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Futon Guide

American futons, originally borrowed from the Japanese, began to appear in bohemian crash pads in the late 1960s. Students of Asian culture made futon mats by hand for friends because they were cheap and saved space. In the '70s and '80s, Boston designer and creative wood craftsman William Brouwer began to experiment with the futon and developed the first convertible futon frame.

Futon frames and futon mattresses have since grown up. Convertible futon frames are now stylish and functional pieces of furniture for both sitting and sleeping. No longer just floppy quilts, today's futon mattress has grown thicker and more comfortable and has all the bells and whistles of conventional mattresses. What was once a small, burgeoning demand for these idiosyncratic furnishings has grown into a multi-billion dollar market.

The futon’s raison de etre is its space-saving design. The re-invented A-frame employed in most futon frames enables the furnishing to be used as seating, much like a sofa, or pulled-out and laid flat for sleeping. The futon bed is still extremely popular with the young and space-constrained, but is now also found in spare bedrooms and casual rooms of the older and more affluent..

Styles for futon furniture range from traditional to contemporary, from inexpensive gauges of steel and iron, to more expensive and elaborate woods and wood solids. Mission styles are extremely popular, as are sleek contemporary futon beds. Futon mattresses are typically made from layered polyester, cotton, and convoluted foam, but more expensive and supportive futon mattresses can have innersprings and even latex or memory foam. Adding an expressive, or rich futon cover over a futon mattress with pillows for accents, can turn the casual furnishing into a conversation piece.

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