Sofa beds buying guide

We’re making a stand for sofa beds, because no home should be without one. As the name suggests, a sofa bed is two essential pieces of furniture rolled into one: a sofa with a foldout bed tidily tucked beneath its seat cushions.

A sofabed is a dependable friend that makes you a flexible one, allowing you to put up relatives, unexpected overnighters, and party stragglers. It’s also there for you on nights when the snoring becomes too much… Useful in a living room or a spare room being used for other purposes (i.e. a home office), a sofa bed makes you guest-ready at a moment’s notice and can also be used as the main bed in smaller homes.

But where sofa beds might have once done two jobs half-heartedly, now they’re comfortable and supportive in both their guises. So check in to our Habitat Sofa Bed Buying Guide for the full story on everything from fabrics to fillings, measurements and mattresses.

Different types

There are several different types of sofa beds out there, but over the years we have refined our range to two mechanisms: the metal-action frame and the clic-clac. The metal-action frame, a la the Colombo, is where the sofa seat cushions are removed and the mattress, suspension, and frame of the bed fold out from the interior of the sofa. The clic-clac, on the other hand, is a quicker, less complicated affair. It’s where the base cushion of the sofa clicks forward to let the back clack flat, thus making a perfect crash pad for a last minute party guest. See our recent addition: the Kota.

We’ve narrowed it down to these two options because the metal-action frame makes the most comfortable sofa bed, with the space it has for folding away a fuller mattress for frequent use. The clic-clac is, however, the perfect solution for tight spaces that need a bed option at a pinch, but not the full shebang.

How does a chaise sofa bed work?

Not to be confused with chaise longues or corner sofas, chaise sofas are usually three-seater sofas, with one elongated seat section to support extended legs.

When they’re adapted to sofa beds, these chaise sofas work in the same way as any other might–the cushions are removed and the mechanism pulls out from beneath them, the mattress unfolding with it to reveal the sleeping area.

View our Chaise Sofa Bed range.


There are three key things to think about:

How often will your sofa bed be used?

Think not only about how much the mattress will be slept on, but also how much use the piece will get as a sofa. If it’s going to be your main living room sofa, it needs to be able to weather the wear and tear of lots of use in both forms.

Sofa beds come with different types of mattresses.

  • Slimmer mattresses-coming with or without a luxurious finish, these are designed for occasional use.
  • Thicker mattresses-whether made of memory foam or sprung, these are for frequent use as they’re more durable and less susceptible to wear and tear.

How much space will you have for your sofa bed – and how much space will you need to get it into your home?

Consider how much space the sofa bed will take up once it has been fully opened out–not just the sleeping area (mattress dimensions), but the sleeping area plus the sofa part of the structure.

There’s also the access into your home to think about–doorways, hallways and stairwells should all be measured and to help with this, we’ve created a Habitat Sofa Measuring Guide and video.

It’s best to work all of this out before ordering, to save the hassle of returning such a big piece.

How much do you have to spend?

Like all large investment pieces, it’s worth going for the best sofa bed you can afford, especially if it’s going to be used often.

But because sofa beds can be primary or secondary pieces of furniture, we have created a range that includes something for every budget.


Like regular sofas, sofa beds come in a selection of fabrics of different price, quality and colour. So whether you go for cotton mix, polyester, velvet, wool, leather or linen, you should be able to find something to suit your style and budget.

Almost all Habitat sofa fabrics are made in Europe, with many coming from family-run Italian mills. We choose all our fabrics for their consistently high quality, and every fabric is tested and meets the UK Furniture and Furnishings Fire and Safety Regulations.

The Habitat sofa bed fabrics include:

  • Cotton: Whether pure or blended, cotton is extremely versatile and comfortable, being easy to care for and to live with.
  • Polyester: Durable and hardwearing, polyester makes a simple to add textured accessories to.
  • Velvet: Soft as anything to the touch, velvet is as luxurious to look at as it is to sit on.


Natural, soft, but extremely durable and strong, leather is breathable, meaning it feels warm in the winter and cool in the summer. All Habitat’s leather upholstery comes from Italian tanneries, which are renowned for producing high quality materials.

