or less price.
* No storage space.
*Cushion slides easily: This is may be this is the biggest problem with futons. The cushion just doesn't stay under you and you need to pull it up so often that it becomes a nuisance very soon.

c - European sofa beds: These are the pinnacles of sleepers today. Real "Made in Europe" ones give you an excellent sleeper. To avoid cheap Chinese imitations is a must. The biggest exporter is Turkey.

* Great sleeping and sitting quality: There are models with both excellent sleeping and sitting comfort.
* Comes with storage: Most of the models come with an easy to access, spacious storage place.
* Easy to use mechanism. Unlike the pull-out ones, their mechanisms are very easy to function. *Inner spring structure: Although there are models with foam cushions available, majority of them come with a durable orthopedic innerspring structure.
*Built in Cushion: Unlike futons, you don't have to buy the frame and the cushion separately. They come with a built in mattress which doesn't slide under you.

*Un-exchangeable cushion: When the cushion gets old, it is not possible to replace it. But for most of the consumers it shouldn't be a problem since European Sofa beds are very strongly built and even with everyday usage as a bed, they last for a decade.
* Firm sitting and sleeping surface: For most Americans, not only sofa beds but all European made sofas are firm for their taste. It is a very relative concept and someone's "firm" is another one's "Soft". European sofa beds come in firm, mid-firm and soft models. Even if you are a "soft" crazy, there is still a chance for you to find a model for your taste. Most probably their "soft" model would be "mid-firm" for your taste..

d - Chinese Sofa-Beds: Chinese are the great masters of copying. The bedroom furniture came from China 10 years ago were regarded as garbage. But today they are offering very close quality to American and European made bedroom furniture. But they still lack the creativity that gives you "the touch", "the niche" or "the edge". For sofa beds though, they have still a lot to learn. Their quality is very poor and the durability of the merchandise is pretty low. Their prices are not cheap at all either. Average sofa bed from China with inner spring and storage costs as much as the European made one. You pay the same money for the inferior quality item which lacks the workmanship, comfort and durability.

You should ask yourself a couple of questions to find out what exactly you need before deciding what to buy.

1 - How often you will use it as a bed? If a sofa bed is to be used as a bed, let's say a month a year, and is to be used as a sofa throughout the year; then you should focus on the sitting comfort rather than the sleeping comfort. It doesn't mean that you should buy a sofa bed which will cripple your guest after sleeping on it for a day or two. (if you want to make sure that your guest stays in a hotel next time, then, it is a different story and you should buy the pull-out ones I described above...) If you need to use it as a bed every day, then sleeping comfort is of the utmost importance. There are sofa beds in the market that are enough comfortable as a bed and as a sofa. But most of the time to have a better comfort for one of the usages, to sacrifice from the other one is somewhat inevitable.

Relevant to the same question, a different aspect is the durability of the sofa bed. If you are planning to use it as a bed frequently, then you should buy one with innerspring for longer durability and better sleeping comfort.

2 - How firm do you want? If you get a sofa bed with inner spring, for sure, it will be firmer than foam ones. Most of the time, foam ones are more comfortable to sit, but they are less durable and sleeping comfort is not so great.

3 - Do you need extra storage? For some, it may not be a necessity to have an extra storage space; but for most of the people it is a must, if not a "good to have". Most of the European Sofa beds and some of their Chinese copies come with storage

I have some final suggestions.

- Unless you have to, do not buy a sofa bed without seeing, sitting and laying down on it. But if you are familiar with the merchandise and saw same or similar items somewhere else, then go for it. As long as you know what you are buying, you can even purchase online,.
- Decide what you need before going for shopping. Optimize your needs and merchandise available and decide wisely.
- Try to have your item installed in your home. If you prefer to install yourself, make sure that you receive very clear instructions from the seller. If possible a video instruction would be perfect.
- Ask where the item is manufactured. (if it is not stated that the item is made in USA or Europe, for sure it is from China or other far eastern countries). Don't get tricked.

Eddie Jacobian is a well known young designer living in Los Angeles. He works as a consultant and designer for many European and American companies including Demka Furnishing and LaContempo, biggest European sofa bed distributor in USA.

Date Posted: 2009-02-04
Posted By: Decor and Furniture
Listed under these Business Listing Categories: Manufacturing,

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