Sunday, April 12, 2009
Over the last couple of weeks, I've undertaken a complete re-do of our guest room.
One of our key goals was to keep the room multi-functional, so we really wanted a Murphy Bed (folding wall bed) to make room when the bed wasn't needed. Unfortunately, even the cheapest Murphy systems we could find were well out of our price range. With a Queen bed, side cabinets and a rudimentary headboard, delivery, and installation, we were looking at nearly $5000, and that's just for a thin white-melamine cabinet with vinyl-foil doors.
I knew I could do better (price-wise) if I did something myself, but I don't have the equipment or time to make full cabinets or raised-panel doors. Wanting an alternate solution I did a lot of searching and scheming and eventually hit upon the idea of using Ikea Pax wardrobe cabinetry (somewhat modified).
This was a long-ish project, so I won't go through every step here. You can see the evolution of the project along with descriptions of many steps here on the Web Album.
Since the main reason for undertaking this myself rather than just purchasing a basic melamine Murphy Bed was cost ($5000 or so, as of November 2008), let me break down the main expenditures:
murphybedframe.com Queen-size Murphy Mechanism + Foundation .... $390
Floor saver (attaches frame to wall instead of floor)............$80
2 x Pax Cabinet Frames, 20x23x93.................................$180
1 x Pax Cabinet Frame, 39x23x9...................................$100
4 x Pax Birkeland Doors, 19 5/8 x 90 1/8.........................$480
2 x Pax Birkeland Glass Doors, 19 5/8 x 90 1/8...................$240
3 x Gravyr Handles 2-pack........................................$24
Melamine Sheets (Home Depot).....................................$60
2 x Piano Hinges, 72" (ACE Hardware).............................$30
Dimmable Halogen Lights, door-switch, wiring, etc................$40
Assorted Hardware, Hole covers, magnetic catches, etc............$10
"Wrought" Iron Headboard from our old bed........................$0
......................................... Rough Total ..........$1634
Even accounting for a few tools that I had to buy (<$50) and a big pile of Komplement accessories and sales tax, you can see that I came out way ahead.
So, what did it take to pull all this off? Surprisingly little.
As far as tools, I needed a Circular saw, a Table saw (borrowed from a friend), Cordless Drill, various drill bits including 15mm and 35mm forstner bits (the tools I bought), hammer, screwdriver, and various measuring tools, squares, and a few clamps.
This whole build was based on using standard Ikea Pax wardrobe frames. This meant I could fit stock Birkeland doors, which in my mind was the biggest hurdle to overcome. The only real trick to this is that the Pax frames only come in two widths: 19 5/8" (1-door wide) and 39 1/4" (2-doors wide), whereas a Queen bed and frame needs roughly 65" clearance. The solution was to "extend" a wide cabinet to a "double-wide" cabinet and make the doors bifold (4-doors wide).
To do this, I made new top and toe-kick panels in the adjusted width. Using the original top as a guide, I machined my new top to have the same pockets for the Ikea cam-lock hardware so that everything would assemble the same way as the original cabinet frame. I then added a horizontal stringer bolted to the wall to keep the top piece from bowing under its own weight. The toe-kick was similar, except that instead of a full bottom to the cabinet, my toe-kick is only topped by a strip that fills the gap to the Murphy base frame (the center cabinet is "bottomless" and the Murphy Bed frame sits directly on the floor, bolted to the wall.)
Attaching the doors is nearly identical to the Ikea method, except that given the added weight of a second door panel, I felt compelled to add three additional hinges on each side. These were mounted just like the regular hinges into additional recesses I drilled into the doors.
The lighting is actually not Ikea, because I came across some Dimmable Halogens for a great price at my local Dixieline. Rather than just put in the lights and a dimmer, I also built a switched outlet into the cabinet frame. A momentary switch is mounted such that power to the lights is only "On" when the cabinet doors are open, since I didn't want the hot halogen lights left on by accident when the bed was folded up into the cabinet.
The other big improvement in this implementation vs. the cheap commercial Murphy Beds was the headboard. Since the Pax wardrobe cabinets are deeper than I need (even accounting for a pillowtop mattress), there is room between the wall and upright bed frame to accommodate our spare "wrought" iron headboard. When the bed is lowered, the headboard can be slid forward and bolted to the bed frame with two wingnuts. This provides a REAL headboard for our guests to lean against for reading, etc., something that was not provided by the cheap commercial beds we looked at.
Final results? We're very pleased.
The actual Murphy mechanism from MurphyBedFrame.com went together very easily and is well built, and their "Floorsaver" is a unique offering, as far as I can tell. Being able to bolt exclusively to the wall studs instead of into the subfloor made things much easier on me. My only knock is against their "foundation", which is really nothing more than a pine wood frame, some corrugated cardboard, and a quilted covering stapled on. For the $110 difference, I would just order the mechanism without the foundation and just make one from plywood, were I to do this again.
The Ikea cabinetry isn't as nice as real hardwood, but it actually feels less cheap and more sturdy than the thinner particleboard/melamine on offering from commercial Murphy Bed sellers. For our room, we actually wanted the white cabinets, but we could have also selected one of the other Pax finishes. NOTE: If using a cabinet finish other than white melamine, you'll probably want to buy one additional Pax cabinet frame. Use the side pieces from this extra cabinet as the raw lumber for the new top and toe kick panels. It will be slightly more expensive that buying melamine in sheets, but it gives you the option of "other-than-white", another difference versus the commercial Murphy Bed makers.