According to Smithsonian Museum historians, the murphy bed was “born of necessity” when inventor William Murphy “had a driving desire to hide his bed so he could entertain a lady” at his San Francisco digs.
At that time, society considered this type of invitation to be scandalous and unseemly because there was to be no chaperone.
We have no clue how things went, but Murphy’s hospitality lead to the couple marrying in 1900.
Murphy’s concept remains a best seller, a household brand name and an original vintage treasure is proudly displayed within the National Museum of American History’s furniture collection.
In fact, usage of the term “Murphy Bed” has become so inculcated into the English language, it’s no longer necessary to capitalize the word Murphy when discussing this bed style — unless you want to pay homage to the innovative man who came up with this clever idea.
In this article we’ll discuss and answer some popular Frequently Asked Questions about Murphy Beds, so let’s get started:
Q: What are Murphy beds?
A: Murphy beds have become a generic term for any bed that uses a hinge system so it can be lifted and folded up vertically into either the wall or a cabinet.
By installing a murphy bed, consumers can double their floor space. These beds are especially popular in studios, mobile homes and multi-purpose rooms.
The earliest murphy beds were often safety hazards but advances in technology now prevent these beds from springing open spontaneously.
Today’s murphy bed types include platform, trundle, loft and bunk styles. The most popular sellers are bi-folds.
Bed frames are fitted with metal or wood slats on which the mattress rests. There are even murphy beds for pets!
Q: Does IKEA sell murphy beds?
A: Sorry, IKEA fans, the Swedish furniture manufacturer doesn’t sell murphy beds. But if you want to be able to get the IKEA “look,” follow this IKEA hack described on the Instructables Workshop website, build your own bed and show everyone that you are just as clever as William Murphy was a century or so ago.
Q: Are murphy beds worth buying?
A: Yes, they are great for small spaces and they make terrific investments, say decorators who recommend these to make small rooms appear optically larger.
These beds are comfortable, long-lasting and come in so many styles, colors and designs, matching your décor is easy.
Accordingly, any murphy bed mattress will serve you just as long and as comfortably as a regular bed and you won’t have trouble finding one that fits your budget, either.
Q: Can a murphy bed be used every day?
A: There’s no reason one of these beds can’t be used every day and in fact, most are lone sleep furnishings for apartment dwellers and folks living in small spaces.
So many manufacturers produce these that price tags on some are comparable to standard beds. After all, if you live alone, who cares if you leave the bed in place or unmade, for that matter, rather than stowing it in a wall or cabinet when you’re not snoozing.
Q: What’s the difference between a wall bed and a murphy bed?
A: The two terms are often used interchangeably but there are subtle differences, says Dan Wilding, a spokesperson for a wall bed manufacturer, who says the decision comes down to personal choice.
That stated, murphy beds are delivered “in smaller pieces” so they fit more uniformly into difficult spaces. Wall beds install faster because they have “the benefit of the locking leg mechanism” and take up less room space, he adds.
The biggest difference is weight capacity, adds Wilding. Wall beds can hold up to 4000 pounds while a typical murphy bed supports around 2000 pounds of weight.
Q: Do murphy beds ruin mattresses?
That depends upon what you are planning to do on your murphy bed, and we’re not asking. Murphy beds can accommodate mattresses made for regular beds, but the devil is in the details as thickness matters when there’s a finite amount of space when the unit is folded up and in place.
That stated, research shows that natural latex mattresses aren’t recommended because the material isn’t made to be stored in a vertical position for long periods of time.
Memory foam is the most highly recommended mattress material for murphy beds according to industry experts.
Q: What is the average cost of a murphy bed?
A: If you’ve begun to shop for this type of bed, you’ve already discovered that starting prices for murphy beds begin at between $3000 and $4000, but intricacy of cabinetry and state-of-the-art features can easily elevate the price to $6000.
These figures include install charges and refer to twin, double or queen sizes. Consumers seeking larger beds (e.g., kings) frequently turn to professionals to build a murphy bed from the ground up.
Q: Are murphy beds comfortable to sleep on?
A: Like every bed on today’s market, the key to a comfortable night’s sleep is always the mattress. According to a popular manufacturer of murphy beds, “A bed is only as comfortable as you allow it to be” and murphy beds are no exception.
