The Impossible Sofa Bed

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About: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I happen to need at the time. Lipstick, a mixing studio, all-p...

Why is this sofa impossible? Because it can't be found. I had 5'6" of space available, but I wanted a sofa bed which could sleep two adults. For less than $1000. I also wanted a good looking piece of furniture, AND I wanted the bed to be comfortable. I like my friends. The paper thin mattresses and steel bars found in most sofa beds are designed to make anybody flee after one painful night. A comfortable, cheap, small sofa bed which sleeps two simply does not exist on the market -- so I designed and built this one. It is 64" wide, 31" deep, yet the bed is a standard full size, comfortable for two, and the whole thing cost me about $600.

I built it mostly with materials I had on hand: one sheet of plyboo left over from another project, some casters I'd pulled off a piece of discarded furniture on the street, an old desk I didn't need anymore, and curtains from my husband's old mixing studio (you can read about the construction of his new studio here). Pretty much the only expense was the foam, which had to be cut according to very specific specs. 

This is one solid sofa. I built it in 2008 and it still looks great, despite the fact that two young boys regularly jump, read and wrestle on it. 


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    22 Discussions

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    EmptyChild

    3 months ago

    Love it. Lower the arms a bit, put a flat board on top. (8 to 10 inches deep?) and they will double as nightstands. I'm also thinking, send the link to Anna White, and she could reverse engineer it.

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    belseyEmptyChild

    Reply 5 weeks ago

    Why reverse engineer? I already engineered it! Unless the goal is to just publish plans of my design without giving me credit or royalties, which wouldn't be particularly cool...

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    Rexanvil76

    2 years ago

    Check out this awesome Instructable. on a similar day bed
    https://www.instructables.com/id/Daybed

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    Rexanvil76Rexanvil76

    Reply 2 years ago

    same here I have to build 4 for 3 kids and the living room lol but I wouldn't trade it for the world I love being a dad and my boys 6 and almost 7 are helping me

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    grannyjones

    3 years ago

    So, my guess is if you create an actual Instructable, it will be for sale somewhere? Even that would be a good thing; but we were hoping to find it here. :(

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    Rexanvil76grannyjones

    Reply 2 years ago

    Check out this awesome Instructable.


    https://www.instructables.com/id/Daybed

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    belseygrannyjones

    Reply 3 years ago

    Sorry... I wish it were for sale somewhere! I made this before I was active on Instrutables, so I didn't document the build properly and couldn't publish real instructions without a ton of work and reverse engineering. Sadly, I'm not able to pursue all the the ideas I come up with, but I hope this will inspire you nonetheless!

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    shazni

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Please may I know what thickness of plywood you used?1/2" or 3/4"? I would like to make a bed like this for 3 of my kids to sleep on...perhaps a bit of modification on the size :-)

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    belseyshazni

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    3/4" -- but I wouldn't recommend this design for a bed which needs to be opened and closed every day: you can't fold it up with all the sheets and bedding in place, so you have to undo and re-make the bed completely every time. This gets old pretty quickly. The bed is best for occasional use or one night visits.

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    shaznibelsey

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! hmm that's what I thought...I was wondering now if it's possible to a high sofa and under a twin bed with wheels and under that a trundle. like nesting chairs... I have 3 kids and very little space!! Too challenging??? or impossible? :-)

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    belseyshazni

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Nothing's impossible! It just takes time and effort, which, come to think of it, is kind of impossible with 3 kids running around.... Good luck with your project!

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    belseywbond1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry, I don't -- instructables like that take a huge amount of time, of which I have very little, plus I didn't take photos as I was making it. Maybe at some point I'll give it a shot. If you subscribe to me you'll be notified if I do.

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    belsey

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Feel free to send me a Private Message on this site with your question...

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    im3733

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for posting this. My wife and I have been looking for something similar, as the futon we currently have as a couch is as uncomfortable to sit on as it is to sleep on. I'm going to look into building this, though I'll probably make it the full width of a 3-seat couch and only use 2 cushions, as there wouldn't really be a need for a third in that case.

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    maguisol

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I don't quite understand where you keep the third foam piece. Do you keep it in another place or is it part of the sofa?

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    belseymaguisol

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It's part of the sofa -- it's under the bottom piece (with the single gold strip).

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    maguisolbelsey

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you Belsey ... let's see . So you have two foam pieces, one over the other one , as a seat ? Is the one without stripes under the one with one strip? I love your design. Do you use some kind of hardware between both wooden plies? It seems to me there are some rails.

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    belseymaguisol

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, exactly. The piece without a strip is not visible in the sitting position. There is just a guiding rail between the wooden plies -- but this was the one and only prototype, and if I were to rebuild this I'd try to make it a bit differently, because it's hard to pull it out perfectly straight. I'd probably try to find a very long drawer pull of some sort and mount it on the side... This is why it's not an instructable (besides the huge amount of work involved). The prototype is finished and functional, but the design is only 95% there... If someone ever paid me to build one then I'd sort it out, otherwise I can't find the time...