Whether you’re looking to free up extra space in your home or want one room to serve multiple purposes, a Murphy bed is a trusted space-saving solution. These two-in-one sleepers take the guesswork out of finding an extra space to sleep the occasional overnight guest while still keeping the floor plan functional for everyday use.
Sometimes used as a comic prop in movies and television, the fold-away wall bed has been a source of intrigue and fascination since its invention more than a century ago. The Murphy bed has stood the test of time and is now more popular than ever in homes across America as we begin to spend more time at home.
A go-to for studio apartments where living space comes at a premium, wall beds are also used to transform underused spaces into playrooms, home fitness centers, art studios, or even walk-in closets. The sky’s the limit when you have a little extra breathing room.
If you’re wondering if a Murphy bed is right for you, this guide answers the most frequently asked questions about wall beds to help you determine if installing one is the best fit for your home.
What’s the difference between a Murphy Bed and a Wall bed?
The term Murphy bed is often used interchangeably with wall bed. The truth is there is a subtle difference. A traditional Murphy bed is wall- or floor-mounted and uses elaborate springs and metal frames to raise and lower the mattress. A traditional wall bed also uses a spring mechanism but includes cabinets on either side of the bed to make it appear built into the wall.
The Lori Wall Bed is the modern answer to the traditional Murphy bed or wall bed. Lori Wall Beds feature beautifully crafted shelving without the clunky and cumbersome metal spring mechanism. Alternatively, the contraption-free platform rolls up and down along rounded wooden rockers on the floor, which means expensive springs or pistons aren't required.
Is a Murphy Bed Dangerous?
Many people are first introduced to the concept of a Murphy bed from television or movies — though that is quickly changing as they become commonplace in the average household. One of the most famous depictions of a Murphy bed in pop culture was Charlie Chaplin’s “One A.M.”
The 1916 film shows a five-minute-long struggle between Chaplin and the Murphy bed. The skit concludes with Chaplin resigning himself to sleep in the bathtub. Throughout the decades, Murphy beds have similarly been used in the media to incite laughter, often by causing injury or frustration.
This may explain why people associate Murphy beds with some sort of calamity, leading people to question, are wall beds are dangerous? While there have been a few cases of Murphy bed fatalities, they are few and far between.
As The New York Times Magazine writer Jody Rosen wrote in a 2018 article about these freak accidents, “It was hardly an epidemic; statistically speaking, you were probably as likely to die by tripping over an ottoman or walking under a falling piano.” Still, as Rosen noted, “there were enough of these mishaps to seize the imagination, fixing in popular consciousness the image of a bed that could snap you up in its jaws as you slept.”
In fact, you’re far more likely to die from simply falling out of a standard bed than being swallowed up by a Murphy bed — as Kim Kardashian pointed out in a now-infamous tweet, which cites CDC data, 737 Americans die from falling out of bed each year.
Like any household product or appliance that is used incorrectly, it can result in injury, but as Rosen pointed out, death by Murphy bed is extremely unlikely.
Another common Murphy bed misconception is that they can ruin a mattress. The good news is that is not the case. You don’t even need a special mattress to accommodate a wall bed. The mattress you already have is likely the perfect fit, and the best Murphy bed mattress is the one that feels the most comfortable to you.
Still, there are a few factors to take into account.
There are a couple of reasons why choosing a lighter mattress for a wall bed is optimal. Firstly, the lighter your mattress, the easier the bed will be to lift. Lori Wall Beds recommends using as lightweight of a mattress as you’d find comfortable. For example, a conventional inner-spring or latex foam mattress. A lighter-weight mattress is also less likely to sag or slump under its own weight when the bed is in the upright position.
Another added benefit of a Murphy bed is not having to go for the expense of purchasing a box spring. Lori Wall Bed recommends choosing a mattress up to 12 inches tall (also referred to as “thickness”). Mattresses up to 12 inches thick will fit well within the cabinet frame. Thicker mattresses are also less likely to bend or slump than a thinner option since the wall acts as a support if the mattress is thick.
The Right Fit
There are two popular orientation options for wall beds: vertical and horizontal. While one orientation isn’t better or worse than the other, selecting the right frame will better complement the design and function of your room.
Vertical Murphy beds are slightly taller, while horizontal models are wider and shorter, which is ideal for smaller spaces with lower ceiling height. Prior to making a decision, spend some time drawing up a plan to check proportions. Being crystal clear on the measurements will help you determine if you should select a vertical or horizontal wall bed model.
Outline where your Murphy bed would be positioned in relation to other furniture items, as well as the room’s length and width or any unusual corners or angles. Also take note of often-overlooked elements of the space, including the location of windows and electrical outlets, the way the door swings, and if there are baseboards or crown molding.
The height of the Murphy bed is among the most important measurements to consider. If the bed is too high or low when it is in the upright position, it can be a challenge to reach when lifting and lowering.
This may seem like a lot to keep in mind, but you can use this handy checklist to keep the process simple.
Murphy Bed Pre-Purchase Checklist
Ceiling Height: Knowing the ceiling height of the will help you narrow down the best size and orientation for your space.
Direction of Swing Doors (Closets included)
Non-standard 90-degree Angles/Corners
Position of Windows: Most Murphy beds must be mounted to either the wall or the floor. Choosing a windowless wall is optimal for Murphy bed installation.
Electrical Outlets: Be aware of the location of outlets to ensure you still have access to plug-in power cords.
Wall Studs: Wall-mounted Murphy beds should generally be attached to wall studs. Mark the location of studs to know where to mount your wall bed. If that’s not possible, wall anchors can also work for the Lori Wall Bed
Lighting Fixtures/Ceiling Fans: Take note of the ceiling fans and overhead light fixtures so the Murphy bed can fold out without interference.
Floors/Baseboards/Molding: The presence of baseboards is not a deal-breaker when it comes to installing a Murphy bed. There are three options to consider:
1) Remove the baseboard.
2) Leave the baseboard and cut a base notch. A base notch is a cut-out at the back base of the Murphy bed cabinet, which allows it to be installed flush with the wall over the existing baseboard without cutting into or removing the baseboard. Each Lori Wall Bed already has this baseboard notch cut out.
3) If you want to preserve your floors, baseboards, and molding, the Lori Wall Bed is the best option because it doesn’t have a lifting mechanism that needs to create tension near the base of the bed to lift the mattress. The bed uses a standalone platform that only attaches to the cabinet when it’s in the upright position, meaning there’s very little weight, if any, pulling against the wall. Instead of using the force of springs or pistons, the Lori Wall Bed can be lifted and lowered by hand using your and your lifting partner's strength.
Wall Material: Depending on if you have drywall or brick, you’ll need different wall anchors and tools to complete the installation.
Low Profile Heater Vents: Lori Wall Beds does not recommend installing a bed of any kind that would cover a vent or a heat source as it could potentially create a fire hazard and could also warp the wood.
Painting & Staining: Not many Murphy bed manufacturers give you the option to paint or stain your frame. But those with an eye for design value the ability to customize its look. An unfinished Lori Wall Bed, which is crafted from 100 percent cabinet-grade Baltic birch plywood, can be painted or stained to the color that your heart desires. Lori Wall Beds recommends painting or staining the unfinished frame before installation to keep the process clean and simple.
Murphy beds are a great space-saving solution for anyone looking to create multifunctional spaces. Knowing the basics will help you select the right wall bed for your space.
If you have additional questions, please reach out to our experts at email@example.com. We will walk you through the buying process. You can also check out our additional know-before-you-buy guides below: