oThis DIY murphy bed with desk and bookcase combo is all made from inexpensive pieces! Includes Ikea Billy Bookcases and full plans for adding to your guest bedroom, office, or craft room.
Last week, I showed you guys how we built our own murphy bed from scratch. But, if you read that post, you might have noticed how plain the bed looked after we were done.
…Kind of boring. Never fear; it didn’t stay that way for long!
We used a few fairly simple customizations to really make this piece a central part of the room. We added bookcases for storage and a desk on the front of the bed (that doubles as a fold-up chalkboard), giving it so much functionality when it’s not in use. I wanted my kids to be able to enjoy this room as much as I did; I think having a murphy bed with desk was a big step in making that happen.
In my opinion, the customizations we made to the murphy bed were just as important as the actual bed for our craft/guest room. These ensured that we could get lots of use out of this space even when the bed was not being used.
Let’s take a look at how we made this murphy bed into the piece that we now love!
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How to Build a DIY Murphy Bed with Desk and Bookcase
Step 1: Murphy Bed Side Bookcases
There’s really not much to show about installing these bookcases. We used Ikea’s Billy Bookcases again in this room; they’ve become a favorite in our house. Not only did we install these as built-ins in our playroom, but we also recently put in a window seat in my daughter’s room using these shelves. They are incredibly versatile and inexpensive (we priced out the cost to build the bookcases ourselves, and it was actually cheaper to buy the Ikea ones!).
I had to steal the couple of pictures I had of this from my Instastories – that’s how uneventful the building of these was. Simply follow the directions and mount to the studs using the included hardware (VERY important step), getting them as close as possible to the sides of the murphy bed.
One thing we did do is place one piece of 2×8 and one piece of 2×4 (cut to the width of the shelf) underneath the bookcase before mounting to the wall. Put together, these fit just about perfectly under the 11 1/2″ depth of the cabinet and prop it up to the correct height to mount baseboards at the bottom. With out playroom cabinets, we didn’t do this, and now have an annoying overhang on top of the baseboards on the bottom shelves. It also raises the height of the shelf to just about match the top of the murphy bed, making it so much easier to mount consistent crown moulding later.
Step 2: Reattach baseboards and crown moulding.
In last week’s post, I mentioned that we decided to take the baseboards completely off of this wall before attaching the murphy bed. We knew we were going to be putting baseboards all around the entire unit…this saved us having to buy an extra length of baseboard and made it where we didn’t have to make a bunch of annoying cuts in the back of the bed and cabinets to accommodate baseboards that were already on the walls.
Before we attached the baseboards, we did run a small piece of scrap plywood along the bottom front of the murphy bed (just under the bottom of where the bed swings forward), screwing it into the sides of the cabinet. This gave us something to attach baseboards to – that particular length of baseboard is pretty long, and it could easily become detached without some support. We had scrap plywood for this, but a 1×2″ would work too.
At that point, it was as simple as cutting your angles (which is SO not simple at all…my brain doesn’t work that way). Remember – the back of the baseboards needs to match the length you’re cutting for! We used a pneumatic nail gun to attach the baseboards to the bottom lengths of wood.
Next up, my worst enemy: crown moulding. Guys, I wish I could even tell you how much I hate working with crown moulding. Again, my brain isn’t good with angles – So thinking through these cuts was so hard! But one rule that helped me…
- The edges for corners that face out get long tops and short bottoms with the end angle of the wood facing the back of the wood.
- The edges for corners that face in get long bottoms and short tops with the end angle of the wood facing the front of the wood.
That is so hard to explain, better to look at – see how the angle on the right has a long top, short bottom, with the angle facing the back of the piece? This might not help a single other human being, but it became something I had to repeat to myself (lots and lots) while making these cuts. And remember – whatever moulding is touching the cabinet (so the back of the crown moulding piece) needs to match the length you need cut!
Again, we attached these pieces with a pneumatic nail gun. And do not worry if your angles aren’t perfect – mine obviously weren’t, as referenced above. We will fix that in another step.
It might take up a very small part of the cabinet, but adding the right moulding can make all the difference in the world in your finished piece!
Step 3: Add a fun (and functional) desk.
We went through lots and lots of plans for the desk that we wanted to put on the front of this bed. I originally wanted to make this look like an armoire cabinet, but just because of our plans and the way the desk needed to swing out, it wouldn’t have looked right. We also thought about having crown moulding that doubled as detachable desk legs, but again, that would have been really hard to design.
