We are fully aware that Murphy beds have often not been the most glamorous of additions to a home. However, once uncomfortable and awkward, Murphy bed ideas are having a bit of a glow up and we are seeing ingenious ways they are being used as a small space solution in the chicest of homes.
Murphy beds make sense! So why shouldn't we be embracing their ability to turn any room (no matter how small) into a modern bedroom. They can instantly transform a home office or a living room or a playroom into extra room for guests. And all these design-approved designs show they can look really sleek and seamless too. Whether you are up for a bit of DIY or have the budget to work with a carpenter to create something bespoke, these wall bed ideas and sure to inspire.
The best ways to style a murphy bed
1. Connect a Murphy bed to the rest of the room
Murphy beds may be a practical small-space solution, but just look how chic they can be too. This pink bedroom/home office has everything you would want from a Murphy bed – it's chic, subtle, and incorporates some handy extra storage that can be used by both homeowner and guests.
'Murphy beds can look more chick when they are built into the cabinetry of the room, or connect to the surroundings. Also, it is great to have some shelves and possibly interior lighting for when they are open,' suggested Genevieve White Carter of Carter Design
'This room is a home office as well as a guest room. The Murphy bed created a great solution for the room to not be a bedroom when not in use. Serendipitously the pink shiplap functions as a wonderful zoom background.'
2. Blend a Murphy bed seamlessly into your living room
This Murphy bed idea shows how Murphy beds should be done. Seamless, chic, and totally undetectable. Where even is the Murphy bed in this room? See that lovely oak millwork? Yep, that's the Murphy bed, which can instantly transform this boho living room into a guest bedroom.
This space was designed by Emily Brownell of Gilded Hearth Interiors. 'Murphy beds are great for homes with smaller spaces. Especially now that so many folks are working from home it's the best way to transform a guest room into an office without losing that space for the occasional guest. Also great if you wanted a home gym in your guest room as well.' Emily explains.
'I wanted a Murphy bed and the cabinet flanking our media center to be similar dimensions but asymmetrical in nature. I also wanted to hide the plywood seams and so I created this design with oak half rounds with those ideas in mind. I also really love mixed oak & walnut so this was a good way to showcase that.'
'My top tip is to plan the design of the Murphy bed to accommodate the room. Another fun way to dress them up is to utilize wallpaper or place them flanked by built-ins and use it as a surface for art. There are lots of ways you could play around as long as your design it to be cohesive with the rest of the room,' she adds.
3. Make a Murphy bed a chic design feature
This Murphy bed is actually on board a yacht – which no matter how fancy, is also going to be a test when it comes to maximizing space, so plenty of lessons to be learned here. The design is by MKCA . 'Playfully dubbed pied-à-mer, the residence serves as a holiday home for a couple and their grown children, transforming seamlessly from a spacious one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment through tables and beds that fold away and unfurl as necessary,' explains Michael K. Chen, Principle of MKCA.
'As befitting a floating home, the bed is cantilevered from the wall below when opened. We love that it doesn't touch the ground but also wanted to ensure that the bed still had a space of its own, so the interior of the recess that it tucks into is lined in lacquered cabinetry and upholstered in mauve mohair,' continues Michael.
'The upholstery dulls the hum of the ship, and because the bed faces a wall of sliding doors that open onto a terrace, there is the sound of the ocean. The recess is lined with shelving with books and artwork and places for charging devices. So it really is a microenvironment in and of itself, within the larger but still compact space of the apartment.'
Let's be honest, we've never been more tempted by a Murphy bed.
4. Double up a home office as a guest bedroom
The best thing about a Murphy bed is the flexibility they bring to a room. The ability to totally transform the function of the room whenever you please. For many of us, it's a luxury to have both a spare bedroom and a home office, but a Murphy bed allows you to have both in the same space. And it's different – better – than having a sofa bed or a day bed, or a single bed in the corner of the room, because when a Murphy bed is not in use, you have no idea it's there and the floor space is free to be used in other ways. There's just something about having a fully made-up bed in a home office that makes it feel slightly less... productive right?
This project by Sonya Lee is the perfect example of how a Murphy bed can be a fantastic (and seamless) addition to a home office. 'Our clients came to us with various scenarios of how they wanted to use their ground floor apartment in their multi-generational Brooklyn brownstone, ranging from renting it out as a separate apartment to using it as a home office with potential client meetings to an overflow entertainment area with long term visiting guests,' Sonya explains.
'Flexibility was critical. Compact and efficient was essential. Ease of use for varying ages and needs was fundamental. A custom cabinet defines the main space and acts as a Swiss Army knife, folding out different types of utilities. A built-in desk with floating shelves is essential for the office; a clean minimal panel pulls down and stores away a comfortable queen-size bed with storage flanking each side.'
'The Murphy bed was a key component to the swiss army knife design - when folded up, we imagined various opportunities to use that space whether it was a clear open space for meeting clients at home to movie nights with friends, using the blank surface as a projecting wall. We integrated the murphy bed with additional storage, a vertical wood screen, and an office desk.'
5. Build in a single Murphy bed
Now, this is something we haven't seen before. Niche Interiors got around the fact that this small home office needed to perform so many functions – storage, workspace, guest bedroom – by adding in a single Murphy bed that folds out of the bottom of this built-in. When not in use it just looks like cabinetry and is painted to match the walls and shelving that surrounds it. Even though when not in use, traditional Murphy beds take up zero floor space, you still need to have the space available for a double bed and at least a small amount of room to move around it, but this is a neat way to add an extra bed when space in tight.
