When I first think of convertible sofa beds, I think hide-a-beds, really heavy, and those brown patterned sofa beds from the 1980's - not attractive but still out there in student apartments. A sofa bed serves a great purpose, a couch by day and an extra bed at night for guests when you do not have extra room. So you want comfort and function, not always easy to accomplish. But the industry is always trying, so there are several options on the market of different types of convertible sofa beds.
Since I grew up during the 1970's and 1980's, the first type I think of is like the one I mentioned above: a pull out sofa bed. It looks like a normal couch, but then you remove the cushions and there is a bed that can be pulled out from the bottom of the sofa. The mattress on these is not as thick as a regular mattress, they usually range from 4" to 6", and they vary in comfort. They are always more comfortable if they are newer, and more expensive ones tend to have better quality mattresses. I have slept on this type of convertible sofa bed with various results. Some I could hardly move in the morning, and other I woke up feeling like a spring chicken. One really nice thing about this style is that if you use it regularly, you can leave it made up with sheets and blankets. This style most commonly comes in either a full or queen size bed, though you can also get a love seat that has a twin bed inside. You can also get these as part of a sectional.
When we owned a used furniture store, I came across another style of convertible sofa bed that I had completely forgotten about, the click clack style. I am pretty sure that the name comes from the sound that they make when they are converted from sofa to bed: click-clack-click-clack ... In this style there is a special type of hinging mechanism that allows the back of the sofa to lie flat. The early style of these have been around for about 60 years, but there are modern versions that are quite innovative. I have seen some, after they are converted into a bed, will have one side (not the back) that hinges up to a 45 degree angle to make more of a chaise lounge style, or that props a person up to more easily watch TV or read. One advantage to these over the pull out bed is that they take up less room to convert from sofa to bed. One challenge for manufacturers is to make the bed feel flat, no bump in the middle where the bottom and back of the sofa meet.
Another style of convertible sofa beds that became popular in the 1990's is the futon, which I believe originated in Japan. They convert the same way as a click clack bed, but typically have an all wood, or wood and metal frame. A "mattress" sits on the frame and bends in the middle when it is set up as a sofa. When you lay the frame flat, you have a bed with a regular, one piece mattress. Futons sometimes get a bad rap for not being comfortable, but only if you get the $100 special from a discount store. Those just don't last long, they have wimpy frames and only a 4" mattress. A really good quality futon will have about an 8" mattress, often with coils like a real mattress. These are quite comfortable for sleeping.
These are the three main styles of convertible sofa beds, and if you are in the market for one, you will find that they can be quite stylish, very comfortable and come in a variety of materials. Something to suit anybody.
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