Decorative throw pillows and scented candles are stylish home accents, but when it comes to long-term investment pieces, practicality is a leading factor to consider. If you have ever wanted to maximize your floor plan by reclaiming space in a spare guest room, a Murphy bed is a design lover’s solution.
The fold-up wall bed has come leaps and bounds since its invention in the early 1900s. Today’s Murphy beds are credited as practical space-savers. They also integrate seamlessly into spaces without sacrificing style.
Whether you live in a small 900-square-foot apartment or a house, a Murphy bed offers many more advantages than a traditional bedroom set. Here’s Here are some of the practical pros and cons of owning a hide-a-away Murphy bed that will maximize your space.
Pro: Transforms Spare Spaces
Credit: Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images
The Murphy bed was made to allow rooms to perform multiple purposes. According to Smithsonian Mag, William Lawrence Murphy came up with the idea for the fold-out bed around 1900 in San Francisco. As the legend goes, a love interest prompted the invention of the wall bed. Murphy was taken by a young opera singer; however, it would be considered deeply immodest to invite her to enter a gentleman’s bedroom. The wall bed allowed Murphy to stow his bed in his closet, hence transforming his one-room apartment from a bedroom into a parlour where the young singer could enter.
Today, Murphy beds are used to transform spare rooms in creative ways. Design gurus Chip and Joanna Gains renovated a playroom with a Murphy bed for accommodating guests in one episode of their wildly popular HGTV show Fixer Upper.
Murphy beds are also ideal for transforming underused rooms into designated home offices, home fitness centres, or artist studios. The sky’s the limit when it comes to dreaming up creative ideas when you have extra space to spread out.
Con: May Not Fit in Rooms with Odd Angles or Low Ceilings
Murphy beds are designed to be mounted flush to a straight, level, and windowless wall. If you have an unconventional room shape — think odd-shaped angles or low ceilings — you’d likely be unable to use a wall bed.
Pro: Multi-functional Furniture
Not only does a wall allow spare rooms to perform multiple functions, but the piece itself is also dual-use. Many of today’s Murphy bed options are equipped with pull-out desks and cabinetry. It is a two-for-one, cost and space-saving investment.
The Lori Bed, for example, offers a fold-down headboard as well as sturdy shelving on the front that’s perfect for displaying trinkets or extra storage. Other models are outfitted with all the bells and whistles, such as LED lighting, USB ports, and even leather sofas.
One of the most significant differences between old-school Murphy beds and modern models is the quality. Murphy beds have a bad wrap for being flimsy, but today’s versions can be very durable and last for generations. Some are made with all wood construction, making them more likely to last through the repeated lifting and lowering movement.
Of course, there are cheaper particleboard options on the market that might be a better fit for a temporary living situation, such as a college dorm or your starter basement apartment. Overall, the modern models made from quality materials are real investment pieces designed to last for years.
Con: Needs to be Anchored to your Wall
Wall beds require screwing into studs or drywall. Beds with metal lifting mechanisms often have to be installed in the baseboard or even into the floor. If you’re living in a rental unit, you may not be allowed to mount anything into the wall, which can make a Murphy bed a non-starter.
(Credit: Greg Tilley)
Many Murphy bed companies offer beds available in different orientations, sizes, and finishes. As featured on HGTV, designer Deborah Gerbis decided on a custom solution for the narrow Ottawa apartment, pictured above.
"We thought about a Murphy-style bed but positioned the bed horizontally instead of the traditional vertical orientation. We chose maple cabinetry with a medium stain to complement the floor and included frosted glass elements to keep the unit from feeling imposing in such a narrow room," Gerbis told HGTV.
There’s also the option to add custom hardware to match other furniture or add fun features, like hooks for your favourite cosy bathrobe. If you want a custom colour, some companies like Lori Beds offer an unfinished bed that you can paint or stain to get the perfect look for your room.
One thing to keep in mind is that Lori Beds is expanding its pre-finished options, so keep an eye out for the new line expansion coming in late October.
Con: Can be Pricey
Murphy beds are expensive and generally cost more than $1,500. You generally get what you pay for. In the case of Lori Beds, they’re able to offer a high-quality, mechanism-free bed, and that means fantastic cost savings for their customers. If you’d like to learn more about their product line, click here to see more.
Credit: Addicted 2 DIY
People in the market for a Murphy bed often question if it’s going to be comfortable. Though the units are unique, the truth is that virtually any mattress can be used in a Murphy bed. No box spring is required.
The majority of Murphy beds can accommodate mattresses up to 12 inches thick. Memory foam mattresses are not recommended because they’re too heavy to lift. If you are not familiar with mattresses in terms of thickness, they are easy to find, and it's likely you already have one since standard thickness ranges from 9 to 12 inches.
Follow our guide for choosing a Murphy bed mattress
Con: In-depth Assembly Process
No power drill or stud finder? That’s a problem. Wall Beds don’t arrive fully assembled. It may cost you a couple of hours in time to assemble, but you’ll save on the bottom line. Some models offer flat packing, which allows for faster delivery times. It is less expensive and doesn’t require you to schedule a time window to be home for the shipment.
Pro: Provides Room for Innovation
Credit: Home Design Lover
If you love to entertain or invite loved ones to stay for holidays, Murphy beds are great for creating ideal sleeping spaces in unexpected places. Some creative homeowners maximize space by using multiple wall beds to improvise sleeping quarters when needed. Because Murphy bed models come in various sizes and orientations, they can easily be tucked away in a finished basement or family room.
Murphy beds are among the most practical and stylish pieces of furniture available. Murphy beds are a design lover’s space-saving solution, whether it's to maximize space in a small apartment or transform underused spaces into multifunctional rooms.