You may be familiar with the Convert-A-Couch collection from Handy Living that turned the world of sleeper sofas upside down. These ultra popular sofas are actually futons due to their removable mattress and hinged operation. Recently featured as a Best Buy from Consumer’s Digest Magazine, the convert-a-couch has been a favorite at Futon Magazine. While we strive to be as neutral as possible in all of our articles, we simply can’t come up with much to say against the quality and comfort of a Convert-A-Couch. The new Siesta line promises to deliver the same comfort in new styles.
Siesta Convert-A-Couch Collection
The Siesta Convert-A-Couch collection by Handy Living features 5 innovative “sofas” that lay down to a comfy full size bed. The first of these futons in disguise that caught our eye was the sleek Cancun Convert-A-Couch. The Cancun features slim, sleek, contemporary lines and an attractive over-scaled cushion design. The Cabo Convert-A-Couch offers a similar style with a more modern tufted cushion design. If you crave something a bit more transitional, the Baja Convert-A-Couch adds a slight sleigh curvature to the arms that contrasts the busy cushion tufting.
Looking for something even more traditional, the La Paz offers large scale cushions and classic curved arms while the Madrid ads fluffy, comfy, pillow-top armrests. This is good news for those of you who enjoyed the now-discontinued Fusion and Melody Convert-A-Couches (the Jazz Convert-A-Couch is also discontinued, if you’re keeping score).
It’s very noticeable that the original Convert-A-Couch has been phased out of production, save a few models. It’s only speculation on our part, but we’re willing to bet it has to do with the popular response and loads of feedback, positive and negative, that Handy Living has received for its original designs. It has been said that many of these changes will address shipping size and packaging, as these generally ship in oversize boxes that rarely see care from shipping companies.
How does a Convert-A-Couch Work?
Convert-A-Couches use a premium innerspring mattress that is split between two cover sections. This split is difficult to notice when used as a bed, so we wouldn’t lose sleep over it. The conversion process is simple to do and gravity assisted. To lay it down as a bed, simply lift the front cushion section to lay down the back and unlock the hinge, allowing it to lay flat. To put it back up, simply perform the same motion again to re-engage the hinge. A “handy” space below the convert-a-couch allows for the storage of seldom-used items, or seasonal decor. We personally think its a good home for your sprawling DVD collection.
Beyond the basic utility, the Convert-A-Couch offers you a soft sitting and sleeping experience that rivals high end mattresses. At a price that equals what you’d pay for a mid-grade futon and frame, the Convert-A-Couch is a great occasional sleep solution for houses across the country.
Simmons futon mattresses are one of the few nationally recognized mattress brands that specializes in futons. If you’re in the market for a Simmons futon mattress or just a futon mattress in general, this guide can help you make an informed purchasing decision.
Simmons Futon Mattress Licensing
The Simmons brand futon mattress is typically a futon made by a private label company under a license from Simmons to print their label on their mattresses. This isn’t to say that the mattresses are “fake” or “phony”. Many of the products you use every day, from cell phones to carbonated soft drinks, are distributed on similar licenses. What you do need to realize are two key factors in this equation: cost and quality.
Futon mattress manufacturers selected to carry high-end labels like the Simmons futon mattress brand have been thoroughly inspected by Simmons to meet their criteria for quality, efficiency, and capability. The manufacturer has proven that they have the precision machinery and skilled workers needed to craft a high quality futon mattress. They have also demonstrated their access to high quality raw materials at discounted rates due to their buying power and market presence. In addition, the manufacturer in question must have implemented a top notch quality control process and an efficient production cycle to keep costs down. Big name brands like Simmons futon mattress are careful when selecting manufacturers, as the consumer will associate the quality of the final product with the Simmons brand.
On the other side of the coin, you must understand that a portion of the final product price is passed from the retailer to the manufacturer, and another portion is passed from the manufacturer to the licensor. This roughly translates to a higher overall cost. This is justified by the exceptional quality you will receive when ordering a thoroughly refined product, specifically a complete Simmons futon set.
