A futon is a piece of furniture with a very novel history. Unlike some fixtures that have been a part of the western world ever since the times of Rome, this bed can trace its origin to Ancient Japan. Originally, the word futon described the whole bed which consisted of a cotton mattress, comforter, and pillow which were all rolled up and neatly stored away in the morning.
When it came to the west, futon has seen a couple of upgrades. First, the mattress was built into a foldable frame which turned it into a foldable sofa/bed combo. Second, the cotton in the mat was gradually replaced with produced fibers.
One thing remained the same, though – futons ware and still are one of the most convenient bedding/lounging solutions you can imagine. Below is a picture of the one I own at my home 🙂
Sure, some of the starting models (like the one I own) were not that comfortable and their simple form was long ridiculed, but how the times have changed. Modern futons are cozier, cheaper and more convenient than ever, and their streamlined look and solid colors fit modern interior design language like a glove.
In this article, we will check what makes a good futon, take a look at some of the most popular models currently sitting on the market and see which one of them packs the most value.
But, before we delve into more details, here is the short roundup that covers the top three models, and then we’ll give you the criteria we used to rank them.
Top Five Futons: The Comparison
#1. Colorado Reclaimed Mocha - Editors Choice
The best futon bed is a jack of all trades. But, if you want to, you can make even the lesser ones into masters of one. Keeping in mind their primary purpose, you can make some pretty important choices. Generally speaking:
Sleeping units should have a solid wooden frame and thicker, better-quality pad to provide sufficient support.
Sitting units should feature sufficient height, durable overlay and comfortable armrests.
Multi-purpose/auxiliary units should be light, compact and easy to fold and unfold.
The frame material
Futon frames usually come in two varieties:
Metal – Inexpensive and practical, metal frames have one big flaw – they don’t play along with wooden furniture. It’s best to use them for auxiliary units.
Wood – Heavier and more expensive, stylish wooden frames can stand toe to toe with any sofa on the market.
The frame mechanism
Futon mechanisms can also be roughly divided into two major groups:
- Bi-foldable – Made out of two slat racks one which forms the backrest. They provide more sitting and use the length of the mattress as the couch.
- Tri-foldable – A three-piece setup that features a pretty neat leg-rest. There is not that many sitting place, tough, since the sofa uses the width of the mattress as the couch.
Unlike frames, futon mattresses feature much better variety. Here are some of the most frequent options:
Cotton – Cotton mattresses are inherently hypoallergenic and feature great air circulation that keeps you cool in the summer. It is also the most expensive option.
Foam – Comfortable, safe, and quickly adapts to your body. However, lower quality foams break down very quickly, so you’ll need a good overlay.
Coil – Cheap and practical, but out of the three, their quality varies the most. They can make either the most comfortable futon, or the worst.
We wrote a short guide about futon mattress sizing to help you figure out exactly how much space your futon will occupy in your living room.
Now we know what futons are and what things we need to pay attention to while buying, let’s look at the most prominent new pieces in more detail to find the best futon to buy in 2019.
And Now...Our 5 Favorite Futons
It doesn't take more than a passing look on this futon to see that we are talking about a very interesting, good-looking and well-built piece of furniture.
For the start, hardwood Excelsior frame is very sturdy and it feels like it can carry a lot of weight. Pack that with the very generous height 75 inches (6.25 feet) and you’ll get a piece of furniture that doubles down both as a sofa and a very comfortable sleeping unit.
As for the mattress, its quality doesn’t lag too much behind the frame. Some buyers may be put off by the fact that it is filled by coils, but the coil density is pretty good and judging by the support it provides, you could easily mistake it for quality foam.
The fact that that mattress can be easily detached and used for sleeping on the floor is just the icing on the cake. Overall, this is a quality and good-looking bedding that falls more on the traditional side, but wouldn’t look out of place even in a more modern setting.
Full-size hardwood frame
Microfiber suede innerspring mattress futon set adjusted from sofa to bed
Mattress specs: Premium 8" Inch Innerspring
Mattress Dimensions: Full 74"L x 54"W x 8"H
Soft microfiber covers
All mattresses are made in Minnesota, USA.
Great for guest rooms as a sleeper, just like a bed in the bedrooms or living rooms
What do the users say?
The user consensus on this product is generally very positive and the main point of praise is futon’s comfort and strong build, which are probably the two most important qualities you can find in a bedding unit.
One of the most positive focuses on the futon’s versatility: “Just received this and put it together! I love it! I used the mattress for sleep one night prior to putting the futon together and the mattress was comfortable on the floor. I have it upright as a sofa now and it is very comfortable. It's not the same as a bed! But it is very, very good.”
Others are putting in focus its sturdiness, albeit with a small asterisk: “This is a well-made futon. Strong durable material and the color is exactly as it looked online. Getting up the stairs by myself was the biggest challenge, it is heavy.”
However, all reviews, positive and negative point out the difficult assembly as the unit’s single major flaw that eventually made a strong impact on the final rating. The one review states that: “The assembly instructions are terrible. The drawings are not accurate and they say to match color codes but the codes are not on the parts.”
