The actual word ‘sofa’ originated in Egypt in 2000BC. It is a derivative from the Arabic word ‘suffah’ meaning bench. In Egypt at the time sofas were used solely by the super-rich and were exceedingly popular with the Pharaohs. The Romans also became accustomed to the pleasures of the sofa. They tended to be partial to their innovation, the relative of the chaise longue. Romans of the poorer classes would lay back on stone benches instead. 

 

After the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the fifth century all their expensive ways deteriorated. The ‘chaise longue’ and sofa disappeared from Roman society. For a period of almost one thousand years, nothing more than the most basic of stools or benches existed at all. 

 

The sofa was brought back to life by European artisans in the year sixteen hundred. They resuscitated it as a luxurious accessory to the recent emergence of their more sturdy and watertight homes. Many aesthetically striking designs surfaced at the time. However, it was only much later that comfort became the focus of the manufacturing process.  Initially, the sofas were filled with hay or horsehair. It is still common to come across antique chairs that have the same types of stuffing.

 

The event of occasional guests sleeping over has always been an accepted part of the human social experience. The people who sleep over have a close relationship with one or more members of the resident family. Consequently, a place for the visitor to sleep at least as comfortably as the residents themselves has always been important. 

 

Just as in current times, hundreds of years ago each resident had a different level of comfort that they enjoy. All depended upon the abundance, or lack thereof, of the purse. The purse strings of the homeowner or resident are accordingly looser in some homes and tighter in others. There were infinite options that the resident could choose. Some, because of necessity, provided their guests with a pallet of hay on the floor. Other hosts were able to give a more formal or even ostentatious form of bed. Either way, there was a need from the very beginning of time, for the host to offer his visitors a place to sleep — another requirement that householders needed to fill, was to find the space for the bed that would provide rest for their guests. The very rich had no issue with this. The middle classes required something that was both practical and user-friendly. They wanted a bed that did not take up extra space, but that could provide a peaceful slumber for their overnight visitors.

 

The eighteenth century and the emergence of the sofa bed

The latter part of the eighteen hundred saw the manufacturing of mattresses flourish. Soon after Goode designed the sleeper desk, an African inventor applied for a patent for his folding bed. Leonard C. Bailey was the first name to be officially linked to a folding bed.

 

Furniture makers in the eighteen hundred had been creating designs that were graceful and practical. Thomas Chippendale furniture manufacturers preferred couches of sufficient depth these couches were used as an occasional bed. The couch bed was born. Meanwhile, slowly couches became more accessible to the average household. Manufacturers transformed them making sure they were within reach of the average homeowner. The demand was there, and they could sell more sofa’s this way. Sofas became more common household items. By the early nineteen hundred, they were less ostentatious and more user-friendly.

 

The industrial revolution accelerated the production of couches. Industrialisation led to the availability of cheaper materials including the fabrics, steel springs and mechanical parts. Furthermore, the creation of the sewing machine and factory production lines meant that mass production was in full swing. An entirely new market for upholstered sofas opened up, and they became ever more accessible to average households. Entire lounge suites were becoming the norm.

 

In 1899 therefore, day couch manufacturers designed the very first centre folding bed. The blueprint portrayed a bed frame made of metal and a mattress that came together in the centre like a sandwich. The Us Army Medical Board found out about it and manufactured enormous quantities for army use. Both campers, as well as soldiers, loved it.

 

The nineteen hundred

The Murphy bed was next in 1908. One could quickly push the Murphy bed up into an enclave of the same size. A construction expert would build the pocket into the wall especially for this purpose. The inventor had a one-room flat in San Francisco, and his guests did not have a place to sleep. His own needs dictated his invention. In 2013, Murphy Bed Co. was still in the same business of manufacturing Murphy beds. 

 

Bernard Castro was another name linked to the emergence of the sofa bed. He was an Italian newcomer to America in 1919. He started as a furniture apprentice and then moved on to create his own upholstery business. Many of the ladies who had bought the rather primitive Davenport sofa beds came to see him to improve the look of their sofas. 

