MUNICH: When relatives or good friends call to announce they plan to visit, and not just for one night, but several, the host usually is pleased, but at the same time he might have to rack his brain over ensuring the visitors have a comfortable place to sleep.
Typically, there's not enough room in city apartments for a guest room. Putting a camping mattress on the floor of the living room is something a good host wants to avoid. "The most popular solution for overnight guests is still the sleeper sofa," says Ursula Geismann of the German furniture industry association. While earlier sleeper sofas had complicated mechanisms for converting them into beds, new models can be made into a double bed in no time by folding down the sofa's back and arms.
The look of sleeper sofas also has changed. The old ones often look puffy. Buyers had to choose between a practical or a chic couch. In the meantime, however, more value has been placed on the design of sleeper sofas, and the quality has improved noticeably.
Spending a night on one of these sleeper sofas no longer necessarily results in a trip to the orthopaedic doctor. But anyone looking for a sleeper sofa for daily use should pay special attention to the quality of the mattress.
Multifunctional upholstered furniture is currently in style, according to furniture experts. At furniture trade shows upscale makers such as Germany's Cor and Bruehl are displaying folding, pull-out and retractable sleeper sofas.
These pieces have "nothing to do with grandpa's pull-out couch," says designer Bernd Polster of Bonn. The Danish furniture maker Innovation offers an immense selection of sleeper sofas, says Geismann.
An alternative to sleeper sofas are the currently hot XXL sofas, according to a German furniture store in Bielefeld. These upholstered sofas are extra large, offering a seat area wide enough for one person to sleep on comfortably.
Another way to make a guest comfortable is a day bed, which is covered with a comforter and large pillows for seating during the day. Folding mattresses also are a space-saving solution.
"The mattresses are about 70 cm wide and can be folded into a cube. Cover it with a thin blanket or fabric and put a board on top and it turns quickly into a place to stack things. The cube turns into a table," says interior decorator Constanze Schuchmann of Munich.
When guests come another important question is which room they should sleep in.
"It's nice for guests when they have a room where they can leave their things," says Schuchmann. The living room is usually not preferred. Schuchmann recommends homeowners have a multifunctional hobby basement. If the rooms are cleverly laid out, there's usually space for a sleeper sofa next to stored sports equipment.
"The closets and the sports equipment can be covered with a curtain when guests come," she says. In many apartments an office or work room that has a couch can be quickly converted into a guest room.
(China Daily 02/13/2008 page10)