Australian startup Koala began with a single product – the Koala Mattress – but has now expanded its range to include sofas (and a whole lot more) as well. It’s not just plain ol’ couches that the company makes either; as you’d expect, there’s a Koala sofa bed available too.
Sofa beds are a necessity for many Australian households, particularly for smaller homes. Not everyone has a spare bedroom – and who doesn’t have guests coming over every now and then?
The Koala Sofa Bed theoretically takes what’s great about the Koala sofas and the Koala Mattress and mashes them together to offer a beautiful-looking, versatile piece of furniture that will suit any home. There are three different sizes to choose from, meaning there’s genuinely a Koala sofa bed for any space, and even the largest becomes a queen-sized bed in seconds.
It embodies what Koala has become known for – simple but beautiful aesthetics, easy assembly that requires no tools whatsoever, and eco-friendly materials. And, like the mattress, the Koala Sofa Bed also comes with a 120-day free trial, speedy and free delivery, and easy returns.
However, the stunning good looks of the Koala Sofa Bed hide some flaws – ones that are somewhat hard to ignore.
Koala Sofa Bed: price, trial and delivery
Investing in furniture means striking a balance between price, looks, comfort and convenience. It’s a rare to find something that hits that sweet spot, but the Koala Sofa Bed certainly aims to be that option.
It’s certainly not cheap – at AU$1,500 for the queen size, the Koala Sofa Bed is on the high side given there are cheaper options on the market. However, you’ll either be spending a lot of time assembling the piece, or dealing with squeaking springs and hinges. So, taking into consideration other factors like easy assembly, free delivery and a 120-day trial, Koala’s sofa beds are worth considering.
There are three sizes to choose from: the single will set you back AU$950, the double is priced at AU$1,350, while the queen size (as mentioned above) is AU$1,500, and all are available in four different neutral colours.
Koala does occasionally offer discounts during big sales like Black Friday, and it may be possible to get 15% to 20% off if you can hold off for those shopping events to come round.
While buying a sofa bed online can seem risky, Koala offers an impressive 120-day trial for all its products. If you’re not happy with the product after this four-month period, Koala will have it picked up from your home at no extra cost to you, and also give you a full refund.
If you live in a metro area of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide or Brisbane, you can generally get a Koala Sofa Bed delivered to your door within four hours (provided you order before 2pm Australian Eastern time), and there’s free express delivery Australia-wide, with estimated delivery within 1-5 business days.
The sofa bed has a five-year warranty, so you’re protected against manufacturing defects if anything should happen down the line.
Koala Sofa Bed: design
At first glance, the Koala Sofa Bed seems to have a very chunky design. Its arms are thick and the entire piece is covered in fabric, giving it a boxy look. However, that design grows on you quite quickly and, even in a small space, looks really good.
But you’ll first need to put the sofa bed together, as it comes in several different parts. We were sent the queen sofa bed for review and it arrived in five separate pieces. Just getting the individual pieces out of their boxes is a two-person job, as is the assembly for the queen size (you could manage the smaller sofa beds alone).
The Koala Sofa Bed fits together like a puzzle – if you’ve got the double or queen, slot the base boards (15mm poplar plywood pieces) together with the provided connector in the spot where you want to place the furniture, fit the arms and the backrest on the boards in the space provided, then use the large screws to secure them in place. Align the velcro strips of the mattress to the ones on the wooden base boards, and voila, you’re done.
You need no tools to assemble the Koala Sofa Bed – not even an Allen key. This also makes taking the unit apart very simple, causing no wear-and-tear if you need to move home.
Other than the base boards, everything comes encased in fabric, which is available in four different colours. There’s no need to wrestle covers over any part of it, including the mattress. And note that although you’ll see zippers on the mattress, the covers are not removable.
The cushion/mattress is a dual-layer polyurethane foam, and the fabric covering the entire sofa is dacron. The mattress is made up of three individual sections connected by fabric; when folded on top of each other, these make the cushion of the sofa, and simply unfolding the stack turns it into your spare bed.
When unfolded, you’ll find the top surface of the mattress has tiny blobs – these are there to keep the folds of the cushion from slipping against each other every time someone sits on or gets off the sofa.
It’s an extremely well thought-out design, and one that should accommodate moving house quite well.
Koala Sofa Bed: comfort
While the design of the sofa bed is excellent, it isn’t one that’s consistently comfortable. While the middle of the sofa cushion is nice and firm, the corners aren’t. Because the mattress has very little edge support (as does Koala’s original mattress), the seats along the armrest and the corners at the back sink far more than anywhere else. When sitting solo on the couch in a corner seat, we found that half our body was lower than the other, which may cause back issues. We hoped that, with use, the foam would ‘settle’ but, after even after five months we still have the same problem.
We figured a cushion or two placed in the corners would help solve that problem, but the front edge of the seat is also too soft, with negligible edge support. So anyone not leaning all the way back may find themselves slowly sliding off the sofa.
However, the sofa seat has good depth, and the queen sized option comfortably fits three people (although in this time of Covid, three may feel a little tight). The backrest is great and, thanks to the non-skid surface of the mattress, in couch mode everything stays in place, just as it should.
However, when used as a bed, those little blobs that make up the non-skid surface can be a little uncomfortable. Unless you use a thick mattress topper, you’ll likely find they poke through sheets and can leave indents on bare skin. Those nodules don’t hurt, but you can definitely feel them. That said, a sofa bed is meant for guests, and for short-term use, most people will find it just fine.
The interesting thing about Koala as a company is its customer service. Almost immediately upon receiving our sofa bed, we got a call from them asking how we liked the product. We listed some of the above grievances and were promised that the feedback would be passed on to the design team, and effort would be made to improve the next generation of Koala sofa beds. We’re hoping this is the case, and look forward to testing out an improved product.
Verdict: Should I buy the Koala Sofa Bed?
If the Koala Sofa Bed is within your budget, then the simple answer to that question is ‘yes’. It’s sturdy (even though it all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle and needs no tools), beautifully and very practically designed, and thanks to three sizes and four colours, there’s a Koala sofa bed for everyone.
Our main gripe was with the quality of the cushion/mattress – with hardly any edge support, the corners and edges are too soft when compared to the rest of the cushion, and the non-skid surface of the mattress may be uncomfortable for some when lying on it. If Koala can improve the mattress used on the sofa bed, it might just become our pick of the best sofa bed you can buy in Australia.