Daybed or Twin Bed? How to Make a Decision


Selecting furniture can be a daunting task, especially when you’re furnishing smaller spaces where every square foot must be utilized. A daybed or twin or a twin bed will give you the maximum amount of efficiency of space and maximum comfort in a piece that represents your unique style. 

Should you get a daybed or twin bed? While a day bed or twin bed will occupy the same area or footprint in your room, determining which type of furnishing is best for your needs basically depends on the primary function of the piece, the size of your space, and the people who’ll be using it.

When deciding whether a day bed or twin bed is right for your space, it’s worthwhile to learn a little about each before making a significant investment in a piece of furniture. This article will walk you through the pros and cons of day beds and twin beds in terms of function and design, as well as the major issues you might consider.

What is a day bed?

A day bed is a small bed (usually the same size as a twin), constructed of metal, wood, or both that looks like a sofa or chaise lounge. While originally designed for napping, a day bed can serve as a seating place that can be easily converted to function as a bed for nighttime sleep. 

Available in multiple styles, a day bed could be used in almost any room of your home. The day bed’s ability to serve dual purposes has made it especially popular. It’s almost like getting two pieces of furniture for the price of one! 

Benefits of a Day Bed

If you’re looking for a piece to be positioned in a common area where it will be used for sitting most of the time, you’ll likely be happier with a day bed than a twin. With the same width as a twin bed, a day bed can provide a great seating option, and also the same sleeping space and comfort as a twin bed when you need it.

  • Studio Apartment or Tiny Home – In a studio apartment or micro-living space where the living room doubles as a bedroom, a day bed is a perfect option. You can style your day bed like a sofa, allowing you to lounge while reading a book or watch TV, and quickly transition to sleeping by repositioning a few pillows. 
  • Living Room – For a living room, a day bed with armrests and a backrest can be accessorized like a sofa. You can sit on it to visit comfortably with guests, and also accommodate them for sleeping without moving furniture or inflating an air mattress. 
  • Home Office – A sofa style day bed can also be a great piece in your home office, allowing you to use it as seating, an occasional power nap, or sleeping place for an overnight guest.
  • Window Seat, Porch, Dining Area – Day beds can also be styled without armrests and backrests, like a deep bench, making it perfect for a dining room window seat or lounging place on a porch.
  • Toddler Bedroom – Day beds are well-suited for toddlers’ bedrooms. They can be easily restyled to fit the changing preferences of kids and teens as they mature. Additionally, they work well for both boys or girls. To ensure safety for toddlers with a day bed, simply turn the bed so that the open portion faces the wall, with the backrest facing out; this protects little ones from falling or accidentally rolling off the bed. 
  • Teen Bedroom – A day bed can be an especially good choice for a teen’s bedroom. As young people gain their independence, they tend to hang out for long periods in their rooms, sitting on their beds or entertaining friends. A day bed gives a teen the look of a sofa, giving their bedroom the feel of a hangout space for socializing without the addition of an extra piece of furniture in the room.
  • Storage – Some daybeds are designed with storage underneath. You can have storage under a regular twin, but the box frame supporting a twin mattress decreases the under-bed storage space. 

Drawbacks of a Day Bed

  • Wall space is required for a day bed to look best in a room. So, if your room lacks adequate wall space, which can be scarce in some small apartments or bedrooms, a twin bed could be the better choice. To accommodate smaller square footage, you could select a day bed without a backrest, but you’ll lose some versatility of style since it will look less like a sofa.
  • A day bed is generally less comfortable to sit on than a couch. The 39-inch depth of a day bed is deeper than a sofa’s 31-36 inches, which positions you too far back for your feet to touch the floor when sitting. Also, the seat of a couch is angled back and down a little to help you sit comfortably back, while a day bed’s mattress is level. This sort of makes you feel like you’re sliding forward when you sit on a day bed. 
  • Day beds aren’t an optimal sleeping choice for anyone over 6 feet tall. While day beds are longer than standard-size sofas, at 75 inches in length, a taller person’s and feet will be hitting against the armrests of a sofa style day bed. A twin bed will be a better choice if you plan to accommodate taller sleepers more than occasionally. 
  • For elderly guests or those with back problems, a day bed’s lack of box spring mattress can result in a painful morning after. If you host frequent older family members overnight, a twin bed would be a better choice. Not only will a twin bed provide better back support and comfort for your elderly visitor. 
  • Finally, parents should be aware that day beds often feature hard edges and corners, which could be dangerous for toddlers who are a little unsteady or are prone to climbing. 

