A futon is a Japanese sleep solution with some American values right at its heart. The multi-functionalism of most futons, that are both a place to sit and a place to sleep, has seen them grow in popularity since the space-saving 1950s.
Nowadays, the definition of a futon allows for lots of various options, from simple rug-style futons to sturdily constructed couch-beds – the key to their existence as futons, rather than sleepers usually being a lack of mechanization. There are no magic levers in a futon, you just transform the function of them by hand.
So, if you’re looking for the best futon, what exactly are you looking for?
That will depend on the factors that are important to you. Comfortable sitting? Comfortable sleeping? Ease of transformation? Space saving? Fitting in with the existing aesthetic of your room?
The more questions you ask, the bigger your pool of potential futon fun grows, until it becomes too much to cope with, parade of sleep-couches marching past your eyes like the weirdest pageant you ever attended.
What you need is someone to cut the choices down for you, weed out the non-starters and the also-rans, and give you a handful of the very best to choose from.
You’re welcome. We’ve tested out the market, and found the five best futons your money can buy.
In a hurry? Here’s our first pick.
OUR TOP PICK
We know. We’re a little shocked ourselves that what is essentially a pair of bunk beds should come out of our sifting process so strongly.
The point about the DHP over-futon is that it combines a somewhat fierce and futuristic styling with a very clean and functional aesthetic. There’s something of the porch swing about the DHP Over-Futon, with its standard couch-futon down below, set in a metal frame that looks as though it’s just crying out for some bookcases or shelves attached either side to let it merge effortlessly into the background of your room.
Then, along the top, where you might expect another storage shelf for books or media, there’s space for a twin mattress on top, so that users – and let’s face facts, in the case of the Over-Futon’s top bunk, we’re probably talking about kids – can have an elevated sleeping zone.
How would this possibly be a useful piece of furniture to own?
Sleepovers seem key to getting the most out of the Over-Futon. If you have limited bedroom space, and your kid needs a place to sleep on the weekends when you see them, the over-futon allows you to make bedtime fun, because climbing and elevation always seem to spark a kid’s imagination. But you can be there on the lower ‘bunk’ – to share time, to share space, and to be there if you’re needed in the night.
Alternatively, for sleepovers of your kids’ BFFs, this is a fun unit to have too, giving them chat-space without having the friend forced to make a pillow fort on the floor.
There are two ladders up to the top bunk, one on either side, though it’s up to you whether you leave both ladders accessible, or whether you slip the Over-Futon into a room-design that blocks one pathway off.
The top-side futon takes a twin mattress, but the guard rail is such that anything more luxurious than a 6-inch mattress begins to run the risk of the elevated sleeper rolling over and plunging to their not-exactly doom, but certainly to their bruising.
The Over-Futon’s metal tubular construction means it’s pretty much a self-construction job, and you may well need an extra pair of hands to make the work go faster and easier. What’s more, you’ll need to buy both the main, lower-bunk mattress and the upper bunk mattress separately, so there’s an inherent increase in the cost before you lay you down to sleep.
But the impressive functionality of the Over-Futon, and the fact that it’s available in five shades, from stark black to pink or blue, allowing it to match with a range of rooms, puts the DHP Over-Futon right at the top of our list of potentially best futons in the current market.
- Double bunk functionality means it’s two futons for the price of one
- This is a highly effective option for bedroom-restricted living spaces
- Two ladders make for a fun choice when getting into the top bunk
- It’s available in a range of room-fitting color options
- You have to construct the whole futon from scratch
- No mattresses are included, meaning additional cost
We didn’t expect a double bill from DHP at the top of our list, either, but then the Emily came along to dazzle us into compliance.
Compared to the hardcore construction job of the Over-Futon, the Emily is a much more down-to-earth building project. It also has a much lower profile – nothing about the Emily in its couch configuration screams “Sleep here,” its button-tufted design speaking more of a classic, elegant couch design.
But the Emily has a simple secret in its split back, that allows it to transform easily from couch to bed without ever losing that sense of elegance.
