Tag Archives: futon versatility

Then and Now: A Brief History of Futons

Aside from sleeping bags, air mattresses and perhaps a giant sponge, no piece of lounge furniture is more portable than the futon. At the same time, the comfort, style and durability of the futon is equal to the nicest bed you can find. With both portability and quality, you would think that the futon was a state of the art invention among the world of furniture. The truth is, futons have been around for hundreds of years, and they’ve certainly come a long way.

20110626_futon01 BF_Futon8inSM For thousands of years, cotton has been used as a main source of bedding. While some civilizations used straw mats, woven ropes, and even a wooden slab, the ancient Babylonians, Mesopotamians, and Egyptians preferred cotton as their bedding material. Due to its loftiness and breathability, cotton stood alongside silk and wool mattresses as the optimal product for sleeping by the upper class.

roman_bed roman But it wasn’t until the 17th century when cotton bedding would evolve into the futon.  In Japan, “bedclothes” were made by stuffing cloth with cotton and wool, and spreading them out on a special kind of flooring known as “tatami”. Tatami was a series of mats made of rice straw, and comprised most of the flooring in Japanese homes.

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To accommodate the light, sturdy flooring, the Japanese invented an extremely lightweight and portable mattress to lie out when sleeping, then roll up and store away after waking up. The “futon”, which comes from the Japanese word “bedding”, consisted of long staple cotton, the most expensive cotton ball. It was important to use long staple cotton because long staple cotton would keep the mattress from pulling apart, and also prevent lumps from forming.

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Long-staple cotton is any cotton with fibers from 1 1/8″ to 2 1/2″ long

Despite its efficiency, the futon was only available to nobles. Rich people could afford bedclothes, while common people would sleep on straw mats. It wasn’t until the 18th century that cotton manufacturing would introduce the futon to all social classes. Futons flourished in Japan, and became almost a requirement for bedding among all citizens. But when would the futon finally come to America? In fact, our discovery of futons was just about as quick as simple as the futon itself! In the 1970s, furniture design William Brouwer visited Japan, and was extremely fascinated with the efficiency and comfort of the Japanese futon. He was convinced that the portability and ease of futon mattresses would be perfect for Americans living in large cities with small apartments.

During its migration, several factors would change about the futon to accommodate Western style, including a higher mattress thickness, and the incorporation of different materials outside of cotton. Eventually, Americans would have a variety of futon styles to choose from, including combinations of innersprings, pocket coils, polyurethane foam, memory foam, wool and polyester as well as traditional cotton.

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In addition to superior cotton batting, our Serta Redbud mattress consists of memory foam, polyurethane foam, and cloth pocketed coils to enhance comfort and longevity. Our Wolf EcoCloud mattress is custom-made, just for Shop4Futons, and consists of superior, high-quality cotton and foam that ensures resiliency and durability.

Also, since sofas and chairs were far more customary in American society, Brouwer invented a sofa frame that would reflect the same affordability and simplicity as the futon.

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Of course, companies and manufacturers would take the concept of futons and market them as cheap furniture, but this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Futons can certainly tend to cost less than your average sofa bed or lounger, but the resilience and quality of both futons frames and mattresses are as high-end as anything you’ll find in a furniture store.

There you have it. A brief history of futons! Don’t you feel smarter now?

Covering It Up

One of the biggest advantages of having a futon is customization. The endless options not only apply to comfort and feel, but looks as well. Buying the right futon cover is just as important as buying the right futon. Otherwise, if you don’t do your research, you may end up with something like this:

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Of course, you could be a die-hard Georgia Bulldog fan, or maybe your futon sits right in front of your aquarium. In this case, the choice is quite easy.

 

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At the end of the day, most customers prefer a solid color over a patterned design. However, when it comes to the type of fabric, you definitely want to know exactly what you’re getting before you decide to complete your futon setup.

