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Hidden Guest Beds for Small Spaces

The Benefits of Wall Beds, Murphy Beds & Other Guest Beds for Small Spaces:

It's easy to understand why more and more people are getting in on the recent hidden bed trend. The practicalities — and space saving benefits — of hidden beds appeal more than ever to those who want or need rooms with multiple uses such as a home office that can also be used as the occasional guest room. With the cost of housing across the United States increasing on average twice as fast as wages*, most people want to use every bit of the space in their homes to its fullest potential. Having spaces that do double duty fills that need very nicely. * Source: New York Post

Housing prices are generally calculated on a "per square foot" basis, so being able to do more with less space offers immediate returns for the new home buyer as well as current homeowners who want to maximize what they already have before taking the plunge into a room addition or larger, more expensive home. Hidden beds make perfect guest beds for small spaces or multifunction areas in that they are visible and taking up real estate only when in use. The rest of the time they disappear, allowing the owner to devote the space to other purposes.

There are numerous types and brands of hidden guest beds for small spaces, but they all fall into six basic categories, each with different benefits, comfort levels and price points.

    CONVERTIBLE BED OPTIONS:
  1. The Sofa Bed. The sofa bed, also called a sofa sleeper, is the most common type of hidden bed and it is what most people immediately think of when they need a convertible sleeping area. Sofa beds come in different sizes. It can be a chair that folds out to sleep one person on a narrow mattress, a love seat — which is wider and thereby more comfortable for a single sleeper — or a sofa/couch. The latter varies in size from full to queen width and can sleep two in a pinch. For those who desire a permanent sofa or chair in the room that can double as sleeping quarters for overnight guests, the sofa bed might be a good solution. The disadvantage to this type of hidden bed is that the mattresses are often very thin and there is usually some type of metal bar running the width to support the folded out bed platform. This bar can often be felt, and is notorious for causing an uncomfortable night's sleep for the user. Additionally, they are cumbersome to open and close.
  2. The Murphy Bed or Wall Bed. The term Murphy Bed is so well known that it has become synonomous with beds that fold out of a wall or cabinet. However, just as Thermous is a brand of vacuum bottle and Kleenex a brand of tissue, Murphy Bed is a brand of wall bed. The more generic term "wall bed" (sometimes spelled wallbed) refers to any bed built into a cabinet where the bed is stored hidden in an upright position and can be pulled down to a flat position parallel to the floor for sleeping. Commonly, the wall bed mechanism is situated in cabinetry that is enclosed on one or both sides by a wall unit that offers cabinets for storing bedding, shelves, or even a built in desk. Wall beds come in standard mattress sizes including twin, full and queen. King size wall beds are not common. Murphy style beds are easy to raise and lower and can fold out of their cabinets either vertically or horizontally.
    • Vertical Wall Bed: The vertical wall bed folds out of the wall foot first — meaning when you pull the handle, the bottom of the bed comes down closest to you. The head of the bed will be closest to the wall, with the cabinet forming a kind of headboard for the system. This is the more common type of wall bed.
    • Horizontal wall bed: The horizontal wall bed folds out side first. It is less common, but usually performs better in a narrow room where the bed is located against the longer wall and there is not much width to work with.
    Wall beds are ideal guest beds for small spaces and are extremely desirable. The best type of wall bed for your needs is determined by the dimensions of the room and the location of the bed. Both horizontal and vertical styles require only a 16" depth when closed. Quality wall beds will hold mattresses that are a minimum of 10" thick, making them more comfortable than most other options. The mattresses are easy to replace when necessary and are available at most mattress stores. They are also very durable, making them a long term solution to your guest bed needs. The best wall beds include a European style slant wood "box spring" to support the mattress. The slat wood is springy and profides comfortable support. The bonus to these types of beds are the wall units that can be constructed around them. They give the bed a true built in look, along with the perception that the system folds out of the actual wall rather than a free standing cabinet. Desks are often integrated into the custom wall units, as this type of bed is commonly used for a combination home office and guest room. When closed, they present a panel of uninterupted wall space that can be used for mounting pictures or in some cases, securing a wall mount TV. They come in many price points depending on the level of customization and extras added to the system, however, owning a wall bed is generally considered to be the high end solution to guest accommodations. .
    vertical wall bed with hidden desk
    Queen size vertical wall bed with fold away desk integrated into the surrounding wall unit.
  3. The Slide Away Bed. The slide away bed is based on the old-fashioned trundle bed, which is a bed that slides out from underneath another bed. However, whereas trundle beds are usually available only in twin size, the slide out bed will often accommodate full and queen mattresses. The basic concept is that a flat, raised platform conceals the bed most of the time. The bed pulls out like a giant drawer for sleeping. It's a nice solution for studio apartments. The top of the platform functions as raised floor space, making it ideal for separating a section of the room for a specific function, such as a dining nook. Because the bed is basically a big drawer on wheels, a standard mattress can be used, including memory foam. The maximum size is determined by the dimensions of the "drawer" and the height of the platform from the floor, however, most mattresses will work with this type of bed.
  4. The Loft Bed. Most people are familiar with loft beds either from their college days or watching the popular "Tiny House" television shows. Although not actually hidden, a loft bed is raised up high enough to allow the floor space underneath it to be functional for either walking or sitting. Any size bed can become a loft bed. It all depends on the width of platform built to hold it. The disadvantage is very little headroom above the mattress and sleepers can bump their heads easily when sitting up. They also usually require a ladder to get into them, making them a solution for the young.
  5. The Day Bed and Futon Bed. A day bed is not really hidden, but rather disguised. It is just a twin size bed with cushions on it to make it look and function like seating. It takes up as much room as having a bed out in the room at all times, but is dual purpose and thereby saves space. A futon bed is also not hidden. Wider than a day bed, half of the matress folds up at approximately a 90° angle, forming a back that gives the appearance of a sofa. The back can be unfolded to form a flat sleeping surface. Futons are generally inexpensive, but the mattresses need to be very thin in order to fold up, allowing many people to feel the bars of the frame when sleeping.
  6. The Rollaway Bed. The rollaway bed is also referred to as a cot in the United States. They come in full, twin or smaller sizes and are the least expensive option when looking for a hidden guest bed. Cots come in varying levels of comfort ranging from the simple, lightweight camp cot that is a piece of canvas or other material stretched over a simple frame to a heavy metal structure with springs and a thin mattress on top. Cots do get the sleeper elevated off the floor, but like the sofa bed, you can't get a very thick mattress on it because it needs to be able to fold.

All of the solutions presented here will provide extra sleeping space for the occasional guest. Closet Works is a provider of the wall bed solution for guest accomodations due to the quality, longevity and ability to customize the product to meet the unique needs of each homeowner. The wall bed or Murphy bed can be integrated into a larger bookcase or cabinetry storage system, an entertainment center, home office with desk, or other custom storage solution — making it stand out as the most versatile and best value among the different types of guest beds for small spaces.


Closet Works is Chicagolands' largest and most experienced provider of custom storage solutions. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners by creating custom closets, office/guest rooms, wall units and more to help create a better, less stressful lifestyle. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our wall beds and other custom organization systems can be found throughout our website. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-4-CLOSET (800-425-6738).

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