Simmons Futon Sets
One thing to know about Simmons Futon Sets: they look exactly the same as advertised, if not better. I’m sure that you’ve had an experience, perhaps with a tasty hamburger from a fast food restaurant, where the final product looked nothing like the picture your ordered from. It’s become so commonplace in marketing that we’ve begun to accept and expect to be presented with a picture that grossly exaggerates the products quality. Many futon sets you order online look nothing like the pictured item, usually because the picture includes a mattress that is over twice as thick as the futon “pad” you will receive, and is wrapped in a futon cover that could easily cost 8 times the value of the cover that is included in the futon package. Not so with Simmons futon sets.
Simmons futon sets include thick wood frame that is heavy by futon standards. The operation is smooth and many of the frames have features not found on any other futon frame, such as magnetic latches for storage bins and fold-away side trays. The included futon mattresses are supportive, offering a comfortable sleep that rivals many traditional mattresses. The mattress casing is tufted to fit the futon snugly; the casing will never sag or wrinkle like a poorly sized futon cover. The mattress looks more like upholstered furniture than anything else. Simmons futon sets include everything pictured, even the coordinating pillows! While definitely pricey (expect to pay over $800 for a full size) Simmons futon sets are the easiest way to get that “magazine home” look.
Simmons Futon Mattresses to Avoid
Switching gears, it’s important that we talk about the lower end Simmons mattresses. Remember that a low end mattress that is built to be economical is sold at very little markup, and you will inevitably get what you pay for. Because of the licensing cost, it is important to consider what percent of your purchase is invested in materials.
Let’s pretend that licensing the Simmons brand to your futon mattresses costs $20 per mattress. In an $800 futon set, this equates to 97% of your money being applied to building a great futon mattress and frame, and only 3% going to Simmons for the licensing and the name. However, when buying an entry-level Simmons futon mattress for $199, you’re essentially buying a $179 mattress for more money. Considering how much of that money goes to shipping the materials from overseas, labor costs, and shipping the mattress to you, the final product may not be much more than a thin pad with a Simmons label attached. In this particular instance, you might be better served buying a generic brand mattress, or manufacturer direct.
We caught up with Brian Donohoo of Strata Furniture to get his take on the futon industry and maybe spill the beans on Strata’s next futon frame. Donohoo is the Director of Operations and part Owner of Strata Furniture. Donohoo is also a current Board Member and previous President of the Futon Association. With over 7 years of experience in the manufacturing and importing of futon furniture, Donohoo has a wealth of experience in the futon industry. He spent a few minutes with us to share his opinions on the state of the industry as well as the continuing growth of Strata Furniture.
FM:Thank you again for taking the time from your busy schedule to participate in this interview.
Donohoo: Your welcome, thank you for the opportunity.
FM: How did Strata Furniture get its start? How long have you been with the company?
Donohoo: Strata furniture started in 2000 after one of the owners bought a patent out of Tiltchair, Inc. I started helping them with their accounting until 2001 when I became their day to day manager.
FM: Talk to us about the history of the wall hugger. When did this futon really soar in demand?
Donohoo: The wall hugger mechanism was very well received in our Signature Collection. It has really been in great demand since we introduced our Carriage Collection and especially the Dillon Futon Frame.
FM: What separates the Strata wall hugging mechanism from your competitors?
Donohoo: I don’t think the average consumer realized until the past few years that on other futon frames you have to lift a heavy frame and mattress away from the wall and then convert it. Also, we sell very well in cities where real estate is at a premium and people need furniture that fits in tighter spaces but still has the features they’re looking for. The element of space saver and great design has really launched our frames.
FM: What kind of success is Strata seeing in the current economic climate? What effect do you think the relatively higher price of a Strata frame has on overall sales?
Donohoo: We have not felt a downturn in the latest economy. I also think people now understand that you get what you pay for. We went through a period of a few years where all consumers wanted was the cheapest futon frame. However, after buying the cheapest they realized they didn’t get the quality or style they wanted. If you look at the amount of extra wood we use to ensure quality and design, the extra $40-$50 retail is well worth it.
FM: Have you seen a slowdown in overall sales this year?
