Hideaway Beds: Push Here and Disappear


Did you ever wonder where on earth wall beds came from or why they are named after some man named Murphy? Is he related to the person who started Murphy’s Law or was he from the other side of the family? Whatever the story, read on for some info and a laugh or two as well.

The Murphy bed was the brainchild of William L. Murphy, who lived in California at the turn of the last century. He and his wife shared a one-room apartment, which had a standard-sized bed taking up most of the floor space. As a man who loved to entertain, Murphy began experimenting with a folding bed. He applied for his first patent in 1900 and the first folding beds were manufactured in San Francisco. In 1918, William Murphy (you just can’t keep a good man down) invented the pivot bed, which pivoted on the doorjamb of a dressing closet and then lowered into a sleeping position.

The Murphy bed and I go back about twenty-five years when I was an American student living and studying in Perugia, Italy. A boyfriend and I went on vacation to Venice, the city of red-hot lovers and steamy canals. The hotel’s exterior was very attractive and the rooms all overlooked the sort of blue Venetian waters.

I was tired after our long and arduous train trip and wanted to take a nap before going out to explore the new city. My boyfriend went for a walk; I lowered the Murphy bed from the wall and plopped into it rather quickly. That’s when the plot to the story between Mr. Murphy and myself really began to thicken.

As soon as I jumped on the bed, I inadvertently activated a hidden spring. I say this with all certainty because the next thing I knew the bed folded back up into the wall with me scrunched in the middle of the mattress, like a hunk of baloney in a sandwich. I soon realized that the more I pulled, the less it moved. There was some kind of lever on the wall but I could not reach it from my most untenable position. When my boyfriend returned, it took him about five minutes to stop laughing. Then he took pity upon me and helped me out of the stupid bed. I have never trusted sandwiches, closets, anyone named Murphy, or been the same since.

(illustration courtesy of John Takai/Dreamstime.com)