Of course, once you set up the bedding, you probably won’t have to do that ever again, but it’s easy to see why this drawback causes such frustration.
There is no denying that there was a lot of effort put in this futon and the result is one good-looking, and pleasant piece of furniture, you can use both as bedding and sofa as well. However, the unit is heavy and you’ll need a lot of time to properly set it up. Not that important if you are going to use it as a stationary unit, but something you should definitely take into consideration.
Streamlined and utilitarian, DHP Westbury Linen Futon does look like a perfect addition to your reading nook, guest room or office. With a nice cover, it can even find a way into a living room.
The overall design of the piece is very simple, the assembly is quick and effortless, and the unit is light enough to be moved around and serve multiple purposes.
The manufacturer even included the split back design which means that you'll be able to unfold only a part of the couch if you want to. Nice addition, but its novelty quickly wears off.
The build quality is excellent, but the springs used for the mattress are not at the same level as the ones we’ve seen in the previous product. Fortunately, you do get a nice pillow top layer for the added comfort.
Pillow top layer provides extra comfort
Split back design
A classic and refined look with tufted detailing
Mid-century style wooden legs
Sofa Dimensions: 69.5"L x 34.5"W x 31"H
Sleeping Dimensions: 69.5"L x 42.5"W x 15"H
Weight Limit: 600 lbs
What do the users say?
Most of the customers agree that this is a well-balanced product all-around. One reviewer recommends the futon to all the customers looking for a beautiful, well made, durable and well priced product. The same customer goes as far as to say that, considering what this piece of furniture has to offer, the demand for it should be considerably higher.
However, most buyers also agree that this is a great auxiliary unit and a nice place to sit, but not something you should spend too many nights on. One customer states that, in its couch mode, the unit looks and feels great and it’s very easy to fold and unfold.
Unfortunately, the reviewer also claims that trying to use it as a bed for too many nights in a row ought to cause you back pain.
Keep in mind that such impressions may be due to futon's unimpressive length. Taller people may find very hard to squeeze in the space built for a 5.75-foot man.
Overall, people are still impressed with the unit’s versatility. Almost all reviews unanimously claim that the unit is extremely easy to assemble and disassemble, and praise the option to keep the one side of the futon flat while the other is in seated position.
Also, another common praise is that the unit feels very firm, but not to the point where it becomes stiff.
DHP Westbury Linen Pillowtop Futon is a product that uses its adaptability as one of the major draws but unfortunately excels only as a sofa. Still, it is a very well-made, retro, good-looking couch packed with a pillow top layer that makes morning coffee even more pleasant. If you need an affordable place to spend long afternoon hours on, this might just be the futon for you.
Once again, we have a traditional futon made out of the wooden frame and huge cozy mattress.
This time, though, we are deprived of the nice armrests that could make the accessorizing much easier, but honestly, this piece of furniture looks so good-looking that it doesn’t need accessorizing to find a way into a living room.
The 7-inch mattress is made out high-density coils/foam combo foam dressed in a stylish suede fabric. Of course, the choice of the materials slightly bumps the price of the futon, but, this time, the price is well deserved.
The dark reclaimed wood frame is heavy, bet elegant, and manages to disappear into the piece letting one of the numerous overlays to set the visual identity of the futon. Aside from the huge cozy mattress, this visual variety might just be this futons strongest selling point.
Colorado reclaim mocha finish frame
14 different overlays to choose from
294 coil hinged spring cotton density foam hand tufted in suede fabric
Sofa Position Frame Dimensions 76"L x 37" W x 33"H
Mattress Dimensions: 75"L x 54" W x 7"H
What do the users say?
Judging by the user comments, there is no denying that this is one incredibly comfortable futon that can challenge even the regular sofas and couches.
One five-star rating describes the futon as very comfortable, supportive and firm, but still soft enough to enable comfortable sleeping. The reviewer does claim that the futon was somewhat difficult to put together, but that the provided instruction manual made the whole thing a lot easier.
Another highly praised feature of this futon is its simplistic but elegant look. One customer even describes the piece as really beautiful with solid, clean lines, and polished look. The customer also claims that the mattress performs much better than any futon mattress he experienced before.
On the other hand, assembling the futon tends to be a chore, and swapping between the two positions is not that easy either. Several reviewers even acknowledge that, although they were very pleased with unit’s performance, they purposefully lowered its rating because they found folding and unfolding unnecessarily difficult.
Also, some reviews pont out to the low quality of the zipper with one buyer claiming that his zipper did not last even a single day after unpacking. This issue is made worse by the fact that this is the only way to contain the batting inside.
Although the manufacturer offers a warranty it should be clear why, in spite of its excellent performance, the futon hasn't managed to get the perfect score.
There is no denying that Colorado’s contender on this list is a flawed product. The question you need to ask yourself are the flaws the reviews are pointing to big enough to overshadow the fact that this is probably the best-built and the most comfortable futon of the list.
This piece of furniture should've had it all. Although it runs with the idea of “mid-XX-century-retro” to the point when it looks like it was made in the mid-XX century, the futon leaves a very strong visual impression.
