Unlike the famous Murphy bed, which hides in a closet or wall to save floor space when not in use, the Sorlien ceiling bed is stowed in the ceiling!
The Sorlien, the Murphy bed’s forgotten competitor, was patented in 1913. The bed was lowered from the ceiling via a crank, with hidden weights in the wall working to counterbalance the bed. “Transmission drum is concealed in wall by means of a hinged door 15 by 16-1/2 inches set flush with wall,” according to an ad (from 1917) for the Sorlien bed. Folding legs on the bottom of the bed made sure sleepers enjoyed a properly grounded night’s rest.
The bed was marketed as taking up no closet or wall space, with floor space used only when in service. “When not in use, it may remain in ceiling without collecting dust or getting the mattress and bed clothing disarranged,” the ad reads. Of course, the ceiling bed only worked for houses with an “attic above.”
Although Sorlien’s invention never caught on, a small number of old homes still have them, so if you come across one, you’ll now know what it’s all about!
Today, the rise of tiny house living and apartment dwelling has reintroduced space-saving furniture. Ceiling beds have been reinvented! For example, the Bedaway retractable ceiling bed that glides up to the ceiling, creates floor space beneath, which can be used for living, playing or working during the day. And here’s a remote controlled tiny house bed that drops from the ceiling.