How to Buy a Sofa Bed: Your Complete Buyers' Guide

Brosa Notting Hill Velvet Chesterfield 3 Seater Sofa styled in classic traditional living room

Notting Hill Velvet Chesterfield 3 Seater Sofa | Shop all sofa beds

Gone are the days where sofa beds were a necessary nuisance in the home. There once was a time when these pieces of furniture, as functional as they may be, were an eyesore that only served their purpose once in a blue moon – but now, as design changes and our needs adapt, too, the humble sofa bed is making a comeback.

Also known as sofa sleepers, sofa beds have their place in most homes. If you’re thinking about introducing this versatile, practical and ultimately, aesthetically-exciting furniture item into your home, there are a few things you should know first. Keep reading to discover our complete buying guide for anyone considering purchasing a sofa bed…

Why every home needs a sofa bed

Brosa Siesta 3 Seater Sofa Bed styled in Scandinavian living room

Siesta 3 Seater Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

Still not sold? Well, that’s to be expected – after all, the reputation that sofa beds had up until recently wasn’t exactly sparkling. Back in the 80s and 90s, they were notoriously ugly yet utilitarian furniture pieces that had their place, but looked far from gorgeous next to your other carefully curated decor. Now, though, there are so many styles and designs of sofa bed, so finding one that suits your space and looks beautiful is a much simpler task.

If you haven’t had a sofa bed up until now, though, what is there to gain? Just as useful as a guest bed, sofa beds provide an additional place to crash in your home. While they can be made up for guests, they’re also just as comfortable and easy to use if someone spontaneously stays the night, or for a simple nap in the middle of the day. As beds, modern sofa sleepers are ultra-cosy and can be altered to fit your guests’ needs.

The beauty of a sofa bed, though, is that you can use this piece year ‘round, no matter your entertaining schedule. Where the sofa beds of the past were lumpy, creaky and hard as a rock, today’s sofa beds really just feel like regular couches when they’re not made up – with all the added practicality of another bed to sleep on. The huge range of sofa beds on offer means that slotting something into your existing aesthetic is easy, giving you freedom with where you place your new purchase (rather than relegating it to the least-frequented room in the house).

Finally, if you’re still holding out, something to know about sofa beds in the 21st century is that they’re far easier to use than they were even 20 years ago. If your ideal sofa bed is a ‘pullout couch’ style, you won’t need to wrestle with squeaky, rusted mechanisms anymore. These pieces are smooth and simple to assemble and disassemble, providing a seamless transition from day to night.

What to consider when buying a sofa bed

With a sofa bed now sitting at number one on your furniture wishlist, it’s time to talk specifications. There’s a whole host of things to consider throughout the purchasing process, from its functionality (does it suit your needs?) to style (does it look good in your space?). Be sure to think through each and every one of these steps before you pull the pin on a new sofa bed, to guarantee you’re perfectly happy with this new addition to your home.

Functionality

Brosa Stockholm Sofa Bed styled in modern contemporary living room

Stockholm Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

Step one is assessing your needs. We harp on about this all the time, but it’s true – knowing exactly what you want and ultimately, require, to truly get the most out of a furniture piece is key to its longevity in your home. In terms of sofa beds, you’ll want to consider, first and foremost, ease of use. While most sofa beds are quick and simple to put up and pack down, there might still be some outliers, so thoroughly check the mechanism of the piece you’re considering, and ensure you’re content with how it works. There’s nothing worse than buying something big for your home like a sofa bed, only to avoid using it at all costs, or worse, be fed up with it in a number of weeks.

Another thing to mull over is your ‘bed to sofa ratio’. How often do you foresee your household using your new piece of furniture as a bed, rather than a sofa, and vice versa? Most of us will plan on sitting on the item as a sofa more often, but if you’re regularly entertaining guests, you might use the bed function more. This ratio will guide the other choices you make along the way – for instance, if you’re planning on using it as a sofa 360 days of the year, you might like to prioritise style, colour and aesthetic, whereas if it’s going to get a workout as a bed, comfort and ease of use might be your concerns.

