DIY Murphy Bed with Alexa-Controlled LED Lights & Folding Nightstands
I built a DIY Murphy bed cabinet with Alexa-controlled smart LED lighting and collapsible nightstands! This was a challenging build but I’m really happy with the way it came together.
📦 Materials Used (affiliate):
🛠 Tools Used (affiliate):
Step 1: Breaking Down Plywood
This project is basically just a whole bunch of plywood, so I first started by breaking down the sheets into their individual pieces. This Murphy bed hardware is a kit from Rockler, and they have super detailed instructions, including a cut list, for all of the pieces you’ll need for the project. I’ll also upload the SketchUp model I created with all of the pieces laid out, in case you want to see that.
To build this queen sized Murphy bed, I used five sheets of ¾” Purebond Maple plywood, but I have quite a bit left over. Actually, I’m going to use my leftover pieces to build a flip top tool stand in an upcoming video, so stay tuned for that. Two projects from one set of materials is always nice!
I started by breaking down all of the pieces on the table saw, but if you don’t have a table saw, you could definitely have the home center break down the sheets into more manageable chunks for you. That said, the measurements on this project are fairly precise and most home centers only guarantee cutting within an ⅛” of what you ask them. For that reason, a circular saw and straight edge or, even better, a track saw would make life a lot easier when building this project.
Step 2: Cutting to Final Length
Speaking of the track saw, next I could start cutting all of the boards to their final length using my track saw. Most of these pieces are still fairly huge so, even after breaking the plywood sheets down, a track saw is probably the best tool for the job here. I like to cut my parts on top of one of these foam insulation panels. That way, I can cut through the plywood and not have to worry about damaging my workbench below.
When cutting these pieces to length, I’d first trim off the factory edge from one end, making sure it was square, and then mark the length using my tape measure and cut the piece to final size. As you can see, the track saw makes pretty quick work of all of these cuts and is such a versatile tool. If you don’t have space for a table saw, you can accomplish most of the functionality with a track saw and pack it away when you’re done.
Once all of the parts were to their final size, I could start getting them assembled. I used a combination of Dominos and pocket screws to assemble this project, but dowels would be another great option. I don’t think biscuits would provide enough strength here, so I’d really recommend a doweling jig like the ones Rockler makes. They’re cheap and super useful, I’ll link to the one I recommend here.
Step 3: Assembly
The first pieces to connect were the upper headboard to the top of the bed cabinet, and then the lower headboard to the bottom of the bed cabinet. I cut about ten mortises into each piece, then connected them using Dominos and glue. On the first glue up, I used clamps, but this was kind of a pain and required a ton of clamps.
On the second glue up, I wised up and clamped the pieces in place temporarily, then added countersunk screws to hold the joint together while it dried. This only required one or two clamps and these screws will never be seen since they’ll be either facing the floor or the ceiling in the finished bed cabinet. Pocket holes would have also worked great here.
After getting the pieces glued up, I used the straw trick to get rid of the glue squeeze out, and it works so well, I wish I had known about that trick when I started woodworking.
Once those glue ups had some time to dry, I could cut more mortises into the ends of the assemblies to attach those parts to the side panels. I marked out my mortise locations using a t-square and then cut them using the Domino.
Using the same t-square, I marked out the corresponding locations on the side panels and then cut in the mortises on both side panels.
Step 4: Threaded Inserts, Et Cetera
Before gluing everything together, I needed to add the threaded inserts which hold the mounting brackets on the inside face of the bed cabinet, and this is what the actual bed frame mounts to. Once again, I referenced the plans from Rockler here, marking out the locations then drilling the holes and threading in the inserts using an Allen wrench.
Before I could finally glue up all of the parts, I realized I didn’t have clamps long enough to stretch from one end of the bed cabinet to the other, so I drilled some pocket holes along all of the outer edges of the panels. I made sure to avoid the mortises, and I spaced the pocket holes every six to eight inches.
The last thing to do before the glue up was to sand the inside faces of the panels, since they were much easier to sand as individual pieces than as an entire bed cabinet.
