Apartment-life, like anything, has its pros and cons. Personally, I love apartment life: I don’t have to cut the lawn, shovel the sidewalks, or fix the furnace. It’s great! But for every pro, there is a con; one of the largest cons of apartment-life is space. Whether you have a studio or a two bedroom, no matter what size apartment really, you’ll soon find it full to bursting. Fitting every luxury of a two-story house into a two-room apartment is a challenge, but it’s not impossible! Smart planning and clever solutions can go a long way to finding a good balance of luxury and practicality.
Once such compromise that can have a drastic effect on space and functionality is daybeds, futons, and sleeper-sofas versus traditional beds. Whether for yourself, or as a guest bed, these alternatives to traditional beds can obviously save a lot of valuable real estate in your apartment. But which is the right alternative for your situation? Will you sleep as well as you would on a normal bed? How much space do you have? Do you mind setting up and breaking down your bed/couch?
For starters, let’s differentiate the options:
Daybeds lean closer to the bed end of the scale than the couch end. Essentially, a daybed is a bed with arms and a back to facilitate sitting up and using it as you would a couch. Normal bed mattresses can be used, so sleeping comfort isn’t sacrificed, but the shape of daybeds usually sacrifices something in sitting comfort and convenience in comparison to an actual couch.
The word futon is often misused or misunderstood. Technically, a futon is a pliable mattress and quilt that is easy to fold up and store in a closet as to be out of the way during waking hours. The Western futon is essentially the same, with one large exception: the inclusion of a configurable metal or wooden frame to enhance the functionality of the futon. These frames usually lock in a sitting, couch shape, and then fold down flat to serve as a bed. Traditional futons, although very space friendly, are usually too different and suffer in comparison to comfort versus a normal bed and mattress. The Western futon, however, is a more viable option in most cases, providing essentially a couch and a bed frame in one. But more often than not, a Western futon will not compare to a regular couch or regular bed in their specialized levels of comfort.
Sleeper-sofas lean closer to the couch end of the scale than the bed end. Essentially, a sleeper sofa is a couch with a metal frame folded up beneath the seating cushions that can be unfolded to create a bed frame. In order for the sleeping mattresses to fit within the unit, they usually weigh-in at about half the thickness of a standard bed mattress. So, although you most likely will sacrifice some sleeping comfort versus a regular bed and mattress setup, the unfolded, couch form of sleeper-sofas are often quite comparable to that of a normal couch. These results make sleeper-sofas fairly effective space saving solutions, though you will also have to fold or unfold them to change the functionality of the piece.
Breaking the Norm
Thinking a little outside the box, there is always the option to A) sleep on a normal couch, or B) use a normal bed as a couch. Personally, I can vouch for both of these with real life experience. When my fiancee and I first moved into our apartment, it was the dead of winter and the “bedroom” was attached to a sunroom that was poorly insulated being mostly windows. So we ended up plopping our bed dead-center in the “living room,” and it stayed there for the whole winter. We sat and watched TV, ate dinner, and worked on our laptops sitting on the bed. Sure, it provided zero lumbar support, and I probably got crumbs in the bed, but it worked and was a fully functional, comfortable bed every night. On the flip-side, my dad developed some shoulder problems when I lived back at my parent’s house, and I remember him often taking to the couch rather than the king-sized bed because it would force him to sleep still and not roll around where he might end up putting too much pressure on his shoulder during the night. Even after his symptoms largely subsided, he continued to frequent the couch simply because he found it more comfortable. I’ve napped on a few couches I thought were incredibly comfortable, and if you’re lucky enough to have one, that can be a viable space saving option as well!
In conclusion, know your options, weigh your priorities (sleep comfort, sitting comfort and convenience, space, price, style, etc.), and see if it is worth it to you to sacrifice having a specialized sleeping and sitting solution for a much more space-friendly hybrid of the two.