Should I get a Murphy Bed or a Sofa Bed? How to decide

Murphy Bed vs Sofa Bed which to choose

Murphy Bed vs Sofa Bed which to choose

As product designers as well as a retailer we have experience with thousands of customers inquiring if they should get a Murphy Bed or a Sofa bed. Our Italian partners have been asked the same question for over 50 years. We decided to create a guide to help share our experience so you can make an informative decision for your home.  If you have a scenario you would like us to add to this guide, please do email us.

We look at the world around us and see that it is more dynamic and fast moving than ever! Our work and lifestyles continue to change and evolve and everything around us has had to respond in kind. Thanks to new designs and innovation, even choosing the right option between a Murphy bed and a sofa bed takes a lot more consideration than it did in the past.

What matters most is what you are trying to accomplish with this investment:

-Do you want to maximize the space in a room?
-Do you want to repurpose an existing room to accommodate more function?

Both sofa beds and Murphy beds are excellent space saving solutions and both have their advantages over each other.

Below are some common situations for why you would install a Murphy Bed or a Sofa bed and which is the superior option:

Q: Is a Murphy Bed or sofa bed better if you want to create a play space by removing a fixed bed from a bedroom?

A:  A Murphy Bed will give you more space saving in a bedroom over a sofa bed and the transition is quicker from play space to bedroom. A Murphy Bed will also house a thicker more comfortable mattress.

Q: Is a Sofa bed or Wall bed better if you’ve moved into a smaller space but still need a place for guests but don’t have an extra bedroom?

A:  Sofa bed – You still need a sofa for your every day use and having a bed built into it makes sense to have an occasional guest stay on it. The cost of a sofa bed is generally less than a Murphy bed. If you have a larger budget or have guests staying over regularly and want a luxury option there are Murphy Bed with Sofa options that exist that give you a normal couch feel as well as a normal mattress feel that gives you the best of both worlds. For most the sofa bed is an easy choice if you have occasional guests.

Q: Is a Murphy Bed or Sofa bed better if you need a place for your hobby, exercise but still need a functional bedroom?

A:  Murphy Bed – Much like a play space, for exercise or a hobby or even work the Murphy bed opens up the most space in a room and gives you more flexibility. A yoga space is a popular choice and unless your room is quite large a sofa bed just takes up too much space relatively to a Murphy Bed in a smaller space.

Q: Is a Sofa bed or Murphy Bed better if you’ve moved into a studio apartment and want to make the most of the modern space?

A:  Murphy Bed – While a sofa bed does give you a couch the Murphy Bed is a better ever day sleep that lets you leave your bedding on it. Changing the bedding each day for a sofa bed is not extra work you want to be doing after a long day. Remember there are also Murphy Bed options that work with couches. This extra investment will add a huge amount of function and you get a thicker mattress for comfort.

Q: Is a Murphy bed or Sofa bed better if you need a seating/sleeping solution now, but it has to be portable when you move?

A: Winner: Sofa bed – Sofa beds will take less disassembly and assembly compared to a Murphy Bed. Some Murphy Beds warranties are voided if moved or are possibly damaged depending on the quality of the manufacturer. The sofa bed is the easy choice in this scenario for a shorter term horizon.

Q: Is a a Murphy Bed or Sofa bed best when you’re in a rental or heritage building, and you’re restricted in terms of what you can do?

A: Sofa bed for a shorter term rental as they are easy to move but a Freestanding Murphy Bed Sofa or Desk for a longer term rental or Heritage. The freestanding Murphy Bed options are excellent solutions but they are larger than a regular bed as they are counterbalanced with either a desk or sofa in front. If you are going for a solution like this they are more of an investment and you are likely settled in a longer term rental or are in a heritage home where you plan on staying a while.

Adding a Murphy Bed or a sofa bed will tick the boxes for most of the above. There are of course more scenarios so let’s look at both solutions to understand them better and help you make the right/best choice for you.

Murphy Wall Beds

Most Murphy Beds need to be fixed to the wall for safety. You will need to determine your wall type (Drywall with wood or steel, Concrete, Brick or other) and purchase the correct anchors for your wall. This might sound intimidating but most handymen can advise on this step. That being said the assembly and install is going to take more work than a sofa bed, but the result is you are going to have a more efficient space optimized product. The floor print of a wall bed is smaller than a sofa bed.

Key benefits of a Murphy Bed:

They take up very little space and provide sleeping accommodations in a room that has other day-to-day uses/functions/requirements.

