I've been where you are now — you're probably considering whether you really need a proper bed in your spare room or whether a sofa bed will suffice. I will always say to go with a sofa bed to save floor space, but only if you have the money to invest in a good-quality one. Why? When you compare the cost of a new bed frame and a mattress with a decent sofa bed, you'll probably find that you're quids in.
The only argument that I had against a frame and a mattress was space. I used my spare room as an office and I didn't want to work where there was a cosy-looking (and very tempting) bed staring at me every day. So the decision was pretty easy. The hard part was finding a sofa bed that I liked, that fit with my budget, and that didn't feel like my family would have to sleep on bricks when they came to visit.
Now, we've already rounded up the best sofas, so it was only right that we do the same for sofa beds. However, not all sofa beds are created equal. So in this guide, and with help from our previous decor editor, I aim to sort the wheat from the chaff to help you find the very best sofa bed for your situation. How? We've tried and tested bestselling designs, read multiple reviews, and grilled the Real Homes team members who own a sofa bed for their expert opinions.
Below, you can browse five sofa beds that are worth your time, and along with that, we've listed a bunch of important specs to consider when buying. Get stuck in now, as it's nearly the best time of the year to buy a new sofa bed — yes, the Boxing Day sales and January sales are already starting to go live.
The best sofa beds for your spare bedroom or living room
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If you're looking for a sofa bed that's comfortable enough to use as your everyday seating in the living room then Sofa.com's Otto sofa bed is one of our top choices.
The low-to-the-ground sofa frame offers plenty of depth for hiding the pull-out mattress and bed frame well out of view. The super deep seat cushions packed with feather-wrapped foam work well to disguise the bed frame when you're seated too. And they deliver plenty of squish factor and none of that unpleasant firmness generally associated with sitting on a pull-out sofa bed.
As well as three sofa width frames to choose from, the Otto collection also comes with plenty of coordinating furniture if you want to ensure your sofa bed matches the rest of your living room. The sofa bed's front-room worthiness is further enhanced by over 95 good-looking and practical upholstery choices.
The only downside is that you will need a fairly large room for this option, as with a 230 cm extension the pull-out bed frame takes up the most space out of all the models in this edit. Unless you opt for the three-seater sofa bed that offers a generous almost king-size sleeping area, the smaller options are kitted out with shorter 183 cm length mattresses, which could leave long-legged guests a little non-plussed.
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If you’re looking for a large sofa bed that won't break the bank, then Habitat's very generous Habitat Kota sofa bed offers spacious seating at a very affordable price point.
For well under £500, the armless seat offers a simple click-clack design where the backrest folds down to create a flat sleeping surface. At first glance, those oversized Chesterfield-style pockets might look a little extreme for sitting or sleeping on, but it’s perfectly acceptable for lounging and creates a spot about the size of a small double-size bed once extended. You’ll probably want to add a mattress topper for extra comfort and to protect the sofa upholstery, but that’s the case with most fold-out sofa beds.
Looks-wise the Kota comes in six colours in total, including vibrant flame orange, two grey options, and three velvet upholstery options in shades of green, teal, or mid-grey.
It is worth noting that the side profile of this sofa bed leaves something to be desired as the base platform is not very well disguised. The slanted backrest also pushes this model out quite far into the room, so it may not be the best option if you’re short on space. However, as occasional seating or sleeping in a home office, kids' playroom, or teenager’s bedroom, this great value sofa bed has a lot to offer.
Furniture Village's Cory sofa bed comes in three sizes: a two-seater, three-seater, and a generous chaise sofa option that is one of the most comfortable chaise sofa beds we've come across at this price point.
In fact, in all widths, the Cory sofa bed achieves the seemingly impossible. It's a sofa bed that's barely distinguishable from a dedicated sofa in terms of seat comfort. This is somewhat of a rarity if you're looking for a multifunctional sofa that will allow you to host guests without compromising on your own comfort if the sleeper sofa is to become your main living room seating.
Having tested a few models in different upholstery options — in both the classic back or scatter back cushion design — we've been impressed by the seat depth as it's the perfect compromise between loungey and upright to keep both sitters and curler-uppers content. The sink-in yet supportive fibre back cushions, fibre-topped foam seat cushions, and armrests at just the right height also help make this a top pick.
Our only disappointment was on the upholstery front. There are limited options in some fairly thin fabrics, which we weren't blown away by. The lead times are pretty lengthy too. However, for the price, this sofa bed remains a good all-rounder, especially if you can snap it up in one of Furniture Village's regular sales.
Swyft's Model 04 sofa-bed-in-a-box arrives flat-packed, making it a great option for apartment dwellers or those with tricky access. The brand also does away with long sofa bed lead times, and most products are available for delivery in under seven days — perfect if you need a sofa bed fast.
