Murphy beds are useful for overnight guests, convertible home offices, studio apartments, small bedrooms, or live-in household staff and caregivers. They free up floor space so that people can perform other activities in the room containing the bed.
A Murphy bed mechanism assists with the raising and lowering of a bed using a pivot system, springs and/or pistons. Some are attached directly to a wall, but they can be installed in closets or concealed in free-standing storage cabinets. They can be configured to hold a mattress along its length or width depending on the space available. Some are designed to accommodate a box spring and mattress.
Murphy beds can be accessorized and concealed with bookshelves or fold-out tables.
They can also be built as bunk beds or side-by-side twin beds. Some manufacturers have even created small Murphy beds for dogs.
The Murphy bed was invented by William Lawrence Murphy, a bachelor who wanted to convert his studio apartment into a more formal living space where he could socialize with female guests without violating the social conventions of the day. Trundle beds and folding beds already existed, but Murphy designed and patented new counterweight and pivot mechanisms. He also founded the Murphy Bed Company of New York.