At Shop4Futons, we offer four different types of futon covers that serve a diverse range of preferences. Here is a quick explanation of each style, to ensure you know what you’re getting:

Premium Futon Cover – Our widest-selling futon cover is also one of our most cost-effective and durable. The Premium Futon Cover is a blend of heavyweight polycotton and consists of 55% cotton and 45% polyester. The feel of this material is most similar to the feel of cotton dockers or khakis, but thicker and more firm. If you’re looking for a durable cover that has a little give to it, you’ve found your cover already!

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Designer Futon Cover – This type of cover consists of heavyweight cotton twill fabric. You’ll find the feel of this material similar to our Premium Futon Cover, but the colors will vary depending on availability.

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100% Cotton Futon Cover – It’s certainly our most cost-effective item, but 100% lightweight cotton doesn’t carry as many features as our other covers. This fabric is a bit heavier than your average bed sheet, and while it’s machine washable and certainly just as durable, it’s not for interior designers. If you’re looking for the best price, but really just want to protect your futon mattress, you won’t find a softer and more reliable cover.

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Plush Micro-Suede Futon Cover – Micro-suede is possibly the most sought-after fabric for futon covers. The material feels a lot like velvet, and also consist of corded piping along the edges to give your futon mattress a more consistent shape.  If you’re going for the most unique feel and best quality for home décor, the Micro-Suede futon cover is basically a necessity.

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Tips & Tricks for Assembling Your Bi-Fold Futon Frame

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Bi-Fold Sofa Bed Futons – On Sale Now from $99 here:
http://www.shop4futons.com/bi-fold-sofa-bed-futon-frame.html

The Bifold is our best-selling futon frame, with a quick and simple assembly that should take no more than an hour. But like all products that require assembly, you can always run into some common issues. Here’s a quick tutorial to help you put together your frame in less time, and without any mistakes.

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The very first thing you should do is unpack your frame, using the enclosed list to identify the parts as you go.

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Once this is done, you’re ready for the first step—putting in the dowels. As the instructions show, you should 20 dowels total. 4 for each seat rail, 4 for each back rail, and 2 for each prop. It’s best to use a small hammer to tap the wood dowels all the way into the holes.

Once all of your dowels are in, it’s time to put together your prop. With both of your props on either side of one another, take the prop connector and press it onto the wood dowels on each side. Then, use the 1-1/2” screws to fasten the connector with the props.  Make sure to tighten the screws well. In fact, you should tighten all screws firmly enough so that the head of each screw counter-sinks into the wood a bit.

A regular screwdriver works just fine, but if you have a power driven screwdriver or drill, you’ll save a lot of time and effort.

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Now you’re ready to attach the back rails. Make sure your back rails are attached to the OUTSIDE of the prop. Attaching them inside is the most common mistake we hear about, and will mess up the rest of your assembly causing you much unneeded aggravation.

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Once this is done, your assembly should look like this so far.

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This next step is where people tend to have the most trouble. When attaching the left and right back legs to the back rails, there are three things you want to make sure of.

  1. Both the left and right back legs should be attached to the OUTSIDE of the back rails
  2. The cut-away part of the back legs should face inward. In other words, they should be facing at a downward angle towards the back, in order to support the back rails. Pay close attention to the diagram for step 5 on the instructions.
  3. The back legs should be on the correct left and right sides. Each leg should have a sticker on it, labeling K-6L for the left and K-6R for the right.

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It gets easier from this point. Once your seat rails are attached to the inside of the back rails, they should look something like this.

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The next step is attaching the seat legs for the frame. Unlike the back legs, they do have labels for left and right, so they can go on either side. However, just like the back legs, they are attached to the OUTSIDE of the rails. Once this is done, you’re ready to secure the legs using the wood screws. These screws are self-tapping, so they should go in and fasten very easily.

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Next, assemble the back and seat decks according to steps 9, 10 and 11 of the instructions. This is very straightforward, just make sure not to mix up the back slats and seat slats.

Now, you’re ready to attach the slat decks. It’s much easier to attach the back first, and the seat second. Both slats look similar, so just make sure you’re holding the right one before connecting them.

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The slat decks should push easily onto the wood dowels and attach with the wood screws. Finally, attach the seat and back supports…

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You’re ready to lounge!

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