Hosting this Christmas? Experts reveal the mistakes to avoid when buying a sofa bed

Avoid these mistakes to buy the perfect sofa bed

Snug Cloud Sundae sofa bed in a colourful living room
(Image credit: Furniture Village)

If you’re the hostess with the mostest and love to welcome guests into your home, a sofa bed is certainly a valid investment. But to make the most of your money, it’s important to take note of the mistakes to avoid when buying a sofa bed. 

No matter whether you opt for the best sofa bed or the best chair bed, this extra sleeping space can come in extremely handy during the festive period or when your kids want to host a big birthday bash. What’s more, sofa beds are the perfect way to complete your guest bedroom ideas - and they can seamlessly integrate into your living room ideas, too. 

However, it’s very easy to make the wrong choices when buying a sofa bed. That’s why we’ve asked the experts for their tips and tricks on how to buy the right sofa bed for your needs and requirements, and what to avoid when buying a sofa bed. 

Mistakes to avoid when buying a sofa bed

Sofa beds are a great option for those who don’t have the space for an extra full-size bed in their home, but there are certain things you need to think about before whipping out the credit card. ‘By considering these factors, buyers can make informed decisions based on their space, needs, and preferences,’ explains Ashleigh Ellis, Director of Upholstery and Furniture at ScS. So, these are the mistakes to avoid when buying a sofa bed. 

A white boucle sofa bed

(Image credit: Habitat)

1. Choosing style over substance

When buying a large piece of furniture, your main concern might be how well it matches the rest of your home decor. And while this is certainly something you should consider, you should never choose style over substance when buying a sofa bed. 

After all, this piece of furniture will primarily serve a practical function rather than an aesthetic function, so you want to make sure that you choose a high-quality sofa bed that will serve your guests well. 

Margaret Larson from Sustainable Furniture adds, ‘Many sofa beds may appear stylish, but their quality can quickly deteriorate with consistent use, and you may find yourself having to replace it in a few years’ time. I recommend doing thorough research online as well as testing in-store before purchasing your sofa bed to ensure it is high quality and durable.’

Headshot of Margaret Larson
Margaret Larson

Margaret Larson, Managing Director of multi-award-winning Sustainable Furniture LTD, has long used her passion for transforming spaces to explore and test the latest home interior trends. Margaret enjoys sharing both interior and exterior design tips with readers to provide fresh ideas to spruce up their space.

2. Not testing the mattress

It’s important to understand the distinction between a sofa bed and an actual bed. Of course, sofa bed brands do everything they can to make them as comfortable as possible, but very few come with a comfortable base for guests to sleep on - especially if you opt for a click-clack variety that doesn’t have an integrated mattress. 

Because of this, it’s important to test the mattress before you spend your hard-earned money on a new sofa bed. Ashleigh says, ‘If you were buying a mattress for your bed, you wouldn’t buy it without testing it first, so a sofa bed should be no different.’ 

‘You want your guests to enjoy their stay, so ensure the mattress is comfortable and durable for a good night's sleep. Sit down and lie on the bed in the store before purchasing, if possible.’

It’s also a good idea to consider who will be sleeping on the sofa bed when testing out the mattress, as you may need to tailor your choice to them. If you have older guests who need a little more support, opting for a sofa bed with a thicker mattress should be a top priority. 

If you choose a click-clack sofa bed, it might also work in your (and your guests’) favour to add one of the best mattress toppers on top for that extra layer of comfort and cushioning. 

A cream upholstered wooden futon sofa bed in a cream living room

(Image credit: Dunelm)

3. Not trying out the mechanism

Sofa beds typically fall into one of two categories; mattress sofa beds and click-clack sofa beds. Mattress sofa beds have an integrated mattress that quite simply pulls out of the base, while a click-clack sofa bed folds down so you’re essentially sleeping on the sofa itself.  

The biggest mistake you could make when buying a sofa bed is not trying out the mechanism of your desired sofa bed before purchasing it, as they’re both very different and require different levels of skill and strength. 

Ashleigh says, ‘It’s a good idea to test the folding and unfolding mechanism before buying to consider how heavy or difficult the bed is to pull out and if you’d be able to do this at home.’

This is especially important for those who are older or those who have dexterity issues, as the last thing you want to do is buy a sofa bed that you can’t actually use. 

Blue sofa bed in a grey living room

(Image credit: Argos)

4. Not measuring the space

Measuring a sofa is easy, but measuring a sofa bed is a little more complicated. That’s because you essentially need to measure for two different pieces of furniture; a sofa and a bed. 

‘Not measuring your space is a common mistake homeowners make when purchasing a sofa bed, and this can be an issue, especially for those with a small property,’ explains Margaret. ‘It is important to account for the dimensions of the sofa bed once open to ensure there is adequate room for movement and guests feel comfortable when staying in your home.’

Of course, what size sofa bed you go for ultimately depends on your needs. If you have a larger guest room or you want to use this extra sleeping space as your main sofa, it may be that a sofa bed suits you perfectly. But if you have a small bedroom or are turning your home office into a makeshift guest room, a chair bed may suit you better. 


What are the common mistakes to avoid when buying a sofa?

A sofa is very different to a sofa bed, but it’s easy to make the same mistakes when buying a sofa. For example, you should never choose aesthetics over practicality and always make sure that the sofa you buy is comfortable - unless you’re buying a sofa purely for your formal living room!

Not measuring the sofa properly is also a major no-no. Before parting ways with your money, you should always make sure that the sofa fits perfectly into your living room, without being too small or without encroaching on too much of the space. And while you’ve got the measuring tape out, you should also make sure that the sofa will fit through your doorway. The last thing you want is to buy a sofa that you can’t get into your house. 

Avoid impulse buying a sofa, too. To buy the perfect sofa for your house, you need to consider your lifestyle and what you want the sofa to bring to your life. This will impact which fabric is best for your sofa, the type of cushions you go for, and even the shape you choose. 

Is it OK to sleep on sofa bed every night?

Although sofa beds are a great addition to guest rooms and perfect for the occasional visitor, it’s not advised to sleep on a sofa bed every night. The mattresses and cushioning on these sofa beds aren’t designed for constant use and don’t offer the support that the best mattress will. 

Is a firm or soft sofa better?

It’s generally agreed that a firm sofa is better, as it provides better support for the body. However, it’s also important to take personal choice into account, as some people prefer the squishy nature of a softer sofa. Because of this, it might be best to opt for a medium-firm sofa so you can get the best of both worlds.

Avoid these mistakes when buying a sofa bed and your guests will definitely thank you for it. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.