The History of Sofa Beds

Written by cheryl munson
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The History of Sofa Beds
Sofa bed history evolves from hide-a-beds to convertible futons. (sofa bed image by Gina Smith from

Since 1899, Americans have relied on various types of space-saving or dual-purpose beds. Small living spaces and the need to use rooms for multiple purposes have made today's sofa bed a piece of furnishing that is found in many homes across America.

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The Folding Bed

Leonard C. Bailey patented the first "folding bed" on July 18, 1899. The metal bed frame was collapsible, folding mattress when closed for use as needed. The invention later became known as a "hide-a-bed."

The Murphy Bed

In 1908, William Lawrence Murphy patented his "In-A-Dor" bed, which is still known as a "Murphy Bed." The space-saver folded into a wall-closet. Subsequent varieties became known as "library beds." Murphy beds are still in use today.

The Castro Convertible

In 1931, Bernard Castro used £260 from his savings to open a shop in New York where he sold the "Castro Convertible." The beds found a customer based among Depression-era families living in cramped apartment spaces. Most sofa beds sold today evolved from Castro's designs.

Futon Convertibles

The futon sofa bed became the answer for a sofa bed with a more contemporary style and design. It first appeared in the United States during the early 1980s, mimicking its Japanese predecessors. William Brouwer developed the first sofa style convertible frame for sale in the United States.

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