Day Bed Comfort and Style Tips

  • For the most comfortable seating, look for a day bed with large, upholstered armrests and a backrest; this will make it more comfortable for sitting or leaning your elbow and will also make it look more like a couch or sofa. Keep in mind that a backrest will make your day bed look like a sofa, but makes it a little less comfortable for sleeping.
  • Mattress Size – Select a thick mattress for your day bed that will raise its overall height from the floor. Day beds are lower than a standard chair, so adding some height will make it more comfortable for sitting.
  • Mattress Compression – Mattresses are designed to withstand hours of lying down, with weight evenly distributed, rather than sitting, where weight is concentrated in certain areas. If people are sitting on your mattress day after day, the mattress will compress, resulting in some lumpy sitting and even more uncomfortable sleeping.
  • Mattress Covering – Cover your day bed’s mattress with a fitted twin sheet made of a sturdy fabric in a neutral color; this will enhance the sofa-like appearance, protect your mattress, and make the conversion to a bed a snap.
  • Mattress Weight Specification – For the most durability and comfort, get a mattress for your day bed with a weight specification of at least 350 pounds. Otherwise, it will start feeling flimsy.
  • Frame – It’s best to get a good metal frame for your day bed. A  bed frame made of wood will start to creak with regular use.
  • Mattress Type – For long-term sleeping or sitting, it’s best to choose a medium-firm mattress with a foam top for a transitional piece of furniture like this so that it can keep its shape. A softer mattress without a foam top will get lumpy. 
  • Make sure that the height of the mattress and frame is 20-23 inches from the floor to ensure safety for elderly overnight guests. Click here for more information on safe sleeping for seniors. 
  • Sleeping Environment – If your day bed is in a common area with lots of light, it’s a good idea to find a way to block out light, come up with a furniture arrangement that prevents kitchen clocks or the rising sun doesn’t inhibit restful sleep.
  • In terms of style, day beds look best when the backrest is positioned against a wall or in the corner of a room.
  • Comfort tip: To get closer to a sofa-sitting experience with your day bed, place three or four over-sized pillows against the backrest to offer support. This will also scoot you forward to allow your feet to touch the floor. The addition of an ottoman or footstools to rest your feet on will counteract the sliding feeling, giving you a more comfortable seating experience on your day bed.

What is a Twin Bed?

Sometimes called a single bed, a standard twin bed has the same dimensions as a day bed (39 by 75 inches) and is the smallest standard mattress size available. Furniture manufacturers intentionally produce day beds in the same dimensions as twin beds to make it convenient for consumers to purchase a mattress and accessories in standard sizes. 

Benefits of a Twin Bed

Whether you’re placing it in a common area or a bedroom, if the primary function for this piece of furniture is going to be more sleeping than sitting, a twin bed is the better choice. 

  • Economical – Day beds reasonably priced, making them a great choice if you’re furnishing your room on a dime.
  • Portability – Twin beds are small, light, and easy to move if you want to re-arrange your room.
  • Cheap Accessories – Linen sets for twin beds are minimally priced, making it easy to switch them out whenever you’d like a change of style.
  • Sleeping Comfort – Because it was designed as a bed and has a box spring mattress, a twin bed will provide you a more comfortable nightly sleeping than a day bed.
  • Wide Range of Styles –  Twin beds are available in several styles in addition to the classic headboard and/or footboard you may usually envision, offering more options and a day bed in terms of function and design. Here are some of the different twin bed styles you can choose from.
  • Captain – a twin bed that rests in a frame that resembles a shallow box, usually includes decorative pieces and large, built-in storage drawer underneath.
  • Trundle – a twin bed in a frame designed with ample space underneath, which could have large drawers for storage, or a second twin, “trundle” bed that can be pulled out for sleepovers or kids who share a bedroom.
  • Bunk – two twin beds in one frame that is constructed so that they are stacked one above the other, separated by a few vertical feet, with some type of ladder or hinges for climbing to the top bunk.
  • A Twin Can Look Like a Day Bed – You can easily style a twin bed to appear or function as a day bed with the right pillows and accessories, giving you a casual seating look and function, and also the real comfort of a mattress when it’s time for sleep.
  • A Flexibility of Room Arrangement – Depending on the style, you can likely have the option to position it almost anywhere in a room. While most day beds require a wall for the best room arrangement appeal, a twin works well in a corner, with any one of its sides against a wall, or “floating” without a wall.
  • Size Variations – While 39 by 75 inches is the standard twin bed size, there are some less common variations of twin beds.
    • A narrow twin is more like a cot, with a width of only 30 inches. A cot-sized twin bed allows for more comfortable multi-functional seating since it’s not as deep as a standard twin, but isn’t as comfy for sleeping. 
    • The larger twin XL is 38 inches wide and 80 inches long.


