When you're trying to make the most out of a small space, a daybed makes a practical choice. This functional piece of furniture can serve as seating in the daytime and a bed at night. You can use the space beneath the bed for hidden storage or another bed if you need it. Plan and measure beforehand so you can select just the right piece.
Base your selection on where your daybed will go and its primary intended use. Daybeds traditionally enclose the mattress on three sides. The headboard and foot-board act as arms when the bed is used like a sofa, and the back provides support for throw pillows and seating. Many companies are giving the daybed a modern makeover. Some don't have a back, just arms. This may not work if you don't place your daybed against a wall, because there will be no back support when it's used for seating. Some beds don't have arms, just a back -- similar to a bench. This may be comfortable for daytime seating, but sleeping without any headboard may be impractical unless the side of the bed is against a wall. Some daybeds mimic the style of a chaise longue, with one arm and a partial back. This looks chic in a home office that doubles as a guest room, but may not be practical as an everyday bed.
Most daybeds sold in furniture stores are made of wood, metal or a combination of the two. This makes them both sturdy and attractive. These look more like traditional beds, even when bolsters, cushions and coverings are added to disguise the bed as a sofa. If you want your daybed to look more like a couch, look for one that's padded and upholstered with fabric or leather. If your daybed is in your home office, family room or other common area, it will be better disguised if it resembles your other upholstered furniture.
Generally, you have two support options for a daybed mattress. Spring-link supports are wire mesh or grids held by a steel frame. The springs are more giving and help with shock absorption, and when you sit on the mattress it feels more like a bed than a sofa. Look for a frame with two or more steel crossbars for support. The other option is wood slats, which go across the frame to support the mattress. This is the same type of frame commonly found in bunk beds. These slats are more shock absorbent than a solid platform bed, but not as much as a spring-link frame. If you want firm support, wood slats may be the better option.
You may want to invest in a daybed with a trundle bed included. A trundle bed is a low bed on casters -- many of them on a frame you can raise and lower to standard bed height -- made to fit in the space under a daybed. For extra sleeping space, you slide the trundle bed out, and in the daytime it slides back under the daybed. If you don't need the extra sleeping space, you may not want to spend the extra money on this option. Without the trundle, the daybed gives you ample storage space below.