Murphy bed
Home & Design

A Guide to the Different Types of Murphy Beds

Are you looking for ways to use the space in your home more efficiently? Do you want more versatility in how you use certain rooms?

A Murphy bed is a space-saving option that lets you use rooms more flexibly. Several types of Murphy beds are available. Learn more about Murphy beds and how to find the right one for your lifestyle.

What Is a Murphy Bed?

A Murphy bed is also called a wall bed. It folds up against the wall when not in use.

William Murphy invented the first Murphy bed in the early twentieth century. He lived in a studio apartment. At the turn of the century, inviting a woman essentially into his bedroom was taboo.

The foldable bed allowed him to entertain the woman he loved in his home.

Types of Murphy Beds

You have several types of Murphy beds to choose from. The main difference is the structure that hides the bed when it’s folded away.

Standard Murphy Bed

The most common type of Murphy bed folds directly into the wall. This style of bed is ideal if you want an inconspicuous look.

Murphy Desk Bed

A desk bed has a desk built into the front panel. The panel lifts and lowers to reveal the bed. You can find examples at

A desk wall bed is a good option for turning a home office into an occasional guest bedroom. Some desk beds let you keep items on the desk surface when the mattress is pulled down.

Be sure to check the vertical clearance of the desk, though. This determines the height of the objects you can safely leave on the desk.

Bookcase Wall Bed

A library or bookcase wall bed hides the bed in a cabinet with bookshelves on the front. You can store books, decorative items, or other household items on the shelves.

The bookcase opens like French doors to reveal the bed. Some bookcase wall beds have bi-fold doors that fold back on themselves. Bifold doors have a smaller width than standard ones.

Murphy Bunk Beds

Among the bed options you may not have considered is the Murphy bunk bed. A wall bunk bed helps you maximize the space in a kids’ room or playroom. Murphy bunk beds are also a good option for cabins or dormitories.

Sofa Murphy Bed

A sofa Murphy bed features a sofa when the bed is folded up. The bed folds down over the sofa.

Sofa Murphy beds are a good choice for smaller spaces. They’re more comfortable and safer than a traditional sleeper couch.

Murphy Cabinet Bed

A cabinet bed isn’t necessarily fixed to the wall. A Murphy cabinet bed looks like a cabinet or chest of drawers when the bed is folded up.

A freestanding cabinet bed is a good option for renters. It’s also a good choice if you don’t have enough wall space for a mounted Murphy bed. Cabinet beds are usually less expensive than other types of Murphy beds.

Horizontal vs Vertical Murphy Bed

A Murphy bed can be either horizontal or vertical. The direction refers to the mattress.

Vertical Murphy Beds

Vertical Murphy beds are the most common. The foot of the bed goes up and down.

Vertical beds take up less space on the wall. You can get into the bed from the left and right sides. They use more space in the room, though.

Horizontal Murphy Beds

A horizontal Murphy bed folds along the long edge. They’re a good choice if you have a low ceiling clearance.

Horizontal beds have a deeper frame, which usually makes them more expensive. You can only get into bed from the side that isn’t against the wall.

Materials for Murphy Beds

Durability is essential for a Murphy bed. Murphy beds are heavier than standard furniture, and they must open and close reliably for years.

You have a choice of materials when choosing your Murphy bed. Common options include:

  • Solid wood
  • Furniture-grade plywood
  • Melamine
  • Particle board

Particle board is made from compressed wood chips and synthetic resin. Particle board is economical, but it isn’t very durable.

Melamine is a laminate resin. The melamine sheet is applied to particle board, plywood, or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). This creates a melamine board.

Melamine is similar to particle board, but it’s stronger.

Furniture-grade plywood is made from layers of hardwood. The layers are stacked with the grain going in opposite directions. A solid wood veneer covers the surface.

Furniture-grade plywood is a durable material. It’s a good option for furniture with large panels.

Solid wood is a natural and time-tested material. Natural wood is strong, durable, and beautiful. You can stain or paint it to match your decor.

Sizes of Murphy Beds

Murphy beds come in sizes like standard beds: twin, full, queen, and king. You need enough space on the wall and projection space into the room.

For example, a vertical twin bed has a height of 82–87 inches. It will project 80–82 inches. A queen-sized Murphy bed is 87–89 inches high and projects 85–87 inches.

For a vertical Murphy bed, you also need to allow space on either side of the bed.

Mattresses for Murphy Beds

Most Murphy beds will accommodate a standard mattress that is 10–12 inches thick. A mattress that is too thick or heavy could damage the lifting mechanism in the bed. A heavy mattress can become deformed from standing up against the wall.

Memory foam and latex foam mattresses are more durable options.

Choosing the Right Murphy Bed

You can choose from several types of Murphy beds. From standard wall beds to desk beds and sofa beds, you can find the right style for your home. You can choose the size that fits your situation.

No matter which Murphy bed you choose, it will help you get more from your living space. A quality Murphy bed will be a practical and beautiful addition to your home for years to come.

Check out our other home and design articles for more useful guides like this!

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