The Best Futons Make You Forget About Your Awful One From College
These are ready for sitting and snoozing.
Published Jul 25, 2022 4:00 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
Futons have come a long way since that lumpy one in your dorm room. Now your favorite home stores are selling futons that will have you saying, “Wait, that sofa is a futon?” They’re modern, they’re cool, and they’re ready for guests to sleep on.
When shopping for a futon, Krista Ninivaggi, principal and interior design leader at Woods Bagot, has some practical advice. “Decide how you plan to use it and prioritize that function over everything else,” she says. “If you want it to be a sofa, but also sometimes a spare bed, make sure it serves your needs for its primary use. If you rely on it several times a month as a spare bed, easy conversion would be important.”
A futon is no replacement for a plush-top mattress. We know that. However, it is a convenient, multipurpose piece of furniture that’s invaluable if you’re lacking a guest bedroom or host often. That’s why we’ve shopped for the best futons on the market that look and feel nothing like the ones from the ’90s. Scroll on for our picks.
- Best mid-century meets modern: Wayfair Gaige Twin Wide Convertible Sofa
- Best option with secret storage: Pottery Barn Shasta Square Arm Upholstered Storage Futon
- Best built-in side table: Urban Outfitters Reid Side Table Convertible Sofa
- Best three-position back: CB2 Flex Gravel Sleeper Sofa
- Best Scandinavian inspired: West Elm Jannick Full Futon Sleeper
- Best futon in disguise: Design Within Reach Twilight Sleeper Sofa
- Best sexy silhouette: Rove Concepts Bristol Sleeper Sofa
Best Mid-Century Meets Modern: Wayfair Gaige Twin Wide Convertible Sofa
Sleeps: A tight squeeze for 2 | Upholstery: Faux leather | Fully reclined depth: 43.5 inches
What we like:
- Its timeless silhouette will always be in style
- Free, fast delivery (a few days fast)
- Comes with everything you need for easy assembly
- Very firm cushions
- Careful—the faux leather can get scratched easily
Why we chose it: This handsome sofa rides the line between ’50s elegance and modern-day cool.
This futon sofa could have outfitted a Mad Men set, or it could be a stylish addition to your contemporary home. Buttery faux leather covers the reclinable back, which can be adjusted to a lounging position or lie completely flat. The cushions are on the firm side, so this isn’t a sit-all-day couch, but it would make for a chic accent in an office or den. Add some cozy pillows and perhaps a mattress topper, and here’s betting a guest (or two) would happily crash on it for a night.
Best Option With Secret Storage: Pottery Barn Shasta Square Arm Upholstered Storage Futon
Sleeps: 2, but a more comfortable fit for 1 | Upholstery: Various neutral performance fabrics | Fully reclined depth: 45.5 inches
What we like:
- Goes-with-everything design
- Available in dozens of upholstery options
- Can order free fabric swatches before committing
- Each futon is made to order, with 17-plus weeks expected delivery date
- Fabric can fade if placed in direct sunlight
Why we chose it: It’s a sofa, it’s a bed, and it’s a storage space.
There’s something delightful about discovering a futon designed with a hidden storage space. It’s like finding out a dress has pockets. This hardworking piece of furniture fulfills multiple roles, from a comfy place for guests to snooze to a spot to take a Zoom meeting. (Look at those arms—wide enough to balance a laptop!) The fact that it secretly stores pillows and blankets, too? Even better. If you don’t have much square footage to spare, opt for a multipurpose piece like this one.
Best Built-In Side Table: Urban Outfitters Reid Side Table Convertible Sofa
Sleeps: 1 | Upholstery: N/A | Fully reclined depth: 36.6 inches
What we like:
- No need to buy a side table—this futon already has one
- Folds out in a cool, unconventional way
- Can easily be jazzed up with throws and pillows
- Low to the ground—perhaps too low for some
- 2 people needed for assembly
- You’ll pay a 15 percent restocking fee if you return it
Why we chose it: This futon with a built-in side table is a two birds, one stone situation.
Check off two items on your to-buy list with this convertible sofa: a futon bed and somewhere to put your knickknacks. We love the atypical way it reveals itself to be a futon, too, with a click-clack design that folds backward. You’ll want an extra set of hands around on delivery day, though. While the assembly is supereasy—just screw on the legs—the sofa itself is very heavy. We prefer this futon for more of a midday nap situation as opposed to a full night’s sleep, as it’s on the short, narrow side.
Best Three-Position Back: CB2 Flex Gravel Sleeper Sofa
Sleeps: 2 | Upholstery: Tufted polyester | Fully reclined depth: 49 inches
What we like:
- Versatile back positions
- A classic design that holds up for years
- No awkward falling between the cracks
- Currently on backorder
- The cushion is very firm
Why we chose it: With three different back positions—upright, 45 degrees, and lying down—this futon will serve all your lounging needs.
In the morning, this futon bed functions as an upright spot to sip your morning coffee. (Wouldn’t it look particularly sharp in a home office?) Come 5 p.m., tip it back to its 45-degree-angle position for a comfy spot to lounge and queue up Netflix. Once bedtime rolls around, we wouldn’t mind dozing off here when we’re too tired to crawl to bed at the close of an episode. It’s firm—maybe too firm for some—but will hold up for years to come.
Best Scandinavian Inspired: West Elm Jannick Full Futon Sleeper
Sleeps: 2 | Upholstery: Bouclé or weave | Fully reclined depth: 53 inches
What we like:
- A built-to-last silhouette you’ll love forever
- The loose back cushions are easy to toss aside
- Eligible for white-glove delivery
- Limited upholstery options
- A bit expensive
Why we chose it: Futon or not, this sofa would top any “best couches” list for its sleek style.
