“Multiple use of space” is the mantra for apartment living. If you’re looking for ways to make your space multi-task, take a look at the Murphy (or wall) bed. These hinged beds can be folded up and stored during the day, pulled down and slept in at night. Isn’t it a tempting thought to be able to use every inch of your apartment’s square footage around the clock?
Another advantage of the Murphy bed is its comfort. Unlike a sleeper sofa or futon couch/bed, the mattress in a wall bed is kept flat, so there’s no pesky bumps, folds or bars to contend with.
William L. Murphy had a problem: he lived in a one-room apartment and he wanted to entertain. Being a problem-solving kind of guy, he took some door hinges, a door jamb from a closet and built the first wall bed. The result was so successful he applied for a patent and started the Murphy Wall Bed Company in 1900.The wall bed business took off from there and has never stopped. Think of it, with a Murphy bed you get a bedroom PLUS one of the following:
- Home office
- Yoga studio
- Playroom for kids
- Home theater
- Craft room
- Teen hangout space
- Art studio
- Home gym
Sold on that idea? Good, let’s look at your options.
PICK YOUR CONFIGURATION
Murphy beds come in two configurations.
Vertical: This configuration is the one most of us recognize in a Murphy bed, where the bed is pulled down so that the foot is opposite the wall. The advantage of this style is that it can blend into existing cabinetry well. A disadvantage is that it requires a higher ceiling.
Horizontal, also known as “side tilt”: A more recent adaptation of the Murphy bed is the horizontal configuration, where the bed is folded down so that the person sleeping is parallel to the wall. The advantage of this style is that it doesn’t require high ceilings and it doesn’t jut out into the room as far.
MECHANISMS AND MOUNTING
Murphy beds have lifting mechanisms that fall into two categories.
Spring: this is the system used in traditional Murphy beds. A counter-balanced compressed steel spring is hidden inside the bed frame, making the bed easy to raise and lower. Springs may stretch and need to be adjusted after long use.
Piston/hydraulic: This type of mechanism uses air pressure or gas to support the lowering and lifting of the bed frame. You might prefer a piston in a child’s room because of a safety feature inherent in this mechanism: it can be locked when the bed is not in use.
There are two ways to mount a Murphy bed in your apartment.
Wall Mounting: the wall bed is attached to studs to lock it in place. This method of mounting is easier to take down when you move.
Floor Mounting: the wall bed is attached to the floor, or in some cases the baseboard. While the result is a very stable installation, it may damage the floor and is more difficult to remove.
QUICK CHANGE ARTISTS
Check out these examples of how rooms have developed double identities through the use of a wall bed:
Library by day, queen bed by night:
Bookcases swing open and voila! – a Murphy bed descends to provide your guests with a good night’s sleep. When they’re gone you have storage for all your books and floor space for your favorite reading chair. See an example here.
Teen hangout and study space by day, crash pad by night:
This horizontal wall bed serves three functions: desk, bed and storage. Shelves with sliding doors take up the top half of the unit. When it’s time for bed, your tired teen can just leave stuff on the desk, push it down and out comes the single bed. There is also storage for stashing stuff to be within reach at night. All of this in the space that a normal free-standing closet would use. See this three-function wonder here.
Home office by day, guest room by night:
Opaque glass doors match your modern office décor, then slide open at night for your overnight guest. The wall bed can even be configured to provide additional storage for your office equipment and supplies. See an example of this style here.
THE NEXT GENERATION
The Murphy bed concept is constantly being reworked and updated. Click here to see an “elevator” that raises your bed to the ceiling during the day. Murphy beds can be customized and come in styles, materials and finishes to match the decor in your new apartment.
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