Monday, February 14, 2011

Murphy Bed with IKEA Cabinets

My wife and I decided to re-do our guest room. We wanted our guests to have a comfortable Queen-size bed, and use the floor space for other activities. The solution... a Murphy Bed (folding wall bed). After a lot of research, we decided to purchase a free-standing Murphy Bed Frame. The frame features welded steel construction, simple spring mechanism, and moves independent of the cabinet. The other option, a Murphy Panel Bed, is more expensive and requires attachment to a factory-made cabinet. The frame and cabinet essentially become one mechanism.

To build our own cabinets, we turned first to IKEA furniture. The quality is very good, relatively inexpensive, and there are many accessories to choose from. Just by coincidence, I found a wonderful blog (Herbie's World) that detailed construction using a Murphy Bed Frame and IKEA cabinets. Exactly what we were looking for. Herbie's blog and photos convinced us the idea would really work. Thanks Herbie!

The design is based on standard IKEA PAX wardrobe cabinets.  The cabinets are tall enough to enclose the Murphy Bed in the vertical position.  However, to accommodate the width of a Queen-size bed (65" clearance), top and toe-kick panels are fabricated to extend a standard cabinet (1-door wide) to a "quadruple-wide" cabinet (4-doors wide); using stock Birkeland doors.  That's essentially the build.  My fabrication follows Herbie's design, except I strengthened the top panel.  We wanted the center cabinet to support boxes (cloths, comforters, books, etc.).  Click here to see my fabrication photos.

HINT: Because the center cabinet's bi-fold doors are completely supported by the side panels (which are secured to the cabinets on each side), you don't even need the center top panel. Here you can be creative with your own design.

Tools and Time Required

This is an intermediate woodworking project that will require 5-6 days to complete. You must be comfortable using a miter saw, and either a band saw or table saw (preferable). Also, you'll need an electric drill, various drill bits (including 19mm and 35mm Forstner bits), hammer, screw driver, various clamps, and measuring tools. I also purchased an inexpensive wood dowel kit to fabricate the toe-kick panel.

List of Materials

QtyItemVendorPurposePrice ($)
1Queen-size Murphy Bed FrameMurphy Bed DepotMurphy bed mechanism 285.00
1Wall Mount BracketMurphy Bed DepotConnects bed frame to wall50.00
1Queen-size Mattress FoundationMurphy Bed DepotSupports mattress1110.00
3PAX Cabinet Frame (100.140.30)IKEAEnclose Murphy Bed270.00
4PAX Birkeland Door (900.493.23)IKEACenter cabinet bi-fold doors320.00
2PAX Birkeland Glass Door (200.904.72)IKEADoors for side cabinets160.00
6Komplement Door Hinge, 3 packIKEAAttach doors to cabinets60.00
1Komplement Door Hinge, 4 packIKEAAttach doors to cabinets10.50
3Gravy Handel, 2 packIKEADoor handles24.00
3Komplement Drawer (901.839.72)IKEAOptional90.00
2Komplement Clothes Rail (401.411.64)IKEAOptional10.00
2Komplement Shelf, 2 pack (801.466.64)IKEAOptional30.00
3Melamine Shelf, 3/4" x 11-3/4" x 97"Home DepotTop and toe-kick panels240.00
3Azek Trim Stud, 1" x 3-1/2" x 96"Home DepotFabricate top panel "box"60.00
1Diablo 1-3/8" (34.93mm) Forstner Drill BitHome DepotDrill European hedge cups17.00
1Diablo 3/4" (19.05mm) Forstner Drill BitHome DepotCountersink bolts in studs10.00
2Piano Hinge, 72"Home DepotConnect bi-fold doors31.00
50Crown Bolt Wood Screws, #10 x 2"Home DepotFabricate top panel "box"6.00
8Nuts & Bolts & Washers, #10 x 1-1/2"Home DepotBolt top panel to side frame3.00
6Lag Bolts, #10 x 3"Home DepotSecure wall-mount bracket3.00
8Plastic Countersink Plugs, 3/4"Home DepotCover countersink holes4.00
4Heavy Duty Wall AnchorsHome DepotSecure side cabinets to wall6.00
20Wood Screws, #8 x 1"Home DepotAttach foundation to frame2.50
1Wood Dowel KitHome DepotFabricate toe-kick panel6.00
2Magnetic Door LatchHome DepotFabricate toe-kick panel4.00
Total Material (without mattress)$1,652.00

