Charlie Chaplin vs the Murphy Bed (youtube)
William Murphy was a young man in San Francisco at the end of the 19th century when he started working on a fold out bed for his meager one-bedroom apartment. He was trying to find a way to use his small space to more efficiently “entertain”. Turns out, Murphy was courting a young opera singer at the time, and rumor has it he was attempting to legitimize their frequent liaisons without compromising the honor of his fiancée.
Happily, the couple were married in 1900 – the same year Mr. Murphy applied for his first Murphy Bed patent.
You can read more in the Smithsonian Magazine Blog.
In fact, “convertible” beds were around long before the Murphy Bed. According to the Encyclopeadia Britanica, the term “Trundle Bed” has been around since the 16th century, describing all sorts of non-standard small beds. In just one example, the blog Design Boom, tells us: “…the Emperor Napoleon often made the effective use of daybeds with overhanging tent-like draperies in striped materials creating a regal environment” when visiting the Provinces. Leave it to Napoleon to mix comfort with conquering.
Two day beds under baldaquin England, 1760, via Design Boom
The blog Suite101 highlights an article by Marie Brannon that originally appeared in Antique Furniture magazine entitled “Early American Folding Dual-Purpose Furniture” with the sub-heading “Space-Saving Folding Beds, Tables, Chairs and Desks Were Necessary.” She writes: “American colonists were thrifty souls who found it necessary to conserve space by finding furniture that doubled itself in function while remaining attractive”. Thrift, ingenuity and good taste – further testimony to what made this country great. You may read more at Suite101.
It wasn’t until just after World War II that we see our first references to the sofa bed. Simmons came out with a model that started at just $79. In the 1970’s, Boston-based William Brouwer, convinced that other types of convertible beds (Murphy Beds and Sofa Beds) were ungainly, less than comfortable and difficult to operate, adapted the Japanese Futon concept for the US. Taking them off the floor, he designed an award-winning three-piece bed frame that also worked as a sofa – with about twice the padding of the Japanese model.
It wasn’t until 2005, however, that the convertible bed, well, entered the 21st Century. Zoom-RoomTM was introduced in the U.S. as the first electronic, remote controlled, retractable bed that was, in all ways, light years ahead of a Murphy Bed. By pressing the button on the remote control, the unique mechanism and specially designed mattress glided effortlessly into living rooms, home offices, guest rooms, or anywhere a better convertible sleep solution. Unlike the Murphy Bed and other wall beds that pull down, the Zoom-Room had no doors or obvious panels. Instead, it went from a horizontal bed position into a vertical position inside a specially constructed high quality cabinet, making it completely undetectable. An impressive example of modern technology, it was also the ideal complement to another high tech appliance that was captivating the nation – the flat screen TV – that fit perfectly into the Zoom-Room center shelf. Unlike the Murphy Bed, whatever was put in front of the unit stayed in place when you operated the bed.
Until recently, the Zoom-Room required a custom cabinet to house the wall bed mechanism and mattress. In 2009 Zoom-Room introduced “The Standard”, it’s first line of high quality, prefabricated cabinets, bringing the cost of this remarkable design solution within reach of millions of Americans searching to maximize space without sacrificing décor.
You gotta admit, a Murphy bed is a great tool for comedy. Ever since the early 20th century, when—according to our dictionary—the inventor William L. Murphy created a bed that could be “folded or swung into a closet,” the Murphy bed has been a popular prop in movies, television, and even cartoons.
Want some examples? Well, as early as 1916, a Murphy bed was featured in the Charlie Chaplin film, “One A.M.” In it, an inebriated Chaplin spends a hilarious six minutes battling with a Murphy bed in a series of LOL pratfalls and flips.
That same year, the Keystone Cops featured a Murphy bed in their silent, slapstick comedy, “Bath Tub Perils.”
By the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Murphy bed was often used in movies with more complex plots. The Oscar-nominated Vivacious Lady (1938) pairs the leggy Ginger Rogers and the craggy Jimmy Stewart in a sexy and funny scene involving—you guessed it—a Murphy bed. In “Nothing But Pleasure” (1940), Buster Keaton tries in vain to maneuver a drunken woman into a Murphy bed in his motel room.
In the 1960’s, the wall bed makes the leap to sophisticated drama. In the movie “You Only Live Twice” (1967), James Bond (played by the dashing Sean Connery) is trapped in a Murphy bed—while wooing a stunning brunette—and is seemingly machine-gunned to death.
In the 1963 classic, “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” Phil Silvers uses his comedic skills to great effect when he’s hurled from a fire truck ladder through a window, and lands on a Murphy bed that immediately folds back into the wall.
Last but not least, the Mel Brooks comedy “Silent Movie” (1963) features a motel’s neon sign that reads, “Murphy Beds—Charming To The Unsophisticated.”
Of course, Brooks can’t make the same claim today. Zoom-Room, an electronic, remote controlled wall bed, catapults the Murphy bed concept into the sophisticated heart of the 21st century.
Zoom-Room is proud to introduce “The Standard“, a new line of affordable cabinetry manufactured specifically for the Zoom-Room murphy bed mechanism.
Step 1: Finish of Center Cabinet
Choose the finish of your center cabinet that will house your Zoom-Room wall bed. Each comes with a complete Zoom-Room mechanism and mattress – everything you need to create that perfect convertible guest room. You may choose to put your flat screen TV on the unit, or order optional center shelving for books, knick-knacks, or whatever you want to show off.
Step 2: Side Cabinets
Choose the optional left and/or right side cabinets (they will automatically come in the same finish as the center cabinet). These cabinets complete your Zoom-Room wall bed with upper cabinets that include adjustable shelving or hanging rods for clothing, lower cabinets with adjustable shelving, and in between a drawer (perfect for cds or dvds) and a convenient pull-out side table. The upper and lower cabinets come with doors for that finished look – or choose not to use them and show off your favorite works of art or high-tech stereo system.
Step 3: ‘The Standard’ Cabinets
Cabinets come with everything you need – hardware, adjustable shelving, hanging rods, brushed nickel pulls, grommets and channels for easy wiring and doors – allowing you to configure your furniture to meet your specific needs.
‘The Standard’ Zoom-Room cabinets are sold as a wall bed kit shipped directly to your home. Using familiar pre-installed connectors and including a detailed installation manual, you may hire a local handyman or cabinet maker, utilize our White Glove installation service, or contact one of our Authorized Dealers, many of whom participate in our installation program (installation costs will vary) to install your Zoom-Room unit and cabinetry. Zoom-Room offers toll-free installation assistance from 10AM-5PM EST. Call (888) 211-1120 with any questions.
Interested? See the specification sheet for ‘The Standard’ cabinetry. From there, you may order your Zoom-Room unit.
Zoom-Room, the electronic, remote controlled, retractable Murphy Bed is it’s own animal. Modern, unique, high tech and way cool, it fits our contemporary lifestyle like few other products, offering downsizing baby boomers that home office that can still be a bedroom, extra crash space for Gen Y starter homes, and a cush bedroom cum living room for Millenial studio dwellers.
Unlike wall beds of the past, Zoom-Room is the 21st century solution for convertible spaces, and in this blog we will post about folks who value quality space over lots of space, offering tips, highlighting new installations, featuring unique designs, and talking about other smart, elegant, space saving products. Feel free to let us know what you think, and remember, make every room a Zoom-Room.