Perfect for small-space living or an office/guest room combo, the humble Murphy bed is an innovative piece of furniture designed to fold up into a wall. On the positive side, when you’re not sleeping in the bed, you can tuck it away to give yourself more floor space. On the negative side, Murphy beds have a bit of a reputation for swallowing up their occupants—see Charlie Chaplin’s short film One A.M., in which he fights his Murphy bed . . . and (spoiler alert!) loses.
But the modern Murphy bed is no longer the punchline in a slapstick comedy, thanks to vast technological improvements over the last century. “Over the years, Murphy beds have evolved into a stylish, multi-functional piece that can easily blend into one’s existing décor,” says Wayfair spokesperson Alexa Battista. “From floor to ceiling and credenza-like options to Murphy beds for pets, the overall design of this hideaway unit has transitioned into a semi-chic, small-space living must-have!”
In any case, we’re here to help answer your most pressing questions about the venerable Murphy bed.
Why is it called a Murphy bed?
As you might expect, the Murphy bed is named for its inventor. Around the turn of the 20th century, William L. Murphy designed a bed that would fold neatly into a closet, inspired by the lack of space in his small studio apartment (though, some sources suggest a more provocative reason). He went on to found the Murphy Wall Bed Company, patenting his product in 1911.
Are Murphy beds really dangerous?
There are actually several documented cases of Murphy beds springing up into the wall and killing their occupants. But you’re far more likely to die from simply falling out of a standard bed than being crushed to death by a Murphy bed—according to an infamous tweet by Kim Kardashian West, which cites CDC data, 737 Americans die from falling out of bed each year. Today, Murphy beds have much more effective locking mechanisms, so you really don’t have to worry about them folding you in half in the middle of the night. Just be careful getting out of bed in the morning!
Are Murphy beds comfortable?
In short, they absolutely can be. “The comfort level of a Murphy bed typically depends on the mattress,” says Battista. “There are many options that allow you to purchase the mattress and Murphy bed separately so that it’s custom to your body type and sleep preference.”
What should I know about choosing a Murphy bed?
For starters, it’s always important to measure your space to ensure your Murphy bed will fit. “Often, shoppers will focus on the height and width of the Murphy bed when it’s tucked away but will forget to acknowledge the measurements when it’s unfolded for use,” says Battista.
You should also consider the two major types of Murphy beds: wall-mounted and freestanding. As their names imply, wall-mounted Murphy beds need to be anchored into the wall (and possibly the floor), requiring a bit more handiwork on the installation front, while freestanding ones don’t. The former is a bit sturdier, but the latter is ideal for those with less permanent living situations, like renters.
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