room layout with Murphy bed
Photograph by ORG Home

What began at the turn of the century as a way to receive and court female visitors in a small San Francisco apartment without raising eyebrows has become a modern, stylish way of making the most of small spaces in today’s homes.

In 1900, William Lawrence Murphy realized that his idea for a bed that “disappeared” when a lady visitor came calling, turning his bedroom into a parlor appropriate for entertaining, was deserving of a patent.

The Disappearing Bed (Murphy bed) lent itself superbly to silent films as a prop for slapstick routines made popular by Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, and the Three Stooges among others. Keystone Studios built entire scenes around the notion that a piece of furniture could disappear while making people disappear with it!

Who knew that in today’s world, where families often live in smaller urban spaces and rooms need to provide more functionality, the Murphy bed would also become a desirable and attractive way to design bedrooms, home offices, and guest rooms. The Murphy bed of today provides efficient storage, fold-down workstations, display shelving, ambient lighting, and a comfortable place to sleep.

Photographs by ORG Home.