Murphy beds have long been popular for guest bedrooms and temporary sleeping accommodations. It’s an ingenious solution—you have the convenience of an extra bed available when you need it, and you can store it away to barely take up any space when you don’t. But why limit the space-saving advantages of a Murphy bed to the guest room?
Many people living in small quarters wonder whether these beds can be used, not just as an occasional guest bed, but as a primary bed every night to free up some prized square footage during the day.
In a one-word answer: yes! Murphy beds, although originally intended to be used as extra or secondary sleeping accommodation, can be used as a primary bed and be folded away daily. This is a great advantage if you are short on space, need your bedroom for other purposes during the day, or simply like the clean, streamlined look of the room without the bed.
However, before you run to buy a Murphy bed as your nightly sleeping accommodation, keep in mind that there are factors that may impact how complicated and time-consuming it is to store away and set back up regularly.
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Are Murphy Beds Good for Everyday Use?
While you can use a Murphy bed as your primary nightly bed, folding it up daily and turning it back down each night can be cumbersome, and there is some concern about the wear-and-tear of the bed’s hardware from frequently folding and storing it.
There are many different types of Murphy beds, from free-standing ones that fold into a furniture piece to traditional wall units. When looking for a Murphy bed that you plan to use daily, consider the following few factors:
Comfort and mattress type
If you’re sleeping on the Murphy bed every night, you need it to be comfortable to get a solid good night’s sleep. Murphy beds don’t need box springs, but they can be comfortable with the right mattress.
Alison, who sleeps on a Murphy bed every night, says, “It’s very comfy, more comfy than our previous bed.”
If you’re used to a specific mattress or require one for your back or special needs, make sure that it can be used with the Murphy bed. In general, wall units are more flexible on the type of mattress that you can use. Since they get stored vertically in the wall unit, you can usually use the mattress of your choice, including memory foam.
Cabinet Murphy beds, where the bed folds into a free-standing unit, usually come with custom mattresses that fold precisely into the storage unit, and you might not be able to use your preferred mattress choice. The mattresses it comes with may also be thinner than what you are used to, although you can add padding or a mattress topper to make it more comfortable.
Try out the mattress of the bed before you buy it to make sure that you will be comfortable sleeping on it each night. The foam mattresses that may come with the cabinet unit beds are usually not the best for sleeping on a nightly basis.
Storage of Bedding
Where will you store the pillows and blankets each day when you fold up the bed? Some beds have room for you to fold it up with them, but it may compress and flatten out your pillows. If you have a thin blanket, it can probably fold up with the bed, but a thicker quilt may not fit.
You can look into getting a Murphy bed with built-in storage either on the sides of the bed or behind it to store the bedding. Keep in mind that you will need to pack away the blanket and pillows and re-make your bed each morning and evening, so find a bedding storage solution that is simple and easy. You’re not going to haul it to the closet in the next room twice a day.
Unlike guest room Murphy beds, your bed will be used regularly and needs to be durable to stand up to heavy use. For Murphy beds that will be used every day, it’s worth spending a little more and getting a better quality one.
Murphy beds with metal and solid wood frames will be stronger and last longer than frames made from plywood or particleboard.
Be wary of buying a second-hand Murphy bed despite the draw of the lower cost. It will be hard to evaluate the condition and determine how much it was used and how much longer it will last you.
Always fold the bed carefully and according to the instructions. Because you will frequently have to fold and store the bed, it’s essential to always do it with care, both for safety and to keep the bed in the best condition and extend its life. Murphy beds can usually last about 15 years, but you may need to replace yours earlier if you use it daily due to the expected wear and tear.
Safety and Secure Locking Features
Make sure your bed is good quality and has safe folding and locking features as it will be constantly being folded and then set back up. Look for a bed that lowers slowly and won’t abruptly drop down when you unfold it, which can hurt someone standing in the way.
On some designs, your fingers may get caught and pinched in the hinges while lowering or folding up the bed. You should test lowering and folding the bed to make sure that you can do so easily without risking your digits.
There are some hazards associated with Murphy beds, particularly with the wall units. A bed is large and heavy, and if you’re folding it up into the wall, it’s critical that you install it correctly and securely. The CSPC has recalled specific Murphy bed installation kits that don’t attach the bed securely enough to the wall.
Can the beds pose a danger? If they’re not installed or used correctly, they can cause injuries—and in a rare, freak accident, even fatal—if the bed malfunctions and either opens or folds up on someone. When installed and used correctly, though, Murphy beds are perfectly safe—and advantageous.
Ease of Setup
Since you will be folding your bed up and down daily, you want a bed that will be fast and easy to convert. Most Murphy wall beds have a counterbalance system that makes them easier to fold. Newer models may use torsion springs or piston lifts which help them open and close more easily.
Your Physical Condition
Are you physically able to fold and unfold the bed each night? On-wall units, the handles to pull down the bed, are typically on top. Make sure you can comfortably reach them and can unfold the bed without straining yourself.
It might not be ideal for the elderly, expectant mothers, young children, and those with injuries or prone to muscle strain to do the daily bed setup routine.
Type of Murphy Beds
There are so many different varieties of Murphy beds on the market these days. There are standalone wall units, beds that have bookcases on either side for extra storage, beds with desks, beds with consoles, beds with couches, and beds that fold into free-standing cabinets. You can build your own Murphy bed if you’re handy or commission a customized one built into your walls.