Can you take steps to up the comfort quotient? You can; pile on the plush bedding, pillows that offer the most support and don’t ignore the mattress when it’s ready to be replaced.
Q: How much weight will a murphy bed hold?
A: Having already startled you by informing you that the average murphy bed is capable of supporting 2000 pounds, a more reliable estimate of weight range would be between 250 and 1000 pounds for all intents and purposes.
Attempt to place 2000 pounds of weight on a murphy bed and you could strain the lift mechanism. Depending upon design and materials, that much weight could even pull the bed’s hardware out of the wall.
Q: Do murphy beds use regular mattresses?
A: Yes, they can and do. Do some companies make and market mattresses that are sold as murphy bed products? Of course. But they’re not necessarily any different than regular mattresses.
Bottom line is that as long as the mattress fits the bed frame comfortably while the unit is stowed in its upright position, you’re good to go. Or in this case, you’re good to sleep.
Q: Can I use a memory foam mattress on a murphy bed?
A: You can and you should because memory foam is the industry’s preferred mattress filler, retaining its shape over the years. Remember to avoid latex products, say industry experts.
Q: From where can I buy a Murphy Bed Online?
A: If it seems like every bed maker on the planet has added murphy beds to their inventory, you’re not wrong. Some of the retailers you can turn to are:
Q: Do murphy beds require box springs?
A: One of the benefits of owning a murphy bed is not having to buy a box spring for the duration of the bed’s life. Space allotment between the bed and the wall or cabinet interior when in folded position simply won’t accommodate that much thickness.
Q: What are murphy bed mechanisms?
A: There are two types and either one does a good job.
Spring lift mechanisms employ heavy-duty steel springs that pull down and lift up the bed. These 9 springs, located on the sides of the frame, control the amount of tension the coils deliver. These springs must be greased and re-tightened every few years to maintain coil tautness.
Piston mechanisms serve the same purpose. Gas-pressurized pistons that control one’s ability to lower the bed have fewer parts, but they must be attached to wall studs. Unlike spring lift mechanisms that can be tightened down the road, pistons can’t be readjusted once they are installed.
Q: Must murphy beds be attached to the wall?
A: Not every murphy bed must be attached to a wall, but the majority of them do. If you’re planning to do the job yourself, you’ll need a drill, screws, stud finder and angle brackets.
Start by finding the wall studs. Mount the angle brackets by drilling holes into the wall and moving the frame into place so it lines up with the brackets.
Q: Is every murphy bed this easy to install?
A: Not exactly. Some of them don’t require securing the unit to the wall. For these types of units, it’s critical to place the unit on a section of floor that’s level.
By the way, just because a murphy bed’s instructions don’t require you to secure the bed to the wall, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy your own angle brackets and screws, drill holes into both the wall and the rear of the frame and make the attachment.
Q: Suppose I fall in love with a murphy bed that attaches to the floor?
A: This type of bed installs just like wall mount units, but professionals suggest using bolts rather than screws for a more secure connection.
That stated, keep in mind this admonition: If you anchor a murphy bed to the floor, this should be a long-term commitment.
Walls can be patched and repainted. Floors could be seriously damaged by bolts and screws and it will take more effort to rehabilitate floors than walls once the bed is removed.
According to Maria Fredgaard, writing for the Go Downsize website, “floor mounted Murphy beds are the easiest to open but the hardest to install and Murphy beds that do not require any installation are usually the hardest to open and the least stable.”
Q: Are there murphy beds that don’t have to be secured to the wall?
A: Yes. These furnishings are fairly new to the market and they are heavily weighted on the bottoms of the cabinets in order to refocus the center of gravity so the framing and bed remain stable and won’t topple over, no matter how often these units are are opened and closed.
These beds are especially popular as room dividers and are very versatile because both sides serve unique purposes (e.g., library shelves).
Q: Can a murphy bed kill me?
A: If you believe that anything can kill you if it’s your time to go, the answer is yes, but the chance of this happening are too low to measure.
Proper installation and fail-safe mechanisms are installed when these beds are designed. These include closet locking bolts, lock pistons built into frames and other engineering safeguards.
It’s incumbent upon you to do your homework and choose a murphy bed that has been subjected to rigorous testing.
Further, there have been no reports of “death by murphy bed” reported to government safety and regulatory authorities, so rest reassured that you’ll sleep just as soundly in your murphy bed as you did before you purchased it.
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