The chrome legs are a strong visual feature that help with the semi-disguise the Emily wears in its couch configuration. In fact, it has that look that would see it at home everywhere from a high-end dentist’s waiting room to the medium-sized living room of an eligible bachelor around town.
There’s something altogether proper about the look of the Emily when it’s being a couch, with some vaguely French design cues that give it that touch of above-ordinary elegance.
But with a slide of the back, it’s easy to repurpose as a bed for visiting guests, or even for use as the main bed in the house or apartment, depending on space restrictions.
The cushions supplied made for a firm but springy mattress, and the velvet covering is both soft and warming.
If you’re going to use it as a bed, an under-sheet will help protect the cover of the futon, but it's also reasonably easy to clean after use as a bed, should you feel the need.
And if the firmness is not to your – or your guest’s – liking, a simple mattress topper can turn the firm Emily into the soft Emily with no extra hassle.
While the mattress topped would be an additional expense, it might be worth it if you intend to regularly slide the back down and get nocturnal with the Emily futon, but the joy is that beyond the expense, that’s a hassle-free option to make the Emily ready for anyone.
- The Emily is easy to put together, certainly in comparison to some other futons on our list
- With its button-tufting and chrome legs, the Emily adds a degree of elegance to your living room
- It converts easily into a bed, and has a firm mattress feeling which many people love
- It can be too firm for some people, meaning you may need to spend extra cash on a mattress topper if you use it regularly as a bed
If you like the dramatic looks of the Emily, but are on a tighter budget and also kind of want a slightly more chilled-out and less severe vibe than the Emily’s elegance provides, you’re probably looking for the Serta Rane.
With a modernistic look that doesn’t shout quite so loud about its chic credentials, you still get a couch with some clean lines here, and it’s available in a range of colors to match your room’s décor.
Less Parisian Dentist, more space-age comfort, the Serta Rane is covered in soft polyester, which makes cleaning a breeze, with just a vacuum and a soft brush. It has a shorter back section than the Emily too, so you get less of a feeling of sitting to attention.
That said, it’s also worth noting that while the Serta Rane is easy – even eager – to fold down into a bed, it only has the one fold-down position, so what you see is what you get here.
But when what you see is an effective, comfortable futon with high-density foam in its cushions for a supported seating option and a comfortable sleep, you can afford to take that for all it’s worth.
Beware if you’re on the taller side, though – it’s fine for people up to around 5’ 6’’, but if you’re over 6-feet, you might find your legs are left dangling off the edge of the Serta Rane.
- This is a futon that’s a remarkably easy build – you simply have to screw the legs on to the otherwise constructed frame, so for those who are Ikea-challenged, this is a great option
- It slides easily from a couch to a fully reclined sleeping position
- Its cushions are made of high-density foam, so they’re both supportive and comfortable
- It’s covered in polyester, which makes for a soft surface, but also one that’s easy to keep clean
- It’s remarkably low to the ground when in sofa mode, which can be disconcerting
- It’s potentially uncomfortable for taller users
The Maxyoyo futon is a more authentic Japanese experience, being simply the mattress pad that first developed the idea of having an extra ‘bed’ available at the unrolling of a bundle.
Distinctly a futon for those who embrace the Japanese tradition of sleeping very low to the ground, there’s absolutely no construction involved here, but you do run the risk of potential aches and pains if you’re not versed in the use of such simple bed technology.
That said, there’s some generously plush quilting in the Maxyoyo that should prevent your feeling like you’ve just laid a sleeping bag on the floor.
That’s especially true when you realise the Maxyoyo is actually a memory foam mattress-style futon, so it’s a combination of traditional design and ultra-modern materials.
If you don’t yet have the courage to go traditional old-school, you can also use the Maxyoyo as your mattress topped on a sofa bed futon, and especially if you’re less than keen on things like air mattresses, it can be a great, easy alternative.
