10 More Ways to Hide the Bed (Some of Which You Can Actually Afford)

Bed pulled out that converts to a sofa

Jon Lovette / Getty Images

A bed is among the most important pieces of furniture in any home, but it can also take up a lot of space for an object that goes unused most of the day, especially in small apartments or tiny houses.

People have come up with lots of clever ways around this problem, like beds that fold up inside couches or even inside walls. The latter, commonly known as a Murphy bed, dates back to at least the early 1900s, but the concept has seen many upgrades and variations over the decades. Here are a few examples, ranging from the elaborate to the (relatively) economical.

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A woman lounging on a Murphy bed


After writing about yet another tiny apartment with a Clei Murphy bed, a commenter complained:

If I had $12,000 to spend on the Clei Murphy bed, I would probably have a large enough apartment to have a separate bed and couch.... [This] stuff is not priced for anyone in the middle or lower classes, and it is frustrating to see Treehugger and all these designers giving them so much play. Design something for the masses and this movement could take off.

He has a point, and is not far off on the price. This furniture is designed for wealthy people who live in the heart of Paris or Milan or Rome, where nobody wants to move out of their tiny apartments in great parts of town, so they adapt.

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Mr. Murphy

Murphy bed patent diagram

William L. Murphy / Patent

There is no question, William Murphy was on to something when he patented the fold-down bed. But it was complicated (the weight of the bed is counterbalanced) and it had to be built into, or connected to the structure of the room for support; it was almost a permanent fixture.

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Preparing the bed is also a conscious act; one doesn't just walk into a bedroom. At 1:03 you can watch Graham Hill remove the cushions from the sofa, reach into the storage (where pillows probably are stored), fold down the bed and undo the straps that hold the duvet in place.

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Works in a Drawer

Bed folded down across from a bookshelf

Point Architecture

One alternative is to put the bed in a drawer. This has a few benefits; you don't have to make the bed, just push it away. You do have to leave the space open where the bed goes, or you will be moving furniture. It also involves serious construction, building the raised floor. But in this case, Point Architecture made it possible for a family in Turin to stay in their apartment:

The idea behind the project is one of educating the family to the non-conventional and multifunctional use of space. It is for this reason that it was decided to give the large existing living room space multiple functionality; the owner's bedroom, the living and dining space and a relaxation area are all found here while the remaining spaces are dedicated to the newborn children. We decided to raise half of the main room to create a larch wood platform, which hosts the relaxation space with a sofa and television, and exploit the height difference to hide a rollaway bed and a storage space.
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Trundle Away

Floor plan with a fold-down bed

Front Studio

Yen Ha and Michi Yanagishita of New York's Front Studio were asked by the New York Times to imagine the redesign of a small apartment and came up with the idea of a bed in a drawer as well. They tell the Times:

We were frustrated thinking of all these different solutions, and we got hungry. We went to have Korean food in a restaurant on 32nd Street. We were eating kimchi — pickled cabbage — and we noticed the raised platform we were sitting on. Then all the little pieces came together like a Japanese puzzle box: things slide out, things fold in, things tuck away. It is clean, we hope, without any fussiness.
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The Quickie

Desk to bed design

Jared Dickey

Designer Jared Dickie took another approach to the problem: He built the Quickie, which builds a bed into a desk. He explains:

The piece combines the function of a sliding desktop with a bed, allowing users to combine their ability to perform office work along with other more desirable life activities such as sleep, or romance.
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Looking up

Bed in the up and down positions against a stone wall


One way to beat the problem of the tilting murphy bed is to go straight up to the ceiling, like the Bedup does. TreeHugger Collin loved this one, noting it solves the problem of needing a clear area for the bed to fold down, writing:

That's the rather brilliant idea behind BEDUP, designed by French designers Décadrages. It installs in your ceiling, rather than the wall, and sort of floats down when it's bed time. No furniture-moving required; it can stop at various heights, using a variety of braces to help it integrate with your bedroom's furniture. It's even possible to integrate lighting into the bottom of the bed, for use when it's in storage mode.
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The Amazing Liftbed

Demonstration of a bed lifting off the ground towards the ceiling for storage


If you have a lot of money and not a lot of room (common in London and Paris), there is always the LiftBed, an amazing cantilevered and motorized design. You don't have to do anything but press a button.

