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The Murphy Bed

The most popular multi-use furniture item on the market today is the Murphy Bed.

Murphy beds are known as pull-down, fold-down, or wall beds.  They are hinged to the wall and concealed in a cabinet when not in use.  Around the bed cabinet, one can custom build shelving, a bench, a sofa, or even a desk.  When friends and family come to stay, pull down the bed from the bed cabinet and voila!  The guest room is ready.  When they leave, the bed can easily lift into its cabinet, and the room is a TV entertainment area, home office, or yoga space.

Condo owners of two or three-bedroom units generally save one room as a guest room.  Dedicating one room to be used solely as a guest bedroom for only a few weeks each year may not be the best use of space.  Most guest bedrooms are 9.5 to 10 square meters.  Every month, each square meter costs money in Homeowner Association fees.  A Murphy bed, which allows the use of the space when guests are not visiting, will give much better value.

Condo owners with studios or one-bedroom units may want the ability to sleep more people from time to time.  Adding a Murphy bed in the living room allows this.  It is a significantly lower cost than upgrading to a two-bedroom unit.

For those who rent out their condo unit, a Murphy bed drives incremental rental revenue.  In some areas around the Bay of Banderas, each additional person in a rental condo could generate from USD 50 to 100 per night.

The Murphy bed takes its name from William Murphy from San Francisco, who patented this sleeping solution in the early 1900s.  Legend has it that he was quite smitten with a lovely opera singer.  Unfortunately for poor William, it was not considered proper to invite a woman back to a studio apartment with the bed in the middle of the room.

To address this, William improved what was in existence at the time (apparently Sears Roebuck & Co. were already selling a type of bed that folded away).  He patented a disappearing bed with a pivot and counterbalance.  Whether he was successful in wooing the opera singer is unknown.  What we do know is that his patented invention became a favorite piece of furniture.  Over the next hundred years, the Murphy bed continued to be a furniture favorite.  Today, with the increase in smaller homes, it is experiencing another surge in popularity.

Murphy beds are available in all sizes, from individual to king size.  Homeowners who want either an individual, matrimonial, or queen size Murphy bed purchase the residential mechanism.  If for commercial use, or if for a king-size Murphy bed, the coated aluminum or steel mechanism is a better option due to its durability.

Mechanisms on the market are either piston-lift or spring-lift.  The piston-lift is the superior option to the spring-lift.  Piston-lift mechanisms use gas or air pressure, making it easy to lower and lift the bed.  It takes less effort to operate the piston-lift than the spring-lift.  Piston-lift mechanisms are designed to be used daily and will not wear out as quickly as a spring-lift.  This type of mechanism is contained within the cabinet and, once set to proper specifications, will not require adjustments.  Most piston-lift mechanisms have locks that prevent the bed from opening and closing accidentally.  Safety is an important feature not only for guests but also for renters.  Although piston-lift mechanisms cost more than spring-lift, they last much longer.

Spring-lift is the older style of mechanism that uses a compressed steel spring system composed of individual coils to lift and lower.  One can add or eliminate springs so that the Murphy bed can offset or balance the weight of the mattress.  Spring-lift systems require annual maintenance since the weight of the mattress (and sleepers) can stretch the springs.  Spring-lift mechanisms cost less than piston-lift but tend to rust and corrode. Once the mechanisms rust, it is impossible to lift the bed.

Murphy beds do not require a custom size mattress.  If the mattress height allows the cabinetry to close, any pillow top, spring, or memory foam mattress will work.  Most Murphy beds can usually fit a mattress up to 11 inches thick in a cabinet.  Some Murphy beds come with bands that allow for the bed to be made up with all bedding and pillows and situate it in the upright position.  No need to make the bed every night!

Murphy beds are available as easy to install, do-it-yourself kits, or if preferred, a qualified installer can do a complete in-home installation.  The do-it-yourself kits generally include the mechanism, bolts, and screws, instructions in English and Spanish, and a cut list.  Remember that if building it on your own or using a carpenter, it is essential to have instructions in both languages.  The cut list outlines the exact sizes of wood pieces required for the bed and the cabinetry.  Take the cut list to a wood supply shop or carpenter and get the wood cut to precisely the sizes needed for easy assembly.

In addition to the mattress cabinetry, shelving, cupboards, a sofa, or a desk can complete the wall.  These are ways to get more use from the space.

Most people do not realize that Murphy beds can fold down horizontally or vertically.   Regardless of room size and layout, almost any space can accommodate a Murphy bed either one way or the other.

A Murphy bed is one of the best ways to maximize space and furniture investment.

Sheryl Novak

For a no-obligation consultation on a Murphy bed for your home in Riviera Nayarit, email sa.novak@solutionsmexico.com

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