1.  A mattress foundation is required.  You can either order one from Murphy Bed Depot or fabricate your own.
2.  Herbie used a single 24" wide shelf to fabricate the top panel.  Because I didn't have a table saw, I used 11-3/4" wide shelves which are easier to cut with a band saw.

A similar system (Murphy Bed Frame, raised door cabinets, and side bookshelves) would cost $2,299.00. Build-it-yourself and save approx. $650.00. Plus, the IKEA PAX system offers real wardrobe cabinets, glass doors, and many accessories that will delight your better half.

We purchased an IKEA Queen-size Sultan Fidjetun memory foam mattress (001.398.32)... $249.00. The mattress is quite comfortable and won't collapse in the vertical position. Box springs are not needed. Update... we recently added a 1-1/2" memory foam topper (from Kolhs) for ultimate comfort.

We decided not to purchase lights. We used a free-standing floor lamp that fits inside the cabinet.

On with the build...
Step 1: Paint the Guest Room
The first weekend was spent painting the guest room and shopping for materials at Home Depot.  The Murphy Bed Frame and foundation were ordered online, and delivered in less than a week.
Step 2: Buy IKEA Cabinets
The next weekend we loaded up the car (recommend using a pickup truck ) with PAX cabinets, Komplement accessories, and Queen-size mattress.  Note that the PAX door hinges (you'll need 22) are purchased separately.  I didn't realize this and had to make a separate trip.
Step 3: Assemble Wardrobe Side Cabinets
I assembled the wardrobe cabinets (2) and secured one with heavy-duty wall anchors.  Note that a 3/4" spacer (wood block) was placed behind the cabinet (at the top) for vertical alignment with the floor molding.  Later, the other cabinet is secured when the doors are hung, i.e., after final spacing.

Step 4: Measure the Center Cabinet Dimension
Getting the exact width dimension of the center cabinet is critical!  This measurement is used to fabricate the cabinet's top and toe-kick panels.  How did I do it?  I laid all four doors on the ground (carpet) and inserted cardboard spacers.  I attached the doors on each end to the frame side-panels; pointing up 90 degrees.  This simulates the doors in the closed position.  With everything in place, I measured the inside width, side-panel to side-panel... 77-3/32" (see photo).

