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Did You Remember To Put The Bed Back In The Ceiling This Morning?

Whilst researching Beaver Board Walls in the 1917 Sweets Architectural Catalog, I came across something I’d never seen before: An invisible ceiling bed.

At first blush, one might think this is an ideal solution for house guests that you wish were invisible, but in fact, it’s a close-cousin of the Murphy Wall Bed.

Instead of the bed “hiding” in a closet or wall, the Sorlien Ceiling Bed stows in the ceiling when not in use.

I’m sorry to say, I’ve never seen one in real life, but I bet that there are a few old house owners mystified by a massive hidden panel in the ceiling of their early 20th Century bungalow.

It’s quite a concept, and it’d be fun to know how popular these “ceiling beds” really were!

Thanks to Bill Inge for loaning me this awesome old catalog!

To read all about the Murphy Bed, click here.

To see a youtube video of a Murphy Bed in action, click here.

Click here to read about a 1950s invention!
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Beds from ceilings

"Beds from ceilings" (as seen in the 1917 Sweets catalog).

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Sorlien Ceiling Bed

An iron bed with a sagless spring! But the best part: "It may remain in ceiling witout collecting dust." Really? Does it collect rats? Nutria? Roof rats? There's lots of cool stuff like that in *my* attic!

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Sorlien Ceiling Bed

Kind of an interesting concept. I doubt anyone would be willing to try this today. Imagine the lawsuit potential!

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Sorlien Bed two

I'm not sure how this "false ceiling panel" closes automatically.

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text

Yes, you read that right: 790 pounds (first paragraph). And it's also interesting that this thing only works for houses with an "attic above." Can you imagine cranking this thing down and finding a rat sitting on your bed? Blech.

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Bed

And you can use it with a double bed!

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Sorlien Ceiling Bed View

Looks like a lot of work to me.

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Ceiling

Now that's a serious pulley.

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Sorlien Ceiling

Close-up on the prior image.

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Ceiling

The text above says that the "bed is raised or lowered with a removable crank." Wonder if that's a subtle reference to his visiting mother-in-law?

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To read all about the Murphy Bed, click here.

To see a youtube video of a Murphy Bed in action, click here.

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  1. Melodie Nichols
    June 18th, 2014 at 09:05 | #1

    That upper false ceiling panel “floats” in the opening, and gets pushed up toward the rafter when the bed is in the ceiling, and just drops down when the bed is down.

    At least, that is what it appears to me. I’ve never seen this before but I think it’s awesome!

  2. Wil Totten
    February 12th, 2015 at 15:12 | #2

    I own an apartment building (4-plex) in St. Paul, MN. Each unit has one of these in the sunroom up in the front of the unit.

    They are all in various states of disrepair, but I intend to rehab at least one of them to document this piece of history. Funny that they were made just across the might Mississippi River from here.

  3. Jeff Martell
    October 26th, 2015 at 19:17 | #3

    @Wil Totten
    We just found this site today. We had already done the conceptual design for a ceiling bed to go on a houseboat we’re rebuilding.

    We’re starting to talk to machinists about the windlass mechanism.

    If you’re just rehabbing one unit I wonder if you have any “surplus” winding drums you’d consider selling. Condition could be negotiable-I can probably get repairs done. Thanks!

  4. Chris
    December 28th, 2015 at 14:18 | #4

    I was thinking the same thing, but was going to use an electric winch.

    http://www.etrailer.com/Electric-Winch/Dutton-Lainson/DL25514.html?feed=npn&gclid=COjW94WV_8kCFQ2OaQod1nEPZQ

    If you set up your pulleys for mechanical advantage then you could go even smaller. I just wonder about the fire ratings and insurance issues if there is a fire.

  5. MikeS
    January 4th, 2016 at 05:53 | #5

    I have a 1912 house in Seattle with one of these beds.

    It still works and the dust protection is correct. It looks fabulous for being 100 yrs old.

    The winding drum in the closet is impressive to say the least.

    Really an amazing system. I guess I should post a you tube video…..

  6. MikeS
    January 4th, 2016 at 05:56 | #6

    @Melodie Nichols
    You are exactly correct. There is also a fixed enclosure above it to provide a barrier from the attic and insulation (and critters if you have them…).

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