However practical and comfy your bijou studio or one-bed bachelor pad may be, there's one thing it just can't cope with: the overnight guest. It's either head to toe on your bed or someone is sleeping on the floor. Well, furniture makers Jay-be claim to have found the solution with their Ottoman "Bed-in-a-Box".

The concept is inspired simplicity: a three-fold metal action single bed, which folds up quite literally into a box with a large cushion for a lid. It's a little wider than your average armchair (114cm x 74cm x 46cm), and at pounds 295 (from Courts on 0800 731 2121) it's considerably more affordable than your average sofabed.

The Ottoman works well as an alternative coffee table and is stable enough for trays and magazines; it's also very handy for putting your feet up. The mattress has a pleasing sprung interior rather than foam which makes it comfortable enough for a couple of nights, but too soft for regular use. It comes made to order in a range of 23 colours from bold animal prints to softer velvets, and can also be used as a pouf.

But bear in mind that what you gain in price and practicality you lose in terms of the quality of truly crafted (and expensive) furniture - the cushion seems to lose its shape with age and doesn't fit as snugly as a proper lid. And decor gurus may not find the right up-to-the-minute fabrics in the range. But hey, these are minor grumbles. The Ottoman certainly looks stylish enough and its versatility makes it an ideal purchase for the smaller living room or a child's bedroom. And, with the money you save, you can splash out on a bottle of bubbly for your first guest.

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