Home Style: Make Every Inch Count in Your Spare Bedroom; Space-saving and Stylish Solutions to Banis

THERE'S something deeply irritating about spare beds.

They seem to take up take up oodles of room, and are boring to look at. In fact they're not dissimilar to unwanted guests.

Even worse, spare beds often end up as the dumping grounds for all sorts of clutter.

Every inch of space should count in our homes, and a room given over to a bed is a sad waste, but there's no doubt they're essential especially at busy family times like Christmas.

So the ideal solution is to make those beastly beds work for a living.

Be demanding and look for beds that have got a bit of personality -- they can at least do the decent thing and disguise themselves as something else, or are so compact they don't eat up a room.

There are some stylish sofa beds around these days and manufacturers have finally twigged that if they make them as hard as rocks to sit on, no-one will buy them.

In the John Lewis range The Henry, pounds 850, wins the vote for comfort, design and versatility. It's a twos eater sofa with a pull-out double bed. A detachable footstool, with hidden storage room for bedding, turns it into a corner sofa.

It's easy to delve into Oka's mail order range and find something affordable and sophisticated. Its sofa bed, pounds 1, 750, in subtle celadon or oatmeal upholstery, has the added advantage that the pull-out single bed can be raised to the same level as the top bed, turning it into a double.

My dream has always been that Rolls-Royce of space-saving beds, a wall bed that flips inside a cupboard when not in use. It means you really can have a home office free of a bed, and there's less temptation to have a lie down when your work-life balance goes pear-shaped.

The London Wallbed Company's range starts at pounds 1, 430 for a double bed version.

Children and teenagers cannot exist without sleepovers'.

Combine an extra bed with extra seating so they don't sprawl untidily all over the floor.

Chic Shack's Veneza white painted day bed/sofa, pounds 799, would pass their rigorous street-cred test. If you don't want the additional pullout bed, pounds 260, you can have a storage drawer instead, pounds 285. Prices exclude mattresses.

The Cotswold Company's range includes The Hideaway Bed, pounds 379, which doubles as a sofa and single bed, with another single bed that slides out.

Beds that hide themselves within neat little footstools are handy for occasional use.

None of the beds below would hang around the house like a spare part although your guests might enjoy sleeping on them so much, you'll need to find another way to get them to leave.

n OCEAN A statement in contemporary chic, its three-tier folding bed can be used as a chair when closed, or slides so it can be used as a side table. It is covered in a chic felt upholstery in grey. It costs pounds 195. There's also a grey, single-size sofa bed, pounds 175.

0870 2426 283/www. oceanuk. com n IKEA Corner sofas always make a room seem larger because they don't dominate the space in the same way as a freestanding sofa. The Fagelbo from Ikea, pounds 545, goes one better as it opens into a double bed. 0845 355 1141/ www. ikea. co. uk n FURNITURE VILLAGE The three-seater leather Esprit sofa, pounds 995, also transforms simply into a sofa bed -- there's no need even to remove the cushions. It's available in cream, brown, blue and black.

If you really want to hide a bed away perhaps in a studio flat, or to use a spare room as a home office when guests aren't around, the Roma wall bed could be ideal. It costs pounds 2, 995. 0800 7830 830/ www. furniturevillage. co. uk ADDITIONS DIRECT A Bed in a Box, from Additions Direct, pounds 199, could be the answer. It's upholstered in a cream fabric, and is a neat stool when not in use. 0845 304 0008/ www. additionsdirect. co. uk THE COTSWOLD COMPANY The white-painted pine Roll-Out Sleigh Bed, pounds 649 from the Cotswold Company is practical and attractive. The single bed is hidden in the frame below the main bed, and rolls out on castors. 0870 240 7608/ www. cotswoldco. com n BARKER & STONEHOUSEScoop sofa, pounds 599, is a well-priced, well-designed sofa bed which would look attractive in any setting. 0191 261 6969/www. barkerstonehouse. co. uk n LENA PROUDLOCK An enormous sofa is one way around the problem. It's roomy enough to accommodate the whole family, and could easily be used as a spare bed.

The Berkeley Day bed costs pounds 3, 175, and you can pick the fabric of your choice (costs extra). 01666 500 051/ www. lenaproudlock.

co. uk n SPARE BED SENSE Chick Shack: 020 8785 7777/ www. chicshack. net The London Wallbed Company: 020 8742 8200/www. wallbed. co. uk Oka: 0870 160 6002/ www. okadirect. com CAPTION(S):

MADE UP: Perfect for occasional guests, this bed in a box by Additions Direct won't take too much room; SOFA SO GOOD: The Berkeley Day Bed; SWEDISH STYLE: The Fagelbo from IKEA; ELEGANT: The white Roll-Out Sleigh Bed; MODERN: Ocean's bed can be a chair or table

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