Of course, so many other things feed into functionality, and inform how practical a piece is for you and your family. We’ll address a few more, including size and design, throughout this how-to guide.

Placement

Brosa Copenhagen Sofa Bed styled in Scandinavian living room

Copenhagen Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

Where you put your new sofa bed in your home is crucial – and although it might not feel central to the buying process, it’s actually one of the most important things to think about ahead of clicking ‘add to cart’. After all, your sofa bed’s intended home will affect the size, style and design you ultimately select.

Traditionally, sofa beds have found their place in living rooms, as this is the most practical place to put a sofa. But, nowadays, it’s not as rigid. Seeing as sofa beds are so comfortable, you might like to replace an actual bed in a spare bedroom with one, giving you more flexibility with what you do with the space when you aren’t hosting people. Simply make up the bed before friends or family come to stay, and pack it back down when they’re on their way out again.

For those of us who don’t have a spare room to convert into a guest bedroom, a sofa bed can be a huge lifesaver. Not only will this addition free up space by doubling as a couch, but it’ll also add more functionality to whichever room you decide to place it in – and versatility is not to be underestimated! You might even like to house your new sofa bed in your home office or a multipurpose room like a den or basement, leaving it to provide a comfy seat most of the time, before unfurling to suit your guests needs when they come to stay.

Size

Brosa Maki Sofa Bed styled in mid century modern home office

Maki Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

Where we once had no choice in the matter, the size you select for your sofa bed is now a big decision. Once again, this ties into need and the existing space you’re working with. If you only plan on unfolding the sofa bed two or three times a year, then the surrounding space might be a little less important to you than how many people your piece can seat in couch form. On the other hand, if you’re planning on leaving it made up as a bed, or regularly hosting guests, you’ll want to make sure the whole sofa bed isn’t obstructing prime real estate, or obscuring the ‘walkability’ of the room.

One of the best things about sofa bed is that they’re the ultimate space-savers. Because of their multifunctionality, those of us with small spaces can kill two birds with one stone, knocking off both a sofa and a bed in one perfect little package. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t constraints. When you’re weighing up the size of your sofa bed, ensure you consider the piece both packed away and unfurled, and the varying space this will take up. Modern sofa beds come in a number of sizes, including two seater, three seater, and even modular styles, with a corresponding mattress or sleep size based on the dimensions of the packed-down sofa. Always measure up before you buy, and test out how easy it is to navigate around the item in all of its states.

Design

Brosa Mallow Sofa Bed styled in mid century modern living room

Mallow Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

Something important to understand when beginning the hunt for a sofa bed is the difference between a daybed and a traditional sofa bed. Where daybeds are one singular piece, and can double as a sleeper when equipped with pillows and a blanket, ‘real’ sofa beds tend to pull out to reveal a mattress or a larger surface area that can be made up more extensively, simulating a normal bed. So, before you even think about purchasing, firm up your mindset to determine which you prefer – the simple yet stylish daybed, or the practical and pretty sofa bed.

If a true sofa bed sounds like the way to go, you’ll also want to consider the mechanism, AKA the way it folds up and down to serve as both a bed and a comfy seat. There are a few different sofa bed mechanisms out there, including the ‘easy open’ style, wherein additional length slides out from the sofa’s base, revealing a mattress-sized space that utilises the existing couch cushions. The bed can then be made up however you like – whether that’s with a full sheet and doona set for longer stays, or just with a pillow and a blanket for casual naps and the occasional guest.

Another common design is the typical fold-out style, which is equipped with a thin mattress for extra comfort and support for your guests. These sofa beds use a foldable steel bar system that pulls out to reveal a plush space to sleep. Where this design used to bring with it lots of heaving and shoving to convert from sofa to bed and back, modern styles are lighter and thinner, meaning there’s less work when setting up or packing down.

Finally, there are the 'click-clack' sofa beds, which are perhaps the easiest to use of them all. These sofa beds fold down to become entirely flat with a fluid, easy-to-use pull mechanism that changes the sofa's back from being upright to being level with the seat. However, keep in mind that they don't have a mattress element inbuilt, and so, you'll want to layer up the blankets. 

