"" MaDDI: Round Up: Modern Sleeper Sofas

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Round Up: Modern Sleeper Sofas

The modern sleeper sofas market is dominated by what i like to call 'fancy futons'. The fabric may be better quality, the mattress 4x as comfortable and the folding mechanism far superior to the beast that haunted my college dorm room, but with only 3 post-graduation years under my belt, I'm not ready to go back to a futon.

I know. I get it. "The genius is in the simplicity...", "it's practical," "it's affordable" (Except when it's not. I'm looking at you, Ligne Roset.) But I'm just not ready to go back to that place. Even DWR's perennially popular Twilight Sleeper and Sliding Sleeper can't fool me. Futons, every last one. $2,000+ futons.

So if you eliminate the futons, that basically leaves you with an air mattress, right? Wrong. Thanks to the quirky geniuses at BluDot, Gus Modern and a few others, you may rejoice modern sleep-sofa seekers! You have the power to choose.  In fact, there are a plethora of exciting alternatives to an air mattress or futon. I highlight a few of my favorites below, with a pros/cons run-down of the ones I've tested.

For more options, check out Bobby Berk Home, Room & Board, DWR, Urban Outfitters, CB2, and the other usual suspects.

Of course, you can opt for an air mattress, and as such, I have included a token air mattress in my round-up. In fairness, the Room & Board air mattress is a cut above most run-of-the-mill air mattresses.

And at the very end, in recognition that not everyone is as futon-averse as I, I do sheepishly include a few fancy futons.

Queen/Full Sleepers

1. Gus Modern Flip Sofa Bed -  Baldwin Mist, Cashmere Carbon or Orillia Owl. 86w x 35d/22sd x 31h - $1,999 


Evaluation: Ryan and I ultimately crowned Gus Modern's Flip Sofa the grand prize winner. It had the highest overall score in our categories: sofa comfort, bed comfort, budget friendliness, ease of transition from sofa-to-bed and aesthetics. It's equally comfortable for sitting as for sleeping and the transition couldn't be easier. To me, there are only 1.5 design flaws (arguably just 1, since they found a work-around for the other): 1. When two people are sleeping side-by-side, the person on the inside has to crawl over the armrest or their sleeping partner to escape; 1.5. You can't use a fitted sheet, because the back of the mattress is connected to the sofa. As a work-around, the white lining you see in the photo adheres with velcro, detaches for washing and is meant to serve as your fitted sheet. In reality, it's a little scratchier than most bed sheets.

We eagerly await its delivery next week!

2. BluDot Diplomat Sleeper Sofa - Coal, Cocoa, Pebble, Stone. 80w x 30d/21sd x 30h - $1,899 


Evaluation: The Diplomat was a very close runner-up. I especially love how it looks and feels like a platform bed when it's folded out. There were two minor issues, which put together, were a deal breaker for me: 1. the seat is very shallow. I couldn't imagine myself curling up to watch TV or read a book. While I really loved the elevated bed concept, I kept remind myself that it was going to be used as a couch 90% of the time; 2. See how the guy in the photo is perched on the front half of the bed? There's a reason for it. The top half of the sofa (that folds forward to become half the bed) is infinitely more comfortable to sleep on. The back half, which rests on the leg frames, is just "eh" on the comfort level. I didn't want any fights breaking out over who got to sleep on the comfy half. As the wonderful sales team at BluDot SoHo pointed out, you could put a 1" memory-foam mattress topper over it to smooth out the difference. Absolutely true, but like most NYers, we do not have the space to store a queen-sized 1" memory-foam topper for guest use.

3. BluDot One Night Stand Sleeper Sofa - (Pebble, Persimmon, Smoke, Stone) 80w x 32d/22sd x 30h - $1,799 


4. DWR Traversina Sleeper - Ecru, Grey, Light Grey, Plum Sand. 92.5w x 42.25d x 23.75h - $3,200 10-12 wks 


5. Ligne Roset Mostra by Didier Gomez - Variety of fabric and leather upholstery options. 73.25w/81w x 39.75d x 31h - $4,925-$10,485


Evaluation: Beautiful, comfortable and superbly designed. You'd never guess it was a sleeper. Super easy transition to a bed (although it is a two-hander for most people-- you've got to put your back into it). Alas, it starts at $5,000. So that would be a big fail in the budget-friendly category. And the budget-friendly category reigns supreme.

6. Innovation Silenos Plus Sofa - Dark Brown, Sand. 95W x 35D x 31H" - $1,499

7. CB2 Lubi Graphite Sleeper Daybed - Graphite. 79w x 32.5d x25.5h - $899

Although it's technically a daybed, not a sleep sofa, I thought this was neat because it works as a twin or as a double.

