Home & Garden

Behold the wall bed!

Ah, the promise and potential of a spare room. It could become that longed-for office, craft room, or game room. Most of the time, though, the space gets swallowed up by a guest bed that is used a handful of times each year.

Richard Clark of Morro Bay’s Fresh Kitchens and Baths Plus Wallbeds proposes a solution. He has built custom cabinetry and furniture for nearly 40 years and, for the past 12 years, has also produced custom wall beds for clients seeking a more efficient use of space.

According to Clark, wall beds have come a long way since the first Murphy Beds were introduced in the early 1900s.

“A lot of people don’t realize people are still making them — like they had gone away with the silent movies,” he said.

Old wall beds were awkward, heavy, and difficult to operate, Clark said. Newer units have concealed springs to counterbalance the weight of the mattress, making them much easier to open and close. Instead of using doors that open and block adjacent cabinetry, these beds have front panels that are attached to the bed frame.

Even better, today’s custom wall beds are, stylistically, a clean slate.

“The mechanism doesn’t impose anything on the design, so you can do anything you want,” he said.

On the economy side, the bed is enclosed in a simple white melamine cabinet. Invest a little more, and Clark can build a custom cabinet from fine hardwoods or integrate it into new or existing cabinetry. On the higher end, he has designed a wall bed and cabinetry for a Frank Lloyd Wright-themed office. For this, he scoured books until he came up with just the right grid motif and crown molding for the unit. Another customer came in with a clipping of a modern home in The New York Times, so Clark created a show-stopping cabinet fronted by intersecting arcs of multi-colored, textured Formica.

Basic wall beds start at about $1,700 installed, which is for a queen-sized unit in white melamine. This does not include the mattress. Fresh Kitchens and Baths produces wall beds that accommodate any mattress up to 11 inches thick, and specially built units can contain even thicker mattresses. This allows homeowners the freedom to choose a mattress that fits their budget and preferences.

Wall beds aren’t the only space-saving solution that Fresh Kitchens and Baths offers. It can also build drop-down desks. One type folds down parallel to the wall and is supported by brackets. It starts at about $800, which includes installation. Another type folds down in an L-shape, perpendicular to the wall, and supports itself with a hinged front leg — a good option for a small bedroom with limited wall space. This type of desk starts at $500.

Building and installing fold-down units is a relatively quick process. When scheduling permits, Clark can build and install a custom wall bed in a week and a half.

Fresh Kitchens and Baths Plus Wallbeds has a showroom at 740 Napa Street in Morro Bay, (805) 772-0165.