The Murphy bed is folded down and you can see the storage cabinets behind the bed

How To Build A Murphy Bed (With Or Without A Kit)

In Furniture by Christopher Schopf

Murphy beds are great space savers for both small and large areas.  You can use them in your home and even your camper or motorhome.

The drawback to a Murphy bed is that it is usually expensive to buy.

How do you build a murphy bed?
To build a murphy bed yourself, you’ll need a mattress, some wood, proper hardware, a saw, and a power drill. Ready-made Kits will make the process simpler but they will most likely increase the cost of building the murphy bed.

How to Build a Murphy Bed with a Kit

Building a Murphy bed with a kit isn’t necessarily any easier but it does make the murphy bed function much smoother.

These kits are usually costly compared to buying hinges but they are much less expensive than buying a professionally made murphy bed.

With a Murphy bed kit, you’ll usually receive all of the hardware you need as well as detailed plans to use to build the rest of the Murphy bed.  They’ll include a list of items that you’ll need to buy from your local big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes.  For example, the plans might ask you to buy plywood or 2″x6″x8′ lumber.

Here are some of the items that will usually come in a kit:

  • Steel bed frame poles.
  • Wooden Slats.
  • Hardware.
  • Detailed plans.

To build this type of Murphy bed, you’ll simply need to follow the instructions included with the kit.  Typically you’ll only need a saw and a drill to complete the project.

Here are some examples of murphy bed kits:

The Legacy Murphy Bed

This bed kit comes with heavy duty spring kits to make opening and closing the murphy bed easier.  It also includes a fold-over leg system that supports the top end of the bed when it is in the down position.

Hardware like legs, leg-rod systems, angle brackets, and even screws are included and you’ll be given plans to make any size bed you like.  In fact, they have plans for murphy beds in both the vertical and horizontal positions.

Wood and stain or paint are the only items you’ll really need to buy yourself with this kit.  The end result is a basic yet professional looking murphy bed that swings up and down with ease.

The Vertical Mount Deluxe Murphy Bed Hardware Kit

This kit has specialized hardware depending on the bed size you choose.  It comes in twin, full, and queen-size models so you’ll have plenty of options.

The hardware included in this kit is versatile and the plans are open so that you can build the bed to look any way you like.  Some reviewers have submitted pictures of beds with shelves built alongside them while others have built stand-alone beds that look like pieces of art.

What I like about this hardware kit is that you can a bed that lifts in and out like a professional bed while still having the option to make the bed look like a unique hand-crafted piece of furniture.  People who have interesting and eclectic tastes may prefer to use a kit like this over some of the more specialized kits.

Wall Bed King’s Wall Mount Bed Kit

This kit is interesting in that you really wouldn’t need to build anything at all around it.  It comes with a bed frame, gas pistons, and everything else you need to have your bed fold up onto the wall.

They have kits in horizontal and vertical orientations and you can buy them in many different sizes.  The gas pistons make it extremely easy to lift the bed up which is something you don’t often find with DIY murphy beds.

What I like most about this kit is that you can build anything you want around it.  Also, once it is set up you can start using it.  This means that even if it takes you several weekends to build your own decorative case, you’ll still be able to use your murphy bed in the meantime.

This is especially useful if you’re still experimenting on where to put your murphy bed.  You can set the basic frame up and try it out in a few different areas before building any customized areas around it.

Addicted to DIY Farm House Murphy Bed

If you don’t mind spending a lot more time on your DIY Murphy bed then you may want to consider building the Farm House Murphy Bed.  This Murphy bed requires a lot of wood and a set of Kreg jigs but in the end, you’ll have a beautiful looking Murphy bed with attached cabinets and drawers.

I’d imagine that a bed like this would easily cost a few thousand dollars at the store and it probably still wouldn’t look as good as what the creators built for themselves.  The bed’s design follows the theme of being modern yet looking like it could belong in a farmhouse.  It features painted cabinets with modern metal drawer pulls and stained wood accent panels.

They even built a long computer desk into the side of the Murphy bed which makes it great for use in a home office.

The plans on this website are free and you can print them off directly from their website.  This being said, the Rockler kit was used so you’ll end up having to pay some money for that or create a DIY workaround for it.

How to Build a Murphy Bed Without a Kit

Materials Needed

  • Mattress
  • Plywood (3.4″ thick or thicker)
  • 2″x6″x8′ Boards
  • Swivel Brackets or Hinges
  • Screws

These are the basic items you’ll need to create a simple murphy bed.  The more complex and decorative you decide to make your murphy bed, the more items you’ll need.

To get started, you’ll need to start with a mattress.  The size of your mattress will determine the size of your Murphy bed.  Here are the different bed sizes people normally choose.

  • Twin Bed – 38″ x 75″
  • Twin XL Bed – 38″ x 80″
  • Full XL Bed – 54″ x 80″
  • Full-Size Bed – 54″ x 75″
  • Queen Bed – 60″ x 80″
  • King Bed – 76″ x 80″
  • California King Bed – 72″ x 84″

Just keep in mind that even though this bed will fold up into the wall, you’ll still need to have enough space for it to fold down.

Once you’ve chosen a mattress, you can begin to cut the boards down to size.

Start by making a frame with the 8-foot lumber.  The measurements will vary based off the mattress size you’ve chosen but you’ll basically just need to have them wide enough so that the mattress will fit snugly inside of them.

