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Murphy Bed, Folding Bed, Wall Bed: What’s In a Name?

murphy bed plate

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Ah, William Lawrence Murphy, we hardly knew ye. But the furniture innovation that still bears his name today, the Murphy bed, lives on. His invention serves the same primary purpose now that he intended over one hundred years ago: making the most out of limited living space. Aside from that commonality, the Murphy beds of today have evolved far beyond the bed Mr. Murphy invented. Or could have imagined.

Legend has it that William Murphy, living in a one-room San Francisco apartment near the turn of the 20th century, was courting an opera singer. Since the morals of the day forbade entertaining a woman in the bedroom (in Murphy’s case, his only room), he was inspired to design a folding bed, one that would disappear into a closet and thus turn his bedroom into a parlor acceptable for a female guest. Murphy obtained several patents, the Murphy bed went into production, and a household name was born.

Murphy BedToday, folks refer to Murphy’s invention by names other than the original – the folding bed, the wall bed, and (not surprisingly) the folding wall bed. Murphy’s simple, utilitarian design has given way to fully functional, elegant, and innovative room furnishings in a wide variety of styles and finishes. Murphy beds are available to suit virtually any taste or floor plan. What’s more, creating space with a Murphy bed almost always translates into dollars saved. When one room can double as both a bedroom and as an office, den, or media room, that’s one less room to buy, rent, add on, or remodel. Call Mr. Murphy’s invention any name you prefer; investing in one often pays for itself very quickly.

And what about that name, anyway? Most everyone has heard of Murphy beds, but who is allowed to manufacture and sell such a product and call it a Murphy bed? In 1989, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the term “Murphy bed” had become synonymous among the public with “any bed that folds into a closet”. Like the Kleenex tissue and the Frisbee flying disc, the Murphy bed name has come to mean any product that is like the Murphy bed. The term has become generic, and cannot be trademarked.

As any discerning consumer knows, however, imitation is no substitute for quality. More Space Place is the top retailer of Murphy beds in the United States. That is the result of designing and building a comfortable, durable, and easy-to-use bed, and surrounding it with beautiful cabinetry and other fine accessories. The Murphy bed by More Space Place would have made William Lawrence Murphy proud, and will be a stunning addition to any room in your home.