Beds that fold into walls work best in small or multipurpose spaces where the comfort and convenience of a fixed bed with a mattress and box spring is less important than maximising square footage. Fold-up beds come in all shapes and sizes, from classic designs to minimalist experiments that build the functions of several rooms into one slim unit.
Murphy Beds in Cabinets
Murphy beds started out as fold-up frames that cleared some floor space without any particular pretensions at aesthetics. But they soon evolved into what you think of today as the classic Murphy bed --- a bolted-on wall system with real cabinets flanking a false front that folds down to become a bed. In a studio apartment or home office, a Murphy bed masks the bedroom function during the day and allows space to use the room for other activities. For seldom-used guest rooms, the beds are a practical solution. When there are no visitors, the bed is out of sight, out of mind, and the room can be used as a study. The downsides are that the systems are heavy and may not work for a second floor space with inadequate support. The beds are often flimsy, about as comfortable as a low-quality sleep sofa, although you can now upgrade some mattresses. And a custom-made Murphy bed, which most are, is either designed for or adapted to a space and is expensive.
New Designs in Wall Beds
Strictly speaking, any bed that disappears into a wall or cabinet when not in use is a wall bed. But newer designs that offer more options for compact spaces come in more versatile configurations and materials. The table bed has a fold-down table or desk that is supported by a hinged leg and can be folded right into the facade of the bed unit when not in use. In the daytime, the bed is up and the table is a work desk or a dining room table. At night, the table folds away, and the bed reappears. The collapsible sofa bed operates on a similar principle. A low, modern sofa set against an attractive wood panel by day folds flat on itself to hide beneath the pull-down bed at night. Push the bed back up, and you have a living room again.
Smart beds are wall beds hidden in skinny, versatile cabinets. They bolt to a wall, and, when the bed is hidden, look like wall-mounted desks, hanging bars for clothes, contemporary full-length shelf systems or minimalist wood cupboards. But smart beds have all kinds of clever hardware that allows a full library to swivel around, revealing a double bed that then folds down or a narrow cabinet to open out into bunk beds with an integrated ladder. One slender model has two pale wood panels in a metal frame. The bottom panel folds down into a sofa with metal side rails. When the top is released as well, there are two bunks and the side rails are ladders to get to the top bed. Another model features a panel with a fold-down desk. When the desk is up, the panel swivels so a twin bed can be positioned along a wall instead of folding out into the room. Behind the swivelled bed panel are hidden storage shelves. The smart bed is an innovative solution for kids who share a bedroom or for exceptionally neat dorm mates.