Murphy Bed with Fold Down Desk and Side Cabinets

  • Advertise with us
Project by Aggie69 posted 03-03-2015 12:43 AM 2123 views 3 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My son and his family needed a little more room in their home office. For their Christmas present, I built them a Murphy bed with a fold down desk and side cabinets. When not in use, the whole thing only occupies 16” of wall space.

The hardware for the bed was a Create-A-Bed Vertical (think “Portrait Mode”) Queen kit for $369 ordered from their website They also make kits for twin and full size beds, and all are available in Horizontal (think “Landscape Mode”) kits as well.

My son wanted everything to be simple and very close in design to some existing cabinets. For that, I needed some 2” by 3/8” wood strips. I couldn’t find a source for them so with a little southern engineering and a lot of patience I was able to build some. I ripped standard 3/4” stock into some 2” wide strips. Using my “cheap” desktop bandsaw, I ripped them into some very rough 2” by ~3/8” strips. Not having a thickness planer, I made one! Using my router table with a 1/2” diameter by 2” tall bit, I ran the strips between the router table fence and the router bit until I achieved the thickness that I wanted. Since I was running the strips BEHIND the router bit rather than in FRONT of the bit like you normally do, I was reminded rather quickly that you have to feed the stock from the opposite direction. ALWAYS feed the stock AGAINST the direction of bit rotation, NEVER WITH the direction of rotation. It likes to THROW the stock at you otherwise!!!

They also wanted the finished color to be a dark cherry to match some existing cabinets. Since real cherry wood is rather expensive, I elected to build everything out of maple and then finish it to look like cherry. Since you can’t use a wiping stain on maple to get that dark of a finish, I used another technique. I first sanded everything with 220 grit sandpaper. Then I sprayed everything using multiple light coats of a dye mixture. The dye mixture was composed of 500 drops of TransTint “Brown Mahogany” dye and 250 drops of TransTint “Red Mahogany” dye, added to 64 oz (1/2 gal) of denatured alcohol. I used about three 1/2 gal’s of dye mixture. I could have used water as the carrier instead of alcohol, but that would have raised the wood grain and I would have had to have added several more steps to remove the raised grain. By using multiple light spray coats instead of heavy spray coats, or instead of wiping the dye on, I was able to avoid any wood blotching. This way both the hard and soft wood areas each received exactly the same amount of dye and couldn’t absorb it differently. I LIGHTLY sealed the dye using a sprayed on, thinned mixture of de-waxed shellac (Zinnser Seal Coat Universal Sanding Sealer), followed by a dark walnut oil wiping stain to add a little color to the remaining small maple wood pores. I then sprayed 3 unthinned coats of the de-waxed sanding sealer to seal and fill the wood pores. Next was scuff sanding using 320 grit sandpaper followed by two sprayed on wet coats of Minwax’s Polyacrylic water based finish in satin. The spray gun was a cheap $20 Harbor Freight gun!

The fold down desk was installed with two continuous (piano) hinges and a unique desk locking system. If you’ll look closely at the second photo, you’ll notice two handles on either side of the desk about 3/4 of the way up from the floor. The handles are used to pull the bed down from the wall. They are also used to keep the desk in place when it’s not in use. The handles are mounted on 3” by 5” wood blocks with holes in the middle of the blocks, but the holes are slightly off center. A bolt passes through the hole in the block and into the face frame, which allows the block to rotate. When the handle and block are oriented one way, the block overhangs the desk preventing it from coming down. When the handle and block are rotated 180 degrees, the wood block is clear of the leg which allows the leg to come down.

Holes drilled on 1 1/2” centers up and down the inside of the cabinets allow shelf pins to be installed practically anywhere which allow shelves to be located practically anywhere.

When you walk into the room you are looking at the end of the left cabinet. They didn’t want this end of the cabinet to be as wide as the rest of the furniture. Therefore this cabinet is a trapezoid, 16” deep on its right side, but only 8” deep on its left side (see the second photo).

3 comments so far

View Matthew Eye's profile

Matthew Eye

95 posts in 1183 days

#1 posted 03-03-2015 03:16 AM

WOW great project and it looks good too. I went to, now I want one. Nice touch with the trapezoid bookcase

-- "When it comes to working on stuff, buying more tools usually helps" - Matthew Eye

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

287 posts in 1302 days

#2 posted 03-03-2015 07:42 PM

Very nice project, always looking for ways to do more in less space!

-- -Tim Royal -"Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View gsimon's profile


1250 posts in 1929 days

#3 posted 03-05-2015 12:55 AM

looks very pro – this is huge value for the home

-- Greg Simon

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics