I have a very early memory of my grandmother telling me about a surprise, and then revealing the lovely Murphy wall bed in her home. I remember standing in awe and excitement, and then jumping for joy at the thrill of learning that my young brother and I would be sleeping in it that night.
Do you have your own unforgettable memory of the first time you saw a Murphy style wall bed? Wasn’t it an amazing site to see that what looked like a decorative wall in an ordinary room could be transformed to reveal a full size, comfortable bed? These beds continue to mystify and delight, as a huge array of stylish designs and mechanisms have been introduced. And unlike other types of hide a beds, they take up no room space at all when put away, making them a highly sought after space saving furniture solution.
The original Murphy bed was invented by a fellow named William Lawrence Murphy. He lived in a one-room apartment, and felt the challenge of not having enough space to entertain a woman he was wooing. After all, it would not have been proper to court a lady in the same room that also included his bed. So he resolved this by making a cabinet for his bed to be stored in during the day. His unique design was patented under the names “Disappearing Bed” and “Design for a Bed” in 1912 and 1916 respectively.
The trademark of the name “Murphy bed” was taken away by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1989 because of its entry in common usage. This is the reason why this type of wall bed is generically referred to as the Murphy bed, no matter what brand or style it comes in.
How It Works
Today there are many manufacturers of murphy wall beds, and they each use their own variation of the mechanical, functional components as well as the decorative parts of the bed. And many contractors and creators have designed their own plans for wall beds that consumers can purchase and use to build on their own.
But with all of these, the basics are that the bed frame, together with the attached mattress, are built such that when in their vertical, non-use position, they are hidden in a cabinet or closet that resides behind a wall. Then by way of a counter balance and pivot design, when ready to use, the wall façade is either moved aside to expose the bed, or in some cases part of the wall becomes the underside of the bed as the bed is lowered to its horizontal position.
Murphy Style Bed Types
As you begin your research, you may be surprised at the many styles and designs that this kind of bed offers to those who want to own a real space saving furniture. Here are some of the different characteristics and features to consider when selecting the best one for your home:
- Size: Murphy wall beds vary in size, with most common dimensions matching those of a queen, full, or twin bed. Always keep in mind that the larger the bed size, the more wall space is required when it is stowed away, and the more floor space is needed to be freed up when the bed is down. For smaller rooms or those with lower ceilings, there are also side mount Murphy beds, where the bed comes down sideways.
- Wall Design: Creators have come up with beautiful and clever ways of designing the wall that the bed is behind so that the casual visitor wouldn’t even be aware that there is a bed in there somewhere. The wall can be finished with flat panel wood to match the room, or it can be made to look like drawers or cabinet facades complete with decorative handles or pulls. It can be in the style of your other furniture such as mission or contemporary.
- Multi-Functional: Many wall beds now are even more comprehensive with the addition of functional areas that can be used when the bed is away. Examples include incorporating book shelves on either side, and even on the front of the bed wall itself, adding bedside nightstands on either side, or incorporating the bed into an entertainment center. There are even those with the ingenious design where, when the bed is away and flush to the wall, a smaller desk can be dropped down out of that same wall for use during the day.
- Color and Finish: There are many options for finishing a closed Murphy style bed. You can opt for a wall that is painted to look like the wall throughout the rest of the room. Or, you can choose a wood and stain color to match the wall, surrounding shelving, or other furnishings in the room.
- Build Your Own Bed Plans: Many contractors and designers have come up with diy design plans that people can use to make and install their own bed. This has been popularized by many brands, where parts and screws are broken down, and packed in a box. Some prefer this because this is cheaper than other wall bed systems, but this has the same function as that of a traditional wall bed.