Everything There Is to Know About Wall Beds
Installing a wall bed (aka Murphy Bed) is the biggest impact you can make to your square footage. I’ve purchased and installed three wall beds in three different apartments and here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
Benefits of a wall bed
Wall beds free up an incredible amount of space. For example, a queen size bed takes up 35 square feet. In my 400 square foot apartment, that’s almost 10% of my whole space. Not to mention, it’s prime real estate, especially when you consider that fact that your bed goes unused for most of the day. Meanwhile all your other furniture goes unused while you’re sleeping!
And by the way, wall beds aren’t just for studios! Even if you have a one bedroom, converting your bedroom into a office, yoga studio, or project space by day can make your home feel twice as big.
Keep your Mattress
Wall beds use a regular mattress and the mattresses are sold separately. Most wall beds I’ve seen take any standard mattress size—twin up to king! That said, some have a thickness limit so be sure to check for that. Because wall beds use a regular mattress (unlike a pull-out couch) it’s as comfortable as a regular bed. We opted for the Green Mattress by Avocado. We opted for a queen mattress without the pillow top and have found it to be very comfortable and breathable.
About the Green Mattress: Natural mattress features GOLS organic certified latex, GOTS organic certified wool, GOTS organic certified cotton and up to 1,414 pocketed support coils. No polyester, polyurethane foams or toxic fire retardants are used.
Easy to put up and down
While elderly and young people shouldn’t operate a wall bed, able-bodied adults can operate them easily. Springs can be added or removed to adjust the tension and effort required to put the bed up and down. When you’re ready to put the bed up, just remove the pillows and clip the mattress strap. Then lift to stow the bed, tuck the pillows, and close the doors.
Takes less time than you think
Once you get the hang of it, putting the bed up and down takes just two minutes!
You feel accomplished in the morning
I never used to make my bed. My mantra was, “why make it if I’m just going to mess it up again?” But the extra square footage entices me to make the bed each morning and once I do, I feel a small sense of accomplishment. Once the bed is up, I feel more energetic and motivated to get started with my day.
Where to buy a wall bed
Our favorite so far is the Next Bed from Murphy Bed Depot (I’m not getting paid to say that, it’s actually our favorite). Here’s why it’s the best wall bed we’ve had so far:
The mechanism for the mattress is separate from the enclosure, meaning if you move and the enclosure gets damaged, you don’t have to get a whole new mechanism. Cheaper and greener!
There’s plenty of room for your mattress, blankets, and pillows. Other beds I’ve had couldn’t handle a big blanket in the winter and didn’t have a place for pillows.
Tucking the blanket is easier because there is no lip on the mattress frame. Other beds I’ve had had a lip around where the mattress laid on the slats making it hard to tuck in the blankets.
Get 7% Off Your Wall Bed
I reached out to Murphy Bed Depot telling them about this post and was able to get a discount for Small Space, Big Taste readers!
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The cost to buy a wall bed
Total cost of the next bed
For our most recent wall bed, the cost breakdown looked like this:
The Next Bed Wall Mounted Murphy Bed Frame $489
The St Augustine Next Bed Cabinet $1,199
Bed size - Queen $250
Bed cabinet depth - 20 inches $100
Return on Investment
Getting a wall bed is definitely a big purchase, especially for renters. One thing to consider, however, is how much more you would spend on rent to have an extra bedroom. For example, in our building upgrading from a studio to a one bedroom would cost $800 per month, or $9,600 per year. If on average, you get three years of use out of your wall bed, your $2,538 investment into making your studio livable could save you $26,262 in extra rent over the three years. In my case, the wall bed paid for itself in 3.2 months ($2,538 divided by $800).
You can explore this idea of calculating the costs of different sized apartments in this article:
Considerations when buying
Measure your mattress
Check the size and and measure the thickness of your mattress. Typically 13 inches is the thickness limit, but it depends on the model of your wall bed.
Measure your space
Measure your space vertically to make sure the bed will have room to come down. A common pitfall is a ceiling light or fan getting bumped when you put the bed up.
Understand hardware types
Floor-mounted or wall-mounted indicates where the wall bed will be secured. The most common is wall-mounted.
Air springs (pistons) vs. metal springs
Air springs: are more complicated to replace
Metal springs: the more there are the lighter the bed will be to put away, but the lighter it is, the more tension there is on the wall or floor where it’s mounted.
Stowing the bed
How easily you can tuck in the blanket? Some have a lip that the mattress drops into and it makes tucking challenging.
Will there be room for thicker blankets in the winter?
Where will you store the pillows?
There are many choices for material and finish. Particle board is the cheapest and looks fine, but keep in mind it’s for a one time install only. If you plan on moving it, invest in hardwood.
Built in shelving and lighting
I chose the Leticia Knob from Anthropologie.
Installing your wall bed
Informing your landlord
To tell or not to tell, that is the question! In our 240 square foot studio, the landlord encouraged wall beds. In the other two apartments, we quietly installed the wall bed without issue.
Hire a professional for installation
As you can see, there are a lot of pieces and it’s a two-person job. These two contractors install wall beds often and it took them 3 hours of non-stop work. I highly recommend paying a professional to install it right the first time. The supplier usually can recommend a contractor for your area. You can vet them a bit by asking how many wall beds they’ve installed and what types of wall materials they’re familiar with. When you schedule the installation, be sure to let them know what kind of wall you have (dry wall, plaster, concrete etc.).
Be present during the installation
I also highly recommend that you be present during install. As you can see, I was home getting work done squeezed between the mattress and the window and I took a call in the hallway.
There are a few critical choices to make that are hard to decide on ahead of time. Mainly, where exactly the wall bed will be placed, keeping in mind the space for getting in and out of bed and any outlets that might be blocked. Yes, you can measure and have a plan, but for a piece this big, it might look different than you visualized and it’s best to get it right the first time.
During the installation
If your power outlet is going to be blocked, it’s possible the contractor can cut a whole in your bed frame to allow access for the plug.
It’s likely your contractor will ask to remove the baseboard. This is so the wall bed can be mounted flush to the wall rather than over the baseboard. If they don’t bring it up, you should. You can store the unused baseboard discreetly on top of the bed and then replace it when you move out.
For wall beds with adjustable springs, you should test out the different number of strings with the installation contractor to find what’s most comfortable for you. Keep in mind the easier it is, the more tension that’s on the wall.
Using (and loving!) your wall bed
Putting it up
Remove the pillows and make your bed (mine tuck into the frame).
Clip the mattress strap to keep the mattress in place when you pull it back down.
Use proper form—be sure to have a straight back and bend at the knees.
Close the doors.
Putting it down
Open the doors and make sure the space is—you don’t want to be holding up the bed and trying to move a chair at the same time.
Pull the bed away from the wall and lower it to the floor.
Be sure the legs are down to support the bed (some wall beds fold out on their own, others you do yourself).
Unclip the mattress and replace your pillows.
When you move
The best case scenario is that you sell it to the next tenant. We’ve pulled this off for both of the apartments we’ve left. Otherwise, hire someone to uninstall it (preferable the same person who installed it) and replace the baseboard. Lastly, do a bit of patch and paint and no one will be the wiser!
Getting a wall bed is an upfront investment in time and cost, but having the extra space is totally worth it!
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