After you’ve created this frame, you’ll need to attach your sheets of plywood to the frame.  The plywood can be screwed directly into the frame once it has been cut to size.  Again, the measurements will vary based on the size of your bed.  For larger mattresses, you may need more than one sheet of plywood.

Once the frame has been created you’ll need to create another frame that is slightly wider than the first one.  This one will not have any plywood attached to it and the first frame will be nested inside of it.  Make sure to leave some additional space to add the swivel brackets.

The swivel brackets will be mounted to the larger frame and the smaller frame will be connected to them.  This is so that the frame with the mattress can rotate down and out of the larger frame.

Once all of this has been connected, you’ll just need to secure the outer frame to your wall.  Be sure to find a stud as standard drywall or plaster will not provide much support.

These are the basic minimum steps to creating a murphy bed without a kit.   You can add shelves or decorative pieces to the Murphy bed as you see fit.  The wood can also be stained or painted to match the decor of the room you have it hosted in.

Here are some examples of DIY murphy beds that others have created.

Cheap Murphy Bed from Youtube’s Tyler G

Tyler created a murphy bed for a queen size mattress as well as a full-size mattress.  He used inexpensive swivel brackets and some wood to rough out the basic function of the bed.

After this, Tyler added some floating shelves to the front of the Murphy bed and stained it a light natural color.  He used red oak PureBond plywood but you could use less expensive plywood and it would still look great.

Here Tyler’s build video:

Anna White’s Affordable Murphy Bed

Anna White is a tiny house builder who specializes in making custom furniture to fit small spaces.  Her website has plans for a simple murphy bed that can be created with some MDF and various 8′ long pieces of lumber.

The lumber she uses is even less expensive than the 2″x6″x8′ long boards that Tyler uses in his build.

What I like about her build is that she uses lumber to create trim accent pieces that look great even though they do not cost much to buy.

She also uses hinges instead of swivel brackets which are not as good but are less expensive and easier to find.  It also makes the footprint of the Murphy bed a little more narrow as well.  Anna finishes off this project by painting the murphy bed a high gloss black.

High-gloss black is in right now but the nice aspect of this is that when this color goes out of style, it will be easy to repaint it again.  With a stained piece, you have to completely sand the wood down before you can re-stain it again.  Of course, stained pieces can be painted over as well if that is something you decide to do in the future.

You can find Anna’s plans at http://www.ana-white.com/2010/03/plans-a-murphy-bed-you-can-build-and-afford-to-build.html

Your Modern Family’s Murphy Bed

No, Sofia Vergara did not build this bed in the hit television show, Modern Family.  This bed is from the website, Your Modern Family.  This blog has plans for a murphy bed that looks to be part of the wall.

They accomplished this look by centering it on the wall and then installing shelving on either side of it.  They capped it off with matching woodworks to make it look like a true built-in.  I love the fact that the Murphy bed is completely hidden but it does make it so the Murphy bed will not be easily moved.

This isn’t a problem for this family since it is built into a house but you may want to go another route if you’re building a murphy bed for your apartment.

The build process is actually quite simple in that they use 2″x6″ lumber for the frame and 2″x4″ lumber for the legs of the Murphy bed.  This cut down on costs and made the bed a nice affordable option.  The only downside is that the bed does not fold out as smoothly as a professionally made murphy bed might.

The DIY Network Murphy Bed

This bed is a basic Murphy bed that looks like it could be a cabinet from the 1970s.  However, the instructions are great and detailed pictures have been taken so you can see exactly what needs to be done with each step.

There is a lot of screwing and gluing involved but you don’t need to have any special jigs as all the screws are just placed into pre-drilled holes.  Some of the corner rails are rounded so you’ll need a jigsaw but if you’re anything like me you like to use your jigsaw anyway.

This bed can easily be built in an afternoon and it won’t cost you much to do so.  Personally, I don’t love the look of it but you could always modify a few things to make it look a little better.  For instance, I’d use different exterior hardware and I’d probably make the front a little more ornate.  At the very least, a picture could be mounted to the front so you wouldn’t just be looking at a white piece of plywood with a couple of pieces of cabinet hardware attached to it.

Where Do I Find Cheap Ready-To-Ship Murphy Beds?

We have written extensively about Murphy beds and we have also built our own Murphy bed.

Here are the best prices on Murphy beds you can find at the stores:

StorePrice rangeMurphy beds
Wayfair$-$$179
Houzz$-$$$191
Expand Furniture$$-$$$35
Home Square$-$$$105

Related Questions

Do Murphy Beds Have to Be Attached to The Wall

Yes. Murphy beds need to be attached to the wall only if the bed mechanism cannot stand alone.  In most cases, it is safer to attach the Murphy bed to the wall but it isn’t always necessary. 

Check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend.  If it is recommended that you attach it to the wall then you probably should.

How Much Does a Murphy Bed Cost?

A Murphy bed can easily cost from $1,000.00 and up.  This is why many people decide to build their own Murphy beds as kits tend to cost less than half of that and complete DIY jobs cost even less.

Here you can see the best prices for Murphy beds.

In Closing

Learning how to build a Murphy bed really isn’t that difficult.  Once you learn the basics you can go on to build all sorts of professional and unique looking designs.