A Murphy Bed is a great way to turn any room into a guest room with the pull of a handle. This DIY Murphy bed project is easy to follow with the step-by-step tutorial and free printable plans.
Hey there everyone! I can’t believe the day has finally come when I can share the tutorial for how I built this beautiful Murphy bed! If you’re new here, I’ve been remodeling my office/craft room to make it a more functional space. So far we’ve repainted the walls and replaced the baseboards as well as ripped out the old carpet and replaced it with wood laminate. The biggest portion of this remodel plan was the Murphy bed. Up until now, whenever we had out of town guests, they slept in our ‘guest house’ aka the trailer. It works great for long-term visits, but it’s a bit of a pain to prep and then clean up for overnight or weekend stays. I proposed the idea to my husband of building a Murphy bed and somehow also incorporating a desk space into it. He reluctantly agreed, though he wasn’t quite sure how I was going to incorporate a desk space for us to share. I wasn’t exactly sure either, but I knew that inspiration would strike at just the right moment. I had seen the plans and hardware for a deluxe Murphy bed on Rockler’s website and I loved the look of it. I figured that a few simple modifications could turn it into a functional office space for my husband and I. Because the desk modifications would make this post take a month to read, I’ve shared them here in a separate post. For now, here’s how I built the Murphy bed and smaller bookcase.
The first thing you want to do before beginning this project is read over the plans very carefully. Make sure you purchase the proper quantities of wood, hardware, and other materials. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the gigantic stack of Purebond plywood that my husband and I bought for this project. I think we had about 12 sheets in all of 3/4″, 1/2″ and 1/4″ plywood.
I chose to build this project with Purebond plywood for a multitude of reasons. First, it’s a high-quality plywood made with renewable, responsibly-harvested North American hardwoods. It’s also formaldehyde free, which I think goes without saying how important that is when using a material that will be in your home. You can purchase it in various sizes in stores or online at The Home Depot, so it’s also convenient! I chose to use the maple veneer plywood for this project, but you can also find it in various species such as birch and oak.
I started the project by ripping down all of my plywood pieces with my Kreg Rip-Cut. This way all of my pieces were cut and ready to go for assembly. The instructions are very specific on the plywood cuts to ensure that you get the most out of every single sheet.
While the plans I used for this bed are able to be downloaded from Rockler, the Murphy bed hardware itself also comes with an instruction packet. In that packet are templates you cut out to mark your radius for the side rails and also to drill the holes. While this project may seem intimidating, the detailed instructions and measurements make it very easy to follow and build. There are slight differences in cuts and measurements between the two plans and that is due to the modifications made from Rockler to add the taller moulding and bookcases. I would highly recommend using the downloaded plans when planning out your plywood cuts. We were bouncing between the plans and ended up cutting our bookcase verticals shorter based on the hardware plans. It didn’t actually affect the project in any way, other than the moulding we used has less plywood behind it now. It is still held securely, so no harm done. It will save you from a moment of panic though when you think you’ve completely screwed up the whole thing.
Because the majority of this project is constructed of plywood, you’ll want to apply edge banding to all of the edges of plywood that will be showing. You can find the edge banding at Home Depot and it’s easily applied with an iron. I HIGHLY recommend getting the Band-It Edge Trimmer to trim your edge banding. Coming from someone who once tried to use a utility knife to trim my veneer banding, this little tool is a life saver!
Once the bed support frame was built, we attached it to the 3/4″ plywood that will become the face of the Murphy bed. Make sure when assembling this step that you look at both sides of your plywood and have the prettiest side facing out. You don’t want to flip your project over and find a big tool gouge or scratch on the side everyone will see.
I deviated from the plans a little when assembling the book case. The fixed shelves are supposed to be set in a 3/4″ dado, but I decided to use pocket holes to attach them. This also meant shortening the fixed shelves to reflect that change. I cut them at 18 1/2″, which is the inside dimensions called for on the plans. I rabbeted the inside edge of the backs of the cabinet verticals to allow the 1/4″ plywood backing to sit flush inside the book cases. Again, all of these details are spelled out very well in the plans. I modified this bookcase slightly to fit in with the desk modifications, so the middle fixed shelf measures 30″ at the top of the shelf from the bottom of the book case vertical.
To attach the book case front and rear headers, I made 3/4″ dados using my router and a straight bit. If this isn’t something you’re willing to do or try, you can attach the front and rear headers using pocket hole joinery. Again, you just have to cut the top of the book case to reflect that, so 1 1/2″ shallower.
Once my book case was constructed, I added the edge banding to all of the plywood edges that would be visible. CONFESSION TIME: I didn’t add edge banding to the bottom fixed shelf, which I now regret. I figured it would be covered with the moulding, but the edge banding does have some thickness to it, so when I attached the front moulding to the book case, it didn’t sit flush against the bottom shelf.
