Sofa bed evolution - the good, the bad, and the downright uncomfortable!

So you thought that sofa beds died out with the teas-made and the trouser press? Think again! Modern sofa beds are almost unrecognisable compared to their early counterparts; no longer are they thin, lumpy, squeaky and uncomfortable. The latest generation of sofa beds are not only comfortable and stylish as sofas, but when made up as a bed they offer a truly restful night’s sleep. It’s only taken us half a century to get to this point but we've finally done it!

From their humble beginnings sofa beds have evolved into a useful and attractive piece of furniture but they weren't always like that, far from it…

Bernard Castro could be considered a bit of a pioneer when it comes to space saving solutions and fold-away beds. When he opened a shop in 1931 selling his famous ‘Castro Convertibles’, depression-era Americans struggling to live in cramped conditions flocked to buy his space-saving and inventive new fold-able bed.

‘Endorsed by America's leading robots’ - well if it’s good enough for robots...

Castro Convertibles ad

If the robotic seal of approval wasn't enough to tempt you into making a purchase then fast forward a decade and Castro was now producing beauties such as this:

Castro Convertibles

Who in their right mind wouldn't want a dress that coordinates with their sofa bed? Sit down madame, relax, and simply blend into the furniture.

Others followed in Castro’s footsteps and from the 1950s onwards sofa bed choice grew and grew. Mid-century design took over and retro classics like this were born. Don’t mock the brown corduroy, it was very ‘on trend’ back then.

Click clack

Iconic furniture producer G Plan also got in on the act, with efforts such as this ‘click clack’ style sofa bed that simply flattens out from sofa to bed in one easy move.  These mid-century modern pieces with their sculpted wooden arms, space ship-esque legs and clean lines are a real favourite with hipster home ware collectors these days. Aesthetically we agree, they look great; we love the space age styling but we wouldn't want to spend a night on them, no siree.



Skip on to the 1980s and all sorts of interior mayhem has broken loose. Black ash furniture is everywhere and frills, foam and floral seem to be almost mandatory ingredients of all sofa beds. Feast your eyes on this classic 80s effort. I remember having to spend the night on one of these once and even as a young child I thought ‘this isn’t a sofa, this is just some foam oblongs stacked up’. Sofas (if you can call them that) like this belong in one place and one place only: the skip!

80s sofa bed

The 90s tried to jazz up this simplistic design but we’re not buying it, it’s still just a pile of foam, those fancy wooden arms don’t fool us.

90s sofa bed

If you haven’t had the pleasure of encountering any of the above then surely you must have experienced a futon! This traditional Japanese fold away bed was hijacked by western furniture designers and it seemed to us that almost every spare bedroom or student flat in the late 90s had a futon of some description in it. Wooden slatted frame or metal construction, these instruments of nocturnal torment were rife!


Much like its foam pile predecessor we recommend repurposing your futon, if you still have one. How about making it into a handy hay feeder for goats, like one inventive futon owner has done here! Maybe that’s what they were intended to be all along?...

goat feeder


inflatable sofa bed

The horror of 90s furniture development and our growing obsession with interior design is probably to blame for this monstrosity too, all hail the inflatable sofa bed. If you’ve ever spent the night on an air bed you’ll know that the expected comfort to actual comfort ratio is massively skewed. They look comfy, all bouncy and soft, but they are extremely far from it! I’ve never managed to successfully sleep on an air bed without turning over in my sleep and either catapulting my bedfellow out the other side or getting bounced onto the floor myself.


It doesn’t matter how much fun these models look like they are having, we know the truth

Thankfully the 00s have heralded the dawn of some truly inspired furniture design and the balance between form and function has never been more keenly adhered to. Innovative products such as this sleeping bag sofa hybrid and the sofa bunk bed are hitting the mainstream market and providing sound space-saving, sitting and sleeping solutions.

sleeping bag sofa bed


bunk bed sofa bed

So there you have it, sofa beds have come a long way, and we believe that there’s future innovation still to come for this household classic. All our sofa beds have a top of the range mechanism, with steam bent beech slats and elasticised webbing at the foot end, topped with the deepest sofa bed mattress you can get they ‘sit like a sofa and sleep like a bed’.


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