Danville Express

- March 16, 2007

Now you see it, now you don't

Murphy Wall Beds increasing in popularity

by Janet Pelletier

It's no magic trick, but Liz Roller can make a bed vanish in just five seconds.

With the thrust of her arm, a wooden platform that acts as the box spring for the mattress swings upward, folding into a wall cabinet and viola! It's now an armoire.

The owner of Wall Beds "n" More in Dublin has been selling the space-saving beds (also known as Murphy beds) for the past three years. The beds are shown by appointment.

She got the idea to sell the beds after talking to her father, who owed a furniture store in San Carlos. Wanting one for her own home, she figured others would want them, too. They turned out to be a good seller, and after her father Keith Vaughn closed his store and retired, she decided to open up a business solely dedicated to wall beds and their accessories eight years ago. The rest is history.

Roller has two wall beds in her Danville home - one in a bonus room that's a home office and another in a playroom that her 5-year-old daughter Taya uses to have sleepovers. Roller's not the only one raving about them, either.

"They love it," she said of friends, relatives and other houseguests' reactions to the wall beds. "Most people can't believe it's a bed because it takes up so little space."

While some people opt for sofa beds as a place for houseguests to sleep, Roller said it's not the best choice.

Sofa beds have notoriously thin, springy and uncomfortable mattresses. The advantage of the wall bed is not only its space-saving capacity, but the fact that it contains a standard mattress, she said.

The wall bed's history dates back to the 19th century and has a local connection. Inventor William L. Murphy, who was born near Stockton and later moved to San Francisco, lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the city. Murphy wanted to be able to entertain guests, so he began experimenting with a folding bed, applying for his first patent circa 1900. It did become the butt of some comedians' jokes but the Murphy bed is springing back into shape and showing its resilience more than 100 years later.

Home industry analysts say the beds are back on the rise because expensive home prices are forcing people into renting apartments, buying condos or smaller homes.

"I do think it's making a comeback," Roller said.

A furniture store in Danville is also seeing the trend.

"Is it making a comeback? Yes, but it's always been very, very popular and it has been for some time," said Larry Fox, owner of Valet Organizers, which has a location in the Danville Livery at 602 Sycamore Road. "We've been doing them for a long time and it's a big part of our business."

There are a number of reasons people are buying wall beds in larger numbers and the type of customer also runs the gamut.

"So many people are transplants here (in the Bay Area)," Roller said.

They're having their families come out and visit and need a place for them to sleep but don't want a guest room year-round, she explained.

"Eighty to 90 percent of the year, it's going to be your office but when the in-laws come one to two weeks of the year, you want a bed for them - that's the only time the bed has to be down," Fox said.

For elderly guests staying over, Fox said he's sold wall beds to homeowners who will put one in the family room for them so they don't have to climb stairs.

Another frequent customer Roller said she gets is the young couple that's just starting out in a two-bedroom home and having their first baby. When the second bedroom becomes a nursery and they want a place to sleep, they opt for a wall bed in the office.

Retirees are also buying into the trend. Many are downsizing from a larger house into a smaller house or in retirement communities, she said.

And don't leave out the middle-aged demographic whose children are going off to college. The student's bedroom becomes an exercise room or place for hobbies such as scrapbooking, Roller said customers tell her, but when the college freshman comes home on spring break, he or she still needs a place to sleep.

The beds sold at Roller's store come from Wallbeds! in Richmond. One called the Hidden Bed was recently featured on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. It serves as a desk when the bed is closed up, with a platform that can hold a computer, mouse and other office-type items and is lowered when the bed is folded out.

It showed that wall beds can perform magic in a home.

Where to buy wall beds

Wall Beds "n" More

5998 Sierra Court, Suite B, Dublin

Phone: 570-5663 for appointment

Valet Organizers/Eurodesign Ltd.

Danville Livery, 602 Sycamore Valley Road West

Phone: 362-8838


Posted by JohnS, a resident of Walnut Creek
on May 28, 2009 at 10:26 am

The beds themselves have achieved a greater level of functionality, aesthetics, and appeal. You can find some ideas for modern solutions at MurphyBedPros.com

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