The percentage of adult Americans who report living with members of their extended family — defined as parents, grandparents and siblings — increased by 5 percentage points over the past year, according to the American Family Survey, released at the end of September.
As Americans face illnesses, deaths, job losses, economic uncertainty, a greater need for help with parents and childcare, and a revamped version of their lives, a significant percentage reported that the size of their households has increased since shelter-in-place measures began in March 2020. Half of Black and Hispanic respondents surveyed said they had added people to their household since then.
Having an extended family close can be full of amazing benefits, from social emotional boosts to extra help with just about anything, but there’s just one problem: space!
When you’re limited on space, a Murphy bed is the perfect compact solution. Also known as a wall bed, a fold-down bed, or a pull-down bed, these full-size beds tuck away into a wall, a closet, or a cabinet when not in use.
Murphy beds can easily convert a living room or a home office into a guest bedroom. The best Murphy bed is safe, sturdy, and comfortable for a restful night’s sleep.
A high-quality Murphy bed is compact, comfortable, and easy to use. Consider the size, orientation, frame material, and safety features when selecting the right bed for your space. Other features including additional storage space and a foldable mattress can sweeten the deal.
Full and queen-size beds are a common and popular option because they provide enough space for two guests. Twin and twin XL beds are also easy to find; these beds can only accommodate one guest but take up much less space. King-size Murphy beds are less common due to their large size and the weight of the mattress.
The ideal size depends on the available space and the bed’s intended use. Make sure to measure both the stored and expanded size of the Murphy bed to ensure there’s enough wall and floor space to fit your selection.
Traditional pull-down Murphy beds attach to the wall; the mattress sits on a wall-mounted frame that pivots vertically for storage. These beds usually tuck into a wall recess, a closet, or a shelving unit that hides the bed frame inside.
A wall-mounted Murphy bed gives the user the option to choose the mattress, a plus for picky sleepers. Installation is more complicated with these bed types—the bed will need to be drilled and mounted to the wall.
Folding Murphy beds store in a compact, freestanding cabinet that resembles a storage chest. Since these frames don’t attach to the wall, they’re much easier to install—there’s no drilling required. Sometimes referred to as “cabinet Murphy beds,” these bed types have a mattress and bed frame that folds or slides into the cabinet for storage.
These beds often include a custom-fit, multi-piece mattress inside the chest. This offers less flexibility to select or replace the mattress. These mattresses also tend to be thinner than regular mattresses. A mattress-topper, however, could make a world of difference.
Murphy beds come in vertical and horizontal orientations. Vertical layouts are the most common and mount with the head section of the bed closest to the wall. Horizontal Murphy beds mount with the long side of the bed closest to the wall. Some Murphy beds can be installed in either orientation, offering flexibility for those who need it. When choosing orientation, consider the room’s shape and size, the ceiling height, and the clearance space.
Vertical Murphy beds take up around 6 to 8 feet of wall height when in storage mode. For this reason, they’re well suited for rooms with average to high ceilings. When measuring for a vertical bed, consider ceiling fixtures like lights and fans to make sure the bed has enough clearance when changing from storage to bed mode. When in bed mode, vertical designs project farther from the wall and take up more perpendicular floor space.
Horizontal Murphy beds fit into shorter cabinets, making these beds ideal for rooms with low ceilings. Since their shorter side folds down, they don’t project as far into the floor space when in bed mode. This makes them ideal for narrow room layouts.
True to their space-saving design, some Murphy beds include storage features to make them more convenient to use. The most common option is storage space along one or both sides of a wall-mounted bed. These come in the form of shelves, cabinets, and closets, and are useful for storing bulky bedding or guest items.
These storage features take up more wall space but give the bed a more seamless look. Some wall-mounted beds even fold up to reveal desks or couches for use during the day.
Foldable cabinet Murphy beds tend to be more compact than wall-mounted beds. These designs don’t usually accommodate extra storage—their compact size has just enough space to fit the folding bed frame and the mattress. Sometimes these models will allow for some bedding inside the cabinet as well.
A high-quality and properly installed Murphy bed is safe for the whole family. Murphy beds include a number of safety features to make sure the bed stays in place. Most designs have a counterbalance system which also allows them to fold up and down easily. Modern Murphy beds have piston-lifts or torsion-springs for smooth and safe operation.
The piston or hinge system helps to hold the bed in place, preventing it from opening or closing on its own. As an extra measure of security, some wall-mounted Murphy beds have straps or locks to secure the bed in place in storage mode.