Crashing on a friend’s sofa is rarely a comfortable experience, but we’ve all done it. This is particularly true in cities where space is scarce, like New York or San Francisco, and few people have the luxury of a guest room. And you know what the experience is like: You curl up with a pillow, feel the gap in the cushions under your back, and hope you’re not too tired when breakfast rolls around the next day.
Burrow, the sofa startup, feels your pain. It launched in 2017 as a direct-to-consumer company that ships sofas to your doorstep. But over the past two years, Burrow has discovered that its target customer—the urban millennial—are using the sofas for more than just lounging around. They are frequently morphing into beds for overnight guests. Rather than creating special sleeper sofas, Burrow has decided to update the crashing-on-the-sofa experience by creating a $350 sleep kit, which the company released this week. It fits on the Burrow three-seater sofa, but it was designed to fit on most three-seater sofas from any brand.
Now $350 is expensive for what is essentially a pad, a pillow, and some bed linens, but Burrow did include some nice touches. The hero item is the memory foam topper, which you place on top of the sofa, making it feel more like a regular mattress. The company designed this topper in-house, using customer feedback about uncomfortable experiences they had sleeping on sofas. The brand’s internal product team worked with manufacturers to bring the product to life.
The kit also comes with a fitted sheet that is designed to fit on top of the topper and tuck into the cushions and a flat sheet. All of these accessories are customized to the dimensions of a sofa (which is narrower than a typical single bed). In a clever move, the sheet has a little pocket for your guest’s phone, so they don’t have to stick it on the floor. There is also a pillow that is narrower than a regular pillow, so it fits the width of the sofa and doesn’t feel like it is about to slide off. There’s also a quilted comforter and, as an extra touch, there’s an eye mask, so your guest can block out the light as they sleep in your living room. And when you don’t need the kit anymore, you can pack it into a small handy bag the size of a sleeping bag roll.
Burrow is betting that this kit will fill a need in the marketplace. In addition to feedback from its own customers, it commissioned a survey with the third-party research firm YouGov to gain insights into Americans’ sofa-sleeping habits. From interviews with more than 1,200 respondents, the research uncovered some intriguing findings. For one thing, 43% of respondents (51% of them millennials) have friends who crash on their couch rather than stay at a hotel. And some people sleep on their own couches on a regular basis: 41% of women surveyed say they’d rather sleep on the sofa than in bed with a partner who snores, and 26% of respondents are stuck sleeping on their own sofa when their parents come to visit. This is perhaps why 55% of those surveyed wish sofas were more comfortable to sleep on.
I tested the kit throughout this week. I found that an important part of the product is that it made sleeping on the sofa feel less like you’re “crashing” and making do. Instead, it looks and feels like a tidy guest bed. But it’s not just a nicer visual experience. It’s actually significantly more comfortable than sleeping on a sofa. I had three people lie down on it, and all of them felt like it was a regular mattress. One person spent the whole night on it and said he slept very well.
You may already have a set of sheets that you tuck into your sofa for guests. That’s a far more cost-effective solution than Burrow’s sleep kit. But if you want to elevate your guests’ sleeping experience—say, perhaps, you have overnight guests regularly or a parent who stays over a couple of nights a week to help with the childcare—this might be worth the price.