That does mean you'll need to do some assembly when it's delivered, but there are no tools needed. We found that it was super quick and easy to put this sofa bed together. Plus, it's easy to disassemble and rebuild if you're renting or likely to move house.
Made with a click-clack design, the sofa backrest folds flat to join the seat in creating the sleeping surface. You can also remove the arms on this design if you wish, making the sleeping area feel more open rather than some fixed-arm designs. Extra comfort and fabric protection are provided by the mattress topper that comes included with each purchase. There's also a handy integrated storage compartment under the seat to keep it in when the bed isn't in use.
We found both sitting and sleeping surfaces on the firmer side, with the lack of sink-in comfort meaning we think this sofa bed is potentially more suitable for the home office or spare room than for everyday use in the living room. Though the low-profile design and seven versatile upholstery options certainly look the part, offering stylish and contemporary seating that has a lot of built-in convenience for renters.
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A corner sofa bed can be an especially tricky piece of furniture to source. Plus, it's tough deciding between two standalone pieces of furniture — like a classic sofa for everyday lounging and a (generally firmer) sofa bed for multifunctionality — or one that does it all.
However, if you want the best of both worlds, then a modular corner sofa bed could be the way to go. Snug's Cloud Sundae (opens in new tab) seating offers a whole host of configuration options to ensure you can create a sofa layout to best suit your space, whether that's a corner option, an L-shaped piece, or a U-shaped seat.
One of the original sofa-in-a-box pioneers, Snug also offers sofas with plenty of added benefits, from the super-quick next-day delivery options to the incredibly easy-to-assemble flat-packed designs. All components are delivered in boxes, which is particularly useful for getting a large item like a corner sofa into an apartment or any room with awkward access.
No tools are required, and in our tests self-assembly, it really did take under 10 minutes (read our Snug sofa review for the full lowdown). It makes for hassle-free disassembly and reassembly if you move home too. And if your space, family, or budget expands, the modular design makes it easy to add additional sections as your needs dictate.
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What to know before buying a sofa bed?
To uncover the best sofa bed for your home and budget, it’s helpful to first understand the two key types of sofa beds that are commonly available, which are click-clack and pull-out.
Click-clack sofa beds
Click-clack sofa beds are the simplest design. In these models, the backrest and seat of the sofa fold flat to become the sleeping surface, with the locking mechanism making the distinctive "click-clack" noise after which they're named.
Most commonly made of solid foam, at the cheaper end of the market a fold-out sofa bed generally tends to be on the firmer side for both sitting and sleeping, so they're often best used as occasional seating and sleeping options – good for the home office, playroom, or a sleepover space in a children's bedroom, but probably not for your main everyday seating in the living room.
The exception to this rule is the click-clack sofa bed that employs pocket springs hidden in the seat cushions and backrest to up the comfort levels considerably. These tend to be more expensive, but in our opinion deliver one of the most comfortable sofa bed sitting and sleeping experiences.
Also worth bearing in mind is the fact that the sleeping surface of a click-clack sofa bed is often very low to the ground. This is fine for younger guests, but perhaps not the best option for less spritely visitors or longer stays. And, because your guests are sleeping on the fabric upholstery surface there's potentially a little more risk of wear and tear.
On the plus side, a click-clack sofa bed tends to be much more affordable than its pull-out counterparts. This design generally takes up less room once extended than a pull-out option, so it's useful for rooms that are limited on space. Click-clack sofa beds tend to come in contemporary designs and have shorter lead times, although upholstery options are generally more limited.
Pull-out sofa beds
Alternatively, a pull-out sofa bed is often the most similar in design to a traditional sofa. In this design a dedicated mattress and a collapsible bed frame are pulled out of a hidden compartment under the sofa seat cushions. When looking at the seat before the bed is extended, you might never know a sofa bed was hiding inside.
However, although visually you may be none-the-wiser to the hidden mattress, you can often become very aware when you sit down. This is because the design of a pull-out sofa bed tends to mean the sofa seat cushions sit directly on top of the structural bed frame (rather than the sprung support of a regular sofa), so if the seat cushions don't have much depth or offer support and bounce in and of themselves you can end up with a very firm sitting experience.
Once the bed frame is pulled out, the mattress is generally a similar height to a regular bed. The dedicated mattress (depending on its thickness and construction) can make the sleeping experience comparable to sleeping in a real bed.
Pull-out sofa beds tend to have a much wider range of upholstery choices, so you won't need to compromise on style choices. Because they are most often produced by specialist sofa manufacturers, it's more likely that the sofa bed will be part of a coordinating furniture range, so it's easier to blend one of these options in with a wider living room set.
