Our DIY Murphy bed – how to choose the right one for your space?

12 January 2023|10 Minutes

What is a Murphy Bed?

A murphy bed is great for when you need to quickly whip up accommodation for guests. Especially if you don’t necessarily have enough rooms in the house for a guest bedroom. Let’s say you have a home office, you can easily transform it into a guest bedroom if you have a murphy bed. But how do you choose the best one for you and your home?

I’m glad you asked! Having designed and built a DIY one myself, I like to think I know or thing or two about the famous Murphy bed.

Often seen in American sitcoms… think of small and cramped New York apartments. The murphy bed is genius when it comes to small space design. This foldable piece of furniture can be amazing for optimising space in a small home or flat or if you want to create a multifunctional room. Extra room for dancing, anyone?

The Murphy bed aka wall bed is a unique frame that folds up when not in use to be multifunctional. When folded up it conceals the mattress and presents a solid exterior that can be styled as a cabinet. But choosing to get one can be unfamiliar territory. You’ll want to be sure that you select a bed that fits the purpose for the room, is easy enough to raise and lower, is durable AND stylish!

You may have realised you need to maximise your floor space. A Murphy bed is a great option for this job! You can make any room double as sleeping quarters for family or friends to sleep over. But a murphy bed works great in the master bedroom or even a studio apartment if you want to make the most out of the square footage you have available. In my tiny home aka the sheila shed, the murphy bed works great! Maximises the open plan living room/kitchen/home office area. At night it becomes our little oasis.


Some things to consider before getting a Murphy bed for your home…

Room Layout

Measure the dimensions of the space before you start your search. Most Murphy beds fold vertically, so you’ll need to know how much space you have to work with from the floor to the ceiling. Horizontal-folding Murphy beds are an option if you have low ceiling heights. 

If you plan to use a Murphy bed as a solution for a small space, then pay attention to the fully extended length of the bed when it is open. Be sure that you have enough space to open the bed and access it, including the end of the bed to raise it back up. 

Our Murphy bed has an extendable wall which fully conceals it and when it folds out, it creates an intimate pod which separates the sleeping area and the living room.


Murphy beds can be made of different materials, including solid wood, manufactured wood or particleboard, and metal. Solid wood is one of the most durable options, but it’s also very heavy. Manufactured wood or particleboard is lighter, but may have a lower maximum weight limit and some long-term durability issues. Metal Murphy beds are durable and usually paired with a wood cabinet or shelves.

Opening Mechanism

The lifting mechanism is one of the most important things to consider when shopping or designing a Murphy bed. Typically, these beds will feature one of the following lifts: piston (hinge) or spring. Alternatively, some Murphy beds have a manual opening mechanism.

Spring opening mechanisms were the first common lift for Murphy beds. The resistance of the spring can usually be adjusted to make it easier to raise the bed. Most modern spring-assisted opening mechanisms have features to prevent their sudden retraction.

A piston-lifting system uses pressurised arms and is an easy way to lift and lower a Murphy bed. Many piston-equipped beds have a locking mechanism that keeps the bed securely stored away when not in use.
Manual opening mechanisms are the simplest, with no springs or pistons to adjust. However, this means you’ll be supporting the full weight of the mattress and frame as you lift or lower the bed.


Integrated features can help you make the most of a Murphy bed setup. One of the appealing features when shopping for a Murphy bed might be storage, especially if we’re talking studio space. Shelves or cabinets built into the side, bottom, or top of the frame surrounding the bed can give you space for storing blankets, bedding, clothes, or other items. Our murphy bed has a foldable wall which fully conceals the bed as well as cupboards above where we put away the pillows.

Styles of Murphy Beds

Wall Bed

While it’s true that the terms Murphy bed and wall bed can be used interchangeably to refer to a mounted bed, a wall bed is sometimes also used to describe a specific style of Murphy bed. Wall beds are usually integrated into a fixture that spans the majority, if not the entire span, of the wall. When closed, a wall bed may look like cabinets, a shelving unit, or a bookcase.

This style of Murphy bed might be an ideal option for someone that wants an inconspicuous look. The built-in look of the fixture conceals the fact that a bed is tucked inside. Wall beds that take up the majority (or all) of a wall are often more expensive and sometimes must be custom-built for a truly integrated look.

Cabinet Bed

Another style of Murphy bed is the cabinet bed. These beds may or may not be fixed to the wall; some are freestanding cabinets into which the bed folds. A cabinet bed is a more versatile option when compared to a larger, installed Murphy bed. It is a better choice for renters or anyone who lacks the wall space to install a mounted version. However, they may lack the size or some of the stability and storage offered by wall beds.

Consider whether or not you’re buying a Murphy bed for use every night or as an option for occasional guests. A freestanding, cabinet-style Murphy bed might be a better choice in an office that is regularly used for purposes other than sleeping visitors. But if the Murphy bed is going to be used every night in your bedroom or living space, then you might have additional needs for comfort, ease of use, or storage.

Store, online or DIY?!?

Best way to see if you’ll fall in love with Mr.Murphy is to see one in person! See if your local furniture stores have one on display that way you can work our what sort of mechanism and style will suit you. You’ll likely be buying the bed in boxes, with the final assembly achieved at home. Some stores may offer white glove delivery to streamline the process.

The greatest variety of Murphy beds is available online. You’ll have more styles and finishes to choose from. Asses how much assembly is required and if the company offers white glove delivery. Some useful websites and companies include StrachanWallbed and Arthauss.

If you’re a confident DIY self-taught builder or you know someone who is, your other option is to build one. We’ve done exactly that! Measuring everything and working out the mechanism is the tricky part. You need to make sure it smoothly fits in the designated area and that it works.

See how we did...

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