Remember the futon? Back in the 1970s and '80s, many a college student opted for the inexpensive, yet useful, sofa-by-day, bed-by-night futon. While they were useful in a pinch, some were not so comfortable when used on a regular basis. But that has changed.

Remember the futon? Back in the 1970s and '80s, many a college student opted for the inexpensive, yet useful, sofa-by-day, bed-by-night futon. While they were useful in a pinch, some were not so comfortable when used on a regular basis. But that has changed.

The new and improved futon is still affordable, but the sleeper is made with more traditional mattresses, including wrapped coiled springs and memory foams, and some include that topper thing often called pillow top.

The beauty of the futon is its flexibility. It is a bed, it is a sofa, and it is less expensive than either alone.

Another advantage to the futon is that you can change the cover when you change your decor. The covers are like pillowcases that come in a variety of colors and patterns. If you have any sewing talent, the sky's the limit on the futon covers because all you need to do is sew three sides together, with a zipper on the fourth side.

Futons also come in chair versions. If all you need is a single bed for an occasional sleepover guest, the futon chair might be your answer. The futon chair also is great for the overnight grandchild who wants to sleep in your room but doesn't fit comfortably in your bed.