Ask Alice: About sofa beds, storage units and picking paint colours

Do you have an interiors dilemma? Consult our resident specialist
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Q. I am looking for a sofa bed for my daughter's room, to put up her friends when they stay the night. I have been unable to find anything smaller than a two-seater sofa. Does anyone make single sofa beds?
Mary Dinant, by e-mail

A. If, like me, you spent your student years sleeping on a futon and pretending that you found it comfortable, you may not consider the futon option a good one. However, as an occasional bed, futons are fine. For £125, you can buy a Kyoto futon chair from Bedworld (, on a standard pine base, in a range of colours. Slumberland ( has a product called Kip, a covered large footstool that converts into a single bed, for £259. A similar size and shape but more aesthetically pleasing design, the Dizzy ottoman, made by Bonbon Trading ( and available at Selfridges, is smart, fun and beautifully designed. The problem? It will set you back £520. Finally, if you're looking for a bargain, Sleep Impressions' (w PVC Airbed on a steel frame - basically, a Lilo on legs - comes with its own electric pump and handy storage bag, ready to be tucked into a cupboard after use, and costs just £74.99.

Q. Our study is in the attic room, with a sloping mansard ceiling and very little free space. We also use the room as a spare bedroom, so it has to look presentable. I would like to have shelves put up but, because of the awkward shape, I can't find any units that fit.
Sarah Fulton, Barnet

A. Take a look at the versatile range of shelving available from Shelf Store ( Its website enables you to design a system of shelving bays in a huge variety of dimensions, which you should be able to manipulate to fit your tricky space. Once you have chosen your arrangement, the site will price it up for you - for a custom-made system, the prices are pretty good.

Q. I have just moved into a two-bedroom flat that I bought with a friend. We have stripped out the carpets and curtains, and peeled off the awful vinyl wallpaper, and are now ready to decorate. We have struggled for ages to choose a colour for the sitting room, but all we have achieved is a patchwork tester-pot effect involving about 30 different colours. The more we try, the less able we are to choose. How do we get started, please? Xanthe Norcroft, by e-mail

A. First, try to establish a mood for the room and a loose colour scheme on which you both agree. Look for ideas in magazines and cut out colour swatches that appeal to you, and collect them all together. Once you have settled on a rough plan, dive in and paint the whole of one wall in one of your colours. Then decide whether you would like to vary this on the other walls or continue it throughout. A variation on an opposing wall will have a huge effect on the colour of the first one, and this can be used to your advantage. Bear in mind that whatever colours you chose will be affected by other elements in the room, particularly the floor, which reflects a lot of colour on to the walls. Also, the wall colour will change through the day, depending on the light, so don't worry about subtle differences.