The Liftbed solves the problem; you don't have to make the bed, or tell your new darling to hide in the closet, you just press a button and the whole thing rises up into the ceiling.

The thing clearly costs a fortune; commenters were not amused or impressed and asked, "Can we see some articles on DIY transformer furniture? Something the 99% can actually afford to make and/or buy?"

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The DIY Liftbed/Dining Room

OK, if you want DIY, here it is. I designed this a couple of years ago and never got around to building it. The design combines a dining room table with a standard double bed size; you can modify dimensions if you want a Queen size. You build a dining room table top the length of a bed with holes in each of the corners. Four pipes are installed running from floor to ceiling, running through the holes in the table. The mattress is in a box that also has holes for the pipes. The bed is pulled up to the ceiling by cables; The dining room table is connected to the bed by cables so that it is at the right height when the bed is at full height. So, when you finish dinner you do not even have to clear the table; you just lower the bed and the table lowers too, and you climb into bed with everything conveniently hidden under the bed. Have fun; it's Creative Commons 2.0.

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Blue daybed folded up and folded out


Then there is the question of whether one needs a double bed in a small apartment if you live alone, or if you just need it occasionally when you are, um, entertaining. There are a number of inexpensive versions of beds like CB2's Lubi bed that works fine as a single, but unfolds when needed to be a double bed.

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Julia West Daybed

Demonstration of daybed folding out

Julia West Home

A dozen years ago I worked with Julia West Home to design what we secretly called the "Get Lucky Bed" which converted from a single daybed into a double. It had a very complex system of interlocking slats; you slid out the bottom panel and then unfolded the mattress.

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The Problem With Convertibles

Convertible couch/bed

Jennifer Convertibles

The real problem with the daybeds, and so many of the contemporary convertibles like this one from Jennifer Furniture, is that they are not the best mattresses and they need to be made before you go to bed. They are really designed for guests.

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Go Japanese

Japanese art of people lying on a futon bed

Library of Congress

I often wonder why people living in small spaces don't adopt the Japanese way of sleeping on a futon on the floor, with a duvet on top. The futon gets aired out and then folded and put away; it is so much easier to set up than conventional sheets and blankets. It takes up no space. It's cheap. And, having spent some time doing it in Japan, it is very comfortable.

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Combo Bed, Office, and Armoire

Model of bed folding out of a closet

Lloyd Alter

A dozen years ago I worked with Julia West Home on a couple of ideas that never got built, where we tried to actually integrate a home office into the armoire that contained a murphy bed. Here you see the closed armoire, then the doors open to permit a drop-down table to work on. What really killed all these ideas at the time was the lack of light flat LCD monitors. Nobody was going to lug a big CRT out every day and notebooks were not yet up to scratch. After you folded up the desk, a traditional murphy bed was hidden behind.

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A Wider Combo

Model of bed folding out of armoire

Lloyd Alter

Here is another version that one could build today with our modern monitors and good notebooks, where the armoire is three bays wide to make a better office. But so much has changed in a dozen years; today you can do it all with a futon for a bed and tiny notebook. You might even set it up so that your office is in your pants.

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More Ways to Hide the Bed

Bed at the top of a staircase landing

Lloyd Alter

Getting rid of the bed has been an ongoing theme here at TreeHugger for years. It's not for everyone, of course. People who buy into this lifestyle recognize that space can and should be malleable over time. For example, kids only live with you for a small portion of your life, so you adapt the apartment to that instead of moving at every life change. Bucky Fuller wrote:

"Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time.Our living rooms are empty seven-eighths of the time.Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time.It's time we gave this some thought."