Home Furnishing: Futons

Futons have been a fixture of college students’ dorm rooms and other urban living settings for decades. Futons are stylish, functional, and versatile; they can be integrated into nearly any setting. Futon beds are lightweight and simple, providing sleepers with a comfortable place to rest.

What most people don’t know is that futon beds originated in Japan. Futon is Japanese for ‘bedroll’ and traditional futons are thin, space saving mattresses that can be rolled out directly on to the floor for sleeping and then rolled up for storing during the day. Japanese people saw no need to have an elaborate bed with a frame and box spring and headboard. All that these early futons involved was the thin mattress, small pillows, and a blanket. To clean the mattress Japanese used ‘futon Tatami’, a special beater, made of bamboo. In the morning, the futon bed could be rolled up and put in a closet. Or, during the day, they can be used as an elegant sofa fixtures. At night, futons maybe used as bed.Over time, the concept of sleeping on futon beds spread to America.


Modern futons often have adjustable frames and can be used as either a couch or a bed, depending on how the frame is arranged. The frames are usually made of colored metal, but can be wooden as well. Futon beds do not needed to be folded out like couch beds, all the sleeper needs to do is push the back of the frame from the upright couch position to a horizontal bed position. These setups are comfortable in either the couch or bed position and are great for accommodating overnight guests.

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traditional Japanese futon

If you want to use your futon on the floor you need to roll it up to air it because the natural fillings absorb moisture during the night which is partly why futons are so comfortable – you won’t feel hot and sticky, especially in the summer. The layers of filling provide a firm, natural support along the length of your back with the added benefit of keeping you warm and cosy in the winter and cool and airy in the summer.


Fiji futon sofa bed, prox. $500

Current models of futon mattresses are thicker than the original Japanese models. They are often filled with wool, polyester, cotton, or soft man made fibers. They do not have the springs that conventional beds have. A normal mattress can become uncomfortable over time if the springs do not hold up well to pressure. This is not a problem with futons because most of them have no springs.


Pottery Barn’s PB Futon Sofa, $999.00

Futon beds have evolved greatly over time. From their simple beginnings as space saving Japanese beds to their modern multi use models, they are a great alternative to conventional beds.


modern futon sofa


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