Everything You Need to Know about Murphy Beds

The Murphy bed was invented by (and named after) William Lawrence Murphy (1876–1957) around 1900. He was a marvelous opera singer, but lived in a small one-room apartment in San Francisco. At that time, it was not acceptable for young men to invite women into their bedrooms. So William Lawrence Murphy came up with the idea of converting his only room into parlor which would allow him to entertain guests, this involved his folding “Murphy Bed”. Fold up beds were not an entirely new idea, they had been available for some time in the Sears, Roebuck and Co catalogue, but Murphy had introduced pivot and counterbalanced designs. Murphy took out several patents for his beds which were called“disappearing bed” and “design for a bed”.

In 1989, it was decided that the term “Murphy Bed” had entered common usage and it was no longer eligible for trademark protection. This means that any wall-bed, can now be freely called a Murphy-bed. Dwell suggests that where comfort is a deciding factor when choosing between a wall bed and a sofa bed, the wall bed will likely come out on top. The reason for this, is that Murphy beds use standard mattresses, whilst sofa beds use fold-up mattresses that often feel very lumpy.

What are they?

Murphy beds are fold up beds which are usually used to save space in smaller homes. Murphy beds are available in a wide range of designs and include many options such as lighting, storage cabinets, and even office components. They have seen something of a renaissance since the 2010s due to a weakened economy, the growing popularity of grown-up children moving back into their parents homes and families choosing to renovate their homes rather than purchasing new larger ones. Spacemakerdesigns.com suggests that there are three main reasons for investing in a Murphy bed:

  • More Open Space
  • Multifunctional Rooms
  • Sophisticated Designs

More Open Space

Many people purchase Murphy beds to create more open space. With the ability to hide away your bed, you give yourself more floor space during the day. This leaves you with more room to play, exercise and spend time on other activities and hobbies.

Multi-functional rooms

Murphy beds allow you to use a one room for many purposes. For instance, a Murphy bed in your office or craft room turns it into a gorgeous guest-room in an instant. This way, there is no need to devote an entire room for the benefit of the occasional guest.

Sophisticated designs

Murphy beds feature better designs than ever before. Many feature a wall-mounting systems, which does very little damage to the wall. Here beds can even be relocated if required. Straps are included with many models to hold bedding in place. This allows you to fold up the bed without worrying about replacing the sheets every night. Murphy beds allow for a high level of customization. The beds can be designed to suit your lifestyle perfectly, whether the bed is open or closed. Murphy beds can be designed to fold up into beautifully crafted cabinets, that remains functional during the day when the bed isn’t needed for sleeping.

Sizes of Wall Beds

Murphy beds can transform any room in your home into a multi-functional space. A Murphy bed is so much more than a platforms that folds down from the wall. Modern designs of Murphy beds integrate shelves, tables, desks, and seating, with the idea being to maximize space as well as functionality. From a variety of sizes to a wide range of styles, Murphy beds can be a great benefit in any home. Wall beds and more claim that the best part about a Murphy bed is that you have a full sized mattress and comfortable bed at night, but during the day the bed can be folded away to maximize living space.

Like other beds, Murphy beds are available in a variety of sizes to fit your needs and available space. When choosing a size, you should consider who will be using the bed and how often it will be used. Is it a bed for a small child, an adult or a couple? Will the bed be used every night or only occasionally? How much space do you need to sleep comfortably? It is also important to accurately measure the available space, when choosing the size of bed. A Murphy bed is a great space saver when it is folded up, but you will need to make sure there is enough space for the bed to fold down fully and that there is also enough room to walk around the bed when it is folded down.

What styles do they come in?

A Single Murphy bed is ideal for a child’s bedroom that has limited space. A single bed offers plenty of sleeping space for a young child without taking up a huge amount of floor space when it is extended. Single wall beds also work when space is very limited. For example, in a tiny home office where you wish to accommodate a single overnight guest. A single adult can comfortably sleep in a single bed, although many do prefer more sleeping space.

Murphy beds are also available in the more traditional queen size when you want to accommodate two adults comfortably. If you choose a queen size Murphy bed, you must make sure that you have enough floor space when the bed is extended. This option is perfect for every night use or as a guest bed when you want two guests to sleep comfortably.

Murphy beds are even available as Bunk Beds. These are especially useful when floor space is severely limited. With these Murphy beds, you get all the functionality of traditional bunk beds with the added convenience of the space-saving wall bed design. This solution is perfect for a shared bedroom. Murphy bunk beds also work well when your child has a sleepover. The second bed provides a comfortable place for your child’s friend or cousin to have a sleepover.


Elledecor.com points out that the rise of the tiny house movement is partly responsible for the resurgence of the Murphy bed. The most on trend Murphy beds are integrated into bookcases, stow sideways, are built into fitted closets and fold out over sofas.