Its cozy armrests, upholstered frame, and cushions made out of independently encased coils scream comfort. The fabric used for upholstery is very gentle, and assembling and disassembling the unit is incredibly easy.
But, somehow, all these great building blocks never truly click together. The futon is too low for comfortable sitting, and once, you finally find the position, the futon doesn’t allow for sufficient sink. Sleeping for more than a couple of the nights in a row is nearly impossible.
All this means that The Audrey scores a lot of points, but neither one of them in the most important categories.
Modern and elegant design with delicate track arms and slanted solid wood legs
Made with a robust wood frame and upholstered in soft velvet.
The seat cushions are made with independently encased coils to provide top comfort
The reclinable split back easily lowers to lounging and sleeping position, creating an extra bed
Available in multiple colors
Futon dimensions: 77.5"L x 35"W x 34"H
Sleeping dimensions: 69.5"L x 44.5"W x 17.5"H
Weight limit: 600 lb
What do the users say?
Most of the customers are, generally, very pleased with the unit’s look and the choice of the materials. For instance, one reviewer praises the soft, stain-resistant velvet, and the steely blue color of the mattress that looks even better live than on the photos.
Another common praise point comes from the fact that, for the furniture piece that strongly ventures into the territory of a full-blown couch, the Audrey offers a lot of versatility.
One customer points out that Audrey features as much as five different settings - straight up and down, slightly tilted back, halfway down, almost all the way down, and fully flat. The same reviewer praises the way the auxiliary legs are hidden in a compartment with an invisible zipper in a manner that doesn’t ruin the futon’s pleasant look.
However, nearly all of the reviewers agree that, when it comes to the actual performance, the futon doesn’t quite rise up to the challenge as we can see in the following words. A very frequent complaint is that the unit is simply not comfortable to sleep on.
On more than one occasion, people claimed that when you pull the futon out into a bed the four cushions create a pretty wide gap in the middle. Moving too much during the night causes the gap to shift as well.
Unfortunately, according to user consensus, sitting on the futon doesn’t feel any more comfortable than lying. One reviewer in particular states that the cushions don’t seat deep enough into the couch so being on top of them feels awkward and unstable.
Novogratz The Audrey Futon is a furniture piece that makes a lot of promises with its stylish look, lightweight, and versatility, but fails to keep them when it comes to the actual comfort, Don't get us wrong, futon is still pleasant to sit and even occasionally sleep on, but you can find some much better alternatives out there.
Now here’s an interesting combination – memory foam mattress packed with six slim aluminum legs. If there's anything that we can take away from this information is that Mainstay's contender is a very light and durable piece that can be easily moved and assembled wherever you want.
The futon’s design is another story – some people will fall in love with the leather-clad design, some people may find it appalling.
At this price point, though, you can allow yourself a whole lot accessorizing and the futon does come with two neat cushions with several colors to choose from.
The memory foam is definitely something to look for and provides a lot of support even if you are not of the slightest build. So, the futon has a lot of good things going for - let’s take a look at specs and see what customer have to say.
Quickly converts from sofa to lounger to sleeper
With Shimmer Metallic Decorative Pillow, Set of 2
Stylish faux-leather upholstery
Comfortable memory foam mattress
Futon edges can be turned into an armrest
Durable aluminum legs
Futon dimensions: 71.65”L x 33.46’’W x 32.48’’H
What do the users say?
As we’ve already mentioned the choice of the materials used for this piece makes a very good performer, and this opinion is echoed through customer reviews.
Some reviewers are complementing the option to adjust the armrest, some the ease in which they were able to collapse the futon to a full bed in a matter of seconds, while some write about how the mattress handles pressure without too much sinking.
Other common praise that shows up across the board describes the futon as very cozy and easy to maneuver, no matter what was the purpose the buyers have used them for. And the list of the mentioned activities is pretty extensive ranging from hours long gaming sessions to afternoon napping and overnight sleeping.
On the downside, a lot of users claim how the futon is not that big, especially when you raise the edges into armrests. The things don’t get any better when you turn the futon into the bed. Some of them go as far as to say that you won’t get too much sleeping if you are more than 14 years old.
Finally, the faux-leather is not the most pleasant material to spend a lot of time on without a proper cover. Some users felt that the heat, and sweat made the material impossible to sit on for too long.
However one user emphasizes how faux leather is one of the main reasons why the furton looks and feels much more expensive than it actually is.
Mainstay managed to produce a very strong contender that, in spite of its divisive look, manages to score a lot of positive points and become one of the most comfortable entries on the list. And all that at a very lucrative price. Unfortunately, his value is somewhat undermined by the fact that the thing is impossible to sleep on. At least for the adults.
If you are looking for an affordable piece you are going to spend a lot of time sitting on, it’s easy to see Mainstay futon as the obvious winner.
When you take a closer look, even the product coming from Jerry Sales holds up surprisingly well. It is a well-built and good-looking piece of furniture.
But the lure of the futons lies in their versatility, and there is not better looking and more versatile futon on the list than the Colorado Reclaim Mocha Frame and Mattress Set.
Sure the package has some noticeable flaws, but considering the level of comfort you get in return, they are more than worth overlooking.
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