Adding a murphy bed to a bedroom will free up space to create a flex room which can be used from a kids playroom to a yoga space.

Their design allows for a variety of thick mattresses so they provide the best sleep option. Many can fit a larger 10 inch mattress and have proper slats to replicate the feel of a box spring. These more advanced systems can be as comfortable as a conventional bed set up.

murphy bed box spring replacement

hey are very easy to operate and you can keep your bedding on when you lift and lower them.

Many designs also incorporate a desk and/or a shelf/closet (yes, it’s magic!) to address the additional requirements for a home office, business or studio.

You can customize the look to integrate with whatever surroundings you love, from modern to traditional, so that it blends in or you can make it a conversation piece.

Everything you need to sleep at night gets tucked away quickly and easily, so that you don’t have to think about storage or floor space.

Straps can be used to eliminate the need to make and unmake the bed every time it’s used. Ideal when it’s your primary sleep space or when you have longer term company.

Enhance the lighting in the space for reading, to change the mood or to make things brighter by incorporating lighting. You can even install wireless lights now to avoid difficult wiring.

You can even incorporate a couch into the design, if you also need seating space.

Other interesting options include a bunk bed design, to accommodate 2 kids or adults!


Sofa Beds

Sleeper sofas provide both seating and sleeping options in a very cost-effective package. They can be placed in a bedroom to convert it into an extra lounge with some opened up floor space, or they are also commonly placed in a living room to add an occasional guest sleeping bed.

Typically, the mattress inside a sleeper sofa will be less thick than a wall bed but also less wide.  sofa bed mechanism mattress confined This is because the sofa bed mechanism takes up considerable width on the left and right sides of most designs and often the length of the mattress also needs to be shortened. However, there are some specialized efficient designs that defy these design constraints, the vast majority have smaller mattresses compared to a wall bed.

Sofa beds do not require wall mounting, unlike most wall beds. If you live in a heritage home or a rental, you might have restrictions to wall mounting and a sofa bed is a great solution around this.

Sofas can be custom built and designed to match any décor and fulfill your very special taste.

This solution is totally portable if you plan to move in the short term or want to use it elsewhere.

It’s an ideal solution when you need the seating on a regular basis, but only occasionally to provide a place to sleep.

Designs available today include bunk beds that can sleep 2 people.

Benefits of/When to Choose a Murphy Bed

Because a murphy bed takes up less room and provide a larger mattress, it’s a better option if you need to save or create additional space, especially in a bedroom. They do require the ability to mount it to your wall and typically cost more than a sofa bed, so you need a larger budget. You can also get Murphy Bed with Couch combinations if you want the best of both worlds.

If you plan to use the bed on a regular basis, for you or family/friends, it’s a lot more comfortable because it includes a full-size thicker mattress, that can be made from a variety of materials. The base of a murphy bed can replace a conventional box spring.

When the solution involves creating a new functional space, murphy beds can include built-in shelving, a desk, cabinets, a closet and even a couch to provide full purpose in a refined and collective style, eliminating the need to purchase individual pieces, trying to match them up and using up more space. Even lighting can be added to change the ambience or provide practical function for reading.

When it’s being used on a regular basis, you don’t want a big production involving the removal of cushions, finding a place to put them, making the bed, and then unmaking it every morning. Just pull down the handle(s) and remove the strap that holds your bedding in place. Voilà!

Benefits of/When to Choose a Sofa Bed

A sofa bed might be the better solution if you are looking to place this in a living room situation to replace an existing sofa.

A sofa bed is the perfect, economical solution when all you want is a place to sit and a place to sleep. You don’t need to worry about wall mounting and it might be the only option if landlords have restrictions. They can also convert a bedroom into an extra lounge. Thanks to modern design and manufacturing, sofa beds can be very stylish, functional, have some mattress options, and add that certain touch to any room.

If your current living arrangements are short-term, temporary, or you’re renting, it makes a lot of sense to choose a sofa bed that can be easily added to the space, that you can take with you and protects your investment.

Murphy Beds Or Sofa Beds? Expand Furniture Can Help You Decide

These are just a few examples and considerations that we at Expand Furniture have had experience with in helping our customers make the right choice for their particular needs.

When it comes to Murphy Beds, Sofa Beds and even Storage Beds, Expand Furniture has an amazing variety of options for you to choose from. We would love the opportunity of getting to know exactly what you need right now and making it easy and enjoyable for you to decide.


Expand Furniture

2050 Scotia St #108
Vancouver, BC V5T-4T1

Phone: 778-580-7818

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