One of the biggest frustrations of living in a small home, condo, or apartment is that even if there’s plenty of space for all of your or your family’s day-to-day needs, there isn’t much room for guests. Space for seating is at a premium, and spare beds are almost always out of the question. That said, if you’d rather not stick your overnight guests on an air mattress, you aren’t entirely without options. Modern sleeper sofas and chairs are a bit more stylish than traditional futons, and can easily be transformed into twin, full, or even queen sized beds when you need them.
Sleek modern sleeper sofas aim to combine the functionality of traditional futons and sleeper sofas with a look that’s a little more appealing for day-to-day use. This Sabatino sleeper draws attention to its dual functionality, letting the collapsed “bed” portion of the sofa show at the side, creating a unique folded shape that’s delightfully unusual and eye catching. The design is as efficient as it is stylish, too: the cushy backrests can be used as pillows when the sofa is unfolded, and do double duty concealing the seam between the foot of the bed and the back of the sofa. The limited number of moving parts keeps this type of sleeper sofa relatively light, too, making it ideal for apartment living.
Lately there’s been a profusion of sleeper sofas where the back of the sofa folds back and flattens out to the level of the seat cushions to create a single large mattress. These are absolutely fantastic for a small apartment, as they often don’t have arms, meaning they’re a bit narrower, take up less space, and are easier to fit through doorways. They also lack the bulky hardware of many more traditional sleeper sofas, meaning they’re relatively lightweight and easy to move.
There are also versions of this type of sleeper sofa that look exactly like a standard sofa, with arms on both sides and a solid base. These work the same way, with the back and seat attached to a simple folding hinge, but have the added advantage of containing quite a bit of storage space underneath the couch cushions. Even on a small sofa, there’s plenty of room to store a full set of linens and pillows invisibly under the seats. I’ve personally gotten a lot of regular use out of this type of sofa, and can vouch that they’re good for storing more than just one set of sheets for guests – it nearly replaced my entire linen closet!
If you already have a regular sofa and don’t want to replace it (or if you want to have more than one spare bed), some manufacturers have started making sleeper-style arm chairs that fold and unfold just like a sleeper sofa, but to create a chaise or twin bed instead of a full or queen. Now I’ll be honest, these types of chairs are pretty rare, and can be difficult to find. If you can’t find one that meets your needs, though, a plain old recliner might fit the bill. Of course, recliners are a bit of a luxury item – they’re big, heavy, and expensive, certainly moreso than most multi-function chairs. But they’re also very comfortable, and with a deep recline, good enough to sleep in for a night or two.
That said, if you can’t find a sleeper chair and a recliner isn’t in your budget, you aren’t out of luck. I’d recommend taking a page from modular outdoor furniture and supplement your existing sofa with chair- and ottoman- pieces from a larger set. Modular sofa sets are much more common than they used to be, and often can be purchased piece-by-piece, (in theory so you can build the size and shape sectional you want). For your purposes, though, a few individual pieces can be used as matching accent chairs and an ottoman-slash-coffee table that look perfectly nice on their own, and easily combine into a surprisingly comfy sleeping surface when you need it, no fold-out functionality needed.
The rising popularity of soft ottomans has actually made it easier than ever to add more sleeping space to your living room. Whether you’re opting for a plain upholstered ottoman that you push up against your sofa for a little more surface area or opt for something more intentional, like using a folding mattress or futon in place of an ottoman or coffee table, adding extra soft surfaces to your living room can help maximize the sleeping capacity of your room without doubling down on traditional futons.
Living in a small space shouldn’t mean you can’t have guests stay the night, and increasingly, it doesn’t. While some of these options are a little less traditional, and some of the more innovative ones are still a bit hard to find, if you want to squeeze space to sleep into your smallish home, there are more ways than you might expect to pull it off!