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Expecting holiday guests? These beds are designed to maximize space

This once popular space-saving bed is back in style.

A collage of unfolded Murphy beds. Credit: Reviewed / Xtraroom / Hampton / Night & Day Furniture

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The pandemic redefined what it means to be at home. The hours we spent working, eating, exercising, and sleeping prompted many people to reconfigure their homes with space-saving hacks in order to make more room for, well, living entirely indoors. Enter: the Murphy bed, a relic from the past that’s cool again—and a boon now that we’re accepting guests once more.

If you’re new to the world of these space savers, don’t sweat it because we’ve got you covered.

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What is a Murphy bed?

These fold-up beds, sometimes called wall beds, are stored vertically in a cabinet or in the wall, as the alternative name suggests. While you need enough floor space to open them out, they take up a lot less room when not in use.

The idea was conceived in the late 1800s by William Lawrence Murphy, an Irish opera singer living in a one-room apartment in San Francisco. The first designs left something to be desired, style-wise. They were obvious—despite being folded up, as you could see the mattress, bed frame, and the hardware that controlled the lifting mechanism. Design was not a consideration, only functionality.

But that’s not the case anymore: Many modern Murphy beds typically would fit right in with a well-designed home, no matter the size. The fold-up and fold-down nature makes it an attractive purchase for those who want to save space, say, in a home office that doubles as a guest bedroom. When they aren’t in use, they look like a credenza or bookcase. Sometimes, they even look like wall murals when folded up.

“Whether it's a rarely used guest room or a bedroom in a city apartment that also serves as living space, a Murphy bed allows a room to be a bedroom by night and keep its day job,” says Sarah Cole, an interior designer based in Newton, Massachusetts.

Because Murphy beds are designed to take up as little real estate as possible, they don’t use box springs. Instead, the mattress sits on top of a platform or sometimes a layer of mesh on a wood or metal frame. Whether you want a Murphy bed for guests or yourself, they’re a great way to maximize space in your home.

Where can you buy a Murphy bed?

Several retailers have jumped into the space, with retailers like Wayfair and Pottery Barn Teen offering their own versions of the Murphy bed.

For a traditional wall bed: Pottery Barn’s Hampton Storage Bed with Vanity

A Murphy bed completely unfolded.
Credit: Reviewed / Hampton

Something that you're already used to, but with more practical uses!

The Hampton Storage Bed with Vanity Towers comes in a full or queen size and has two vanity bookshelves on both sides of the bed. ​​There are four underbed drawers that are removable. It comes in white and is made of a combination of rubberwood, poplar, and MDF. Overall, the queen size is 100 inches wide by 86 inches long and 73 inches high. The full’s overall size is 93 inches wide by 81 inches long and 73 inches high.

Reviewers on social media love the sleek look of the Hampton Storage Bed. Buyers also say they love the bed comes with delivery and is assembled in the home. This includes removal of trash.

$3,946 at Pottery Barn Teen

For a concealing cabinet: Night & Day Furniture Murphy Cube Cabinet Bed

The Night & Day Furniture Murphy Cube Cabinet Bed unfolded.
Credit: Reviewed / Night & Day Furniture

Is it holding some valuable trinkets? Nope, just a mattress!

When not used for sleeping, the Murphy Cube Cabinet Bed looks like an cube cabinet with two vertical doors that measures about 64 inches wide by 37 inches tall by 27 inches deep. It comes in a chocolate- or cherry-stained finish and includes a tri-folding, queen-sized 6-inch memory foam mattress. There’s even room for pillows and sheets in the cabinet.

It has an average 4.6-star rating from almost 500 reviews, one of the most-rated Murphy beds on Amazon. Reviews say this Murphy bed is easy to assemble, looks good, and the mattress is comfortable.

$1,797 at Amazon

For a double-duty office desk: Xtraroom Avalon Bed

A closet converting itself into a Murphy bed.
Credit: Reviewed / Xtraroom

Convert your office into a guest room!

The Xtraroom Avalon Bed is a great option for a dual-purpose office. Folded up, you’ll have a writing desk that measures 55 inches wide by about 17 inches deep. But hidden in the cabinet above is a queen-size bed that folds down for guests. Even cooler: The desk surface maintains its orientation, so you don’t have to worry about clearing it off too carefully if you want to use the bed. The mattress for this Murphy bed is sold separately.

Reviewers are happy with this purchase, saying this piece of furniture is beautiful, if a little tricky to put together. (Luckily, you only have to do that once.)

$3,010 at Wayfair

Can you build your own Murphy bed?

A collage featuring a Makita drill.
Credit: Reviewed / Home Depot / Makita

Get creative and set up your own Murphy bed with these tools! Where would you hide your mattress?

If DIY is more your style and you’re up for building your own Murphy bed or wall bed, you can find a number of tutorials and kits online. A Murphy bed kit from Amazon comes with all the necessary hardware one needs to build and customize a Murphy bed. Choose the mattress size and the direction the bed will be stored—vertically or horizontally.

For more DIY, Home Depot offers Murphy Bed instructions, including suggestions for tools and plans to construct your own. (You’ll need a jig saw and cordless drill, for starters.)

What should you know before buying a Murphy bed?

Folks looking for a Murphy bed should first consider whether they want a vertical or horizontal bed, says Cole. Vertical beds typically look like cabinetry when closed and require greater vertical clearances. Horizontal options mount on walls sideways and are better for smaller spaces and rooms with lower ceilings.

Before you purchase a fold-up bed, it is important to take careful measurements of your space, including the vertical distance to any ceiling lights, as the bed will need to clear them when being folded out and back.

“It is also important to consider how easy it is to remove the bed from the room,” Cole says. “Although free-standing Murphy beds exist, most must be mounted to the wall or floor. Wall-mounted beds are usually easier to remove and keep floors damage-free.”

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