How to choose a sofa bed

Sofa beds allow you to be the perfect host at a moment's notice and gain some extra seating space as well. But if you don't choose wisely, you could end up with the worst of both worlds – an uncomfortable sofa and a lumpy bed! Test your sofa bed thoroughly before you buy and follow these top ten hints to help you shop.


  • You can save space and money with a simple foam-mattress sofa bed, which folds up so that the middle of the mattress forms the back of the sofa. The drawback is that these are not as comfy as sofabeds with a sprung mattress. Two-seaters start at around £250 from Ikea.
  • If you are really tight for space, why not go for a single sleeper sofa chair? John Lewis has stylish options for around £300, or Ikea has budget alternatives for around £200.
  • For an upmarket sofabed, check with the sales assistant that the bedframe is made from wide-diameter steel to ensure it is strong enough. Try Habitat for some good options.

1. Assess your space
Measure your space carefully to ensure that the sofa will fit into it well and will also have space to fold out without scraping the walls. Check that you will have enough room to comfortably walk around the bed when it is opened out. Also consider how many people it needs to seat when used as a sofa, and whether the bed is likely to be used for a single guest or a couple.

2. Test it out
Check how comfortable the sofa is. Sit on it for a couple of minutes in both seats and ensure that it supports your back adequately, that the cushions are deep enough and that you cannot feel any of the bed mechanism poking through the seat.

3. Make sure it's padded
Lift the seat cushions and check that there is a layer of padding to protect the mechanism from wearing into the cushions over time. Lift this and ensure that all the surfaces are smooth and that there are no awkward bits of wood or metal jutting out.

4. Check for sturdiness
Make sure that the frame is bolted securely to the sofa rather than attached with screws, or it could come loose over time.

5. Fold it out
Pull out the bed to ensure that the movement is smooth and easy so you will not hurt your back. Check that the bed does not slope or bunch up in the middle when folded out and rests sturdily on the floor.

6. Have a snooze
Lie on the bed for some time on both sides to ensure the mattress is thick enough that you don't feel the bed slats and that it's stiff enough to be comfortable.

7. Bed for two
If the bed is likely to sleep a couple, test it out with another person to ensure that you don't both end up rolling into the middle, which can be a problem with poorly made sofa beds. If possible, ask a heavier friend to come and test it with you, as the extra weight can compress the mattress if it is too thin, making the bedframe protrude.

8. Ask about convenience
Ask the assistant whether the bed will still fold away when it is made up with light bedding for extra convenience.

9. Put it away
Push the bed back into the sofa and ensure that it glides easily back into position without any complicated manoeuvres.

10. Can you return it?
Find out if there is a cooling-off period after your purchase to allow you to test out your sofa at home without being stuck with it for life.