Donohoo: We have not seen a downturn in sales this year. In fact we have grown every year since we started and this year is no exception. We have a unique product that has been very well received.
FM: Have you made any changes or started any new projects to help move products more aggressively?
Donohoo: We are always looking at new products and should be introducing several in the next 6 months.
FM: Knock-off designs are common throughout the furniture industry. What is Strata doing to maintain control over its unique styles?
Donohoo: We patent our designs plus our mechanism makes it harder to copy. I think with all the talented companies and individuals out there it is a shame for any company to knock off another company’s designs.
FM: How have low cost futons and loss-leaders from big-box chains affected your business?
Donohoo: I think they have given a bad name for the product and category in general. It doesn’t help our category if someone buys a frame that breaks or a mattress that is so thin it is like a piece of plywood.
FM: What do you think is a viable solution to counterpoint these products?
Donohoo:What it has done is made the specialty shops focus on quality and design and I think that the stores that have done that are doing well. They can sell higher quality products with larger margins and less headache.
FM: What kind of issues or growing pains have you gone through over the years?
Donohoo: Manufacturing and warehousing is always on the top of our list. It’s critical to find a great manufacturing plant and work very closely with them.
FM: Where do you see the greatest growth potential for Strata Furniture?
Donohoo: Our company has really grown in the past few years. I think we have become well known in the futon industry for a company that produces great products and has excellent customer service. People want to buy from someone that stands behind their product and that is what we do.
FM: Which of your products are you the most proud of and which sells the best?
Donohoo:I am really proud of our Carriage Line of frames especially the three new designs, the Fremont, Plantation and Denali, as they have hit the market and sold extremely well. Our best seller is the Dillon, partially because it’s great in a variety of spaces.
FM: Did you know that these products would be so successful prior to launch?
Donohoo: You never really know what will sell until it hits the market, but we run designs by industry professionals and we have a great design consultant we use who tells us what she thinks will sell and what wont. In the end though you just have to believe in the design and see what the public thinks.
FM: What advice would you give to aspiring furniture suppliers trying to grow in this economy?
Donohoo: It is much tougher than you think. With overseas factories everything takes longer and is more complicated. You really have to watch sales trends and try to predict what the public wants in 6-9 months. That is very hard to do. I think you also have to really define what your market will be and what you can offer different from what is already out there.
FM: Thanks again, Brian Donohoo, for taking the time to interview with us. We really appreciate it and we are sure our readers will too!
Donohoo: Your welcome.
Finding futon information can be easy when you know where to look. Many futon websites provide excellent detailed information about futon furniture products that will help you get well on your way to becoming a futon expert. Before we recommend a list futon resources where you can find helpful futon information, let’s make sure we understand the basics first.
Basic Futon Information
The first thing to understand about futons is that the term “futon” is often generalized to mean the basic three parts of a futon sofa:
- Futon Frame - This is the foundation of the futon sofa made of wood or metal
- Futon Mattress Pad - The pad that folds as a sofa cushion and can lie flat when needed to serve as a bed mattress
- Futon Slip Cover - The decorative and protective covering that can be removed and replaced when needed
Because the word “futon” originally described the mattress portion only (before the futon was “Americanized”), the futon mattress pad itself is still often referred to as a “futon” as well. Just be aware of that both terms mean futon as this can prove helpful when discussion futon information in general.
Functions of the Modern Futon
The primary use of a futon is a substitution for the traditional sofa sleeper. While the this type of sofa bed is still quite popular, the futon sofa has gained massive market share over the years since it was first introduced to the United States. Like the traditional sofa bed, a futon can serve as a second bed for guests, a primary bed for small spaces like studios and dorm rooms, and can always gives the user the option for use as a place to sit when converted to the sofa position.
Which is Better? Futon vs Sleeper Sofa
Many in the futon industry will point out that a good quality futon sofa bed will generally be of better quality and higher comfort level than a sofa bed of equal price. This generalization may go only so far, however, as futons in the $2000 range might have very comparable sofa sleeper counterparts. As a general rule, however, consumers are urged to test sofa bed while in the bed position for comfort, especially at prices below a thousand dollars. For that matter, if you are going to spend more than a thousand dollars, you are even more wise to test for comfort before you buy.
