futon, futons, furniture, home decor, remodeling, beds, mattresses
A futon, simply put, is a small couch which turns into a bed when unfolded.
It is actually one type of mattress that makes up a Japanese bed, sold at specialty stores called futon-Ya in Japan and other department stores.
A Japanese futon set usually costs under 10,000 yen (around$83).
Traditional Futon and Western Versions:
A traditional Japanese futon set generally consists of a mattress called a shikibuton, a comforter called Kakebuton, blanket called mōfu, and a pillow called makura.
The makura is usually filled with beans, buckwheat chaff, or plastic beads.
The 4 to 5 cm thick futon itself is flat, having a fabric exterior stuffed with cotton and/or synthetic batting.
Futons are designed to be laid on Tatami – a traditional Japanese flooring created from individual woven straw mats of uniform size and shape, bordered by brocade or plain black cloth, and packed with straw.
Styrofoam may also be used with the recent ones.
The futon can be folded away and stored in a closet called oshiire when not in used.
There is also a futon alternative called a “zabuton” (za, sitting + futon) which is a cushion for sitting, on tatami floors.
Western futons are thicker and larger than Japanese traditional futons, typically filled with foam and batting in a number of layers, and closely resembling conventional furniture that most people would not know if a western futon is actually a “futon”.
Unlike traditional futons, western versions are not designed to be stored away when not in use.
It is actually a bed cum- couch to be placed on a configurable frame for the dual purpose.
The western style has also gained some popularity in Japan.
These futons are constructed primarily out of cotton and usually handmade.
Though having close resemblance with conventional mattresses, they lack the same type of springs and synthetic casings.
The western futon version is a cheaper and more convenient substitute to conventional beds.
Basic Elements of a Western Futon:
There are three main elements of a western futon the frame, the mattress and the cover and pillows.
The frame is the foundation for strength, durability and ease of use.
It has to be made of a strong, dense wood which can withstand the stress of frequent conversions.
The Futon frames are of three types Bifold, Trifold and Loveseat frame.
In the Trifold frame, the mattress folds in thirds the long way while in the Bifold frame, the mattress folds in half and is best for couches and everyday conversion from bed to couch.
In the Loveseat frame, the mattress comes in two parts – couch and ottoman and is best for small spaces.
The mattress is the seat cushion to provide comfort for both sitting and sleeping.
Futon mattresses have to be of good quality in order to avoid hard and uncomfortable futons.
The cover and the pillows are the finishing touches for looks and protection.
The futon cover is supposed to be essentially decorative but it is also the component which protects the mattress from dirt and spills.