Depending on the Murphy bed design, some might be easier to fold up and down than others. Wall Murphy beds are usually the easiest to operate, and the legs of the bed double as the handles on which to pull the bed down from the wall. Research, or ideally test out the bed in person, to determine if you’ll be able to easily open and close the bed on a consistent basis.
- Bookcase Murphy Bed – The panels that hide the bed are flanked by coordinating bookcases. This is a beautiful option if you have the wall space for the bed and adjoining bookcases and gives you a lot of extra storage space.
- Sofa Murphy Bed – The bed folds up onto the wall behind the sofa and folds down over the sofa when the bed is opened. This creative option gives you a seating area during the day when the bed is stored away and is an excellent choice if your bedroom doubles as the living area.
- Bi-Fold Murphy Bed – The bed folds up into a two-door closet. For a sleek and modern vibe, customize the doors to match the furniture in the rest of the room.
- Desk Murphy Bed – If your sleeping quarters also serve as your workspace, a desk Murphy bed is an innovative solution. Fold up the bed into its wall unit and flip down the desk that’s attached to the underside of the bed. The drawback is that you’ll have to clear off the desk before flipping back down your bed.
- Fold-out Cabinet Murphy Bed – If you don’t have the wall space for a wall unit, a cabinet Murphy bed is a perfect option. The bed folds into a furniture piece that can match the rest of the room’s furnishings. For additional functionality, you can use the top of the cabinet to store and display items.
- Murphy Bunk Beds – For maximum space savings, you can get a Murphy bunk bed! The two beds are installed horizontally on the wall, one above the other. Fold down just the lower one when you need one bed or both for a bunk bed.
- All-in-one Storage Murphy Beds – If you have the wall space and don’t want to purchase additional pieces of storage furniture, you can build a custom Murphy bed to include all of your storage needs. Surround the bed with a bookcase, closet, desk to get the most use out of the least space.
While it might be tempting to go for the Queen or King—after all, it will be folded up and not taking up much space during the day—it may be harder to fold up the bigger-size beds. We recommend going to a showroom to test out how heavy and complicated the larger beds are to fold before you commit to buying them.
The Frequency of Folding it Up
Having listed all the precautions, just because you’re sleeping on a Murphy bed doesn’t mean you have to fold it up each day. Perhaps you don’t need the space during the weekdays while you’re at work and only want to fold it up for the weekends.
Or maybe you love working remotely on your laptop in pajamas in bed but need to hide it away (and get dressed) when you have a work video conference. Maybe you want to stow away the bed when you have company over.
A Murphy bed is an excellent furniture choice, even if you leave it open for the majority of the time. With the right mattress, it can be as comfortable as any other bed, with the added benefit of being able to store it away when you need to.
With so many Murphy beds come in a range of styles, colors, and configurations that will match and blend into your room, making them a beautiful piece of furniture, regardless of the convenience factor.
As with any other piece of furniture, you can move your Murphy bed to your new home if you’re selling your house. However, if it is built-in to the wall, or you don’t need it in your new home, your potential buyers may see it as an advantage.
But Gordon Roberts of Warburg Realty points out that “If the buyer asks the seller to remove it, they should do so, and restore the wall to its original condition.”
Are Murphy Beds Practical?
Murphy beds are very practical if you’re short on space—that’s why they have become so popular! Ever since they were invented in the 1900s by William Lawrence Murphy, these space-saving beds have been used with increasingly improved models, designs, and storage features.
The fact that you can take a twin, queen, or even king-size bed and easily store and hide it away during the day is a brilliant notion. Murphy beds offer practical solutions for many reasons.
- Save on space. If you’re living in a micro-condo or small apartment and space is at a premium, storing your bed away during the day frees up room for more living space. If you have more vertical wall space than floor space, it only makes sense to utilize the wall for the bed and clear the floor area for double-duty during the day.
- While the square footage of a bed may not seem like much, clearing the floor space can allow for a play area or even just space to walk through the room. There are Murphy beds with additional storage, such as wall units with attached bookcases or desks that can offer you even more space-saving solutions.
- You have multi-purpose rooms. If you’re living in a studio apartment or loft, you may not want to have your bed visible from the living area and kitchen when you’re hosting. Folding up your bed is a practical solution to keeping your sleeping area private. It’s also a great idea to keep your bed clean and fresh, and free from cooking odors if your room is open to the kitchen.
- Does your bedroom double as your home office? A Murphy bed is a practical solution to hide the bed if you want to portray a more professional environment in your virtual meetings. No one on Zoom needs to know that the sleek closet doors between the bookcases are concealing a Queen bed.
- You like the streamlined, minimalistic look. If sleek and modern is your style, you may opt for a Murphy bed for the aesthetics. Murphy beds come in a range of beautiful styles, colors, and materials. A wall-unit Murphy bed that matches the walls and closet doors in the room will give the room a clean and sleek look.
Despite all of their advantages, Murphy beds may cost more than many other types of beds as they include not just a bed but the furniture they fold into and the complex design. Factor in the extra installation expense as well, as you should have a professional install it.
For many people, the functionality it serves and the space it frees up every day may make the one-time extra cost well worth their while. For others, a futon or sleeping couch can be a cheaper and just-as-practical solution.
Murphy beds are an innovative solution for a bedroom that is short on space or if you want to hide the bed from view during the day. While they were originally intended to be used as a spare bed that folds away when not in use, you can use a Murphy bed every day as your main bed. Because you will use it regularly, look for a Murphy bed that is high-quality, durable, comfortable, and easy to fold up and down.