Drawbacks of a Twin Bed

  • One downside to choosing a twin bed over a day bed is that no matter how you style it, it’s going to be less comfortable for seating as a day bed. With a typical width of 39 inches, it simply positions you too far back to sit comfortably for long periods.
  • You can use accessories like pillows and cushions to make a twin bed look like a day bed, but you’ll have to invest in more money to do so. Without armrests, your twin bed probably won’t really look like a day bed.
  • Unless you opt for a captain style twin bed with built-in storage, a twin bed doesn’t offer you the under the bed storage options that a day bed can. The box spring mattress that supports the upper mattress decreases the amount of space for storage below.


Twin Bed Comfort and Style Tips

  • You can style your twin bed to look like a day bed or casual sofa by positioning a longer side against the wall, adding large pillows and long bolster across the back and over-sized pillows on either side function as armrests.
  • If the person who’ll be sleeping in the bed is taller, opt for a twin XL bed, which gives them an extra 5 inches in length over a standard twin.
  • If your space is tight, and the bed won’t be used nightly, choose a narrow twin, which is more like a cot.

Day Beds vs. Twin Beds

Below is a table that compares day beds and twin beds to help illustrate their differences, similarities, and significant points to consider when deciding which one is right for you.

Day BedTwin Bed
Standard Size:39 inches wide x 75 inches longStandard Size:39 inches wide x 75 inches long
Fits Twin-Size Mattress and LinensFits Twin-Size Mattress and Linens
Offers Best Seating ComfortLess Comfort for SleepingOffers Best Sleeping ComfortLess Comfort for Sitting
Best Option For Common RoomsBest Option for Private Rooms
Great Choice for Teen Bedrooms and Toddler BedroomsBest for Accommodating Overnight Guests Who Are Elderly, Have Back Problems, or Are Over 6 Feet Tall
Best Option for StorageLarger Variety of Structure Styles and Sizes Available
Best Choice for Studio Apartment of Micro LivingEasier to Move or Reposition
Models with Backrest Require Wall Space for Best Room PlacementCan Be Placed Anywhere in a Room
Will Look More Like a SofaEasy Transition to a BedWill Look More Like a BedCan Be Styled to Resemble a Day Bed
Considered to Be More Hip/TrendyConsidered to be More Traditional


Conclusion

As multi-functional and pocketbook-friendly furniture choices, both day beds and twin beds are particularly well-suited to smaller spaces and are very similar in many ways. In fact, they can be almost indistinguishable from one another. 

In deciding which of these furniture items is the best choice for your situation, your decision can be guided by what the primary function of the piece will be—sleeping or sitting—and how your space will accommodate that. 

References:

https://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/202102/kids_and_teens/are_daybeds_good_for_a_childs_bed.html

https://www.dimensions.guide/collection/daybed

https://www.dimensions.guide/element/twin-beds

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-daybed-is-the-glorious-piece-of-furniture-youre-probably-not-using-but-should-be-234052

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/how-twin-beds-and-daybeds-can-be-used-interchangeably

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/day-bed-vs-regular-bed-85327.html

https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2010/10/daybeds

https://www.furniture.com/tips-and-trends/difference-between-daybed-and-trundle-bed

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