Whether we’re rounding up the best futons or the best couches of any kind, this West Elm design is bound to make the cut. The fact that it easily folds out to become an extra bed? That’s just a bonus. If you’re suffering from decision fatigue—aren’t we all?—this sleeper is the one for you. Simply choose between a white bouclé or a mélange weave in a handsome slate color, then patiently wait to melt into its soft, supportive cushions. The inner coil mattress is surrounded by a sink-right-in foam chamber and fiberfill, so you’ll sit (or sleep) comfortably.
Best Futon in Disguise: Design Within Reach Twilight Sleeper Sofa
Sleeps: 2 | Upholstery: Cotton or cotton blend | Fully reclined depth: 78.74 inches
What we like:
- Its innovative shape hides the fact that it’s a futon
- Evokes equally modern and retro vibes
- Slipcover is removable for easy cleaning
- The priciest option on this list
- Assembly required
- Buffer in 15 weeks for delivery
Why we chose it: No one would look at this couch and think futon.
Nothing about this sofa, with its cool retro vibes, reminds us of the drab futons from the ’90s. That’s what we love about it. First and foremost, it’s an everyday couch. Come midafternoon, it’s a comfy daybed to steal a couple quick z’s. Then if couch surfers are crashing, place the top cushion on the floor to create either one queen-size bed or two twins. The adjustable bolster pillow is equally as versatile, allowing for customized seat depth and lumbar support. Note that without arms and a low back, though, this isn’t a stay-all-day couch.
Best Sexy Silhouette: Rove Concepts Bristol Sleeper Sofa
Sleeps: 2 | Upholstery: Felt, weave, velvet, or leather | Fully reclined depth: 56 inches
What we like:
- Its ultra-cool shape doesn’t let on that it’s a futon
- Available in 11 luxurious fabric options
- Choose between steel or brass legs
- Mattress topper and sheets sold separately
- Easy assembly required
Why we chose it: Between the striking lines and luxe fabrics, what’s not to like about this futon?
Never have we ever said that a night’s rest on a futon is like sleeping on a cloud. This one includes plush cushioning that might entirely change our mind and guests will gladly spend the night on. (Or you, should you graciously offer them your bed.) The upholstery options, from cobalt velvet to a slate performance weave, all feel more expensive than they are. Don’t even get us started on that gorgeous silhouette either, with slanted arms and a sleek base.
How We Chose These Products
Shopping for a futon is serious business. A worthy one combines the best attributes of a couch and a bed, with no dated-’90s vibes allowed. We turned to brands we trust that have a long history of designing quality couches of all kinds. Most important, they had to be comfortable for sitting and for sleeping—no easy task, but we’re confident any of the futons on this list would be a fun and functional addition to your home.
Our Shopping Checklist
We read futon dimensions with a skeptical eye, and you’ll want to as well. Many will claim to sleep two, but get out your measuring tape and determine that for yourself. Oftentimes futons are a better fit for one, and don’t forget to measure the length, too. Some may be too love seat–like for your vertically not-challenged friends to sleep comfortably.
A soft place to land is important for any sofa, but particularly a futon. Smooth-to-the-touch upholstery is a must. Whether that’s bouclé, leather (faux or the real deal), cotton, or otherwise is up to you. We selected futons in a mix of upholstery options.
When it comes to any sofa, comfort is key, but that sentiment is especially true for a futon. The cushions and upholstery need to perform double duty, being durable enough to be a seat and squishy enough for a bed. Some of these picks have fairly firm cushions, and we realize that isn’t the best fit for everybody—scour the listings and reviews to determine a futon’s firmness before committing.
Don’t overlook the frame when shopping for a futon. (We didn’t.) Hardwood frames, which can bear the most weight, are ideal. They’re the sturdiest material to sustain frequent conversions. Other frames on this list are made of metal, which is also durable.
We’ve all been there, struggling to convert a futon bed. May we never relive those awkward moments again. Every futon on this list easily converts from a couch to a bed (and back again) with just one set of hands. Promise.
Q: What’s the difference between a futon and a sleeper sofa?
While it’s tempting to use the terms interchangeably, they are decidedly different. “A futon is generally a mattress the size of a regular bed that sits on a frame that can be converted for sitting or sleeping,” says Ninivaggi. “Whereas a sleeper sofa is a fully upholstered piece of furniture that either conceals a separate mattress for sleeping or converts in some way, so you are sleeping across smaller cushions.”
Q: I keep hearing about Japanese futons. What are they?
There’s nothing new about the shikibuton, a Japanese futon designed to rest on the floor. The practical and space-saving mattresses have been a staple in Japanese households since the 18th century. If you already have a couch that you love, a Japanese futon may be the best fit for you, since it can be rolled up and stored away when not in use.
Ninivaggi loves them. “I am a big fan of the futon on the floor, with either a low-profile frame or just folded and no frame at all,” she says. “I like mattresses that have a little extra tufting or stitching to make them more decorative. It feels modern and less fussy.”
Q: How can I make a futon more comfortable?
To ensure max futon-sleeping comfort, invest in a mattress topper. Whether you choose down filled, memory foam, or latex is up to you—any of those materials will add a couple inches of plushness. Don’t skimp on quality bedding either. Topping the futon with a fitted sheet helps smooth out any cracks between cushions; then you can dress it with proper pillows and a comforter to show your guests you care.
The Last Word
The beauty of a futon is its versatility. The best ones are equal parts stylish sofa and makeshift bed, with cushions that are ready to sit on during the day and crash on at night.