The two additional shelves on the book case are adjustable. I used my Kreg shelf pin jig to drill all of these holes. Again, another tool that you may not use often, but is absolutely worth its weight in gold when you do. The plans call for the adjustable shelves to be cut at 18 1/4″ to fit inside the 18 1/2″ cabinets. I found this to be way too much of a gap on each side when I built and installed the shelves, so I ended up making new shelves and cutting them at 18 3/8″.
The front of the Murphy bed can be customized in any number of ways. You can do simple faux fronts to make it look like two big doors, or you can make it look like an entire cabinet system. The plans call for 1/4″ solid wood for the faux fronts. Since I was painting this, I opted to use 1/4″ PureBond plywood for the faux fronts.
One of the things that intimidated me about this project was making my own moulding. I don’t use my router often, so it’s not something I’d ever done before. The plans call for a rule joint router bit set, but to buy them separately it’s just a 1/2″ x 3/4″ roundover bit (for the crown moulding) and a 1/2″ by 5/8″ cove bit for the 5 1/4″ moulding. Both of these bits I was able to purchase at Home Depot. I have to say now that I am kind of loving the idea of making my own moulding! It makes me want to make it for every project now!
Once the bed was painted, it was assembly time. We started by assembling the bed platform to the cabinet verticals, then installing the headboard. All of this was done in the office. We laid a blanket down on the floor to prevent the front from getting any scratches or scuffs.
Once the bed cabinet was built, we stood it up and attached the header. Then it was time to install the gas springs. This part was actually really simple. They clicked right into place without effort. Installing the bed stops was probably the most difficult and stressful part of this entire project. For this step, I’d highly recommend having four adults to help. One to pull the bed platform out and hold it. Two to hold the cabinet verticals up, and then one to install the bed stops. There were four of us doing this, but two of those people were our 8 and 9 year old boys. It got a little hairy, but we got it done without incident.
Before we pushed the bed back against the wall, we installed the hardware.
I secured the bed to the wall with four lag screws. My plan was to use 3″ lag screws into the studs, but quickly discovered that, while the bed stood level, our walls are not completely plum. When you have something as tall as this bed, the gap becomes very large by the time you reach the top of the bed. I ended up using 3/4″ scraps of poplar as shims between the bed and the wall. I marked my studs, drilled pilot holes, and secured the bed to the wall using 4″ lag screws to make up for the additional 3/4″ gap. Needless to say, this thing isn’t moving.
With the bed firmly secured to the wall, we installed the pivoting legs and support rail, the 1/4″ plywood mattress supports and the elastic mattress supports. Two 15 pound weights were sufficient to keep the bed down while we did all of this. Just for fun, we stuck our 6′ level on the bed rails and there was nothing more satisfying than seeing that bubble perfectly centered.
I made the leg support rail out of 3/4″ x 3/4″ poplar that I had ripped down and then spray painted a flat black to match the pivoting legs.
I attached the book cases to the side of the bed cabinet verticals using 1 1/4″ screws. I installed the top moulding to the headers using 1 1/4″ screws and the bottom moulding with 1 1/4″ brad nails. Make sure to measure and cut all of this to size. For the book cases, I installed the crown moulding after I attached the top moulding. For the bed, I had to attach the crown moulding to the top moulding prior to attaching it. We only have 8′ ceilings so there wouldn’t be enough clearance for me to attach it after the fact.
I found an amazing deal on a ‘bed in a box’ mattress on Amazon. It’s a Brentwood Home 11″ gel memory foam mattress. I wanted our guests to be comfortable when they stayed with us. I purchased the bedding from Target. I love the simplicity of the quilt and it fits perfectly with the modern farmhouse feel of the room. Because the bed gets folded up into the wall and the bedding needed to be tucked in, I knew that a quilt would be a much better choice than a comforter. Everything stays nicely in place when the bed is folded up. The pillows have to be removed, so I’ll be getting a big basket to store those in the closet.
I am absolutely in love with the finished project! I had a vision in my head, but the this far exceeded my hopes and expectations! I find myself staring at it every time I walk past the office and I am so excited to get the rest of the room finished and get moved back in! Like I said, it seems a little intimidating at first, but it really isn’t hard to build. As long as you pay attention to detail, this project goes together so nicely.
The desk modifications are probably one of the things I am most proud of so be sure to check out the free printable plans for that! I’ll also be sharing how to build the drawers and the lesson I learned when installing them, followed by how I finished the entire project.
Have you ever thought of adding a Murphy bed to your home? If so, I highly recommend using these plans! I’m happy to answer any questions about them, plus Rockler has a great support team that you can call any time you have questions.
*This post is sponsored by Rockler and PureBond Plywood. All opinions of the products used in this post are 100% my own. For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links to products I used to build this project.