Leather looks good on any shape, whether minimal and boxy or sculptural and curvaceous.

View our Leather Sofa Bed range.


The fillings of Habitat sofa beds have been carefully matched to each particular sofa bed style for their comfort and appearance. We tend to use a blend of the main materials in our range, in order to maximise the benefit of each and make every sofa bed the very best it can be.

Those main materials are:

Foam : Available in a variety of densities, we sometimes use different foams within one seat cushion to ensure the right level of support is provided in just the right place.

A foam cushion will give firmer support and cleaner lines than a feather one, and a higher-density foam will better maintain its shape.

All new foam loses about 15 per cent of its hardness over the first six months of use before it stabilises. This means that a foam sofa may initially feel a little firmer than it might have done when tried out in store.

Feather:The classic luxury-feel filling, feather has a high level of comfort and is popular because it’s natural. However, that ‘sink into’ feeling comes at a price and the look is also less structured, needing regular plumping for cushions to keep their generous rounded look and soft support.

Feathers can be combined with fibre in the filling to give cushions a little extra resilience.

Polyester fibre : On its own polyester fibre is not durable enough for seat cushions, so we use it mixed with feathers for smaller cushions.


We always encourage our customers to order swatches of the fabrics they’re interested in, because we think upholstered furniture is a BIG deal–a big decision about a big piece.

Seeing a picture of your chosen fabric just isn’t the same as touching it and looking at it in different lights. Since there’s nothing like the real thing, there’s nothing like a swatch for giving you the best idea of what you’re interested in.

To order, go to the product page of the sofa bed you’re considering on the site and click ‘Order Free Fabric Swatch Sample’ above the price.


Whether it’s going against a wall or standing in the middle of a room, staying solo or teaming up as a suite, it’s best to give your sofa bed some space. Why?

  • Because it allows for side and coffee tables, lamps and magazine racks
  • Because sofas never look their best wedged into a space
  • Because if they’re cooped up, sitting on them can feel a little claustrophobic
  • Because you need enough room to move around it once it’s folded out, as well as to be able to open any doors and drawers near to it.

The best way to figure out what works for your room is to consider the other pieces you need to fit in it alongside your sofa bed, as well as how you’ll configure them all. Once you know what space your sofa bed will be working with, consult the Habitat Sofa Measuring Guide to work out what size works best or watch the video here.

To be sure your new sofa bed will fit into your room, we suggest making a template from newspaper or using masking tape to mark out the amount of space it will need.

Other things to bear in mind are the height of the area where your sofa bed will be positioned, to ensure it can be manoeuvred into place, and that its length will fit the person using it once it’s folded out.

All our sofa beds’ measurements can be found on our website and in stores, or by contacting the Habitat Customer Services Team on 0344 499 4686.

For full details of measuring your sofa bed and the access points to your home, as well as some tips for moving it into your home, head over to our Habitat Sofa Measuring Guide


All Habitat sofa beds should have a care label attached to them when they arrive. This can be removed and kept in a safe place for referencing later. Each is appropriate to that specific sofa bed.

How do you care for a sofa bed mattress?

Like regular mattresses, a sofa bed mattress benefits from being aired, especially as it can end up folded beneath the sofa cushions for long periods of time.

Depending on the filling of the mattress – especially when it is sprung–it’s also a good idea to turn it from time to time, particularly if it’s regularly used.

How do you clean a fabric sofa bed?

We always recommend professional cleaning, because we know it gets the best results. But in the case of small spills, it’s important to avoid your instinct to rub at the stain. This only pushes the spillage deeper into the fabric, which of course makes it harder to clean. Instead, wipe lightly with a damp (not wet) cloth, and then immediately wipe dry with a soft dry cloth.

To maintain your fabric sofa bed it should be vacuumed or brushed weekly, as dirt accumulating on it can lead to the upholstery wearing and its colour dulling. The metal parts to the support frame of the bed section can be wiped clean of dust and dirt with a soft damp cloth.

We also have some sofa bed no-nos:

  • Avoid sharp objects
  • Do not use solvent-based cleaners
  • To avoid fading, place furniture out of direct or prolonged periods of sunlight, and away from heat sources
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