Building a Murphy Bed part one – how we got here

In a three bedroom house with a two-year-old already, a new baby (arriving end of November!) means adjusting and rearranging our rooms. After racking our brains to find the best solution, we stumbled on the idea of building a Murphy bed…and struck gold.

We’ve always had a guest room since we moved in back in December 2010, though the condition of it changed enormously after a year in the house when I started renovating it during the summer of 2011 — scrambling to get everything finished in time for a bunch of family in town for the Marine Corps Marathon that Fall.

Here’s back when it was just “that extra room that has a bed in it and any other stuff we didn’t have a space for,” before we renovated. Uh, like my sawzall case apparently, which does not make a great decorative flourish for your bed, even if it is the perfect shade of red.

2nd bedroom after move-in, before renovation

We stripped all of the paint and wallpaper and wallpaper and paint off the walls, skimmed and painted everything, fixed a ton of cracks in the plaster, replaced all the baseboard trim, put new soundproofing drywall on the wall next to the (eventual) nursery, and replaced old surface mount electrical tubing with proper wall-mounted receptacles and a new ceiling fan.

Bedroom 2 half-primed



Once we got all that done, we (um, I mean Rachel mostly) took the time to make it a properly decorated guest room instead of “oh right, that extra room with a bed in it.” (That combo radiator cover/bookshelf built in came some time later.)

2014-08-23 14.14.44


When Lily was born, we decided to use the tiniest third bedroom for the nursery so we could keep this guest room. But with baby #2 on the way, and family sure to be coming and going when he’s born and at Christmas at our house for the first time since we got married in 2004, we needed a new plan for our bedrooms. But with just two other bedrooms, combined with a desire to a) keep the guest room, b) move Lily into a toddler bed at some point in the next 3-4 months, c) hopefully avoid doubling up the kids just yet while one is going to be learning how to sleep…there were only a few possibilities and we were having a hard time figuring out the best (worst) option.

The baby will be in a pack’n’play on our sleeping porch oh I mean boudoir connected to our room for at least a couple of months. Lily is still sleeping in a crib, and though for awhile we were thinking of moving her into a “big girl bed” before her brother arrives (so all the changes in her life aren’t directly related to the baby), she loves her crib and has shown no signs of wanting out.

With two big bedrooms and one tiny one, only left possibilities that neither of us liked were left.

Rachel thought we could put the queen bed in the nursery and double the kids up in the second full sized bedroom when the boy is a bit older. But the nursery is so comically small that a queen bed would either touch both walls, or make it impossible to open the door with a queen bed inside. This did not dissuade her in her crusade to keep a guest bed.

I understood where she was coming from, because the only other options were a) let Lily start sleeping in a queen bed for her “big girl” bed in the guest room or b) put her toddler bed up in the guest room with a queen bed and see the floor space disappear completely, or c) SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY?????

Looking back, I honestly can’t remember where the idea first came from…some random stroke of inspiration…but I went back to Rachel with a brainstorm: “What if we move Lily into the guest room and keep the queen bed…..AS A MURPHY BED?”

I still remember Rachel stroking her chin and her eyes lighting up and being instantly intrigued by the idea. It made so much sense. We need a guest bed, yes, but we don’t need it 365 days a year. Lily’s toddler bed will be easily movable, so can stick it in our room or the sleeping porch when we have company.

We loved the idea, but had no idea what the options were to even add a Murphy bed. I began poking around to see what the options were for either buying or building one. I found three basic options:

Expensive custom Murphy beds that these companies will come and build in your house for oh-my-lands-you-won’t-believe-how-much-money…

These basic spring-loaded frames for beds that either attach to your floor (!!!) or baseboards with enormous lag screws, and then build your own box/cabinet around it after the fact to hide it…


And lastly, a few different hardware kits from manufacturers that allow you to build your own.

do it yourself trouble

So we had three options. One, you don’t have to do anything for but oh right it costs more money than our car did, one comes with the *terrific* benefit of permanently putting a 1/4″ hole in your heart pine floors, and the last option is likely the cheapest and I’d have to get to do myself.

So which one was I going to choose?

Wait, let me go grab a drink and think about it for a bit. Be back shortly.

Taking it all in

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