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  • Keith Cobb

Space-Saving Beds Compared

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

Want to save space and have a great sleep? There are many options for space-saving beds. They fall into two main categories: those that minimize the space that they use, and those that combine two or more functions in the same space. All of them save space since they utilize space more efficiently. Let’s take a look at all these options and see how they might answer your need. We present them in alphabetical order:

​1. Bunk beds stack two or three beds one on top of the other to provide extra sleeping spaces in the same floor space, with the upper bed(s) accessible by a ladder of some sorts. Bunk beds are often used in kid’s rooms, especially in families with lots of children, and are also used in hostels, summer camps, student residential areas, and in military dorms. Many bunk beds are also designed so that they can be separated into two single beds. Since they generally take a standard twin mattress, they are generally quite comfortable. The kids get to fight over gets the top bunk!

2. Day beds are a multi-functional in that that can serve as a single bed or as a couch for sitting and reclining. Since they take standard twin mattresses, they can be very comfortable for sleeping and or lounging, but might not be so comfortable for upright sitting. The reason for this is that since a standard twin mattress is 39” wide, one cannot sit with the back erect and supported properly and at the same time have one’s legs comfortably hang over the edge, even with big stuffed cushions along the back. If sleeping and lounging are more important than sitting upright, the day bed is definitely the preferred choice over a sofa bed.

3. Desk beds combine both a desk and a bed into one piece of furniture, transforming from one function into the other with a minimum of effort. There are many variations of this kind of space saving bed. Some simply attach a desk to the bottom of a Murphy bed that can be rotated up and supported by hinged legs when the bed is stored. While this provides desk space that can be stored away when not needed, the desk must be cleared off every time one wants to use the bed, thus limiting its utility and convenience. Other desk beds have a nifty arrangement that stores the desk on the floor underneath the bed when the bed is in use. Of this type, the Hiddenbed is the most versatile and convenient. It has an ample desk that always remains flat with ample clearance for computer equipment, none of which needs to be removed when the bed is brought out for use. When transitioning between desk and bed, which only takes seconds, the desk simple glides down to the floor beneath the bed. The bed, when the desk is brought into use, stores either vertically or horizontally in its cabinet along the wall, and can be configured for a broad range of mattress sizes from twin to queen and up to 14” thick.

4. Fold-away beds have a hinged frame that allows the mattress and bedding to be folded up and stored in a small cabinet along the wall or rolled on a wheeled frame into a closet or other storage space. The roll away beds tend to be very inexpensive and have cheap, not so comfortable mattresses. Those that fold up into a cabinet along the wall are generally more expensive and aesthetically pleasing with better mattresses and nice looking cabinetry.

5. Futon beds are the traditional form of Japanese bedding, which includes a cotton-filled mattress, a comforter, and a pillow. While in Japan, futons are generally used on the floor and then folded and stored in a cabinet, in America, we generally think of a futon as a sofa that doubles as a guest bed. Hence, it can also be considered to be a space-saving bed. The futon frame, which is actually an American invention, looks somewhat like the framework for a couch, although its angles are quite different. The futon mattress is generally made up of compressed layers of material, such as organic cotton, wool, and latex, and is generally on the firm side of the mattress spectrum. Futons are great for lounging and generally provide a good sleep for those who like a firm mattress, but are not so comfortable for upright sitting, for the same reasons as with a day bed.

6. Loft beds free up floor space by raising the bed above head height, and thus providing useable space beneath the bed. Loft beds can be free standing as is often seen with children's beds that provide a study or play space below the bed, or an actual loft built into the building. While these save ground-floor space, they may not be suitable for older persons and those with disabilities or other physical limitations. Loft beds generally do not use box springs, but mattresses or futons. Though they have some limitations, they can be a great way to save space in small dwellings such as micro-homes and children's rooms.

7. Murphy beds store vertically in their own cabinet along the wall. They are often used in guest bedrooms and studio apartments to store the bed out of the way when it is not in use. Modern Murphy beds use strong metal springs or gas struts to balance the beds and make it easy to lift and store the bed into its cabinet. These can range greatly in price from inexpensive do-it-yourself kits costing a few hundred dollars to elaborate beds costing well over $5000. An interesting variation on the Murphy bed is the Zoom Bed, a German made remote controlled bed that uses an electric motor to snake the flexible hinged frame and mattress into a vertical cabinet along the wall.

8. Sofa beds, also known as hide-a-beds, are basically couches which have a fold-up full-size bed stored under the seat cushions. Although they are multi-functional in that they can be used for sleeping, lounging, reclining, and sitting, they are generally intended for only occasional sleeping, since with their thin mattresses and metal support structure, they are much less comfortable than a bed with a standard mattress. Their versatility makes them useful for small apartments and studios. They are commonly used in living rooms, family rooms, and other common rooms, but not in bedrooms.

9. Storage beds combine sleeping space with storage space, usually providing drawers or other concealed storage beneath, above, and/or to the sides of the bed. Some models even have a hinged frame that allows the entire bed to be rotated up to provide access to its hidden storage underneath. Storage beds can use standard mattresses and be very comfortable as well as providing extra storage space.

10. Trundle beds achieve their economy of floor space by storing one bed, on a roll out frame, under the other bed. This space-saving design makes an extra bed available when needed, without taking up precious floor space when it is not needed. Trundle beds, because one stores beneath the other, are on different levels. Additionally, they generally have thinner mattresses than standard beds and do not use box springs. Because of these factors, they may not be as comfortable as standard beds.

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