No matter if you’re moving to a new home or not, having a comfortable surface to just lay around after a hard day is something we all want. Maybe you need a piece of furniture that could gain you some extra space when guests are spending the night, but without taking too much space all the other days.
Knowing what you need for your home is essential also because it helps you select the right piece of furniture. But is it a couch or a futon that you need in your home?
What is a futon?
We have the Japanese to thank for futon as they were the first ones to design and use this versatile and functional piece of furniture. They started as basic mattresses for the floor that you could roll; some models with metal frames that supported futon pads or cushions were also available.
As you can easily interchangeably use them for sitting or sleeping, futons stand out with their versatility. You can convert the futon from a couch to a bed (and the other way around) with a blink of an eye.
But the futon has traveled a long way since the 18th century (when the mass production has started). Back in the day, you would have to pay around $10,000 for a futon, but you can get one today for as little as $100.
Without going too much in the details, here are the benefits when buying a futon:
- Easy to move and to convert
- You can fold it down into a bed
Bells and whistles aside, there are some minor issues that futons typically present:
- They may not be as durable as couches
- The mattress isn’t very thick
- Some require assembly
What counts the most when using a futon?
To help you understand the utility of a futon, we need to have a closer look at the benefits of futons.
We all know that futons come with affordable prices, but are they also a solution for any space? It’s beyond a doubt that a futon is the most natural solution when you have some unannounced guests spending the night. It’s the perfect choice when you don’t want to install a couch in your living room for the rare visits of your parents (for instance).
The reality is that the futon serves as a couch and a bed altogether, which is why it works for most. Don’t forget that you only need to fold it down to a bed into the bed position if your guests are only minutes away. It’s a breeze, for sure!
- Space Saver
When you’re continually dealing with the storage space problem, the futon comes to the rescue. It’s a fantastic alternative to a traditional couch and works in any small flat, guest room, or kids rooms. You may or may not ever use it as a bed- it’s entirely up to you! One thing is sure; it gives you a place to rest for a bit or to get some sleep when all the other beds in your home are already taken.
If your flat is rather tiny, the futon is one piece of furniture that you should never miss. You may use it as a couch throughout the day and convert it into a bed for the night. It’s mandatory that you have the length in the room for turning into a bed. If not, moving some things around may give you the extra inches that you need for sleeping on it.
- Attractive prices
Most futons out there come for attractive prices, with an elemental metal framed model coming for a little over $100. If you throw another 50 bucks, you can go with a bunk bed type that works for the guest room or your kid’s room.
Another thing we like about futons is the insane variety of models, sizes, and materials. Some come with forever classic wood frames that match any décor. If you want more padding for your back, you may very well buy a separate mattress for the futon. Either way, the choices are plenty.
When is the couch the right choice?
The couch (aka “sofa”) is a significant furniture investment that is supposed to last for decades. You don’t just go ahead and buy the very first one you see in the store. You should consider not only the style of the couch (that has to match the décor in the room) but many other aspects as well.
The material, the colors, the functionality for your lifestyle (don’t buy a leather couch if you have a cat, for instance), and the size are only some to mention.
Let’s list the main advantages of couch briefly:
- It’s comfortable for sitting
- You don’t need to put it together
- You can choose from an impressive variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles
Even if we like a couch for many reasons, there are some unpleasant aspects to notice as well:
- It’s not cheap (not as cheap as a futon, for sure)
- Sleeping on it isn’t very comfortable
- It’s more substantial than a futon (and challenging to move around too).
Why do we need couches in our lives?
As we’re trying to be meticulous with our comparison, let’s have a closer look at the main aspects related to a couch.
Let’s travel back in time a couple of decades! Didn’t we all love to sleep on the couch? Now that we’re older, sleeping on a sofa isn’t the best idea anymore, and waking up with a stiff back, a lousy headache, or a sore neck is no surprise for anyone. Even if sleeping on a couch still is a cool idea, your body may disagree on that!
But this doesn’t make the couch useless, though. Even if it’s not great for sleeping, it’s still a great piece of furniture for sitting upon. It can bring you and your family together or help your guests feel more welcome in your home.
Remember that even if a couch isn’t the ideal option for sleeping on (as opposed to the futon that works quite well on this section), the sofa is always going to be an excellent choice for spending some pleasant time with your friends.
- Does it save space in any way?
If you’re using it as a bed, the couch can save a lot of the space. You don’t need to fold/unfold it every single night unless you go with a model that comes with a bed built into it. If you install it in the guest room, you should consider the comfort of your guests and don’t compromise it for a couple of inches.
Don’t forget that couches come in a generous variety of lengths, with the loveseat being as the short type of sofa (it’s not a great option for sleeping).
More often than not, a couch is going to take as much width of your room as a king size bed would. Futons aren’t that wide, but they need the length when converted into sleeping bed. It’s best that you figure out which one is more generous in the room: the length or the width?
- How are the prices?
Unfortunately, you can go shopping for a couch on a tight budget (not like in the case of a futon, anyway). You need to pay a couple of hundreds for a small sofa, which is the loveseat. Any low-price couch is going to be more expensive than an average futon. Let’s not forget that a cheap couch is going to be made with low-quality materials and never pass the durability test.
What’s the conclusion?
Couches differ from the sofas on so many levels. A basic sofa is rarely a good option for sleeping on, whereas a futon is always going to be practical, versatile, and affordable. Any futon is going to save some space and provide enough sleeping space for two people to use.
If you’re only expecting one guest to spend the night or not guests spending the night at all, a couch is your better option. When you’re not sure, you can always look for a sofa that includes a bed option- why not give it a try?
At the end of the day, futons are cute looking and versatile, making an excellent solution for your occasional guests. When you’re not using it as a bed, a futon may be rather useless in a room. You can make it look like a couch, which takes us to the next session…
Can you make a futon resemble a couch?
With the futon looking rather misplaced in most homes, it’s useful that you can try some tricks for helping it fit the décor better.
Here are some aspects to consider while doing it:
Take a good look at your room and imagine where you would place a couch. Many fall in temptation and place the futon in the corner, for adding more privacy, but that’s a rooky mistake. It’s better if you set it where you’d put a couch; use it a central seating in a room so that you can give it that visual feel of the sofa.
When you’re determined to have your futon look like a couch, you should try your best making it function like a couch. For instance, futons tend to slip out from under you, which isn’t something you’d experience with a sofa. It’s fundamental that you attach a couple of futon grippers to the mattress and the frame; it keeps the mattress in place after you fold up the futon. Even if you can find plenty of forms, the foam strips with self-stick adhesive on one side seem to be the most versatile and popular choice.
You should also consider using a pair of futon arm pillows so that you can create some comfort, just like the couch arms would do. Use a futon wedge or two right under the mattress so that it doesn’t drop down to the back of the futon.
Don’t forget to level the seat of the futon. You can cut a piece of plywood and put it under the mattress, eliminating the sagging frame.
It’s common to place the light near a couch so that you can read, work on your laptop or enjoy the conversation a lot better. Install a standing lamp near the futon or place some table lamps on the side table. If you’re only using overhead lighting, it’s best that you put the futon so that the illumination compliments it.
Couches seldom sit alone in a room. You should surround the futon with a couple of side tables and even a coffee table that you may quickly move it around (when you need to open the futon). Try to coordinate the table so that they all work with your futon.
You need to cover the futon the same way you would a sofa. When you’re not using it as a bed, make sure you make it, taking the sheets and blankets away. Buy a fitted futon cover and throw some pillows on it. If you see it as a couch, it means your work is done!