Why American Murphy beds make sense in Mexico

Murphy beds are best when a homeowner has occasional guests. Photo: Courtesy
Murphy beds. Photo: Courtesy

There was a time when most buyers preferred to purchase a house or condo in Mexico with two to three bedrooms. Today, smaller dwellings seem to be increasingly popular. One of the best ways to maximize use of space is with a wall bed.

A wall bed, also called pull-down bed, fold-down bed or Murphy bed, is hinged to the wall and concealed in a cabinet when not in use. For those with company only a few weeks a year, this is a great solution. Around the bed cabinet, you can custom build shelving, a bench or even a desk for when friends and family are not here.

The Murphy bed is named after William Murphy, of San Francisco, who was the first person to patent this space-saving solution in the early 1900s.

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Legend has it that he was quite smitten with a lovely opera singer. Unfortunately for poor William, it was not considered proper to invite a woman back to your studio apartment with the bed in the middle of the room.

To address this, William improved what was in existence at the time — apparently Sears Roebuck & Co. were already selling a type of bed that folded away. He patented a disappearing bed with a pivot and counterbalance. Whether he was successful in wooing the opera singer is unknown. What we do know is that his invention became a popular piece of furniture.

Murphy beds have two basic components. The first is the mechanism. The second is the cabinetry that stores the mattress.

The mechanism, arguably the most important part of the bed, is sold in a kit. You get the mechanism, screws, nuts and bolts and instructions. The same size mechanism works for individual, matrimonial and queen. For a king size bed, a stronger mechanism is often required. There are low cost kits with cheap mechanisms and then there are the right ones. For our environment, get the right mechanism that wont rust or corrode, with a warranty of 10 or more years. With the cheap, rusty mechanisms, you constantly fight to put the bed up and down if you can get it to move at all.

Unless the bed needs to hold a lot of weight, the cabinetry, slats and frame are built from wood. Liston wood is our favorite to use in Mexico. You can get slats and frames in aluminum or steel, but those cost more and are for commercial use.

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Most people don’t realize that Murphy beds can fold down horizontally or vertically.  Almost all rooms can accommodate a wall bed either one way or the other. Another interesting point – custom mattresses are not required. Regular mattresses will work so long as they are not over the maximum height allowance.

Sheryl Novak is an expat Canadian who has owned a home in Mexico for over 10 years. She is the owner of SOLutions Mexico — the online furniture store for your home in Mexico. She is considered the expert on sourcing all styles of furniture, for all sizes of budgets, in Mexico. Email the author at sa.novak@solutionsmexico.com for a free newsletter on how to get good value on furniture in Mexico.

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