Sleep easy: Clockwise from top left, Aerobed raised double air bed, from £139.99, Stella two-seater sofa bed, from £995; House by John Lewis Smart Large Sofa Bed, Steel, £299; Jaybe Oasis Folding Bed and Headboard from House of Bath, £229.

As we all prepare for the arrival of family over the festive period, Interior designer Jamie Hempsall gives his advice on extra beds.

We are shortly approaching the period when our homes will be stretched to capacity as friends and family are welcomed across the threshold with many staying over as festive cheer kicks in.

The key to a successful visit is ensuring that guests enjoy their slumbers and do not have to sleep on uncomfortable floors or lumpy sofas. A good night’s sleep can pay dividends for the host as you stand a greater chance of guests waking up bright and early to help with all the clearing up (well, you can at least make a special Christmas wish for that to happen!).

In my opinion, one of the most useful inventions of recent years is the inflatable mattress (with an integrated electric pump – ensuring that you can put them up quickly and easily). These are no longer the uncomfortable lilos they used to be, many are sophisticated products with features such as “no roll together” zones and strengthened edges. Rather than requiring your guests to scrabble about on the floor, some models are now available the same height as a normal bed, which is particularly helpful for elderly or less abled users.

The key advantage of airbeds is they usually fold up to the size of a medium size holdall for easy storage in a loft or cupboard, but offer sleeping room equivalent to a full-size bed. Consider solutions from Aerobed (£139.99 for a full height double – or Bestway (available from a variety of retailers including

Aerobed raised double air bed

The traditional z-bed seems to be undergoing a renaissance as people again realise how comfortable they are. The more expensive models feature mattresses that would rival a normal bed. A double bed can be more difficult to store, but if you have easy access to an attic area (or a good space at the end of a bed with a cover hiding the z-bed underneath) then these are a serious option (£229 for a Jaybe double bed with slatted base and headboard from – 0871 230 0867).

Jaybe Oasis Folding Bed and Headboard

Chair beds are especially practical in a child’s or teenager’s bedroom where they will live up to their full potential as an everyday piece of furniture. They are also likely to have plenty of use throughout the year as you find yourself welcoming over a few more school friends.

Up until a couple of years ago chair beds were the poor relation of the sofa bed primarily available in brightly coloured foam block forms, aimed firmly at the youth market. However, in the last few years their value has clearly been recognised, foam block models are now available in more sophisticated colours (such as the Chocolate Single Chair Bed Sofa from Argos, £39.99). In addition, you can find examples such as the Leader Lifestyle Rita Faux Leather Chair Bed that would make a good occasional chair in any location (£224; – 0845 6 777008).

Rita Faux Leather Futon Chair Bed

The option of sleeping on sofas need not be a bad one, provided you have invested in a good quality sofa bed. The only disadvantage for the guest is that generally sofa beds take up a considerable amount of space and, therefore, are likely to be somewhere such as the Sitting Room which is right in the middle of all the action at Christmas.

The sofa bed is now an integral part of many manufacturers’ ranges so you can find most styles from the traditional, such as the Stella from (from £995) to the ultra modern House by John Lewis Napa Sofa Bed (£299;   Always remember the dual purpose and take time to make your choice to suit both style and comfort needs effectively, rather than opting for a compromise.

Whatever sleep solution you decide upon, send your guests off to bed with toastie hot water bottles to ensure you give them a warm and cosy festive night to remember for all the right reasons.


Choosing The Best Sofa Bed


The key to choosing a good sofa bed is comfort. Consider the depth of the mattress as some are too thin and you might as well sleep on the floor.

In addition, check the width of the actual bed area as frames have to fit inside the sofa. A two-seater sofa is unlikely to result in a full double bed so opt for a three seater if budget and space allow.

Above all, test your sofa-bed for suitability the way you would any settee to ensure you avoid buying an option that does not satisfy sleep and seating requirements perfectly.

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, SBID is a multi-award winning interior designer.