About sofa beds

Updated April 17, 2017

Furniture stores used to carry one or two sofa beds in very limited styles. Now entire retail outlets are devoted to sleeper sofas and convertible furniture, and many sofa designs are available both as a regular couch and as a sleeper. Speciality fabrics can be custom ordered for your pull-out sofa bed, and removable folded sofa bed covers can be changed to match any alteration in your room decor Sleeper sofas are available to suit every size and style of home; they can make a grand statement in your living room or take up minimal space in the corner of an office.


Sofa beds are dual function furniture pieces that can serve both seating and sleeping needs for guests. Taking up less room than traditional beds, these convertible sofas allow for a more efficient use of space that is particularly helpful in small apartments and dorm rooms. Sofa beds come in various styles and sizes, opening into twin to king size mattresses, to fit the design and space in your home.

Sofa Styles

The most familiar type of sofa bed is the pull-out sleeper sofa. The bed and frame are folded into the base of the couch and hidden underneath the seat cushions. When the bed is pulled out, legs extend from the bottom of the frame to support the end of the mattress. The back and arms of the couch form a headboard for the bed.

The pull-out sleeper looks like any other sofa, and can be purchased in a variety of design styles including modern, traditional, country and contemporary. Leather, fabric and microfiber upholstery options are available, and most stores offer a variety of prints and textures from which to choose.

Another type of sofa-bed is a simple fold-down design that is similar to a futon. Typically this sofa bed uses a one-piece design with the thick cushion upholstered to the frame. The back folds down forming a flat surface with the seat cushion. This sofa bed design often has removable arms or no arms at all. In some styles, the back is doubled over, forming a larger bed when unfolded onto a supportive frame that slides out from the couch base. These larger models may include fully padded arms and underbed storage.

The modular design of the fold-down sofa bed looks best with modern or retro home designs. These convertible furniture pieces are typically sold in durable fabrics like leather, vinyl and microfiber.

The third type of sofa bed has a metal frame with a cushioned metal head/back rest. The bed cushion is folded in half to form the thicker couch seat cushion, while the padded metal bar forms the back rest. Loose pillows may also be added for extra comfort. The back rest lifts to release both the mattress and the extra set of legs that slide forward to form the bed frame. Some styles have a more substantial look, with the bed cushion folded into a more traditional sofa frame.

Like the fold-down design, this simple folded bed works best with modern and retro designs. The folded sofa bed takes up minimal space, making it great for dual-purpose guest room/offices and dorm rooms. Coverings are typically made with durable microfiber.

Mattress Types

The pull-out or hideaway sleeper sofa includes a mattress thinner than a typical bed mattress, set on a metal frame of solid bars or with additional spring support. The mattress may be an air coil style or made of memory foam and fiberfill.

The folded style of sofa bed is typically made with memory or polyurethane foam, often with a layer of coils inside and fiberfill to plump the cushions into a rounder shape.

Most sofa bed mattresses are in the full to queen size range, but sleeper love seats, chairs, ottoman, and oversized sofas can offer varying mattress sizes from twin to king. Sleeper sofas may also have mattresses in nonstandard sizes that require custom sheets.


Sleeper sofas allow for the best use of living space. Having a sleeper sofa in the living room or family room allows you to have guests over without having to take up a whole room for guests that otherwise goes unused. Use a sleeper sofa in a home office for comfortable seating for yourself or visiting clients; when guests come over the office can become a temporary guest room. Buy a sleeper sofa to keep the bed hidden from guests visiting your studio apartment or dorm room. Place a sleeper sofa in a guest room to give your visitors a comfortable place to hang out during the day, and then open it up to a bed for use at night.

Sleeper sofas on the main floor can also provide comfortable rest for visiting elderly relatives and those recovering from surgery or illness who are too weak to climb the stairs to the bedrooms.

Conventional pull-out couches are made with sturdier frames to carry the weight of the bed frame inside, which typically makes sofa beds last longer than regular sofas. Folded style sofa beds have large seating areas and thick foam cushions that make them comfortable lounging pieces for family and rec rooms.


Consider the style of your room before selecting a sofa bed design. Traditional pull-out couches offer a larger variety of design and fabric designs, while folded sofa beds typically suit simpler, cleaner modern home styles.

Measure the available floor space in the room as well as the width of the doorway to the room where the new sleeper sofa will be kept. Pull-out couches can be very large and extremely heavy, so check that the hallways and stairwells are large enough to accommodate these furniture pieces. Never try to move a sleeper sofa on your own.

Check the manufacturer's descriptions on all sleeper sofa mattresses to be sure of what you are getting. Spend more money to get a thicker, higher quality mattress. Invest in a sofa bed bar shield to make pull-out mattresses more comfortable. (See Resources.)

Look for fold-out sofa beds with removable, washable covers for rooms that will get heavy use. Check the size of the mattress before buying to make sure that custom sheets aren't needed. Save time and hassle by buying sofa beds that come complete with sheets and pillows.

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About the Author

Valerie David has been a professional writer for over a decade, composing articles for,, IMDB, and her own TV news blog. She has also been published in fiction, with short romantic stories and a manga comic script. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with extensive background as a research librarian.