  • Bookcase Murphy Bed – One particularly popular design of Murphy bed is the bookcase design. This is particularly suited to guest rooms that only get used a couple of times a year. With this design you could use the bookcase as storage mostly, then stow things in the attic on those occasions when you have guests.
  • Bi-fold Murphy bed – When folded, all hat is visible of a bi-fold bed, is a stylish cabinet. Opening the bi-fold doors, reveals a twin, full or queen-size bed for a comfortable night’s sleep.
  • Flip-up desk Murphy bed – This bed is perfect for an office which you need to also use as an occasional bedroom. These Murphy beds are often designed with flip-up desks on the under-side of the mattress. The desk can then be used when the bed is stored against the wall.
  • Sideways Stowing Murphy Bed – Another very popular style of Murphy bed, at the moment is one that stops away sideways. These beds have been created to fit below shelving, and they integrate perfectly into the cabinetry.
  • Bed Built into Closet – In bedrooms with fitted closets, it is possible to have the Murphy bed integrated. One side of the closet folds out into a Murphy bed whilst the other side is fitted with a clothes rod and shelves.
  • Sofa Murphy Bed – One other, very on trend style of Murphy bed Has been designed to fold out over a sofa at night and fold up into the wall during the day. These are possibly rising in popularity due to the fact that they are so much more comfortable than traditional sofa beds.

Can you make your own?

A Murphy bed can cost over $3,000, however with plywood, hardwood, MDF or particle board, it is possible to make your own for a fraction of that cost. If you are planning to invest in a Murphy bed and want to build it yourself it is worth buying a Murphy bed kit. The kits are sold in home improvement shops and shops that sell beds. They include all the hydraulics you will need to create a functioning Murphy bed. Murphy bed kits typically retail around $200.


Once you have your Murphy bed kit, it is important to read all the instructions very carefully. Read them through a few times. Many Murphy bed kits include a DVD, make sure that you watch it. It is important to understand the instructions well, before you begin the project. That way, you will know the best approach and what each of the steps lead on to next. The instructions contained in the Murphy bed kits, usually provide a comprehensive list of materials. This can be adjusted according to your own specifications. It is worth using solid wood for the frame to create a sturdy Murphy bed for your room. Since the materials need to be cut exactly, it is worth considering using your local hardware store, to have the wood cut for you. It is good practice to use solid wood boards for the frame struts, mounting cleats and sides, whilst it is fine to use plywood for the rest.

Murphy Bed Mattress

Murphy Beds tend not to be fitted with box springs. Instead, the mattress is usually placed on a wood platform or wire mesh and secured in such a way that it does not sag when in it is closed. The mattress is usually attached to the bed frame with elastic straps which hold it in position when the bed is folded upon the wall. Modern Murphy beds are fairly easy to raise and lower due to the Piston-lifts or torsion springs which are used these days. Because Murphy beds are not fitted with a box spring. The mattress has to provide all the support and comfort for the user. For this reason, the choice of mattress is very important. It is important to consider the thickness (commonly known as the height) of the mattress because it can determine whether the Murphy bed will fit in the enclosure when he Bed is folded up.

Robotic Murphy Beds

One useful development in Murphy Beds is the integration of robotic technology. Robotic furniture allows you to maximize the flexibility of your living areas effortlessly. A simple remote control can allow people who have disabilities to enjoy all the benefits of living with a Murphy bed. Being able to store a bed in a wall, gives a wheelchair user more freedom for cleaning and getting around a room.

Moving Home when you own a Murphy Bed

If you are looking to move house in the near future, you should not let that put you off purchasing a Murphy bed. When you are moving house, the removal company should be able to disassemble your Murphy bed, transporting it to your new house, where it will be reassembled. Some people decide to elevate their Murphy bed units behind when they move house. If you decide to leave your Murphy bed behind, then its value can be included in the resale value of your house.

Hotels using Murphy beds

Hotels and resorts have began to capitalize on the trend for Murphy beds. This has allowed them to generate additional revenue, optimize room capacity, offer various functionality options and accommodate family and guests with quality and comfort.

In today’s market, the hotel room is increasingly regarded as a temporary home. It is a place, not just for staying the night, but is often used for working and holding small meetings. Hotels and resorts are responding by raising the bar, with the standard of rooms they provide. They need to be more versatile to allow working, relaxing, entertaining, leisure. The hotel room needs to be a place for business, while keeping residential-like accommodations. These days many hotel rooms are being designed to combine a sleeping space with a part-time office. Often Murphy beds are the perfect solution to build into these designs.

In conclusion, a Murphy bed can serve many needs from providing more space to making a fashion statement. They can move house with you, or be used as a feature to help you sell your home. They can transform hotel rooms into offices and can be operated by remote control. It is easy to see why the Murphy bed is enjoying a renaissance, and with the wide range of clever designs to choose from, it is unlikely that they will go out of fashion any time soon.

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