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History of the Murphy Bed

William L. Murphy was a bachelor living in a cramped studio apartment in San Francisco in 1884. At the time, it was not socially acceptable for single men to socialize with women in a room with a bed. Since Murphy had to constantly maneuver around the furniture when entertaining, he decided to design a bed that could rest against the wall when it wasn’t in use.

He began experimenting with a folding bed, pivoted on the doorjamb of a dressing closet and then lowered into its standard position. By the early 1900’s, Murphy’s idea was patented and the Murphy bed was in production. Murphy bed sales rapidly increased as city life became gained popularity, and space was at a premium.

The Murphy Bed Door Company moved its headquarters to New York City in 1925. During its heyday, the company produced more than 50,000 Murphy beds annually. Production was limited during World War II. Post-war, families began to move from cramped city apartments to houses in the suburbs. The Murphy bed gained more popularity again in the 1970’s during an economic recession, forcing many Americans back into smaller spaces.

Originally installed in a closet, today’s Murphy bed models are sold customized with cabinets, bookshelves, desks, and more. This space-saving furniture is a great solution for retirees moving from larger homes to smaller condos, adult children staying at home, and guest rooms doubling as home offices.


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