Building a Fold-Down Bed
A simple two-part bed hides away to maximize space in a small room.
Synopsis: A short guide to building a Murphy-style bed that folds down when needed but otherwise stays out of sight and out of the way.
Lynnette and I don’t have that many houseguests, but the few that we do have tend to stay for long periods of time. We also don’t have that much room: Our town house is narrow, and space is always a big concern. Our only spare room is just big enough for a bed, but we thought it would be nice to use the room as a dressing room when it wasn’t occupied by the odd cousin or in-law. A Murphy-style bed seemed like just the thing
After some research, I quickly became disillusioned with everything premanufactured, which seemed bulky and lacking in finesse. I wanted something that could truly blend into and even enhance the room, something that off-the-shelf choices never do.
Because the room measures only 9 ft. by 9-1/2 ft., it was important that the bed be as slim as possible when folded away. I also wanted the bed’s underside to be flat and smooth so that it would look like the other three walls. I found a lumberyard that stocked 5-ft. by 10-ft. sheets of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which made a perfectly sized mattress platform. Flanking the bed with shelving units kept the massing down while forming a perfect niche for the bed. The bed could then be locked into an upright position using sliding bolts buried in the shelves.
The support for the foot of the bed was the final item to tie together the design. Fold-down legs wouldn’t maintain the flat surface of the platform, so instead, we opted for a roll-out footboard. This rollout footboard is actually a box, big enough to store a comforter; the two flanking cupboards below the bookcases hold the pillows.
Disguised as wainscoting when the bed is stored in the wall, the footboard conceals the ledger and hardware. Although the MDF makes the bed feel heavy when it’s descending, we’ve had only compliments about the bed’s comfort. And when the bed is closed up, we’re left with extra floor space that we can always use in a house that’s 10 ft. wide.
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