Mid-Century Modern Murphy Bed Styles

At their best, Murphy beds can be a stylish addition to any home. This is a stark difference from days past where Murphy beds were metal contraptions that were designed to be hidden away in a closet. These days, you can find Murphy beds that add enormous functionality without sacrificing the style and design of your space, even if your preferred style is mid-century modern. So, if you are a fan of the mid-century modern style, here’s a guide to sourcing and designing the perfect mid-century modern Murphy bed that will make your room pop.

What is mid-century modern?

While the style ‘mid-century modern’ can elude simple definitions, there are a few key elements that mid-century modern pieces have in common. As you may have guessed, mid-century modern is a spin on furniture that has its roots in the middle of the 20th century (around 1940-1957), this style was simply known as ‘mid-century’. The Mid-century style was created in the dawn of a bright new world after WWI and WWII had ravaged the world. While the preeminent styles prior to the great war were more ornate, heavy and detailed; mid-century was simple, clean, and without-frills. It is a reaction to the darkness that the world was leaving behind and is designed with hope and optimism–unburdened by the heft of dark days gone by.

Into the 1960’s, mid-century furniture had largely gone out-of-style. However, in the twenty-teens, styles began to mimic the clean lines and warm woods of the mid-century movement. This new style, which leans heavily on the original mid-century motif, was coined ‘mid-century modern’. Elements that you are likely to see in mid-century modern furniture are clean lines, curves, symmetry, warm wood tones, and minimal finishes. In addition, hardware tends to be fairly minimal and leans towards brass colors.

Within these elements, it is possible to find a Murphy bed that can blend in with a beautiful mid-century modern home. It’s important to mention that mid-century modern and modern styles have some things in common, but a critical difference is the color scheme. Modern motifs can be colder and more industrial while mid-century modern styles are warm and natural with a brown palette.

How to design a mid-century modern Murphy bed

The most difficult part of designing a mid-century modern Murphy bed is meshing the mid-century modern design elements with the function of a Murphy bed. At the end of the day, this is an enormous piece of functional furniture that must cantilever into your room. Therefore, the highest priority is the functionality of the piece. But, you can still employ most of the elements of mid-century modern styles without compromising the functionality of the Murphy bed.

Step 1: The Style 

To find a mid-century modern Murphy bed, you should look for something simple, symmetrical, and minimalist. At this point, don’t worry about the color of the wood or the handles, let’s just start by finding ‘good bones’.  Take a look at the image below of the Dakota Murphy Bed. Note the simplicity of the face, with straight, clean, lines. You’re not looking for something that is ornate or decorative, the Dakota is a great place to start when looking for a mid-century modern Murphy bed.

Step 2: The Wood

Because mid-century furniture was being manufactured 80 years ago, the materials they had to choose from were more limited than what we have today. They didn’t have the full spectrum of particle boards, plastics, melamines, and other wood imitations that are prevalent today. This is a hallmark of mid-century furniture: while it was a very modern aesthetic, it is constructed from natural materials. While modern furniture can often be plastic (think the glossy white cabinets from IKEA), these alternatives lack the depth and the warmth of real wood that is critical for mid-century modern. No matter how convincing the wood imitation is, it will always be a little lifeless when compared to real wood. As such, be sure to pick a Murphy bed that is built from real wood–no skimping!

Step 3: The Color

An incredibly crucial aspect of the mid-century style is the color of the wood chosen. Typically, a mid-century modern piece will have a warm brown tone and fairly minimal color. One of the signature elements of mid-century modern are the minimalist finishes. Rather than complex, multi-layered finishes, mid-century modern pieces are usually near-natural. Here are a few of our wood finishes you could look over as a reference. You can see the rest of our colors on our finishes page.

Step 4: The Handles

One of the final elements to consider is the decorative handles on the face of the bed and cabinets. As mentioned previously, mid-century modern styles typically use simple, minimalist hardware that is usually brass. For example, Take a look at the Dakota hardware below. This is the perfect mid-century modern hardware–It’s simple, warm, and without frills. This is just an example, but it’s a great guide to help you find something that will be the cherry on top of your mid-century modern Murphy bed.

Dakota / Brushed Bronze

Mid-century modern Murphy bed conclusion

It’s totally possible to build a mid-century modern Murphy bed for your home! Pay special attention to the style, the wood, the stain color, and the hardware. The style should be simple with clean lines and it should be symmetrical. You should also be sure that you are selecting only a piece made of real wood. When you couple that with a warm, minimal wood tone and some simple brass hardware, you will have a final product that you can be proud of.