What are the Best Tips for Building a do-It-Yourself Murphy Bed?

Gregory Hanson

A do-it-yourself Murphy bed can be a great beginner carpentry project, and can create quite a bit of additional living space in smaller homes and apartments. Different do-it-yourself Murphy bed projects require different levels of skill and different sets of tools. The desired finished look in the area where bed will be installed and the technical details of raising and lowering the mattress are both important considerations. Once the bed itself is built, finishing and decorative touches can make a Murphy bed more cozy and attractive.

Carpentry skills are essential for building a do-it-yourself Murphy bed.
Carpentry skills are essential for building a do-it-yourself Murphy bed.

A do-it-yourself Murphy bed can be built very simply, with basic carpentry skills and tools, or it can be a masterpiece of carpentry and design that serves as the visual focal point of a room. A carpenter with basic skills should consider a simple design that folds up into a discrete and unadorned wooden box when not in use. A more advanced carpenter might think of making a Murphy bed that disappears into a false wall. A very skilled and patient woodworker could consider building a do-it-yourself Murphy bed into a large decorative cabinet, perhaps made of oak or walnut, and carefully oiled and varnished.

Careful measurements should always be taken first when planning a large carpentry project. The finished project must be able to fit into the available space. It is also a good idea to get a rough idea of what the finished bed will look like. Cardboard boxes or egg crates can be used to get a sense of what the room as a whole will look like and of how much space there will be around the finished bed. The whole mattress box will need room to swing without hitting walls, furniture or guests.

There are different options available for opening and closing Murphy beds, and the option chosen should be a good match for the space in which the bed will be installed. Vertical beds, which flip up at the end, take up less wall space than horizontal beds, which flip up at the side, but horizontal beds generally are easier to build and fit better in rooms with low ceilings. A counterweight is especially helpful in vertical beds, which can be a little harder to control.

Finally, decorative touches can be added to a do-it-yourself Murphy bed. A small reading light can easily be mounted to the bed. Adding shelves to each end of a Murphy bed cabinet can turn it into the elegant centerpiece of a room. Simple router scrollwork or decorative wooden pieces can give a do-it-yourself Murphy bed the appearance of gothic elegance as well.

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