The Real Low-Down on Murphy Beds from People Who Use Them Every Night

published Jun 12, 2017
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(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

I know Murphy beds have a reputation for being a smart choice when space is limited. But are they comfy? Are they hard to fold up and down? Do you have to sacrifice comfort for convenience? I decided to ask the best experts on Murphy beds to answer those questions and more: Three people who actually sleep in a Murphy bed every night.

The Murphy bed insiders:

(Image credit: William Strawser)

Editor Emily Graff lives in a patterned and pretty 550-square-foot Greenwich Village studio. She has been living with the Penelope Murphy Bed from Resource Furniture for three years.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

Daniel Lubrano owns a 425-square-foot studio apartment in Gramercy Park. He’s been living with a full-sized Murphy bed frame from Createmorespace and a Mattress Firm mattress for four years.

(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

Alison of 600SQFTANDABABY has used a Murphy bed for three years, after she and her husband gave their bedroom to their son. They have the Penelope Murphy Bed from Resource Furniture in a Queen size.

(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

Is a Murphy bed as comfy as a regular bed?

Emily: Yes! Though I think most Murphy beds (or at least this model) are built to accommodate a different kind of mattress than a traditional box spring. It’s thinner, so think synthetic materials like Tempur-pedic, which offer great support but don’t take up as much space. It took a few nights to get used to it, but I prefer it now.

Daniel: Absolutely. You just buy the type of mattress that suits you.

Alison: It’s very comfy, more comfy than our previous bed.

(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

How often do you actually fold it up?

Emily: When friends come over for dinner, when I cook bacon, or both.

Daniel: I’d like to say every day but realistically I leave it down and make the bed during the week. I put it away if company is coming over or if I just want to have some extra space to move around. Most weekends it is away.

Alison: We fold it up every day. I think I can count on one hand the days we haven’t folded it up (usually if everyone is really sick). We live in 600 square feet with a toddler and a baby currently, so we have to put the bed away every day so our living room is ready for the day.

(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

How easy is it to fold up and fold down?

Emily: Very! My understanding is that the technology is constantly improving. This model is engineered to fold up and fold down in seconds, without heavy lifting.

Daniel: The frame is very well balanced and spring loaded so it is quite easy to fold up and take down.

Alison: Pretty easy. As easy as making a bed by tucking in all the blankets, buckling two straps and lifting up the bed. It’s really light so my toddler has been “helping” since he was walking.

(Image credit: William Strawser)

Is this the last Murphy bed you’ll ever use — or would you choose a Murphy bed again?

Emily: I think people consider buying Murphy beds when they need smart solutions for small spaces. I live in a studio, where one room provides a variety of functions. I wouldn’t want friends to sit on my bed to eat their bacon. So for this apartment, the Murphy bed is key. If I were to live in another small space, I would definitely consider buying another Murphy bed.

The other thing: I’m really lucky to have this particular Murphy bed. They are definitely an investment. If I were to live in a bigger space, and I could fit a traditional bed, I would. And I guess in that scenario, if I was looking into guest accommodations, the dream might be a Murphy bed, but the reality — given the cost, and the fact that it would get a lot less use — might be an air mattress. (Sorry, bacon-eating friends.)

Daniel: I might! I like the convenience and versatility of a Murphy bed. Even if I end up in a larger apartment it would be great to put a Murphy bed in an office, so you have the ability to convert it into a guest bedroom when a friend is visiting from out of town. Sofa beds are really uncomfortable so I think a Murphy bed is a great solution.

Alison: I hope we will take this Murphy bed with us to our next home and ones following, whether as our bed again or a guest bed. Now that we have one I think they are so valuable for small spaces!

(Image credit: William Strawser)

What should someone thinking about buying a Murphy bed keep in mind?

Emily: Measure your space to make sure the Murphy bed fits when folded down, and you can walk all the way around it. You bought a Murphy bed so you could fold it up and fold it down. Make sure you can do both easily, and on your own. Think about your bedding. Again, you’ll want to make sure that the Murphy bed is easy to use, and bulkier coverlets might prevent the mattress from fitting into the frame. Consider a quilt over a comforter. And most pillows, duvets, and blankets will have to be stored somewhere else when the bed is up. (I use a big drawer next to my bed for storage.) Bonus: it’s really easy to clean under your bed.

Also: I would recommend hiring a professional to install or assemble your Murphy bed.

Daniel: There are lots of styles of Murphy beds out there so take a little time and shop around. I went to a Murphy bed showroom in Manhattan and they wanted to charge me over $2000 for a model with a cheap foam mattress. By sourcing a frame and just buying a mattress of my choosing (no box spring needed) I was able to save over $1200.

Alison: Keep in mind the amount of time you spend in your bedroom when you aren’t sleeping. If like us, it isn’t a lot and all you are really missing is that chair you pile your clothes on, then the switch to a Murphy bed will be an easy one. Also do your measurements first and make sure you have at least 1 foot around the perimeter of the bed (ideally more). I would also recommend budgeting for a professional install. It’s a big piece of furniture and took two experienced mill workers to install ours.

Thank you Emily, Daniel and Alison!!