How to Design a Murphy Bed

In 1916 William L. Murphy opened a factory in San Francisco to produce his patented Murphy bed units. Since then, interior designers have found a variety of uses for these unique hide-away wall beds. Whether you are planning your studio apartment design or looking for creative small bedroom ideas, a Murphy bed will save you space without compromising sleep and comfort. It’s easy to purchase Murphy bed hardware and you can modify the bed according to your needs. As you design your Murphy bed project, keep these tips in mind:

Space Requirements

In their hidden, upright position, Murphy beds have a very small footprint. However, the cabinetry, shelving and the other furniture used to conceal the bed requires a wall that is double the length of the Murphy bed installation. Before developing your design, measure the available wall space and the floor clearance. These will be the limiting factors for the design of the cabinetry, mattress size and orientation.

Mattress Size and Orientation

Traditionally, Murphy beds use twin or full mattresses, arranged so that the headboard end of the mattress points towards the wall when in use, and towards the floor when hidden. Many of the Murphy bed hinge devices on the market are designed to accommodate this standard arrangement. However, with a little effort, you can locate Murphy bed hardware for queen- and king-sized mattresses, and you can even find hinges designed for “side tilt” alignment of the mattress. Side tilted Murphy beds allow a wider range of concealment options. For example, a side mounted twin Murphy bed can fit nicely beneath a bar countertop, a home entertainment cabinet, or a decorative sideboard.

Hiding Your Murphy bed

Your Murphy bed should remain well concealed and integrated with the surrounding décor until you need to pull it out for yourself or a guest. Originally, Murphy beds were hidden inside closets or cabinets. While you should certainly consider these options, also realize that contemporary Murphy bed hardware offers much more flexibility, in part because most Murphy beds no longer need to be mounted to the floor.

The Murphy library bed is one popular contemporary design. In this arrangement, the bed sits between two stationary bookshelves, while two rail-mounted bookshelves slide back and forth to either hide or reveal the mattress. Unlike a closet or cabinet, the Murphy library bed remains functional in both configurations: the shelves offer ample storage space whether the bed is in use or not. No matter what concealment furniture you plan to use, you will almost certainly have some moving elements—sliding panels, folding doors, etc. Make sure that these moving elements allow sufficient clearance for comfortable use of the bed. To keep cabinet doors out of unsightly or inconvenient positions when the bed is open, you will probably need to install 270 degree hinges or pivot door slides.

After you’ve settled on your Murphy bed design, you can order your hardware and bed frame kit from one of several reputable manufacturers. Most Murphy bed kits require only minimal woodworking experience, so this is a home improvement project that anyone can complete.