It’s a sofa! It’s a bed! Futons are a low cost, simple, and versatile way to furnish a studio apartment, home office, college dormitory, or guest room.
You can buy wood, metal, or upholstered frames. You can pick the frame you like, choose the mattress for its comfort, and cover it the way you want. It can be a personal statement, a functional find, or simply a place to crash.
Lighter and less trouble than sleeper sofas, your futon is movable and convenient. Lift it to clean under, remove the mattress with ease, cover it with washable fabrics, and you have a convenient place to sit, read, work, and sleep.
Why have futons regained their popularity?
If you don’t have the floor space but still need a multifunctional solution, futons offer practical solutions,
- A futon sleeps your in-laws, perhaps, to discourage their return.
- A futon sleeps the adult child who visits perhaps too often.
- A futon is a sleeping option when you find yourself in the doghouse.
- A futon hosts many a sickly family member or one who just snores too loud.
- A futon welcomes the parent and the restless infant for a good night’s sleep.
- A futon is perfect for a tiny house lifestyle.
- A futon turns a rec room or loft into a bedroom with easy setup.
Futons have grown into common use from their Japanese origins, an island culture that knows how to make the best use of space. As the Los Angeles Times says, “Believe it or not, futons and sleeper sofas have come a long way.”
What to look for in convertible comfort
- Versatility is the key virtue. But, that still depends on your plan. If you want a semi-permanent convenience, you can invest in a heavier and sturdier futon frame. If you expect to move frequently, you want something lightweight and easy to assemble and disassemble. And, if you want your to use your futon as a regular piece of furniture, you want a fulsome mattress and attractive cover. If you want something to crash on at college, looks don’t much matter, but comfort does.
- Interchangeability of frames, mattresses, and covers keeps prices low and options high. There are basically no permanent parts to a futon.The frame folds as a tri-fold or bi-fold. You can change the cover at will. You can switch your comfortable mattress to a more attractive frame. And, you can upgrade to a new futon mattress when you’re tired of the one you have.
- Comfort will make or break your futon experience. Mattresses were once invariably thin and lumpy. But, now they come in high-quality infrastructure, materials, and stuffing. You can buy cotton plush, memory foam, innerspring mattresses, and combinations specifically engineered for your sitting, lounging, and sleeping comfort.
- Pricing makes futons very attractive compared to other furniture options. A futon is a budget approach to furnishing needs, so you want to buy efficiently but not cheap. “Cheap” means you get exactly what you pay for. “Efficient” means you get a lot for your money. So, you want to shop smart where you have various price options.
Your buyer’s guide to convertible comfort in a futon mattress
- Filling materials make and shape the futon mattress: Most futon mattresses are filled with cotton, sometimes with a layer of foam to keep the mattress firm. A mattress fully stocked with cotton fiber will be firm but heavier than you like. However, the cotton may compress and become lumpy over time. Cotton gets compressed with use and becomes hard and misshapen requiring flipping and punching to loosen it up. The same mattress with more foam and a layer of wool will increase the comfort and retain the shape with wear and tear.
- Memory foam is made of viscose polyurethane with chemicals added to increase viscosity and density. Futon memory foam mattresses layer inches of quality memory foam over multiple layers of high-density foam over yet more cotton/polyester batting. Memory foam holds the mattress’ shape and firmness for sitting, but it provides superior sleeping comfort, too.
- Inner springs support your body well, and pocket springs are individually-wrapped coils to reduce shifting and prolong the springs’ life. Innerspring mattresses offer comfort and longevity within fixed sides for active use by singles and couples.
- Latex is dense and elastic. It yields, gives, and comforts. And, it may be on its way to be the gold standard for futon mattresses. Naturally hypoallergenic and eco-friendly, latex mattresses have many layers which may contain different materials. Latex mattresses offer bounciness and relief at pressure points. The core could be durable latex foam or a combination of polyurethane foam and pocketed coils.
5 leading mattress options
- Serta Cypress Duct offers queen size comfort with a leading USA brand name. Durable and resilient, it’s multi-layered foam and polyester-cotton filling is firm yet comfortable.
- Royal Sleep Memory Foam comes in queen or full sized mattresses, 8-inches thick, and multi-layered comfort. It sandwiches four layers of cotton-polyester blend, a layer of polyurethane foam, and two more layers of memory foam.
- Mozaic Full Size Gel Memory Foam offers softer cuddly comfort. USA-made, it comes with a cotton fabric cover featuring lace tufting for a stylish finish. The mattress core is polyurethane foam and visco memory foam that promises support and lengthy mattress life.
- DHP Independently Encased Coil has a firm 8-inch thick support for heavy and frequent use. You won’t feel or hear the individually sheathed coils that comfort your and manage your support points.
- Serta Sycamore Duct presents a plush feel and medium firmness on a combination of spring center and bulky cotton fiber Cottinique blend. Comfortable, durable, but difficult to fold in full and queen sizes.
And, still more futon features
- Measure your floor space carefully. You must measure the width and the depth from the wall before and after the futon unfolds. The mattress will expand with use, and you don’t want the unfolded futon to overwhelm the room. You might even shop futons for their measurement specs before you measure the room for proportion and placement.
- Size matters when you’re selecting your frame and mattress. You might only need a chair futon that opens as a single bed from 37” X 45” to 37” X 72” X 10”. There are loveseat sizes for a little more room 69” X 30” X 29” opening to 69” X 38” X 13.5”. And, a couch of 86” X 32” X 36” becomes a bed of 86” X 60” X 24.75”. There are even mini-futons for dorm rooms. At 36.5″ X 47″ X 34.25″, they can sit neatly below a loft bed, invite study mates and collaborative teams, and overnight quests.
- The Bi-Fold has become the standard frame formation. These configurations come with arms and legs, or they sit directly on the floor. If want to sleep two, you want a form that’s under five feet wide or more than seven feet wide. Frames that will sleep two can be under 5 feet wide or over 7 feet wide, and some designs convert to a lounge for reading, studying, or gaming.
- Appearance counts. You want the futon looking good and appropriate in its surroundings. Metal frames are sleeker and stronger. And, they come in a variety of finishes, including antique brass, textured black, and bright chrome. Wood frames are traditional and come in different stains, including cherry, oak, mahogany, maple, oak, pine, teak, and walnut, and styles that evoke Amish, Colonial, and Craftsman-era furniture. New lines come with upholstered arms to make the futon look like a solid sofa.
- Mattress covers come in different fabrics, colors, and patterns as do matching sheets and pillowcases. You will want to buy linens with easy care and washable instructions. But, depending on the futon design you select, the piece may have a covering that hides the mattress cover and linens. Most covers fit like slipcovers. To fit your futon mattress correctly, you need accurate measurements. You can use the measurements that came with the mattress, but you should verify those numbers with your own tape measure. If the cover requires a “loft” measure, it requires the measurement of the futon’s depth plus an inch on each side to allow for stretch.
- Futon covers should match other design elements in the room in color, texture, and patterns. But, it also has to match the purpose and function. If kids are going to bounce and play on the futon, you need sailcloth, duck, denim, or corduroy. If guests will use the bed, you might select floral or paisley patterns. And, if it will host little ones on sleepovers, you want cartoons, animals, or pre-teen patterns.
Why have futons regained their popularity?
Futons aren’t for the unwanted guest anymore. As SFgate says, “Offices, dens and bonus rooms are ideal spots to place a futon that converts easily from a couch to a bed when the sun goes down.” You can find the look, durability, and comfort you want with a little research and smart shopping.