Find a guest-ready fold-out lounge to suit your style, with plenty of comfort to provide a good night’s sleep.

The holidays are almost here, which means the nation’s house guests are on the move. Whether it’s an onslaught of family members for Christmas, extra bodies at the beach house or piles of kids for a sleepover, a sofa bed is a flexible furniture piece that can be called on whenever the need arises.

“Your home should reflect your lifestyle, so ask yourself how you’re going to use the space and this will determine which sofa bed is right for you,” says Rune Svendsen, IKEA home furnishing specialist. “We take the approach that every square metre in a home should be both useful and flexible.” Here’s our guide to comfort, style and the all-important flexibility, plus our picks for different styles and budgets.

1. comfort

It goes without saying that comfort is a key consideration, but make sure you’re thinking about it in both configurations – sofa and bed. If the sofa will be in frequent use as a lounge and only called on a few times a year for guests, then it makes sense to focus on seating comfort. If you’re anticipating lots of guests, and especially if they’re adults, make sure the bed is comfortable to sleep on. Yes, you probably need to lie on it in the store. Buying in store will also allow you to test the mechanism – it should be smooth and easy to operate.

2. style options

Sleeper sofas come in several styles, each with its own pros and cons. “Just like a bed, the size, mattress and mechanics are personal and you need to ensure that the functionality and style suit your individual needs,” advises Rune.

The simplest is a click-clack style, where the back of the seat folds back to create a flat bed. It’s a pretty basic form of sofa, often without arms, but very easy to use.

In stacked styles, the seat cushion itself unfolds to become the mattress. There’s no extra folding mechanism required, which keeps the weight down, but the seat can be fairly firm, and possibly less comfortable for sitting. Some modular sofas can simply be reconfigured, using long chaise and ottoman sections to form a large bed, jigsaw-puzzle style.

For the traditional fold-out styles, the metal folding mechanism, frame and a mattress (usually foam) is underneath the seat cushion, and you’ll need to lift and pull it out to set up the bed. On the plus side, it’s indistinguishable from a standard sofa, but it’s also likely to be significantly heavier and possibly more expensive.

3. size & flexibility

Even if you have a dedicated spare room, consider a sofa bed for the space so that the room can do double duty as a study or kids’ playroom when you don’t have guests. Conversely, think about adding a sleeper sofa to your study or playroom so that it can step up to filling in a spare room when required.

Another factor to consider is extra storage. “For small spaces, it’s worth considering a sofa bed with added storage, so you can store bedlinen and towels for guests in the same spot,” says Rune. “Daybeds are also a great alternative to a traditional sofa bed, and may also include drawers beneath.”

Sofa beds are available in sizes from single to king, depending on the style. Make sure you measure the space where the sofa bed
will go, and remember to measure out the fully-extended size. Try to leave at least 60cm clearance at the end and sides of the bed so your guests can easily navigate the space.

4. short on space? consider an ottoman!

Add extra comfort to your living area or spare room, with the bonus of a fold-out bed. By day, you can put your feet up, seat guests and store books, magazines and remotes. By night, those same guests can stay the night in comfort. Easy!

Above: ‘Sleepover’ ottoman, $699, Freedom. ‘Sonja’ ottoman folding bed, $899, Brosa.