Step 5: Glue Up
Finally, it was time for the glue up, which I tackled in two halves. First, I glued one of the side panels to the top and bottom assemblies, adding Dominos and pocket screws. You can see how the pocket screws negate the need for clamps, which is super convenient. None of these pocket holes will be visible in the final piece, so there’s no need to fill them later, which is nice.
Next, I flipped the whole assembly over, which I detailed on my Instagram stories as basically impossible to do by myself, and then repeated the process, gluing on the other side panel.
Step 6: Doors and Nightstands
While that glue up dried, I could work on the other parts of the Murphy Bed, the next of which was the doors. The doors were already cut to final size, but I wanted to make these huge panels look like a door and two drawers, to make the Murphy Bed look a little bit more like a cabinet and less like a Murphy bed.
To achieve this effect, I cut in two shallow grooves with my track saw on each of the door panels. Once I add faux handles to each of the sections, you can see how this will give the illusion of a set of drawers below a large door. The door handles will function to help lower and raise the Murphy bed, and the drawer handles will just be for show.
The last pieces to work on before applying finish were the nightstands, which are just two pieces of plywood stacked together. I attached the pieces with glue and brad nails, then clamped them up and let the glue dry. Once the glue dried, I trimmed the edges flush at the table saw, and then added a chamfer to all of the edges over at the router table.
Step 7: Finish and Paint
Finally, I sanded everything up to 180 grit off camera and then I could get to finishing. I sprayed on a water-based polyurethane on this project, and this was kind of an ideal project for spraying since there’s so much surface area on this piece.
I applied a few coats of finish to the back and edges of the door panels, but I needed to mask off part of the front of the door panels, as I wanted to paint those areas. After masking those sections, I applied a few coats of finish to the front of the doors.
Once the polyurethane dried, I masked off one of the faux drawer fronts and sprayed on a few coats of paint. After letting the paint dry for an hour or so, I removed the masked off sections from the first door and was really happy with how crisp the lines were.
When I went to remove the tape on the second door, this is where what I’m calling the paint saga started. I evidently forgot to cut away part of my painter’s tape before spraying the paint and this left me with a strip of unpainted wood. To compound this error, I used a two year old can of spray paint to paint these parts and used every bit of the paint I had. As it turns out, this paint and color are no longer in production, so I couldn’t just go buy some more.
After having a mild freak out, I decided I’d add an accent stripe down the center of the drawer fronts, which would give a cool look and also cover up my mistake.
Soldiering on, I applied a few coats of the red spray paint I had on hand to the other drawer fronts, quickly realizing there was something wrong with that spray paint can, probably due to its age, and had to go out and buy more paint the following day.
Finally, with both of the main colors applied and mostly dry, I masked off my accent stripe, which I decided to make diagonal, and then sprayed on a few coats of white paint.
Luckily, while that crackled paint dried, I could continue working on the rest of the Murphy bed.
Step 8: Room Preparation
Before attaching the bed cabinet to the wall, I needed to remove the baseboard trim from that section of the wall, so that the cabinet would sit flush with the wall.
To do this, I first used an oscillating multitool to cut a vertical line in the baseboards, then cut the caulk at the top edge of the baseboards with a utility knife, then used this nifty tool called the Trim Puller to remove the baseboard. I’ll link to this tool in the video description below, it made the process super easy and didn’t damage the wall at all.
After removing the baseboard, I could move the bed cabinet into the room, which was no simple task considering how huge this thing was at that point.
After getting it into the room, I flipped the whole cabinet upright and slid it into place.
Step 9: Mounting the Cabinet
I went ahead and attached the mounting brackets for the bed frame using the included Allen bolts, and then I could start laying out the locations of the lag screws which attach the cabinet to the wall. There are three lag screws in both the lower and upper headboards, and these absolutely have to hit the studs behind the cabinet.
I marked my stud locations and then marked a location three inches up from the inside edges of the top and bottom of the cabinet, then pre-drilled a hole and drove in the lag screws with an impact driver.
You can see that my wall isn’t totally flat, but the cabinet was already super secure. As if the lag screws weren’t enough, Rockler also includes these brackets which attach to the top of the cabinet. There is a pin that goes into the wooden top, and also an Allen bolt that attaches through the inside of the top, to make sure the bracket is connected permanently to the top.
