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Foldaway beds make bedrooms redundant

Many one or two-person households now prefer an open-plan interior with an integrated sleeping area

Published Thu, Jan 16, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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[PARIS] The long-established trend towards loft-like living means that having a bed in the middle of your living space is now considered a lifestyle choice, like an open kitchen or a wall-free bathroom. Cohabitation-related sound and privacy issues notwithstanding, many one or two- person households now prefer to keep their interior spaces open plan with an integrated sleeping area instead.

For years, one of the best ways to achieve the open-plan bedroom has been to install a Murphy bed - a hinged bed that folds vertically into a wall closet when not in use. Various legends have it that in the early 20th century, William Lawrence Murphy applied for a patent on the device, which he devised to turn his bedroom into a parlour to make it socially acceptable for him to entertain ladies. (Or, less salaciously, maybe the idea was for him and his wife to entertain in their modest home.) Either way, the Murphy bed surged in popularity in the 20s and 30s when buildings like those in Tudor City on the far east side of Manhattan were developed; special Murphy bed closets made these diminutive studio apartments more livable during waking hours. But these clever beds, which were often uncomfortable and shabbily made, lost their allure after World War II as people flocked to houses in the suburbs.

Nevertheless, the fold-up wall bed has quietly been making a resurgence in recent years, as the world's population becomes increasingly urban, family sizes are shrinking, more people are choosing to live alone, and the price of real estate in crowded cities becomes more and more unaffordable. Companies around the world are designing beds that disappear into walls, can be stowed via remote control, or are even stored on the ceiling.

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