Hey friends, do you know anyone with a Murphy Bed? They seem old fashioned, like something you see in old movies but they are still great options and have improved over the clanky metal Murphy Beds of the past. We just finished our Murphy Bed and I’m excited to share how it turned out. This isn’t a full tutorial because that would take more time than either of us have. But I want to show you that you can build a guest bed that takes up less than 9 square feet of floor space.
We have a 2 bedroom house so finding a space for guests usually consisted of a blow up mattress on the floor. After our daughter moved out we had a little debate about what we should do for guests. A bed was out of the question because I already had plans to move the computer and desk out of the dining room (small house, remember?) and into that room. And I really wanted a space to keep my sewing machine out so I could access it easily. I always wanted a Murphy Bed but hubby wanted a sofa bed. Being the nice compromising wife I am I said, “ok, but it has to be comfy.”
So off to the first of many furniture stores we went. The price tags were a bit of a shock and they weren’t that comfy to start, even with an upgraded mattress which added a few hundred dollars to the price. I did the math and convinced my hubby that we could build a Murphy Bed for just about the same price as an upgraded sofa bed. I already plan to move a chair out of the living room into the spare room for TV watching so it was a win win and the compromise moved in my favor 😉
Make sure you check out my list of tips at the end of the post.
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Murphy Bed Supply List:
Here’s a general idea of what you’ll need to build our own Murphy Bed. A full parts-list is included in the kit as well as all the hardware. You might need to buy some screws separately.
- Clear-sided Plywood (paint or stain grade)
- Create-A-Bed Deluxe Murphy Bed Kit (we bought this kit in Queen size)
- Table Saw (or a friend with a table saw)
- Drill with regular and paddle bits
- Stud-finder this is the one we have
- Trim boards to create an Armoire look of your choosing
- Brad Nailer
- Door Pulls (we used these pulls and painted them)
- Veneer Tape 3/4″ wide (if you want to stain your bed buy the same wood species as the plywood finish)
- Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint for Door Pulls
- Spackle, I love this stuff that changes color when it’s dry
- Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer 1 gallon should do it
- Semi-Gloss Paint in your color choice
The Create-A-Bed kit comes with two instruction sets (you need both) and a DVD with very detailed step-by-step instructions. We’ve never built furniture (do Adirondack chairs count?) before and this video is super helpful to review as you build your Murphy Bed. The paper instructions include templates for rounding the ends of the bed platform side panels, as well as drilling templates.
Once the plywood was cut in all the necessary parts and pieces we started following the instructions to make the murphy bed platform, the side panels, the headboard, and the header. After all those steps were completed we primed everything as you can see below. The bed platform is hiding on the table behind the side panels.
Many of the trim examples online were too fancy for my taste but I finally found one we both agreed would look nice and seemed easy to install. We went to a local moulding store (“The Moulding Company” if you live in the SF Bay Area) and bought pre-primed trim to create the armoire-look we wanted. I called them first and they were so helpful taking my estimates for the cuts we needed so I knew how many lengths to buy. We bought just the right amount based on their great advice. And huge bonus, it was 1/4th the price of the big box hardware stores in our area, and they have more style options to choose from. Call around in your area to see if you have a similar store nearby.
We started with the long vertical pieces and after gluing and nailing them we measured and cut the shorter horizontal slats for installation. Your assembly might be different for the look you want, just make sure you plan it out well before making any cuts.
Once we figured out where we wanted the door pulls I needed to make sure they were centered and perfect because if they weren’t it would bug me forever. As you can see from the measuring tape below the U.S. measurements weren’t working out to get them exactly centered so I flipped it over and went to metric. That’s a debate for another time but sometimes it makes the most sense so I use what works best for each situation.
After you’re done assembling the trim it’s time to spackle all the nail holes. This stuff is so awesome, it starts out pink and turns white when it’s completely dry. I used my fingers instead of a putty knife to push it into the nail holes but also to leave a little above the surface. This stuff shrinks and you don’t want to apply a second coat (work smarter, not harder). Once it all turns white you can start sanding. Make sure each spot is flat because once you paint you will see every raised spot. Ya, I’ve done that before too.
I indented the holes for my door pulls with a scratch awl to make drilling more accurate (or you could use a Phillips screwdriver to make a nice indentation to start drilling) and drilled them before we sprayed our final coat. You can see the spackle below is dry in some spots but not in others where it’s still pink. The pencil lines helped us make sure our center slats were aligned properly on either side of our “doors” before we nailed them in place. This will make more sense when you see the finished Murphy Bed below.
After everything was assembled we took it out front to spray our top coat. Yep, that’s our yard, as small as our house 🙂 and the grass had finally started coming back after the drought but it was mostly weeds so we weren’t worried about the “lawn.” You could use a paint brush and roller but we have a sprayer and figured it would go faster. Ok, I’ll be honest, it was not faster but only because bugs love white paint. We had just finished spraying our “final” coat and before we could get it in the garage to dry safely a big ole black bee plopped his furry butt down and was doing the floundering around. I almost had a stroke!! I plucked him out and tossed him aside to inspect the damage. There was no fixing it right then so we had to wait for it to dry, yet again. My hubby lightly sanded it and when the weather was nice we tried one more time. We moved quickly to get it into the garage so no bugs could ruin it this time. There is so much paint on it now there’s no worry of ever having to paint it again.
Yay, assembly day finally arrived. I won’t tell you exactly how long we worked on this project; a little here, a little there, but we needed our garage back so we were both excited to get it done. Be warned that the bed platform is pretty darn heavy after you attach all the hardware, so do yourself a favor and get some forearm straps or some strong young men to help your hubby haul it into the house. I nearly fell over but thankfully a wall was there to catch me. Once we finally got it out of the garage and up two steps to the house we slid it on old comforters into the spare room.
It goes together a bit funny but it all works out so we reviewed the video for each step.
We clamped the header onto the side panels, drilled pilot holes, and screwed it all together. Next came mounting it to the wall, this is very important so it doesn’t fall on you. This is also in the video as well as how to disassemble if you ever need to move it so hold onto that DVD.
We still want to add crown moulding to the top and some baseboard on the bottom but I was too excited and wanted to share it with you all. I’ll update this post later once that’s done, but I kind of like it the way it is. Please ignore the walls on either side, we didn’t install baseboard on that wall after we installed our floors because the Murphy Bed sits flush against the wall. We’ll cut and install the baseboard after the base on the cabinet is installed. This room is still a work in progress, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
I love the way the Murphy Bed turned out and it really does look like an armoire, success!
Here’s how it works, the door pulls have to be installed at a certain minimum height or it will be very hard to open. The mattress is held in by the two straps at the foot and I keep a mattress pad and topper on so it’s easy to make up for company.
With comfy linens and pillows and a canvas hung above I think this makes an very inviting and comfy space for future guests.
Toni’s Tips for Murphy Bed building:
- Buy the Deluxe kit, the legs are much easier to install than the standard kit.
- Buy for largest size kit to fit your space and your pocketbook, your guests will thank you.
- Measure twice, cut/drill once.
- Be patient! I can’t stress this enough. It’s hard to work with another person when you both think you’re right 🙂
- Have fun! After all, a project shouldn’t be a chore.
Well, that’s all for today, until next time!