A daybed is a multifunctional piece of furniture that solves a lot of problems, especially in a small home: In a remote-work space, it can serve as a sofa or ottoman. And when you have overnight guests, it turns that same space into a bedroom.

But choosing the right one can be tricky, as daybeds vary widely. Some are designed to hold a mattress, while others look like extra-deep benches.

The key, said Ryan Saghian, a Los Angeles-based designer, is to “think about what you want to use it for” — and where you’ll put it.

“I use them all the time when I do large living spaces, to connect two separate seating areas,” Mr. Saghian said. In that case, he favors a sleek, bench-like daybed without armrests or a back, to keep sightlines open.

He also uses them in small bedrooms, dens, studies and media rooms, where they offer extra seating during the day and extra sleeping space at night.

Piled with throw pillows, a daybed “looks like a nice chaise or bench,” Mr. Saghian said. But toss the pillows on the floor and “it turns into a bed.”

  • Should a daybed have arms and a back? That depends on how you’re going to use it, Mr. Saghian said. A daybed with back support can easily function as a chaise longue.

  • What’s the ideal seat height? At least 16 inches — and “don’t ever go higher than 18 inches.”

  • How many throw pillows should go on top? “A lot,” Mr. Saghian said. “I don’t want it to look like a daybed — I want it to look like a luxurious sofa.”

Daybed with integrated side table by 365° North for WON

$2,033 at Danish Design Store: 866-260-6978 or danishdesignstore.com

Daybed with side and back support

$699 at Article: 888-746-3455 or article.com

Upholstered daybed with wood base by Jannis Ellenberger

$1,099 at CB2: 800-606-6252 or cb2.com

Daybed for a twin-size mattress

$998 at Anthropologie: 800-309-2500 or anthropologie.com

Minimalist daybed with ribbed cushion by Anita Johansen for Menu

$2,895 at Design Within Reach: 800-944-2233 or dwr.com

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