Which type of sofa bed is best for me?

A Guide to Modern Futons, Sofa beds and Click Clacks

The majority of people in this country have seen a futon before. If they have not seen a futon, most have an idea of what one is. There seems to be a lot of confusion over terminology in this second futon category. Some may have heard of the “modern futon”. Some call it a “click-clack” sofa bed. Some just call it a sofa bed. I have also heard the term “jack knife sofa bed” and I have even heard the term “Davenport”, which goes back a little bit before my time. Whichever term you decide to use, you must be able to distinguish between these types of sofa beds and a convertible sofa sleeper, or “hide a bed”. The “hide a bed” sofa sleeper is the most popular in the United States. Many of us have had the opportunity to sleep on one of these convertible sofa beds. You simply pull off the seating cushions and the back cushions (depending if they are sowed on), an then you pull out the 5” bi-fold mattress. 
Most of us are familiar with that infamous supporting bar that sticks in your spine as you try to count sheep to fall asleep faster. The advantage of having a “hide a bed” sleeper is that it looks and sits like a traditional sofa with an exception that it hides a bifold mattress stored under the seat cushions. The disadvantage of having one of these things is that the mattress is very uncomfortable and you also need to have at least 88” inches of clearance from the back of the sofa to the front of the mattress when you pull it out. If you are in a small room, this can be a real hassle, especially when you don’t have enough room to walk around the sofa bed when it is pulled out. This thin mattress is only good for occasional overnight guests. Its not just a question about the comfort of the mattress, but the way you pull it out. It takes a lot more work and takes more space compared to the modern futons which will be discussed coming up.

Guest Room, Home Office, Dorm Room, Kid’s Room, Singles and Young Couples

The modern futon or sofa bed uses the mattress you sleep on as part of the frame of the sofa. There is no separate mattress hidden underneath the seat cushions. The back seat part of the frame folds down which gives you enough sleeping surface a few inches short of a full size bed (54”x75”). The advantages of using the frame as part of the mattress is that there is no bar sticking in your back and the level of comfort for sleeping is far more better than your traditional sofa bed sleeper which uses a thin 5 inch mattress. Because it uses a bi-fold frame like a traditional futon, the clearance that is needed to convert to a bed is much less. The term click-clack sofa bed was coined because many of these sofas use a clicking gear mechanism to fold the back frame down and up. When doing this conversion the sofa makes a “click-clack” sound when it locks into position. Some of these sofa beds contain storage under the seat deck and some even have adjustable arms you can use to rest your head for lounging. The average price of these sofa beds is less expensive than your traditional convertible sofa sleeper which averages between $599-$899 in a full or queen. The average price for a modern futon is usually $299-$599. Please keep in mind that there is quite a difference in quality. The modern futon does not have many separate parts like the traditional sofa sleeper. The seat deck and back rest are usually all one part, so if a certain section becomes worn or damaged it makes it harder to replace the piece. Most of these modern futons are not recommended as a primary bed with an exception of the higher end ones. The less expensive ones provide a temporary seating/sleeping solution. They are ideal for small apartments, spare bedrooms, basements, kid’s rooms and dorm rooms. Some of the popular armless models are the Vegas and the Regata, which are available in multiple colors of micro-fiber material.

One manufacturer of click clack sofa beds is Istakbal. About 90% of their models use the click clack bi-fold mechanism and contain storage under the seat deck. Most models use the same seat deck folding mechanism with different style arms and colors. This means that if there is a particular model that you like that is not displayed in the furniture showroom you visit, no need to worry, it will feel the same as the model you sit on in the showroom. The only difference will be the style and the color. For those people that want to boycott Chinese imports, Istakbal is for you. Made and engineered in Turkey. Designed to be compact for small spaces. This will fit through any door. The arms are detachable which facilitates the transporting of it. Its a great starter sofa for young singles and couples on a tight budget for their living room furniture.

Living Room Furniture That You Can Show Off

Innovation Living is a good example of the higher end sofa beds. These sleek and contemporary pieces are Danish designed and engineered, ensuring aesthetic appeal and quality construction. Most of these sofa beds will convert into a true full size bed unlike the lower end ones which convert to less than a 50” inches wide. There are also a few models that also convert to a queen size. A standard full size measures 54” inches wide. The advantage of having a wider sleeping surface is that your back does not have to rest on the part where the frame folds. The part where the frame folds tends to be the most uncomfortable. Innovation also contains larger pocket springs in the seating deck which provide better support and comfort. These sofa beds can be used for daily sleeping and provide an easy conversion from sofa to bed. These sofa beds are usually priced between the $999-$1,599 range. Many of these pieces come in leather textile or fabric.

Tall People

If you want a convertible sofa bed that won’t break the bank and converts to standard size American mattresses, I recommend the Lincoln Park by Lifestyle solutions. The Lincoln park measures 91” across. It has three removable back cushions and the seat deck is all one sleekly tufted piece. The advantages of the Lincoln Park is that it converts into a true full size sleeper in width and measures 79” of interior sleeping and sitting space. Great for tall people that complain that their feet fall off the edge. This is also great for just one person. You don’t even have to convert it into a bed completely. Simply remove the back cushions and one person should have sufficient sleeping and napping space. The Lincoln Park is available in a black and light brown faux leather and has the closest look of a modern conventional sofa. It has modern boxed arms with chromed accent sleigh legs. Very sleek, comfortable and affordable from $599-$699 it won’t break the bank.


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