 

Meanwhile, he enjoyed spending time in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City. He focused on learning about the furniture on display. He began to construct a unique design of sleeper couch in 1931. His model had a unique feature. He had created the grandfather of the modern sleeper couch. His sofas were distinctive in that their designs were fashionable. He created aesthetically pleasing designs to link them in the minds of the public, to the most popular fashions of the furniture world. The customers loved the new look. The mattresses were not visible until the moment the sofa needed to be used as a bed. Up until that moment, his couches looked like any other top-quality couch. 

He expanded by designing a chair joined to an ironing board as well as a convertible ottoman. 

 

 

The evolution of the sofa bed to the current day

 

When Castro died in 1993, the family sold the company. Happily, his daughter was able to purchase the factory in 2008. She put her energies into manufacturing convertible ottomans. At age four she had appeared on TV for her father’s company. She advertised the sofa bed by opening it for the television audience. The point was to demonstrate how easy it was to use her father’s invention. The company currently conducts all business operations on their website.

 

The inner workings of the mechanics regularly receive updating using modern-day methods. Current sleeper sofas still bear a convincing resemblance to their ancestors from the mid nineteen hundred. The only difference is that mattress technology has so vastly improved as to render the original versions visually and mechanically a bit basic. These days the purchaser gains both the most modern innovations for beds as well as top sofa technology combined with ultimate style.

 

At first, before the advent of the sofa bed, the couch in the lounge became a make do bed. The guest could sleep over as long as the hostess was comfortable with putting in quite some effort. 

 

Sofa sleepers nowadays are extremely easy to manage when compared to the general clumsiness their original mechanical workings allowed. Until not so long ago there was still a substantial amount of preparation that went into preparing the sofa beds of the time.

 

The entire process was very similar to the use of the couch as be with a fair amount of labour involved. After moving the coffee table and removing the sofa cushions, the host had to pull on the bedframe before being able to heave it into position. After that, there was still the making up of bed to do. Perhaps Castro’s bed was very well oiled to facilitate the process for his little girl during her moment on television.

 

Sofa beds or sleeper couches as they are also commonly called are very common in this current day and age. Unlike the Renaissance and Victorian ages, homes are smaller even for the wealthier classes. There is a current general trend to downsize rather than to expand. Planetary concerns are uppermost in the minds of many more home buyers than ten years ago. Even the wealthy are starting to see the cost of the upkeep of a large home as unnecessary.

 

People these days do not have a team of servants on hand as they used to have. Households, in general, are too costly for most. Smaller homes have many attractions. The reduced living spaces make sofa beds a very useful commodity to own. 

The purpose-designed sleeper couch took up residence in the lounge as a couch in disguise.

 

Sleeper couches come in many styles and various sizes. In the current day, the single bed size has been the most common until recently. The sofa bed then evolved to double size and then eventually to a queen, even a king size. A large modern sleeper couch can comfortably accommodate a couple as well as their toddler.

 

The sleeper couch is currently also used in the spare room or study if there is one. These days, children often have one in their bedroom for a friend to comfortably sleep over with minimum fuss. Many modern beds for children’s rooms include a big drawer underneath the bed. A mattress resides in the drawer which merely slides out at the touch of a hand. After the visit, if the bedding is deemed clean, it is a natural process for the child to tidy up. The child effortlessly pushes it back in and the bed is back to its’ ordinary self. The sofa bed can remain sleep ready for the next visitor.

 

Even though sofas beds became very practically oriented during the early twentieth century, it is now an object with an abundance of artistic creativity in addition to its comfort and practicality. All the elements of aesthetics, comfort and technology harmoniously unite in the modern sofa bed. Famous designers have so elegantly remodelled the modern day sofa bed that it has the reputation of any other top designer furniture. The sofa bed is here to stay.

You can get your dream sleeper couch here

2 thoughts on “The history of the sofa bed

  1. dear we are looking for a king size matress very firm in cold foam which means stay us cool at night. The mattress should have a separate top because it is for our second residence and we want to rent it out. what do you recommend. ?

    Thanks for giving us a few options

    1. Good morning, can you please provide us with your contact number so that I can get one of our professional staff to get in touch with you ASAP?

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