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Coming Out Of The Closet: Murphy Beds

November 12th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

In the early years of the 20th Century, living a simple, modest, clutter-free life was an integral part of The Bungalow Craze.

Murphy Beds were an integral part of that “space-saving” mind-set. And they were very practical, too. After one’s morning prayers and ablutions, how often did one return to their sleeping quarters?

When the sun popped up in the morning, it was time to make the bed, fluff the pillows and tuck your bed back into the wall.

During tough economic times, there was an expectation that homeowners would take in needy family members. When times got really tough, homeowners took on borders, too.  (Bear in mind, this was before government became our All-in-all.)

The Murphy Bed made our little bungalows a little bit bigger, and a little more accommodating.

In the 1920s and 30s, the sale of Murphy Beds skyrocketed. In the 1950s and 60s, sales dropped, as Americans moved into bigger and bigger houses. In the 1990s and beyond, sales again are way up, due to a poor economy, high unemployment and rising housing costs.

Some of the early 20th Century kit homes offered by Sears and Aladdin featured Murphy Beds.

“The Cinderella” (so named because the house was so small it required less work), was a cute and cozy kit home offered by Sears in the early 1920s. This little bungalow made good use of its small spaces by incorporating a Murphy Bed. Take a look at the pictures below to see how they did things 100 years ago.

To learn more about built-ins in the 1920s kit home, click here.

To learn about breakfast nooks, click here.

Want to learn more about Murphy Beds? Click here.

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The Cinderella (1921 Sears catalog) was so named because it was an efficient bungalow that saved the housewife

The Cinderella (1921 Sears catalog) was so named because it was an efficiently designed bungalow that saved the housewife much time and effort.

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Interior views of The Cinderella (1921).

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Less furniture to buy - less trouble and work. Good points, actually.

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In the Cinderella, the beds were tucked into a closet during the day.

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This is my favorite shot. This room was about five feet wide and ten feet deep, but it looks pretty darn spacious. And look at that sink at the end of the wall. Just a lone sink.

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The Cinderella assumed that both Living and Dining Rooms would be used as sleeping spaces.

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right order here

It's so easy, even a child can do it! Sort of.

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Floorplan shows how tiny that "bed space" really is. It was 10'11" long and - if the drawing is anything near scale, it appears about five feet wide. In modern times, the folks looking at this house probably thought, "How odd! A big walk-in closet next to the living room, and it even has a sink in the corner!"

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"Dressing room and bed space." Pretty tiny space!!!

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Calumet also

"Twenty rooms in 12." Eight of those 20 rooms were closets with a bed.

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four rooms

Here are two of those eight "bedrooms." At least they have a window.

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Close-up on the Murphy Bed in the Calumet.

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Bloom

And here's a real, live Calumet in Bloomington, IL.

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Aladdin Sonoma (1919)

Like Sears, Aladdin (Bay City, MI) also sold kit homes through mail order. They had a line of wee tiny Aladdin homes known as "Aladdinettes." Here's a picture of the Sonoma (1919), one of their Aladdinnette houses.

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And

The Aladdinnette's "bed space" was really tiny. Only 6'9" by 5'. You have to step out of the room to change your mind!!

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Close-up of the Aladdinnette's "closet bed."

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And despite those Laurel and Hardy episodes...

Despite what you've seen on those Laurel and Hardy episodes...

To read the next awesome blog, click here.

Interested in other early 20th Century space savers? Click here.

Youtube demonstration of a real Murphy Bed (1916).

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The Calumet: 20 Rooms in 12!

March 30th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

Sears always had an interesting way of ciphering. The Calumet was a four-apartment kit “house” with 12 rooms. The “20 rooms in 12″ was a little misleading.

The eight mystery rooms were “bedrooms” which were really teeny-tiny closets. Inside those eight tiny closets were eight fold-away beds (Murphy beds). The “bedroom in a closet” idea was heralded as a great space-saving device and a money-saving device too. After all, there’s no need to buy rugs and pictures and chairs and night stands when you sleep in a closet.

Who needs a bedroom anyway?

I’ve only seen one Calumet and that was in Bloomington, IL and it had been greatly altered.

The typical Sears Home was a 12,000 piece kit that was bundled and shipped in one boxcar. The Calumet was probably a bit more than 12,000 pieces. It was 2,800+ square feet, but it also had four kitchens and four bathrooms and a lot of steps, railings and porches. And a lot of doors.

And eight beds.

And all for a mere $3,073.

To learn more about Murphy Beds, click here.

Twenty rooms in 12 promised the header on this page.

"Twenty rooms in 12" promised the header on this page.

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The beds came with this kit apartment.

The built-in wall beds came with the Sears Calumet. They were hidden behind nice-looking French doors! I wonder how long these primitive metal-framed beds survived in these old four-plexes?

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Only three rooms per apartment, but they are fairly spacious. And note the small windows in the "bedroom" (closet).

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And

Close-up on those wall beds in the dining room and living room.

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The Cinderella was another Sears House that promoted use of stowaway beds. Note the

The "Cinderella" was another Sears House that promoted use of stowaway beds. Note the text at the bottom of this page: "You are saved the expense of two extra bedrooms in your house, as well as the additional expense of rugs and furniture..."

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And what exactly do you get for $3,073?

And what exactly do you get for $3,073?

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Close-up of the Calumet as shown in the 1918 catalog.

Close-up of the Calumet as shown in the 1918 catalog.

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Sears Calumet in Bloomington, IL.

Sears Calumet in Bloomington, IL.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about multi-family Sears kit apartments, click here.

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Coming Out of the Closet: Murphy Beds and Their Practical Uses

March 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

How many baby boomers even know what a “Murphy Bed” is? In the early years of the 20th Century, these ingenious space-saving devices were all the rage.  And they were practical, too. What good’s a bed during the middle of the day? When the sun pops up in the morning, it’s time to make the bed, fluff the pillows and tuck the bed back into the closet.

“The Cinderella” (so named because the house was so small it required less work), was a cute and cozy kit home offered by Sears in the early 1920s. This little bungalow made good use of its small spaces by incorporating a murphy bed. Take a look at the pictures below to see how they did things in the 1920s. All images are from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

To learn more about built-ins in the 1920s kit home, click here.

To learn about breakfast nooks, click here.

Bed

This page from the 1921 catalog shows the practical application of a Murphy Bed.

Murphy Bed

Murphy Bed

Folds away in the morning

So easy, even a very large child can do it!

Words

And there's a sink in the corner!

Beddy Bye Bye

Beddy Bye Bye

Wow

Floor plan, showing the Murphy Bed.

 

The Cinderella, as seen in the 1921 catalog

The Cinderella, as seen in the 1921 catalog

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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