Next, there are two lag screws that go into the stud, then finally two lag screws to go into the top. Needless to say, this thing isn’t going anywhere, considering there are three of these brackets to install.
Step 10: Assembling the Frame
With the cabinet in place, I could move on to getting the bed frame assembled. Once the frame was assembled, I added some of the wooden slats. You need to leave a few rows of these slats off to give you access to hardware later, which I somehow did backwards, which led to some frustration in the next couple of steps.
Next, I attached the pistons to each side of the bed frame then dropped the bed frame onto the brackets, which was the moment I realized I had left the wrong slats off. I attached the safety covers over the pivot points, then attached the pistons to the brackets, once again realizing that I had left off the wrong slats.
With the pistons installed, the frame is now under pressure, so things become a little more tricky. A second set of hands would definitely have been super useful here.
The next piece to add was this stop block, which sets how far the top of the bed frame sits inside the cabinet. I used a few scraps of plywood for this, and went ahead and installed it with the bed frame out of the way, getting the location dialed in, and then removed the stop block, added a box to keep the frame out of the cabinet, reinstalled the block and then let the frame hit the block. You want the frame to be plumb here, which mine was.
Step 11: Lighting
I decided I wanted to add an LED light strip inside the cabinet, since a nightstand light wouldn’t really help with the cabinet sides in the way, and I really should have done this before installing the bed frame. Anyway, I used one of the light strips from American Green Lights, which I needed to wire up with an electrical box, but any standard LED light strip would work here.
I attached the strip to the top and decided to make it a little fancy by plugging it into a smart plug and using an extra Alexa Dot I won from Instructables to control it. There wasn’t really a convenient spot to put a switch, so I figured this would be perfect. It’s quite the luxury to be able to turn off your lights when you’re lying in bed without having to move.
Step 12: Attaching Nightstands
Next, I could install the nightstands. I used these collapsible brackets from Rockler, and attached them to the nightstands with a few pocket screws.
Attaching the brackets to the bed cabinet was a little more tricky and I probably should have removed the nightstand to do this. Also, I mounted the nightstands at a height that blocked one of the outlets, which is obviously inconvenient for anyone who wants to charge multiple devices while sleeping.
I actually need to readjust the brackets, as the nightstands don’t collapse all the way, due to the brackets not being perfectly parallel.
Step 13: Revisiting the Paint
With pretty much everything done on the bed except for the doors, I could go back and deal with that crackly white paint. I started trying to remove the paint with a card scraper, but it was pretty tough. It would have worked, but it would have been a ton of work. I figured this would be the perfect job for my new Rotex sander, and it was. The paint was still a little sticky, so I had to replace the sanding pads a few times, but it removed all of the paint in about three minutes.
With the paint removed, I re-masked the area and applied a few coats of white paint, trying to apply lighter coats this time so things dried faster. This worked extremely well and I got basically perfect results, except for the stupid bug that landed in the finish after the last coat.
There is very little as satisfying as clean paint lines, gotta love it.
Also, you might notice the red paint has a weird texture. I knocked down the gloss with 400 grit sandpaper before applying the white, and I’m going to go back and add some paste wax once the red fully dries to give it a matte look.
Once the paint was dry, I could install the drawer pulls. This was a pretty simple process, I just needed to make sure everything lined up correctly. I probably should have done this before applying finish, so I could cover up any errors, but luckily everything worked out.
Step 14: Finishing Up
To install the doors onto the Murphy bed frame, the kit includes these little clips which need to be added to the back side of the door panels. The clips are attached with screws and the locations are specified in the plans.
Once the clips were installed, I could drop the door panels into place and get them adjusted so there was an even reveal around all of the edges. You can see how the final placement of the panels gives the illusion that this is a cabinet and not a Murphy bed, especially with the drawer pulls added.
After getting the doors in their final location, the door panels are attached to the frame with some longer screws through the inside of the bed frame.
Finally, I could add the slats I had left off, install the mattress supports, and the Murphy bed was finally done!