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Ultimate Buying Guide

The Ultimate Futon Buying Guide

The essence of futon furniture is that it’s versatile, space saving and affordable. Futons are now in the main stream of sofa bed options and although perceived differently, wherever you go in Europe, North America and Asia, futon sofa beds are available in stores and online.

When you buy a futon it is as suitable for use as a bed as it is a sofa. Generally, traditional sofa beds have more emphasis on their use as a sofa because the bed element is squashed under the seats and there’s not much room for a mattress, hence a block of foam is most often used.

With futon furniture the mattress part is ‘foldable’ and sits on top of a frame so it can be much more comfortable and stylish.

Over the past 40 years futon sofa beds have progressed from being a functional and inexpensive option for student living and spare rooms to now having a much higher status and being used in all rooms throughout the home.

There are three main considerations when buying a futon – the frame, mattress and cover. When talking to home owners and designers I encourage them to think about how much space can be devoted to their sofa bed. Then it’s possible to look at the options: Chair/Bed, 2 seat Double or 3 seat double futon for instance.

The Frame

The type of frame you choose will depend on where it will be used. You will want to ensure that the frame complements existing decor and the other furniture in the room. If you already have beautiful solid wood furniture in the room, a metal frame will, undoubtedly, look out of place.

However, if placing a futon in a study as a spare bed for guests, metal futons may look better, especially if there are metal filing cabinets or a metal computer desk already in the room.

Futon frames are made from either wood or steel and both types are available with or without arms.

Wooden futons without arms tend to be made from Pine, often there is a choice of size from 76cm-150cm, this is the style that has been around for decades and they’re called “A” frames.

Frames with arms use hardwoods such as Rubber wood, Cherry and Oak. These frames are easy to convert from bed to sofa and vice versa.

In the UK, hardwood frames are usually Double size but can be 2 seat or 3 seat double size. 3 seat futon frames are easier to convert and can take thicker futon mattresses as they fold once along their length.

Metal frames are also available as 2 or 3 seat Double size and their difference to wooden frames is that they are even easier to convert. Look for frames with “flexi slats”, these Beech wood slats distribute weight well and are virtually unbreakable.

The Mattress

Futon mattresses are filled with a variety of materials and the more natural and chemical free those fillings are the better the sleep experience will be. Examples of quality fillings are Latex, Coir, Cotton Rich materials and Wool.

Generally the more filling the better the sitting and sleeping experience. In the UK most futons are made for the mass market and consequently will be much thinner than what a specialist supplier will offer.

Most recent advances from specialist futon suppliers are completely chemical free futon mattresses. There are benefits for the whole family when sitting and sleeping on a comfy toxic free mattress, principally your health.

Another useful change has been a low profile pocket spring core for futon mattresses that sit on 2 seat double frames, this adds comfort and also they become lighter to handle.

The Cover

Futon covers are easy to zip on and off, so cleaning and protecting your futon mattress becomes at once easy and practical. Most covers are made from 100% Cotton Drill and this durable fabric can be machine washed at low temperatures.

Choosing a futon cover will be fun as it gives an opportunity to use your imagination and get involved with the joyous nature of colour.

Futon covers are a way to cheer up a room, your mood or reflect the changing of the seasons.

Mattresses don’t like getting wet, so it’s worthwhile offering protection from those spills and other household eventualities – even encounters with pets. The cover should fit snugly with just enough “give” for the fabric to fold neatly.