A pull-out sofa bed will tend to take up more room though as the backrest and arms stay in place once the bed is extended, and because of those upholstery options, there is often a long lead time for a pull-out model compared to a click-clack option, so you might need to be prepared for a wait. They can also tend to be the most expensive sofa bed options.
5 things to consider when buying a sofa bed for your home
1. Think about the size of your room
Before buying, it's a good idea to measure out the size of the sofa bed on the floor of the room you're going to put it to make sure it will fit.
Remember to assess the depth of the sofa bed, both in sofa form and when the sofa bed is extended for sleep. Take a look at our small living room layout ideas to see if your planned room layout is the best use of limited space.
It's also worth bearing in mind that with a click-clack sofa bed, the backrest becomes a part of the sleeping surface. With a pull-out sofa bed, the sofa back remains in place, which can mean that when extended, the bed takes up quite a bit more floor space.
Unless your sofa bed is self-assembled, make sure to check and measure access requirements, too, to ensure you can get your sofa bed into the room.
2. Consider how much seating space is on offer
This one is fairly self-explanatory, but if your sofa bed is going to be your household's main sofa then make sure you have enough seating space for everyone to sit comfortably. A chaise sofa is great for families or couples as it allows two people to recline, or extra room for kids to pile on.
3. What about the size of the mattress or sleeping area?
Always double-check the size of the sofa bed mattress before you buy, as they can differ greatly. Although a sofa bed may say it's a double, it often isn't as generous as a regular double mattress would be, both in width or length. If you're likely to be sleeping two guests, and they're staying a good length of time, you may want to go for a bigger sleeping area to make them more comfortable.
Single mattress size: W90 cm x L190 cm
Small double mattress size: W120 cm x L190 cm
Double mattress size: W135 cm x L190 cm
King mattress size: W150 cm x L200 cm
4. What is the mattress made of? As well as the mattress size, it's also worth checking what type of mattress construction you'll be getting with a pull-out sofa bed. Budget pull-out models tend to have thin (approx. 6 cm deep), solid foam mattresses that don't really offer much more comfort than a click-clack sofa bed, whereas higher-end options offer open-sprung, pocket-sprung or even memory foam mattresses in depths ranging from 10 cm to 14 cm.
For the full lowdown on the difference between mattress types, read our guide on how to choose the best mattress. Generally speaking, the deepest mattress is likely to be the most comfortable (we've probably all encountered the lumps and bumps of the bedframe sticking up through a thin sofa bed mattress).
5. Is it fold-out or click-clack?
It's always best to test a sofa bed mechanism out in-store first if possible. This will give you a good idea of how easy you find it to fold and unfold.
A fold-out or click-clack sofa bed is likely to be heavier when extending and retracting, whereas a pull-out design uses springs and levers to make extending more energy efficient.
Are sofa beds comfortable?
The honest answer is they can be. In our experience, you're unlikely to find one that's as comfortable as a dedicated sofa for sitting. Even the most comfortable sofa beds are still on the firm side rather than being the type of seating you're going to want to snuggle down into to catch up on your favourite Netflix series.
In general, a sofa bed is best used as occasional seating in a spare room or guest room where they can provide a comfortable spot for daytime perching and create a multifunctional guest bedroom.
However, in terms of sleeping, the answer is yes, sofa beds can be very comfortable.
As a general rule, click-clack sofa beds are often more firm to sleep on, and pull-out sofa beds with a deep pocket-sprung or memory foam mattress are most likely to offer the sleeping experience closest to a normal sofa and bed.
However, whichever option you go for, it's fairly easy to increase the comfort levels of your sofa bed and keep the upholstery nice and clean by adding a mattress topper over the sleeping area. Find the best options for your sofa bed in our guide to the best mattress toppers.
And once you're ready for guests, find some bed linen to impress in our guide to the best bedding.
How we chose the sofa beds included in this guide
To find the best sofa beds for all budgets we’ve walked multiple miles around multiple sofa bed showrooms and laid down on the job to try out plenty of the most popular designs, plus grilled the Real Homes team for their expert knowledge, along with their friends, and their friend's friends, to find out how their sofa bed choices are holding up to the rigours of day to day life. We also take into account the wider views of those who own each product, whether that’s via online reviews or social media.
Amy was the Real Homes team's resident furniture expert and has clocked up the miles testing out bestselling multifunctional sofas across the country to find the best-in-class sofa beds for this guide.
Want more living room inspiration?
Find out how best to use your space in our guide to how to design a living room or stay on top of the latest trends and easy decor updates on our dedicated living room ideas page. If you're struggling with how to make the most of a compact lounge, then find top tricks in our guide on how to choose furniture for a small living room.