Twin Sleepers

7. CB2 Piazza Velvet Storm Sofa - Storm or midnight. 81w x 42.5d x 26h - $1,299 

Yes, I recognize it's not a sleeper sofa. But it's so deep! And the back cushion lifts off! I would sleep on this thing. And I'd sure like to watch movies and eat popcorn on it.

8. West Elm Tillary Sofa - Variety of upholstery options. 74.5w x 38d x 27h - $799.00 


Again, not officially a sleeper, but certainly functions as one. I haven't tested it myself, although I did hear a report that it's quite firm-- whether that is a negative or a positive, I leave up to you.

9. DWR Havana Sleeper Sofa (w/ storage) - Oatmeal. 88.5w x 39d/27.5sd x 21h - $3,500


: This is a beautiful sleeper. Typically, you have to make design compromises when you opt for a sleeper. With the Havana, I wouldn't feel like I was compromising on the sofa. Clean, contemporary lines and a deep seat for lounging. I also love that it has a storage compartment. That said, for $3,500, I would want a sleeper that comfortable sleeps two people.

10. Urban Outfitters Night & Day Convertible Sofa - Timberwolf, night black, taupe. 84w x 35d/23sd x 34.5h - $589


Evaluation: I've heard mixed reviews on the quality and comfort of Urban Outfitter's furniture, but you can't beat the price for a good looking mid-century modern sleeper. I do wonder how structurally sound that folding back is-- maybe I'm missing something from the photos? One reviewer on the website claimed that their back collapsed shortly after purchase, so maybe I'm not missing anything.

Token Air Mattress

Room & Board - Townsend (Dakota Grey) 92w x 41d x 26h - $1,999 in stock


Evaluation: The Townsend is another model where I wouldn't feel that I was compromising on the sofa. In fact, the Townsend was in the running before we decided to go the sleeper sofa route. One important caveat on the design: Room & Board has a Townsend on display in their SoHo showroom (and in most of their showrooms, I would imagine), however, the sleeper model is a couple inches taller to accommodate the mattress mechanism. For a low-slung modern sofa, this could throw off the proportions in a noticeable way. The bottom line is that it's an air mattress. It's a firmer, more comfortable air mattress than most, but it still feels like an air mattress. I suppose that if I wanted my guests to sleep on an air mattress, I could spend $200 on one of those high quality air mattress that have an "air boxspring" for elevation. Room & Board does make a foam mattress line of sleepers, called their Comfort Sleeper collection, but it comes only in traditional styles.

The Futon's Wealthier Relations

Ligne Roset - Nomade-Express (variety of fabric upholstery options) 80w x 43.25d 37.5h - $3,785-$5,145


Room & Board - Encore (micro red or micro grey) 82w x 37d x 30h - $899


Room & Board - Elke (natural, brown/black or special order) 79w x 38d x 25h - $1,099


  1. Thank you so much for your post. I have been looking at options to add a sleeper sofa to my living room, where it would be secondary seating, not primary couch. Your detailed descriptions and notes were extremely informative.

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you found it useful. I've been meaning to do an update post, as there are some new modern sleepers on the market that are definitely worth considering. Most notably, CB2's Tandom Sleeper Sofa ($1,399) and DWR's Bay Sleeper Sofa (normally $2,200, but currently $15% off as part of their living room sale.) Both great looking sofas!

  2. Are you happy with the Gus Flip Sofa Bed thus far? I am thinking about getting it. It is equally as comfortable as a couch and a bed? Did you find a solution for the fitted sheet? What about that place where the two sections meet, is it comfortable to sleep over? Thanks.

  3. Hi Dean. I am very happy with my gus modern flip sofa, but with a few caveats. It's an extremely comfortable and functional sofa. It's a modest enough scale for our narrow space, but easily accommodates two reclining adults and a dog. It's really everything I ever wanted in a sofa. The upholstery is comfortable, but cleans super easily with a little bit of dish detergent or a mixture of white vinegar and water for tougher stains (we even got blue ballpoint pen ink off it.) The back cushions are plush, but have held their shape well and don't require frequent fluffing. My only complaint on the sofa component is that the seam on the front edge of the couch has crept a little bit in the middle and I can't seem to readjust it. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning.

    In terms of significant caveats, our guests found the mattress to be too firm for comfortable sleeping. I bet it would soften out over time, but we only have guests a couple times a year, so it would realistically take years to break in. I never got around to sewing velcro onto a sheet, but I solved the problem by buying a 1" foam mattress topper. With a mattress topper its perfect. I tuck the inside end of the fitted sheet around the mattress topper, so that solution killed two birds with one stone. Then again, one of my initial criteria in buying a sleeper sofa was that I didn't want to have to store a mattress topper for guests...

