MURPHY BED (WALL BED) | An Architect Explains

The Murphy Bed – known generically as a wallbed – was named after its inventor, William Murphy. The story goes that his one-bed apartment was too small for him to entertain his friends, so he invented a way of making more space by hiding away the bed into the wall during the day. Although we mainly think of Murphy Beds as wall beds, in 1918 William Murphy invented a bed that could be attached inside the door of a closet and folded down from there.
Murphy bed Wallbed folds into the wall
Murphy Bed is also called a Wallbed as it folds into the wall during the day allowing more space

Listed here under the following headings, are some of the Guidelines for the design of a Murphy bed. As an Architect, I have explained each of these guidelines under the following headings:

What are the components of a Murphy bed?
What are the types of Murphy beds?
What are the advantages of Murphy beds?
What are the disadvantages of Murphy beds ?
Are Murphy beds still popular?



Storage: Wall beds are stored vertically against a wall or inside a closet or cabinet and so well incorporated into wall units, you can’t even tell that the bed is there

Mechanism: They usually have a counter-balancing mechanism to allow for easy raising and lowering. You can flip the bed at one of its horizontal edges, to make it stand vertically inside a wall or closet.

Mattress and frame: The mattress is generally attached to the bed frame, with a lock at each corner and lies on wire mesh instead of box springs.

Headboard/footboard: Another unique characteristic of the Murphy bed is that they do not have headboards, footboards or bed rails.

Night tables: Some units even include extras such as fold-out night tables.

Bi-fold or Closet Murphy (Wallbed) hides into a closet during the day



The original panel style – where the whole bed simply folds down from the wall in one go.  A panel bed has the advantage that with no doors to open, less space is used.

The Bi-Fold or Closet style –  In this style, both the Murphy bed and the closet are concealed behind a pair of closet doors in the bedroom or living room. When the doors are opened, the bed folds out from within. Bi-Folds tend to have simpler and lighter operating mechanisms.

Hide-away bed: The hideaway bed concealed behind a wall or closet has a dual purpose and can be used as a shelf or desk, as seen here.

Hide-away Murphy bed
Hide-away bed concealed behind a wall has a dual purpose and can be used as a shelf or desk.



Space: Since the Murphy bed can be folded away during the daytime, you can utilize the space for some other purpose, while at night you can convert the place into a bedroom.

Economical: At times, the Murphy beds prove to be cheaper than the regular ones.

Usefulness:  Murphy beds can be used by anyone including pets.



Comfort: You might just have to compromise on the comfort quotient when you use a Murphy bed. In comparison to the regular beds, Murphy beds may not be as comfortable or sturdy because they use wire mesh instead of box springs.

No Scope For Decoration: Since Murphy beds do not have headboards, footboards, or bed rails, they provide no scope for decoration. So, if aesthetics is high on your list, a Murphy bed is not for you.

Tedious Task: Since you are limited by space, you need to fold the bed every morning you get up. This task may become tedious over time, especially for older citizens.

Murphy bed for pets
Murphy bed for pets



The peak market for wallbeds was back in the 1920’s. In recent times, the wallbed has not been so popular because of the availability of alternative, space-saving beds such as futons, bunk beds or trundle beds which are a lot more comfortable. However, as cities become ever more crowded, there are fewer number of bedrooms in apartments. In such spaces, Murphy beds are the best alternative. Nowadays Murphy beds have been revamped to include modular cabinetry with glass, mirrors, lighting, storage or computer centers.

While Murphy beds are folded into a closet, the Futon bed  can be folded and stored away in a closet.

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For information on other Bed Types, go to:

14 thoughts on “MURPHY BED (WALL BED) | An Architect Explains

  • December 12, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    I liked what you said about how Murphy beds can be folded away and provide extra space for other purposed. I am going to be moving into a small home in about a month and need all the space I can get. I will be sure to look into custom wall bed services in my area so that I can have a bedding option that doubles as a workspace during the day.

  • August 27, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Can you email me specs for the Murphy bed with drop down table please? We are restoring our century barn and would like to build this in our craft/spare bedroom.
    Hi Katie,
    The images in the post are only for representation. They are not for sale.


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