Building a Murphy Bed Series: Before you start – DIY Options

If you’ve been reading my newsletter and following me on Instagram, you know that I’ve undertaken a new big/small project, transforming a tiny 200 ft2 rental studio apartment into what I call a “nimble” home: a home that reflects the unique personality of its occupant, that easily adapts to change and has everything needed: a place for sleeping, hanging out and relaxing with friends, cooking, eating and working.

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One of the main requirements for the design of this home was to have a sofa for relaxing and to also have a queen sized bed for sleeping. Given the size of the main living area, a mere 144 ft2, and the standard 8 ft ceiling, it quickly became apparent that a sofa Murphy bed like this one was the best solution for the space. 

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Since buying a ready made sofa Murphy bed was outside of the budget (they can cost anywhere from $2500-$6000 plus), it made sense to go the DIY route. A quick internet search revealed these DIY options to choose from, from least expensive to most expensive:

  1. Build the cabinet from scratch and make your own lifting mechanism/hardware.
  2. Build the cabinet from scratch and use a Murphy bed hardware kit.
  3. Assemble a pre-cut cabinet and use a Murphy bed hardware kit.

I went with option 2 mainly because:

  1. It fit the budget while allowing the use of higher quality materials (plywood vs particle board) 
  2. It also allowed for customization of the look of the cabinet.
  3. Buying a hardware kit would save time on having to figure out a design, getting parts, etc..

Having settled on option 2, next I had to decide how to put the cabinet together. There’s a few different assembly methods to choose from:

  1. Dowels and glue
  2. Pocket screws and glue
  3. Brackets and screws

Since this Murphy bed would need to be dismantled in order to be moved, options 1 and 2 didn’t make sense because the cabinet would be one solid piece of furniture.  I also have limited tools to work with, and no workshop, so I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, which was option 3.

After looking at all the available options out there for hardware kits, I chose this DIY panel bed Murphy bed hardware kit from murphybeddepot.com – I liked that it came with the cabinet design already laid out, including a cut list of all the components, and that there was the option of buying the hardware kit that included all the brackets and screws needed to assemble the cabinet. The cost for the Murphy bed hardware and the hardware kit to put together the cabinet is $435 (excluding taxes) and since this option involves building a cabinet,  3 sheets of plywood were also needed for that (around $150 for premium birch plywood). There’s lots of other supplies and tools involved but more on that later.

When I received the hardware kit, I read the “how-to” instructions for building the Murphy Bed which listed the following 8 steps:

  1. Prepare all wood or laminate components
  2. Mount lift mechanism
  3. Install springs in lift mechanism
  4. Assemble the bed cabinet
  5. Attach bed cabinet to the wall
  6. Assemble steel bed frame to bed face panels
  7. Install the bed face panel in cabinet
  8. Install handles, leg assembly, mechanism covers, mattress

Turns out that every step breaks down into many smaller steps, each with its own set of  considerations and challenges. Take step 1 for example. It sounds simple enough, but this took way longer than expected and involved some creative solutions to work around not having a workshop, having limited tools and building in a tiny space. It’s challenging but it is totally doable as you’ll see!

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 9.09.13 AMSo if you’re thinking of building your own Murphy bed or are just curious as to what’s involved in a project like this, subscribe to my newsletter here so you don’t miss any of the posts in this “Building a Murphy bed series”. The next post will be all about step 1: preparing the wood components for the cabinet – stay tuned!

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2 Comments

  1. Ursula

    Hello, I’m Canadian and I love your work!!
    King Murphy Bed hardware kit – I have a small
    room that holds my King mattress (currently on the floor) with about a foot of
    squeeze size space at the foot of the bed and on the left side only.
    The mattress is about 15” deep or more. How much space do I
    need for the hardware to fit my new potential kit?
    Ursula

    • Isabelle LaRue

      Hi Ursula, Thanks, so great to hear from a fellow Canadian and that you love my work! Every kit is different and I haven’t seen any that would work with a 15″ thick mattress. I would talk to the people that make the hardware kits and see what they suggest. They are much more knowledgeable on this subject that I am!

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