The sofa bed design you choose is entirely up to you – no one is better than the other, but rather, simply suits your needs more effectively. If you’re not fussed, let style and other factors be your guide – modern designs mean that whatever you choose, it should be a relatively easy task to whip out the bed portion of your sofa bed when needed.

Comfort level

Brosa Camden Chesterfield 3 Seater Sofa Bed styled in classic traditional living room

Camden Chesterfield 3 Seater Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

While the majority of 21st century sofa beds are pretty darn comfortable, it’s still important to prioritise this aspect going into the purchase process. Understuffed, or alternatively, overly-firm sofa beds can translate to a terrible night’s sleep, so it’s key you get it right before there’s time for that to eventuate!

When browsing sofa beds, carefully consider its cushions from both a seated and lying down perspective. High quality and generous foam filling will keep all users comfortable, whether they’re using the piece as a sofa or a bed. Foam will also hold its shape over time rather than moulding around users’ bodies, a characteristic of your standard, fluffy polyester stuffing. Always try to give your sofa bed a test run before you say yes – it’ll do the world of good, giving you an idea what it’d be like to both sleep and sit on it before committing to such a big purchase.

Style

Brosa Austin 3 Seater Sofa Bed styled in classic traditional living room

Austin 3 Seater Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

It’s the 2020s (as scary as that may sound!), so the days of the frumpy futon couch are resolutely behind us. The world of sofa beds has changed so much in the past ten or so years, and now, the styles on offer make form just as important as function. So, it’s not a hard ask to be able to align your new sofa bed with your home’s aesthetic, and the pieces already in your room of choice, whether they’re mid century modern, have a Hamptons flair, or give off Scandi vibes.

When trying to match your sofa bed with the furniture and decor items already in your space, think about the core features of the big statement pieces. What colour is the wood? Are there any particular shapes at play? Are the furniture legs straight or curved; simple or intricate? By answering some of these questions, and essentially putting together a style profile for your room, you’ll get a better idea of where your style ‘fits’. Then, finding a sofa bed will become markedly easier, as you’ll be able to take some of these elements and translate them into your new purchase.

Muted grey upholstery and clean, simple lines make the Austin 3 Seater Sofa Bed an ideal choice for the modern home, whereas the Camden Chesterfield collection screams classic traditional, and would blend excellently with this style of furnishing. Simple, pared-back daybeds are typically Scandinavian with their minimalist approach, but throw in a fun colour and a winged look, and you’ve got mid century modern. Whatever your style, approach the buying process with an evaluatory mindset and you’ll find it hard to fail.

Colour and material

Brosa Lana Sofa Bed styled in modern contemporary living room

Lana Sofa Bed | Shop all sofa beds

Finally, consider colour and material before you make your final choice. Where some of us want our sofas, and subsequently, our sofa beds, to blend into the background of the space, others prefer a standout statement piece that brings with it a bold pop of colour. Ultimately, the colour you choose will reflect the feel of your space, whether that’s the living room, guest bedroom or somewhere else in your home, and will serve as an extension of the established style. If all else fails, neutral is always a safe bet, as you can brighten it up with colourful cushions and blankets, and add some more dimension when the bed’s made up with eye-catching linens.

Material is another thing to evaluate, just as you would if you were selecting a regular sofa. While you or your guests might not lie directly on the cushions (depending on the design and mechanism of your sofa bed) it’s still important that the fabric is comfortable and permits easy and comfortable movement. Cotton and linen are always good bets, as they’re soft against the skin. You might see sofa beds in velvet, boucle, and even leather, which is totally fine, as long as you aren’t expected to sleep up against those pillows.

The process of buying a sofa bed is undoubtedly a journey, but it’s one you’ll be grateful you’ve gone on, as these multifunctional pieces are a great addition to any home. Don’t forget, sofa beds are only getting more and more gorgeous and functional – so be sure not to settle for any less than your dream sleeper! If your search is on, look no further than Brosa. Our range of sofa beds are expertly constructed, softly upholstered, and work to blend timeless style and chic new trends. Shop our collection today and access premium Australia-wide delivery.