'Our San Francisco client needed book storage, a display area for her collection of curiosities as well as an extra bed to accommodate frequent house guests. We designed custom built-ins that integrated a murphy bed into the design to provide all of these functions in one compact piece,' explains Jennifer Jones, Principal Designer at Niche Interiors.
6. Use a sofa as the frame for a Murphy bed
This is perhaps the most ingenious Murphy bed idea we have seen. Is it a sofa bed? Is it a wall bed? Well, it's kind of both. It was designed bespoke for this small space by Gil Interiors and makes use of both the sofa and a pull-down aspect. The sofa creates the headboard and sides to make the sleep space feel more snug (and look more chic), but the mattress and the base of the bed pull down from the wall and sit over the sofa, much like a traditional Murphy bed.
'The idea for this room with a Murphy bed on this specific project was to have a fun entertaining or reading room that could turn when needed in to a well-decorated guest bedroom that was fun and comfortable as well,' explains founder Gil Valenzuela.
7. Style up a Murphy bed for guest bedroom vibes
A home office doubles as a second bedroom in this chic space designed by Reena Sotropa. What we love about this room, is despite it being a pull down bed, it still very much feels like a guest bedroom. And that's thanks to the luxurious bedding set up.
'If you’re planning to use a Murphy bed as a guest bed, approach styling it the same way that you would any bed in your home--prioritize comfort, style, and unexpectedly cozy and luxurious details,' suggests designer Kathy Kuo.
'One way to add dimension to your bed styling motif is to add a luxe cashmere throw blanket to the foot of the bed. This is an easy way to add both color and texture to your space. I also love the idea of layering eye-catching decorative pillows that reflect the interior design details in the rest of your home; you can also swap out your decorative pillows for different seasons or holidays.'
8. Consider how guests will use the space
Clad in pine wood, this murphy bed looks right at home is this wonderful cabin retreat designed by Wittman Estes. It doubles the living room as a spare bedroom, and when not in use it blends with the built-in storage used throughout the rest of the space.
'We integrated the Murphy bed as a piece of casework including headboard, nightstands, and lighting, all within the window wall, so you can sleep soundly within nature.' explains Matt Wittman, Principle at Wittman Estes.
So what we really take from this design is how the Murphy bed has been treated like a small-scale bedroom. There's bedroom storage built into the sides so guests have a spot to prop a book, and side lights to add something softer than the overhead source – plus you can control the lighting without having to get out of bed. Adding a shelf above the bed too allows for extra storage or a place to add some decor to make the fold-down bed feel more like a bedroom rather than just an extra sleeping spot in the living area.
9. Keep it simple
In case you haven't noticed, what makes for the most stylish Murphy beds are designs that totally blend into the room. In this tiny open-plan home designed by GRT Architects, every design decision had to be a practical one, and each space needed to be multifunctional – hence the decision to incorporate a Murphy bed rather than squeeze in a second bedroom space.
'This 800 square foot structure was conceived a weekend retreat for two city dwellers. Given its modest size everything was designed to make the space feel open and light-filled. The lower levels open up to views towards the pond and functions as a living room with a custom sofa that converts into a king-size bed,' explains Tal Schori of GRT.
'The Murphy bed is three steps up and utilized often when guests and/or grandchildren come to stay the night. It was designed in textured white oak to match the rest of the millwork in the home and when folded away is indistinguishable from the adjacent closets. Also, whenever we design murphy beds we always try to integrate some shelving, lighting, and power.'
10. Disguise a Murphy bed within built in storage
If you're going to go to the effort of building a bed into your wall, you might as well make it multifunctional and add in as much storage as you can too. As all these Murphy bed ideas prove, the most stylish options are ones you can't tell are there, so disguising it as a wall of built-in units is an obvious choice.
This design is by Marie Flanigan, and it transforms a home gym into a bedroom. When not in use it fits seamlessly into the custom storage units around. 'Murphy beds can be the perfect option for a space that needs added function,' says Marie. 'In this home, it was important to the homeowners to make this flex space a great option for guests, and adding a murphy bed helped us achieve the necessary duality. Pulling the bed down or storing it in the wall is incredibly easy, plus we added storage within the built-in so that bedding, pillows, and other items were always within reach.'
Can you put a regular mattress on a Murphy bed?
This will depend on your Murphy bed design. For example, if you DIY your Murphy bed or go bespoke, but on the whole you can just use a standard mattress on a Murphy bed. You want to look out for the thickness though, a lot of Murphy bed designs will have a max thickness as they have to easily fold away. Check with the manufacturer of your bed, or if going custom, ask your carpenter on what the ideal thickness should be.
Is a Murphy bed a better idea than a sofa bed?
Again, the Murphy bed v sofa bed debate will depend on your space and how often you need a spare bed. Murphy beds tend to be far comfier and larger than sofa beds as they use usually use a standard mattress so it feels more like, well, a bed. If you often have guests a Murphy bed would be the better call. However, bear in mind they are more of an investment and a permanent addition to your home. If you just use your spare room as an extra bedroom every now and then, a sofa bed would be the better option.
The Livingetc edit of the best buys to style a Murphy bed
The bedding at Rough Linen couldn't be more tactile or slubby, in an array of colors. Some of the very best linen on the market.
Lagos side table, Lulu and Georgia
Murphy beds are chosen to fold away, so you want a bedside table that can double as end table when the bed is hidden.
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Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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