Murphy beds are iconic space-saving fixtures, but have you ever wondered about the origin of their name? These ingenious folding beds actually got their peculiar moniker from a fascinating piece of history.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Murphy beds are named after William L. Murphy, who patented the first vertical wall bed in 1900.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the full history behind Murphy beds, from their inventor’s inspirational life story to how these beds earned their memorable nickname. You’ll learn all about the innovation that led to their creation and made Murphy a household name.

Who Was William L. Murphy?

William L. Murphy was an inventor and entrepreneur who is credited with the creation of the fold-up bed, commonly known as the Murphy bed. Born in the late 19th century, Murphy was an innovative thinker who saw the need for space-saving solutions in urban areas where living spaces were becoming increasingly cramped.

Murphy’s Early Life and Work

William L. Murphy was born in California in 1876. He grew up in a time when cities were rapidly expanding, and living spaces were becoming smaller and more expensive. This inspired Murphy to find a solution that would allow people to maximize their living spaces without sacrificing comfort.

As a young man, Murphy worked as a carpenter and inventor. He was constantly tinkering with new ideas and inventions, always looking for ways to improve everyday life. It was during this time that he came up with the concept of the fold-up bed.

Pioneering the Fold-Up Bed

In the early 20th century, Murphy patented his innovative design for a fold-up bed. The bed could be easily folded up and stored vertically against a wall, creating additional space in the room. When needed, it could be easily pulled down and used as a comfortable sleeping surface.

Murphy’s invention quickly gained popularity, especially in urban areas where space was at a premium. The fold-up bed became known as the Murphy bed, and it revolutionized the way people utilized their living spaces.

It allowed for multi-functional rooms, such as a bedroom that could also serve as a home office or a living room during the day.

The Murphy bed became synonymous with efficiency and practicality. It was embraced by homeowners, apartment dwellers, and even hotels. Its popularity continued to grow over the years, and today, it remains a popular choice for those looking to optimize their living spaces.

For more information on the history of the Murphy bed and its inventor, you can visit

The Invention and Patenting of the Murphy Bed

The Murphy Bed, also known as a wall bed or pull-down bed, is a space-saving solution that has gained popularity in recent years. But have you ever wondered why it’s called a Murphy Bed? Let’s dive into the fascinating history of its invention and patenting.

Inspiration for the Design

The Murphy Bed was invented by William Lawrence Murphy in the late 19th century. Living in a small one-room apartment in San Francisco, Murphy faced the challenge of maximizing his living space. He was also courting a young opera singer at the time, and the social norms of the era frowned upon a woman entering a man’s bedroom.

This dilemma sparked his innovative thinking and led to the creation of the Murphy Bed.

Murphy was inspired by the idea of a bed that could be discreetly tucked away when not in use, allowing him to entertain guests without the stigma of inviting them into his bedroom. He began experimenting with different mechanisms to achieve this goal, eventually coming up with a design that utilized a pivot and counterbalance system.

Features of the Original Murphy Bed

The original Murphy Bed was designed to be both functional and space-saving. When not in use, it could be easily folded up and stored vertically against the wall, creating additional floor space. This allowed Murphy to use his small apartment for other purposes during the day, such as a living room or workspace.

The bed was equipped with a spring-loaded mechanism that made it effortless to fold down and set up. Additionally, it had a locking mechanism to ensure stability and safety while in use. The design also incorporated a headboard and footboard, giving the bed a polished and finished look.

The 1900 Patent

In 1900, William Lawrence Murphy filed a patent for his invention, officially securing the rights to his unique bed design. The patent, titled “Design for a Bed”, outlined the key features and mechanisms of the Murphy Bed.

This patent not only protected Murphy’s invention but also served as recognition of his contribution to the field of space-saving furniture.

Since then, the Murphy Bed has evolved and undergone various improvements, but the basic concept and functionality remain the same. Today, it continues to be a popular choice for those living in small apartments or seeking to maximize the use of their space.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history and evolution of the Murphy Bed, you can visit the Murphy Bed HQ website for a more in-depth exploration.

The Popularity and Prevalence of Murphy Beds

When it comes to maximizing space in small urban apartments, Murphy beds have become incredibly popular. These innovative beds, also known as wall beds or pull-down beds, have gained widespread use due to their ability to provide both comfort and functionality in limited spaces.

Use in Small Urban Apartments

In densely populated cities where living spaces are at a premium, Murphy beds have become a go-to solution for making the most of limited square footage. With their ability to fold up vertically against a wall, these beds can easily transform a living room or office space into a cozy bedroom at night.

This versatility allows residents to have a comfortable sleeping area without sacrificing the functionality of their living space during the day.

Not only do Murphy beds save valuable space, but they also offer additional storage options. Many Murphy bed designs include built-in shelves or cabinets, providing much-needed storage for bedding, clothing, and other items.

This added storage space helps to keep small apartments organized and clutter-free.

The rise in popularity of tiny houses and micro-apartments has further contributed to the prevalence of Murphy beds. As more people opt for minimalist living, Murphy beds have become a practical and stylish solution for maximizing space in these compact dwellings.

Continued Design Evolution

Murphy beds have come a long way since their inception in the early 20th century. Originally patented by William L. Murphy in 1916, these beds were initially designed to fold up into a closet to save space in small apartments.

Over the years, the design and functionality of Murphy beds have continued to evolve.

Today, there is a wide range of Murphy bed designs available, catering to various styles and needs. From modern and sleek to rustic and traditional, there is a Murphy bed to suit every taste. Additionally, advancements in technology have made Murphy beds easier to operate, with features such as hydraulic lifts and remote control mechanisms.

The evolving design of Murphy beds has also led to their integration into custom furniture pieces. You can now find Murphy beds that seamlessly blend with bookcases, desks, and even dining tables. This integration allows for a seamless transition between living and sleeping areas, making the most of every square inch of space.


Murphy beds still carry the name of their ingenious inventor over a century later. William L. Murphy’s clever fold-away bed concept has stood the test of time and continues offering space-saving solutions in modern homes.

Whenever you see or use a Murphy bed, you can appreciate the rich history behind its name.

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