So, one night, we made it simple. I’ve used plans from Ana White before (remember our outdoor sectional?) – they are straight to the point and super thorough (not to mention free). I was browsing desk ideas and came upon this one – and immediately knew that, with a few little tweaks, it would be perfect for what we needed.
We used those plans to make this murphy bed with desk – we simply doubled all of the measurements (making the outside of the desk 48×32″) and made the whole thing out of 1×4″ lumber and 3/4″ plywood (with 1×2″ book holders). It’s super simple – I would really recommend this project if you’re a woodworking newbie!
Next, paint. This bad boy soaked up a TON of paint – 5 cans to be exact. I wanted to use spray paint because of all of the nooks and crannies, but keep in mind, it does get pricey.
For the bottom of the desk part (what will show when the desk is closed), I used this spray paint – it was perfect! One can gave me a solid 3ish coats on the front, just what I needed.
Mounting this was kind of tricky. First, we held the desk’s back cabinet part up to the front of the bed and marked where all four corners needed to be positioned (it had to be a certain height to match the legs we bought for the desk). Once that was marked, we drilled a small pilot hole from front to back at each corner where we would need to mount it.
We folded the bed down and took the mattress and supporting plywood off – if you need to do this, weighing the bed down with weights or kettlebells helps to keep it open. (If you can do all of this before assembling the bed in the first place, go for it – disassembling everything after the fact was kind of a pain).
Then, we used 3″ screws to drill through those pilot holes we made, from back to front. We just barely screwed through the plywood, to where maybe 1/8″ of the screw was sticking through to the front. Then, we were able to fold the bed up some and gently hammer the shelf into the screws, allowing the little bit of screw sticking through to kind of tack the shelf in place while we put the rest of the supporting screws in. One of us still held the shelf in place while the other one drilled screws…the four corner screws just kind of helped us position it and keep it in position.
Finally, after it was solidly in place, we went back and drilled those four original corner screws all the way through to the desk.
We put four 3″ screws along the top and bottom of the shelf. We also put screws along the sides as well, trying to put them through the slats in the bed to give it a little bit extra stability.
Next, it was time to install the fold-down desk part. We put the leg sockets on the front (chalkboard side) of the desk. We decided to use these legs from Ikea (they’re the same kind you use on the Linnmon desk we used on the other side of the room) – they’re really easy to take off for times we want the desk folded up. Added bonus: they’re super inexpensive!
After the legs were on to give us a little bit of stability on the outside part of the desk, we moved onto hinges for the inside. We used this kind of hinge – easy to install as long as you position your hinges exactly where the directions tell you to.
Finally, we added a lock to the top! We used these magnets to help keep the desk closed and this lock to make sure the kids didn’t pull it down on themselves.
Step 4: Caulk and paint.
At this point (if you’re anything like us), you’re a little sick of this project. 🙂 Don’t worry, you’re almost done – and this is also a little step that make a huge impact!
I used my favorite finishing caulk to go around the whole piece and fill in any gaps. That included…
- the small space between the cabinets and the bed
- the gap between the cabinets and the wall (to give it a real built-in look)
- all crown and base moulding
- the small gaps between the desk cabinet and the bed
Simply run a small bead in any gaps, push it in (and wipe off any excess) with your finger, then run a wet paper towel over to eliminate any excess you didn’t get. Sometimes you need to do this twice to get any gaps completely full.
It makes a world of difference, especially on uneven moulding. Remember that scary picture of the crown moulding above? This is what it looks like with caulk. We also added a coat of white paint to cover the nail holes and unevenness in the moulding.
Step 5: Add fun lights!
One last little detail – I really wanted the cabinets to pop, and these lights were the perfect addition to do just that!
We ran extension cords from the plugs behind the cabinets to the top before we installed them. So, once we were ready to install the lights, all we had to do was drill a hole for the cord (with a spade slightly wider than the cord), run the cable to the extension cord, and attach the lights with the glue patches included in the kit.
Easy peasy! This is one detail that really makes the cabinets look custom.
Let’s go on and say it: this piece was a ton. of. work. This and last week’s post, in reality, took us months to complete. I don’t think this one is for the faint of heart – but it’s also a project that we’re incredibly proud of! This murphy bed with desk and bookcase combo most definitely will be used and loved in our home for years and years to come. I don’t think we could take it out if we wanted to now! 😂
I’ve shown you almost all of the craft room – but I wanted to end this whole series with one big room tour! I’ll have that for you next week.
Posts in the craft room series…
How to Build a DIY Murphy Bed with Desk and Bookcases (Part 2) – you’re here!
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