They're space savers, but how comfortable—and convenient—is life with a Murphy bed?

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Often, when writing about small spaces in the city, we'll come across a studio that has a suspiciously generous amount of floor space, and then realize: behind some of the cabinets or bookshelves, there's a Murphy bed tucked away in there. It's an ingenious method for creating extra space, to be sure, but it leads to some obvious follow up questions: do you really want to fold up your bed every day? Are they easy to put away? And most importantly for your day-to-day, are they comfortable?

I decided to do a little investigating recently, and found that unlike the classic clip of Charlie Chaplin grappling with a rickety, unreliably Murphy bed, most of the options you'll find these days tend towards the sleek and high end, with elegant shelving, and hydraulic spring systems for easy, safe folding and unfolding. You'll find them in developments like the micro apartments at Carmel Place, where furnished units come with Murphy beds, and Citi Habitats broker Alex Pagli tells us, "After having hundreds of clients try them during shows, all of them were pretty impressed—I think [the beds] were a big selling point in getting people to come to the building. There were videos of them online, and it was the kind of design they were looking for, to maximize the space and surface area everywhere."

Of course, the beds at Carmel Place were custom-designed Italian models that ran for about $8,000 apiece, which likely helped. To get a better sense of the inventory, I paid a visit to Murphy Bed Express on 8th Avenue—one of several Murphy bed showrooms in Manhattan, including Murphy Bed Lifestyles and D to D Murphy Wall Beds—where models run as low as $1,799 for a smaller, twin-sized frame. But for a more elaborate model that folds up a bed behind a pair of movable bookshelves, you'll pay anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000, depending on the materials you choose:

Virginia K. Smith

Virginia K. Smith

The sales person also told us that as long as it's the correct size and depth, any standard mattress will work in a Murphy, meaning the comfort level pretty much depends on your mattress preference and how much you're willing to spend. And models with a couple of inches of extra depth make it easy to fold up pillows and bedding along with the mattress, for a minimally cumbersome process when it's time to clear some floor space for guests.

Courtesy of Eugenia Bouikidis

Ultimately, then, the only real hassle lies in the extra expense of a Murphy bed, assuming one didn't already come with your apartment. But if you can swing it, it may well be worth it for a small space: we chatted with Eugenia Bouikidis (also a Citi broker), who has a Murphy bed in her own apartment, and notes that it's "easy to use, has additional closet space, and is as comfortable as my temperpedic." Not convinced? "Best investment ever," she added. Maybe it's time we all made the switch to fold-up beds?