The winning point, however, might be the consumers’ experience with traditional sofa beds. Often consumers complain of experiencing sagging mattresses of older and/or lower quality traditional sofa sleepers. With this type of unit, a guest will often complain about the “bar-in-the-back” experience, which occurs when the mattress sags so far that the sleeper actually rests on a metal support bar beneath the cushion.
Futon Dealers Offer Better Product Information
Negative experiences are sure to be had when people buy the cheaper “big-box” futon sofa products sold by major low and medium priced department stores, however. The old saying of you get what you paid can certainly apply to futon sofas as well. Owners of cheap quality futon sofas likely wish they had better futon information before they bought. These futon owners are generally the unhappy futon owners. Don’t buy cheap if possible.
To help avoid this experience seek out futon dealers who specialize in futons. These companies will offer the best information about futons to help you make a sound judgment come purchase time. In contrast, when a salesperson cannot talk in specifics about a given futon product it might be considered that the salesperson does not have full command of the product and lacks the knowledge to help you make a sound decision. Look elsewhere for help and make sure your dealer has solid, believable futon information.
Finally, be prepared to ask a lot of questions, especially if you are shopping on the Internet. Those who ask the most questions generally have the most favorable futon experiences in the end. Getting more information about the futon you are considering will easily make your investment that much more worth while. Best of luck!
Futon Informational Resources
Go to the Futon Association for general futon information. The Futon Association offers non-biased futon dealer information to help you find a dealer in your area or a reputable futon dealer online. For more information and resources, review our Helpful Futon Resources listing where you can discover other important resources with futon information.
Futon Dealers to Consider
Futons Etc Factory Outlet has an excellent blog which is filled with useful futon information. There “futon news” section provides all kinds of tips as well as relatively neutral sounding articles about products they sell. As always, take product reviews with a grain of salt when reading blogs from companies that sell the products under review. Still, Futons Etc Factory Outlet seems to do a respectable job of “sticking to the news” so to speak.
Another interesting stop is CSN Futons Advice Central. While this area of their website seems to promote the sale of their products more than might be palatable for some, it still offers a very usable guide to purchasing a futon and offers decent entry level information.
Possibly the best retail resource of futon information on the web comes from Futon Planet. This company prides itself on acting as the chief futon expert company around. While their ego may be loud, there is definitely no question that their site is jam packed with …
One of the least understood concepts facing new futon owners is the operation of their futon frame. While there is no standardized mechanism, you will find that each manufacturer follows a similar set of guidelines. Futon frames can be sorted into five major catagories:
- Metal hinge futons
- Click clack futons
- Standard wood futons
- Front loading wood futons
- Wall hugging wood futons
In this article, we will focus on metal hinge futon frames and their operation.
Metal Hinged Futon Frames
Metal hinged futon frames are among the most common futons on the market. They are generally the only futon frames you can find in the big box stores. These frames tend to be very inexpensive and thusly easy to sell. The hinge, sometimes mistakenly called a click-clack hinge, usually has little to no warranty, and is prone to failure.
Metal Hinged Futon Operation Instructions
To convert your metal futon from sofa to bed:
- Lift up on the front of the seat deck until the back deck is laying completely horizontal.
- You will now be able to pull the seat deck down into a flat position.
To convert your metal futon from bed to sofa:
- Lift up on the front of the seat deck until the seat deck locks.
- Gently push the seat deck back down. Gravity should be doing most of the work as the crease of the futon frame rolls toward the back.
- The frame will come to a stop in the recline position. Reach to the top of the back deck. With your calf against the seat deck, pull the back deck toward you until it locks into the upright position.
That’s it! If you have a heavy or extra firm mattress, you may have difficulty converting the frame at first. Over time, as the mattress becomes acclimated to the frame, conversion will become easier and easier!
Futon shoppers are rather astounded when they first see how many possible futon cover designs, materials, sizes, and options are available from a variety of futon cover manufacturers. After picking out the cover that matches your frame and interior best, there are a few other options that are available from some futon cover manufacturers.
