Sofa Bed vs Futon – Which is Better?

Sofa Bed v. Futon – Which is Better? 

Most people will, at some point in their lives, live in a small space – it’s just a fact! Whether you’re trying to save money in a city, you live on your own or you just like the simplicity of a minimal home, small spaces are more common now than ever. We love styling cosy apartments and houses, but there’s one struggle that arises quite often – what are you supposed to do when guests come to stay? 

Enter stowable and streamlined bedding options. These let you entertain guests or simply create more sleeping room in your place. We’re talking about sofa beds and futons. They’ve been around forever, but they’re becoming increasingly more popular as they’re versatile, portable and add options to your space. A futon or a sofa bed could be a must-have in your home, especially if you like to have friends stay over or need additional room for family members or roommates. 

The question is, which one should you choose? Futons and sofa beds each have their unique pros and cons, which we’re about to break down for you so that you can make the right selection for your home. 

Brosa Lana Sofa Bed in Contemporary Styled Living Room

Lana Sofa Bed | Shop All Sofa Beds online at Brosa

What is a sofa bed? 

A sofa bed is exactly what it says on the tin – a sofa and a bed, rolled into one! It can pose as a couch day-to-day, and then whenever someone needs a place to rest, you can remove the cushions and typically fold out a bed base and thin mattress to sleep on. They’re versatile additions to any home and create sleeping space no matter what square footage you’re working with. 

3-seater sofas generally unfurl to a queen-sized mattress, whereas 2-seaters may reveal a double sized bed. Mattresses vary in quality and type, but most commonly they’re thin yet plush and are made of foam. You may also come across mattresses that are spring loaded. 

Brosa Stockholm Sofa Bed in Scandinavian Style Living Room

Stockholm Sofa Bed

Advantages and disadvantages of a sofa bed 

Advantages of a sofa bed 

There’s nothing we love more than maximising a small space, and sofa beds are a great way to do so. They’ve got a range of advantages – here are a few positives of the humble sofa bed: 

  • They’re adaptable! Sofa beds can be an ultra-comfy sofa one minute and a soft place to sleep the next! They only take a few quick manoeuvres to set up in either direction, which means it’s simple to accommodate guests and also pack back up when they’re done. 
  • Sofa beds have armrests, which means they’re comfortable and allow you to lean and relax in any position. 
  • They’re super inconspicuous. It’s difficult to tell a sofa bed from a regular couch most of the time, which makes them the perfect stealthy addition to your living room
  • They’re available in a huge range of styles and colours suited to any kind of home. 

Disadvantages of a sofa bed 

Of course, sofa beds also have their downsides. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about a sofa bed: 

  • Sofa beds can be bulky, weighty and hard to move around, despite constant improvements to the models available. Be sure to choose something that’s on the lighter side, such as the Austin 3 seater sofa bed with storage, if you have to contend with stairs or moving around regularly. If that’s still too heavy for you, consider leaving it in a fixed place or opting for a futon – keep reading to learn why. 
  • Armrests, as great as they are when using your piece as a sofa, can get in the way when sleeping, especially if you’re tall! Look for detachable armrests or, once again, consider the alternative of a futon if this is a primary concern. 

Brosa Austin 3 Seater Sofa Bed with Storage in Contemporary Living RoomAustin 3 Seater Sofa Bed with Chaise and Storage

What is a futon? 

On the other side of the debate we have the futon, an age-old piece of furniture with roots in Japanese culture. It’s since been adapted, and now there are a few different styles of futon on the market. To be clear, we’re not talking about the traditional Japanese futon (a thin, rolled-up mattress designed to be placed on the floor). Throughout we’ll be referring to a ‘western futon’, which is an open sofa with a seat that also acts as a mattress. 

A western-style futon might resemble a sofa bed upon first glance, but they’re very different pieces of furniture. Futons are low to the ground and typically don’t have armrests, unlike sofa beds. When it’s time to sleep, the cushion upholstery is removed and replaced with sheets and bedding to create a comfortable place to rest your head. Generally, these also include a mechanism that lets you flatten the backrest to create a double- or queen-sized bed space, rather than the pull out mechanism of a sofa bed. 

Advantages and disadvantages of a futon 

Advantages of a futon 

Now that you know a little about futons, let’s get into the fun stuff! Here are a few reasons why a futon could be a great option for your home: 

  • They’re convenient and easy to move around. Futons are often lighter and more portable than sofa beds as they don’t have to house a mattress or the heavy materials used to create a sturdy pull-out base. This makes them a fantastic option if you plan on moving your piece around regularly, or have lots of guests over.
  • The lack of armrests make these a great option for taller people who may need extra, uninhibited space to stretch out. 
  • Just like sofa beds, futons come in a huge range of styles and colours that can be suited to your unique aesthetic and existing home decor. From traditional to modern and more, there’s a futon for all occasions – although they complement a minimalist, Scandi style in particular. 

Disadvantages of a futon 

Now that you know the positives of a futon, here are a few downsides to consider: 

  • Often futons are less comfortable than sofa beds. There are a number of reasons why, but a key one is because a futon is always exposed rather than hidden like a sofa bed. This means that the cushions themselves are thinner and less plush, and once folded down, there are no armrests or sides to keep you from rolling around as you sleep. Of course, we’ve tried ‘em all, and can confidently say it’s possible to find a futon that’s just as comfortable as a sofa bed – for instance, the plush, squishy Clem Sofa Bed.  
  • No armrests may be polarising to some who plan on using their new piece as a couch more often than not. Thankfully, not all futons lack in this department! A great option for those who don’t want to compromise on day-to-day form is the Kip 3 Seater Sofa Bed, which features detachable armrests. 

Brosa Clem 3 Seater Sofa Bed in Scandinavian Style Living RoomClem Sofa Bed

Our verdict – which one should you choose? 

At the end of the day, futons and sofa beds pose two unique sets of pros and cons, and your choice will likely come down to your personal needs. If you plan on regularly using your sofa as a place to sleep, a futon might be preferable, as it’s easier to move around and pack up and down. However, if comfort’s your game, then a sofa bed might be the better option. It’s important to assess your needs and the intended function of your new piece of furniture before biting the bullet. Thankfully, what a sofa bed lacks a futon makes up for, and vice versa, so it’s all about finding the best fit for you. 

Either way, there are so many gorgeous options out there that will allow you to add some sleeping space to your home. Perfect for the small apartment or just to create more functionality, it’s no wonder these easy little solutions are forever growing in popularity. 

Sold on a futon or sofa bed? Check out BROSA’s wide range of adaptable options, available in a range of styles, colours and sizes. We offer Australia-wide delivery and a range of virtual styling services that will ensure you find the perfect piece every time you shop.

We’re giving new BROSA customers $50 off their first purchase – sign up here to unlock this deal and receive our styling tips and furniture faves straight to your inbox.