    The only other thing I'll mention is that you have to thoroughly clean the floor before you unfold it, because the seat of the sofa goes face down on the ground when it's unfolded out into sleeper position. We made the mistake of not vacuuming once and had to lint roll a whole lot of dust off our sofa seat cushion when we folded it back up.

    To end of a positive note, there is absolutely no issue where the two sections of the cushion meet. It's totally seamless and feels like a solid mattress. Overall, it's an amazing sofa. As a sofa bed, it's pretty good but not perfect. Looking over my roundup again though, I probably would pick the Gus Modern Flip again if I had to do it over. In our budget range, it had the least amount of functional issues. And at the end of the day, we use it as our primary couch 95% of the time, so couch comfort trumped bed comfort.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Thanks Alex, that was great info, I really appreciate it, one more question on the Gus flip sofa though, which fabric did you get and are you happy with the choice?

  5. Alex, sorry one last question, on the fitted sheet, did you try just wrapping one around the three edges of the mattress and stuffing the fourth edge into the space where the mattress meets the sofa? Just wondering if that's possible. Thanks again.

  6. Hi Dean. We opted for the Baldwin Mist-- extremely happy with that choice. It's soft enough to be comfortable for naps, but without feeling hot and sticky in summer (our key concern with the cashmere.) It's also proven to be extremely durable. Our puppy has trailed some nasty stuff onto the couch and it always cleans up with a mixture of vinegar diluted with water. We've actually managed to extract all stains with quick action, but if you didn't notice it until later, I think the subtle mottled nature of Baldwin would help hide stains.

    I had initially hoped the strategy of stuffing the fourth edge might work, but there's no crease or space in which to put it. The mattress flows seamlessly into the sofa back.

  7. Alex, Your roundup was very, very helpful. We have a small guest room that only gets used a few weeks a year and want to make it a playroom/guest room and have been looking for product like this.

    One feature we are looking for is the bed not being so low to the ground. Our parents are the primary guests and I have a hard time seeing my 76 year old (very healthy but 76) mother crouching down for a bed. I would be happy to give her my bed, but our room is one more floor up and the stairs are tough on her. I don't think it will get extended use as a sofa either. The kids will mostly be building legos and playing games (often on the floor) versus lounging or TV watching.

    I don't know if either Bludot a little higher (at 11 and 12 inches) than the Gus (no dimension but I would guess less than 10 inches.) There is one called the Flat Out that looks like the bed height is the same as the sofa seat (16 inches), which would be nice, but it has more of a futon look (which I don't love but would deal with for function.)

    I don't want to spend more than 2K on a queen/full if I don't have to.

    Do you have any thoughts?

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad you found it helpful!

      The Gus Modern flip is very low-- I'm not home at the moment, but I'd estimate around 8". It's not very 'older-parent-friendly' in our experience. It works, but isn't ideally comfortable for my boyfriend's parents and will get increasingly less convenient over the years.

      Ultimately, we decided on Gus because it's our living room and therefore our principal sofa. If I were shopping again for a secondary space like a playroom, I would go with the BluDot Diplomat (which is very comfy, just not super deep for full-family + dog lounging/movie watching) OR the new CB2 Tandom Sleeper, which wasn't on the market when were looking. I havent yet tested the Tandom in the showroom, but we thoroughly tested the Diplomat in both sofa and sleep positions and it was a close runner up. But it's sort of 'low slung, modern bed' height, so maybe the Tandom at 17" off the ground would be more parent-friendly?

      Good luck! Would love to know what you decide.

  8. Interesting that folks have liked the Gus sofa. We've had the opposite experience. We have the sofa in a spare room where it does not get a lot of use. While I liked the styling, within a month it was already starting to sag, twist and pill. It is uncomfortable for us to sit on and looks messy immediately after use. If the sofa were less expensive maybe this would be acceptable, but at $1,999 plus shipping - the quality is very low. On top of this, when I contacted Gus to let them know about the wear - they said it was normal. I'm actually very sorry to have purchased it and will need to replace it as soon as I can.

  9. Hi, Alex,

    Thank you for your review! You mentioned "CB2 Tandom Sleeper" on one of your reply. Did you have a chance to try it out? Between "BluDot One Night Stand Sleeper Sofa" & "CB2 Tandom Sleeper", which one do you recommend? Thank you! ~ Erick

  10. Hi Erick, Nope! I never got around to checking out the CB2 Tandem in person. Ended up going with the GusModern Flip sofa bed and called off the hunt. Good luck with your search!