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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7 Comments

  1. Melodie Nichols

    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

    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

    @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. MikeS

    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…..

  5. MikeS

    @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…).

  6. CC

    At first glance, it looks like an ingenious idea. But come on guys, there is reason/s why it doesn’t survive. Even Murphy bed goes wayside. People eventually rejected it.

    The reasons I can think of are:
    1. You have to do a lot of work when you want to use it. To start with, clear the floor space
    and where do you put those stuffs. Evidently you are tight with space so you have one of these.
    2. It is so heavy, no air mattress in those days. The pulley mounting points have to resist some heavy load. I suspect the system required substantial maintenance.
    3. It’s just not practical to use day in & day out.

    Now, what about the idea of sunken floor bed?! Simply lift up the floor panel & you can sleep, no wire, pulley, crank or any thing like that. Anybody like to preorder?

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