Similar to a pull-out bed or sleeper sofa, a Murphy bed serves as an important function in the modern day home: these beds are designed to free up your valuable floor space.

Picking out the perfect Murphy bed could make or break the design of your bedroom, so it's important to first read up on how these beds work in order to discover the kind you'll enjoy sleeping on the most. Let's first cover what a Murphy bed is, as this could be a new concept for many:

What is a Murphy bed?

A Murphy bed is a special type of bed that’s able to be tucked away and hidden from sight when not in use. By using a series of hinges and counterweights, Murphy beds collapse and fold away, opening up your home in a way not possible with regular stationary beds.

Additionally, Murphy beds are often designed with modularity in mind: some of them can be converted into couches during the day, a perfect option for a guest room or smaller apartments and studios. Storage space is another main feature of these wall beds – with some models providing ample room to store clothes below or to the sides of the wall bed frame.

Why is it called a Murphy bed?

Murphy beds are named after William Lawrence Murphy (1876 – 1959), an inventor who designed the original Murphy bed during the early 1900’s, before founding the Murphy Bed Company. The origin story of this fabled invention goes as follow:

William Murphy – a traveling man who worked many jobs – fell in love with a young San Franciscan opera singer. Being a gentleman, Murphy realized he couldn’t simply invite his love interest over to his one-room studio apartment, which happened to contain a very large bed.

Through studying patents filed for similar kinds of folding beds, young Murphy designed an entirely new kind of bed – one that folded up vertically against the wall and wasn’t limited by bed size. He went on to file patents of his own, including one for a "disappearing bed".

Since then, the success of the Murphy Bed Company has waxed and waned, riding the ever-changing waves of space-saving furniture trends throughout the 1900’s into the present day. The original Murphy bed is still around, but the design has changed over time.

How does a Murphy bed work?

Murphy beds may seem complicated, but their engineering is actually quite simple. Not every Murphy bed is the same, but most of the time these beds are designed in a similar fashion to the original. Using a system of hinges, springs, and counterweights – modern Murphy beds are easily collapsible and modular modern designs allow their frames to be mounted to most walls.

Murphy beds can either fold up vertically or horizontally, depending on the specific model. This modularity means that Murphy beds work in almost any bedroom or guest bedroom in your home, fitting into any space you may have available.

When hidden, many Murphy beds appear as cabinets or daybed benches, depending on the model you choose. Extra storage space can easily be added on top, below, or the sides of a Murphy bed – reach out to us if you have more custom-made ideas in mind. All of our Murphy beds are designed to feature pinch-free mobility via solid wood construction, as opposed to metal frames.

What are the pros and cons of a Murphy bed?

Murphy beds are incredibly useful pieces of furniture, and the pros of using one heavily outweigh the cons. Here are the main reasons to use a murphy bed:

  • Frees up your valuable floor space

  • Easy to pull down or push up

  • Can include attached storage space and daybeds

  • Customizable and able to blend in with most styles of décor

With that being said, there are a few downsides to be aware of:

  • Requires wall space and a bit of furniture rearrangement

  • Can be expensive compared to more traditional models

  • May be difficult to operate for children or those with mobility issues

  • It’s best to make your bed before storing it, which can take a few seconds

Choosing a Murphy bed

Before buying a Murphy bed, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with all your options. There are a few different styles of Murphy beds, and not every brand uses the same folding mechanism – these wall beds are an investment, so make sure you do a bit of research beforehand.

Murphy bed styles for kids and adults

The main two kinds of Murphy beds for kids are horizontal Murphy beds and vertical Murphy beds – which means they either fold up lengthwise against the wall, or from the top and bottom. Your choice will depend on how your bedroom is laid out, and how much free floor and living space you have.

Keep in mind that these beds are recommended for children 12 years and up, and while a Murphy bed makes a tasteful addition to your child’s bedroom design, you should always supervise your child when any moving parts are in motion.

Here are two of our modular Murphy bed designs:

If you’re looking for even more functionality and space-saving – we’ve also come up with a 2-in-1 style of Murphy wall bed, combining our classic daybed with the foldability of a Murphy bed. This version comes with an upholstered daybed bench, allowing you the option to lounge even when the bed is folded up.

We also have a few solid-wood Murphy bed combos:

Picking the right Murphy bed mattress

Our regular Murphy bed designs come in a few different sizes: twin, twin XL, full, and queen – these bed sizes are going to be your mattress sizing guidelines as well. For example, if you decide to go with a full size Murphy bed, you’ll want to pair it with a full size mattress.

Are Murphy beds comfortable?

Murphy beds are just as comfortable as other models of beds – their space-saving features shouldn’t sacrifice any coziness at all if constructed properly. The only real difference is that you’ll want to avoid traditional box spring mattresses, and stick with other kinds of mattresses.

That leaves you with tons of options, including some super comfy memory foam and gel-topped mattresses that fit perfectly within a Murphy bed’s base – you mainly need to avoid mattresses that are too tall or heavy to be practical when folded up against the wall.

Do Murphy beds have to be attached to the wall?

Any high-quality Murphy bed will require some kind of wall mounting for safety reasons. Without wall mounts, both horizontal and vertical Murphy beds risk falling over, potentially injuring nearby people or pets.

The whole point of using your own Murphy bed is the ease of storage, and this is made easier with wall mounts. Because Murphy beds can be on the pricier side, avoiding any unnecessary damage to your bed from falls is essential – always make sure your closed Murphy bed is securely attached to a wall.

Should you install a Murphy bed yourself?

While it’s definitely possible to install a Murphy bed on your own if you have the right training, we recommend using our bed delivery and assembly service to avoid damaging or improperly installing your new bed.

Murphy beds feature more complicated engineering than other kinds of beds, including bunk beds, so relying on our expertise and experience is usually the best method of avoiding issues weeks or months after you’ve purchased one.

The other reason you'll want to have an expert's help is if you do end up with a defective Murphy bed, it can be immediately taken away and replaced with a new Murphy bed as soon as possible – otherwise, the return process could take longer.

Final thoughts

Invented over a century ago, many modern Murphy beds still resemble the original space-saving fold down bed of the past; what has improved is their ability to modularly fit into whichever and whatever small spaces your home has available. For more information about designing comfortable sleeping quarters within your home, check out the rest of our bed-focused blog content.

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