Combining comfort, style and practicality, a good sofa bed should see us through the holiday season and beyond without any complaints from our impromptu house guests.
Now, furniture designers are wise to our wants. No longer do we have to put up with clunky fold-out mechanisms, paper-thin mattresses and bumpy seat cushions if we want our settee to transform into an occasional bed – the contemporary sofa bed has evolved.
Most conventionally styled models stick with the folding metal frame and mattress combination, albeit with a smoother pull-out system and a smart memory foam pad.
But with shrewd design, we’re seeing more and more contemporary pieces with a simple fold-down functionality, allowing us to turn our couch into a comfy bed in seconds.
There’s a host of options for sofa beds with prices as diverse as the designs themselves, so it’s worth thinking about the how, where and when you’ll be using yours. A main living room sofa that happens to have a pull-out bed can be an invaluable space saver, while a casual fold down daybed that’s only used from time to time isn’t quite so important in the cosy stakes.
All the sofa beds we tested scored high on comfort and functionality, and we found even those on the affordable side to be surprisingly plush.
And with thoughtful design across our selection, we were able to whip up a cosy bed for our guests without the backache in no time.
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Loaf truffle sofa bed: From £1,945, Loaf
This classic buttoned sofa bed comes in medium or large and boasts a whopping 152 fabric choices. From burnt yellow vintage velvet to Indian green brushed cotton; ink blue wool to walnut beaten leather, we had a job honing in on our favourite. But the online filter helps with sections such as “super-durable” and “great for mucky pups”. We loved this plush sofa bed not only for its vintage-inspired shaping but for its big, bouncy cushions, its easy folding mechanism and its substantial mattress.
Calvers & Suvdal snooze three seater sofa bed: £799, Calvers & Suvdal
As its name suggests, the Snooze is a perfect daybed for lazy Sunday afternoons, but it also makes a handy sleeper for overnight house guests. We loved its versatile functionality. The split seatback allows you to flip either side down, creating multiple options for sitting, sleeping, or indeed, lounging. It offers a striking aesthetic, too, with its design roots in mid-century Scandinavian furniture. Its natural oak frame with smooth, angled legs supports the medium-firm cushioning that’s finished in a hardwearing navy linen fabric. Clean, modern, functional.
Habitat Kota three seater sofa bed: £395, Habitat
With its simple click-clack mechanism that allows the back of the seat to fold all the way down, Habitat’s offering will take you from sofa to bed in a matter of seconds – ideal for a speedy change around after a night out. Proof that often the best design is the simplest, this sofa bed’s enveloping pillow-like form works beautifully both as a contemporary settee and a generous bed mattress. When horizontal its measurements are the equivalent of a small double. Perfect for one, cosy for two, and ideal as an occasional extra bed.
Pepper Sq Hugo three seater sofa bed, velvet: £1,599, Pepper Sq
Sold as a sofa with sleeping function, it’s clear where Pepper Sq’s priorities lie: this chic three-seater – handmade in high-quality linen or plush velvet – is all about the clean mid-century lines. As a statement sofa it is utterly elegant, with no hint that it does, in fact, transform into an occasional bed in one swift movement: tilt the seat up and lie it flat for an extra sleeping space you can really stretch out on. We loved its cool Scandi influence with its natural beech wood frame.
Sofa Workshop Jude corner sofa bed: From £3,259, Sofa Workshop
A sprawling and luxurious corner sofa with a hidden, double mattress supported by a sturdy metal frame, this one’s an investment piece if friends and family often spill over into the living room when they come to stay. With a choice of 49 fabrics on offer, there’s a host of colours and textures to pick from. The mattress is a generous one and opens out with ease. We loved this sofa bed for its sociable shaping. The fold-out bed sits snugly within the L-shaped settee, further emphasising its solid but cosy form.
Living It Up Alison bed in a box: From £564, Living It Up
Our honorary mention goes to this cleverly designed piece, which sits pretty somewhere between sofa bed and ottoman. Available in three lengths (regular, two-seater or three-seater), and in a variety of fabrics, it is a versatile number. The box’s buttoned seat ingeniously converts into a plush headboard with the rest of the bed unfolding to reveal a simple metal frame and pocket sprung mattress. This one’s ideal if you’re short on space. It’s also a relatively affordable option, freeing you up to spend big on the fabric – go for lux velvet for the full effect.
John Lewis & Partners duplet daybed: £949, John Lewis & Partners
Another design triumph – in both form and function – is this sleek, Scandi-inspired daybed. The backless sofa comes in two stackable pieces with a pair of removable bolster cushions that double as pillows. Made for flexible living, you have the option of two singles or a king-size bed if both pieces are laid together. This one boasts innovative foam mattresses that, by night, mould to the body for a supportive sleep yet morph back into their original shape by day. Choose from a comprehensive selection of earthy-toned upholstery fabrics, including every shade of grey, juxtaposed with the warming natural wood.
Any Chesterfield style sofa should be a cosy affair with its hugging form: high, continuous buttoned back and arm rests and luxuriously deep seats. As a settee, this one more than fits the bill, and it doesn’t disappoint in the comfy bed department, either. Available in three sizes, and with a comprehensive menu of fabrics to choose from, this hand-crafted sofa bed really does feel bespoke. Its smooth unfolding mechanism makes light work of making up the bed, while its plush finish and plump form will guarantee your guests a good night’s kip.
Sofas & Stuff Stopham three seater sofa bed: From £2,758, Sofas & Stuff
For modern yet timeless design, this boxy sofa bed comes in two widths: choose from the two and a half seater or the luxurious three. This one puts comfort at the fore with its deep seats and supportive back cushions, not forgetting its user-friendly and cushy integrated fold-out bed. Best is its array of fabric choices from the more affordable Essential range, which includes soft wool and basketweave, up to the Signature collection, in which you’ll find sumptuous velvets Harris Tweed, and classic and contemporary prints.
Sofa bed FAQs
What types of sofa beds are there?
There’s the traditional metal frame fold-out design, which includes L shaped or corner shaped settees. These have a hidden mattress inside, whether coil-sprung or foam. Then there’s the modern click-clack sofa bed with its easy pull and release mechanism; the trundle – essentially a large drawer at the bottom of the sofa that opens to reveal a low, single sleeper; and the foam fold-out style, which simply lays out flat to create an easy occasional bed.
Can sofa beds be comfortable?
Absolutely. While it used to be the case that you could feel bumpy metal mechanisms underneath the seat cushions, and that mattresses were disappointingly thin, modern sofa beds put comfort at the fore. This is thanks to shrewd design and newer, innovative materials such as memory foam. In fact, some of the simplest click-clack styles are surprisingly plush, both as a bed and a sofa.
Which features should I look for?
Sofa beds can take quite a bashing so look for durable upholstery fabrics that can be wiped clean – darker colours will be more forgiving over time. It’s worth bearing in mind how often you plan to use your sofa bed. If it’s going to have heavy use, choose a style that’s user-friendly and transforms from sofa to bed (and vice versa) in seconds. Think about floor space, too. Conventional fold-out styles take up more room than clean-lined modular or click-clack designs.
The verdict: Sofa beds
We were impressed with Loaf’s Truffle sofa bed for its vintage aesthetic and comprehensive choice of fabrics. Handcrafted with a buttoned back and generously-sized seat cushions, it’s a sumptuous affair both as a comfy couch and a fold-out bed. For a more contemporary look, Calvers & Suvdal’s Snooze three-seater sofa bed won us over with its innovative design and versatile functionality. We loved the way the furniture piece splits to create multiple seating positions. And its medium-firm padded cushion makes for an entirely comfortable occasional bed.
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