HINT:  Perhaps a safer approach would be to actually hang the doors in the vertical position, then take the inside measurement.  However, installing the top panel now becomes impossible.  You would have to remove the doors, install the top panel, then hang the doors again.
Step 5: Build Top Support "Box"
Building the center cabinet top support is nothing more than constructing a wooden box.  Easy!  The Melamine shelves (2) are secured to vinyl studs (4 sections) with wood screws, countersunk around the edge.  Although the vinyl studs are expensive, they are easy to work with and match the look of the Melamine selves (no painting required).  I recommend cutting the studs with a miter saw and sanding the edges.  Note that the width of the two shelves (side-by-side) must equal the cabinet's depth (approx. 23").  I cut approx. 1/2" off one shelf (length-wise) using a band saw.
Step 6: Install Top Support "Box"
The top support "box" is bolted to the center frame side-panels (you'll need to drill holes).  I used #10 x 1-1/2" bolts -- four on each side.  With three sides of the center frame assembled, lift the frame into the vertical position (takes two people).  Finally, bolt the center frame to the wardrobe side cabinets (already in place).  IKEA provides these bolts.  This baby is strong!
IMPORTANT:  The top support "box" will block the top door hinges.  This is not a big deal, since you're going to install additional hinges to support the weight of the bi-fold doors.  I used seven (7) hinges on each door (Herbie used six hinges).
Step 7: Install Piano Hinge on Bi-Fold Doors
With two doors laying flat on the carpet, install the piano hinge (remember the rib faces up).  Be sure to place cardboard spacers between the doors.
Step 8: Hang Bi-Fold Doors
Thanks to Herbie for this tip!  Hang the bi-fold doors using the pre-drilled holes.  Now the tricky part....  with the door in place (and supported), drill four (4) additional "European" hinge cups (use 35mm Forstner drill bit). Use the hinge, seated inside the hinge cup, as a template to drill the two pilot holes on each side of the cup (use #10 drill bit).  When you're finished, you'll have seven (7) hinges supporting the bi-fold doors.
HINT: To prevent drilling through the door, wrap the #10 drill bit with masking tape at the proper depth.   
Step 9:  Hang Second Bi-Fold Doors
Repeat Steps 7 & 8 for the second set of doors.  Fortunately, my inside measurement (77-3/32") was correct.  The doors lined up perfectly with an 1/8" gap.  Note that the IKEA hinges allow for some gap adjustment after installation.
Step 10: Install the Glass Doors
Install the glass doors (2) on the side cabinets.  You may or may not want to add the plastic glass dividers.  My wife decided she liked the look.
Step 11: Install the Komplement Accessories
Install the Komplement clothes hangers, selves, and drawers.
Step 12: Install Door Handles
Take a look at the photos to see how I positioned the handles. 
Time to celebrate... most of the cabinet construction is finished.
Step 13:  Assemble Murphy Bed Frame
The frame assembly instructions are poor.  Just to get my head around things, I first labeled each part.  To secure the frame to the wall, I drilled pilot holes pointing down towards the wall studs.  The Wall Mount Bracket was secured with #10 x 3" Lag bolts (three on each side).  Very strong!  The thin wood screws supplied with the mounting kit didn't seem strong enough.
For me, the tricky part was assembling the foot retraction mechanism.  Two 1/2" nylon spacers (included with the frame) are needed for proper alignment.  Read the instructions carefully and do not lose the spacers! A little WD-40 lubricant helps the mechanism retract smoothly.
Step 14:  Install the Springs
This is a bitch!!!  Using a screwdriver as a lever and the frame as a fulcrum, you are suppose to left the springs up and into the upper holes.  Not an easy task.  I found that all 10 springs were needed.
CAUTION:  Watch those fingers!
Step 15: Install Mattress Foundation
I agree with Herbie, the foundation is cheap!  The foundation comes in three sections that are secured to the bed frame with wood screws (use #8 x 1").  If you want to build your own foundation (perhaps out of plywood), recognize the foundation extends beyond the frame on each side and at the foot (Queen size 60" X 80").  Also, there is a cutout near the head so the foundation does not rub against the frame.  At this point in the project, you'll probably be too tired to fabricate your own foundation.  Might as well order one with the bed frame.
Step 16:  Install Mattress
The IKEA Fidjetun mattress comes shrink-wrapped.  Open the night before so the mattress can expand to normal size.  With the mattress installed, the Murphy Bed floats effortlessly with one hand!
Step 17:  Fabricate the Toe-Kick Panel
The toe-kick panel is constructed from the remaining Melamine shelf.  The panel is only for aesthetic purposes (non-weight bearing).  I glued the pieces together using wood dowels.  Lining up dowels is tricky, so it helps to use a dowel kit and drill press.  I used a simple "L" brace on each end to attach the toe-kick panel to the side panels.
Step 18: Install Door Latch
I used a simple magnet latch.  The doors close tight.
Step 19: Install 35mm Wooden Plugs (optional)
At I found a "35mm Hinge Hole Repair Kit" (#34339). The wooden plugs were inserted into the hedge cups, then painted.  Note that the Birkeland glass doors (not the regular doors) come with plastic inserts to cover the extra hinge cups.  I tried to order more of these from IKEA, but they did not stock the part.
Step 20:  Show-off to Friends & Family
We are absolutely delighted with our new Murphy Bed.  The frame mechanism will last a lifetime and the IKEA cabinets look stunning!  If you have the patience and modest ability, you can build one yourself.  Thanks again to Herbie for blazing the trail.