At just 4 inches in thickness, the Maxyoyo gives a surprising level of plushness and comfort, but again, it’s one you’ll have to get used to if you’re used to thicker mattresses or sleeping higher off the ground.
It’s also reasonably easy to roll up and store between uses, making it highly space-efficient compared to sofa bed futons, which tend to be relatively permanent, space-eating fixtures.
- Using memory foam, the Maxyoyo futon gives you a lot more comfort than you’d imagine was possible in a 4-inch mattress
- It can be used either alone or as a mattress topper for a sofa bed futon to add a layer of comfort and luxury
- It’s a great space-saver compared to a standard sofa bed futon
- If used on the floor, it takes some getting used to, especially when you get up
The Novogratz Tallulah is a combination that will appeal to fans of the Emily who want a more modern feel. Inspired by mid-century furniture fashions, it has a light green upholstery for a stylish look.
But it comes filled with memory foam for a very 21st century level of comfort.
With a simple two-stage recline, the Tallulah is an easy-slide futon that folds all the way flat for use as a bed, but the memory foam gives you all the support and comfort of some more expensive full beds.
As a bonus, the Tallulah acts as an antidote to the likes of the Serta Rane, being a comfortable fit for taller and heavier sleepers. People over 6-feet tall, and people weighing in at up to 360 pounds can each get a comfortable night’s sleep on the unfolded Tallulah, so you get a combination that gives you mid-century style, 21st century comfort, and an all-inclusive feel that can accommodate any guests who happen to drop by in need of a place to crash.
Available in six color variants to match both your décor and your personal sense of style, the Tallulah is a statement couch with more than a few 21st-century comfort secrets stashed up its sleeves.
- The Tallulah brings a touch of mid-century charm to your room
- It’s available in six color variants to match – and highlight – any room you put it in
- It has a simple slide-down to a flat bed
- The memory foam here is a touch of 21st century luxury and comfort
- The Tallulah can comfortably sleep people over 6 feet in height, and up to 350 pounds
- The mid-century style can feel overly formal for some rooms
- The price of the Tallulah can be off-putting
Best Futon Buyer’s Guide
When you’re buying a futon, the “best” futon you can get will depend on a handful of factors that narrow the market down to a simple choice for you. With that in mind, it’s worth taking a few things into account before you click the “Buy” button.
This sounds obvious, but if your futon isn’t comfortable for you, you’re never going to enjoy either sitting or sleeping on it.
If you’re not comfortable lying just inches off the floor, for instance, the traditional Japanese-style roll-out futon is never going to be your best buy. If you’re tall, don’t order a futon that’s too short to let you lie on it in comfort. If you can get a futon using memory foam, you stand a better chance of achieving comfort than you do if you use standard high-density foam.
Take all these things into consideration before you buy.
Ideally, once you’re sure that your futon is comfortable, get one that matches the décor of the room in which you intend to put it. That’s just to give a harmonious feel to the room, while taking advantage of futon living.
Ease of Construction
Know yourself. Know whether or not you can successfully put together a complex, tall structure like a double futon, or whether your life gets better immediately if all you have to do is screw on some legs to a pre-constructed futon. Futon living is all about simplicity, cleverness and comfort. Know yourself enough to choose the option that best embodies those values for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Material For a Futon?
Memory foam is the best way to go with a futon, because it has been designed to mould and conform to your body shape and to the pressure of your sitting or sleeping on it.
Is it OK to Sleep On a Futon Every Night?
It should be fine, as long as you’re getting the requisite support and comfort out of your futon. It’s designed to be sat and slept on, so it should give you no trouble. If you have particular back issues or persistent pain, you might think about investing in a mattress that can support you more specifically, but for most general users, a futon is just fine.
How Thick Should a Futon Mattress be?
That depends on how you’re using it.
If you’re going full-on Japanese-style, then something like the 4-inch memory foam Maxyoyo is more than adequate – albeit it might be freaky to begin with, waking up so close to the ground. In sofa bed style futons, you’re ideally looking for a 6-inch mattress to give you sufficient support for a comfortable night’s sleep.