Piping or Welting on Futon Covers
Piping or welting, is a cording that borders the seams of futon covers to make an impressive pop to the fabric. Usually manufacturers use the same material as the rest of the futon cover to create the piping or welting.
If you are interested in receiving your futon cover sooner than later, piping may not be your best option. Most manufacturers provide meticulous detail when adding piping to a futon cover. Some futon covers with piping could take an extra two weeks to be shipped out because of this extra care added to a futon cover, so plan accordingly.
Matching or Contrasting Pillows
Many interior decorators believe that pillows add a warm, cushy feeling to any room. Adding pillows to your futon cover order is usually rather simple as most online dealers offer a simple drop-down menu to pick out your cover.
Pillows are available in a variety of sizes, but 20″, 24″, and 30″ square pillows are most common. Some manufacturers even provide bolsters that are round cylinders with your choice of fabric. You may even have options to add round pillows, fringes and buttons to match and coordinate with your futon cover and futon set. You should contact your futon dealer to discuss these options.
The internal content of the pillow also can be changed to create specific levels of comfort. Some manufacturers offer soft cotton, polyester and even feather pillow fill options.
To match your futon cover even more, pillows are also available with piping.
Extra loft is not necessary for all futon covers. Some futon mattresses are 10 inches or thicker, especially those made by Otis. These mattresses require what the industry calls, extra loft. If your futon mattress, or the futon mattress that you plan on purchasing is between 10 inches or thick, be sure to choose extra loft when you order your futon cover.
Loft is the measurement on the side of a futon mattress or futon cover. Standard loft on a futon cover is 6″, and this fits futon mattresses up to 9″. Extra loft is 7″ and will fit thicker futon mattresses perfectly.
Your Futon Cover
Now that you have all the necessary information on options for your futon cover, you can make the right choice to create the design and theme that you are going for.
For more information about futon covers:
- Futons ETC Factory Outlet
- Visit our website today and
- Learn how you can save today!
Are you a futon expert? Futon Magazine is looking for seasoned futon experts with knowledge to share about their trade. Any breaking news, helpful tips, futon press, or just generally useful information for the futon purchaser is appreciated. We are also conducting interviews with various futon insiders to offer a more personal perspective for futon buyers who want to know a little more information about their futon manufacturers. For a limited time, we will also be taking press releases from manufacturers and retailers concerning futon news. Help customers connect with your product on FutonMagazine.com.
- Articles should be as unbiased as possible
- Your orginazation will be clearly identified in the byline
- We reserve the right to correct spelling and grammar issues, as well as general content editing to fit the spirit of the site. You will be sent a final proof for your approval prior to posting
- Sales letters and promotional material will be rejected
- Please, no more than 800 words per article
Please send articles and press releases to info @ magazine.com. Also use this email address to request interviews and to send in tips or questions that you would like to see answered on Futon Magazine.
In addition to futon magazine, we have a few other suggestions for futon news and futon related information. While many of these are maintained by manufacturers and retailers, we believe the information found here is generally unbiased and can aid you in your futon ownership experience.
This third party website offers some of the best and most unbiased general futon information available. This information is offered up by the industry pros at FAST, the Futon And specialty Sleep Trade. While the information is very general, the clean and unbiased nature of each article makes them all worth reading.
This resource offers consumers and businesses alike, a valuable resource to meet and exchange ideas. With its easy-to-use navigation and favorable architecture, Futon Life will provide many with an excellent source of news, information and various futon related tips.
This website has interesting background information about futon mattresses, as well as trivial bits of futon lore. While learning about the history of the futon mattress isn’t altogether helpful in teaching you about what to look for in a new futon, it does provide you with the history of the futon and why it has been such a popular bedding choice.
This special August Edition reviews America’s top ten futon companies. For 2008 the top ten futon companies include:
- Futon Planet
- CSN Futons
- Futons Etc Factory Outlet
- Ellens Futons
- Futon Creations
- Affordable Futons
- Today’s Futons
- Futon Street