DIY Built-in Murphy Bed With Bookshelves (And How I Styled Them!)

I designed a cool space-saving hack in my basement: a DIY built-in Murphy Bed with bookshelves! Now, when we’re not entertaining guests, I can close up the Murphy Bed, and my family can enjoy the full space of the basement. And the custom built-in shelves make it look beautiful, opened and closed!

DIY Built-in Murphy Bed
DIY Built-in Murphy Bed
DIY Built-in Murphy Bed Shelves


I’ve done similar builtins in my current and past houses. You can check out my homeschool room built ins here, and my office cabinet builtins here. If you’d like the detailed, in-depth tutorial, check out either one of those posts if you plan to build a DIY built-in Murphy Bed with bookshelves. If you’re installing a Murphy Bed, you’ll definitely want to read my DIY Murphy Bed tutorial.


Table Saw
Circular Saw
Miter Saw
Straight Edge
Foam Insulation
Graco Paint Sprayer
Carpenter’s Square
Kreg Adjustable Shelving Jig
Stud Finder
Laser Level


Wood Glue
Wood Screws
Edge Banding


3/4 x 4 x 8 Plywood
Shiplap Panels
2 x 4 Pine
1 x 2 Poplar
1 x 3 Poplar
1 x 4 Poplar

DIY Built-In Murphy Bed Plans

My DIY built-in Murphy Bed needed some surrounding built ins after it was installed. That big green square looks lonely.

Green Murphy Bed

I wanted them to be pretty, so stylized bookshelves were a must. Cupboards on both sides made the built ins functional since I can tuck away spare pillows and blankets, as well as double as a nightstand for guests.

Most of the time, my projects start in my head and I wing it from there. I’ll usually jot down some ideas on paper, but that’s about it, and it’s worked well for me. For this DIY built-in Murphy Bed, I did something a little different – I sketched out my plans, and I actually calculated my measurements and cut all the wood before I started building.

Plans for a DIY Murphy Bed with Bookshelves

This is mainly because I live in cold Nebraska, and I didn’t want to constantly be in and out of my garage, and it does save lots of trips up and down stairs. BUT… while this may be a no-brainer for some people to work this way, it always makes me nervous because if I make one mistake, it could cause a domino effect, and the rest of my boards might be cut wrong too. So it’s a little risky.

Wood Cuts For My DIY Built-In Murphy Bed

This DIY Built-in Murphy Bed with bookshelves project needs a lot of plywood, and since the sheets are 4′ x 8′, it’s difficult to cut them on my table saw. So, I like using my circular saw and a straight edge to rip the plywood sheets into the right-sized strips that I’ll need for the sides of my cabinet boxes and shelves. A super handy hack I learned is that if you put this foam insulation sheet under the plywood, you can make your cuts on the ground and not worry about cutting through anything important. (No offense intended to anyone out there named “foam insulation”. You are important. 😅)

Green Plywood on the ground

In addition to pre-cutting, I pre-painted as well using my favorite Graco paint sprayer. This worked out really well for my ADHD personality because by the time I would have been ready to paint, it was already mostly done and the task of finishing didn’t seem nearly so daunting. However, because I am who I am, I underestimated the amount of material that would need to be painted, so I did have to do some at the end. This is the green color I used if you want the formula to mix yourself up a gallon.

beautiful green paint color

Assembling The Cabinet Boxes

After I brought all my wood downstairs, I removed my rug and laid down plastic sheeting. Everything must be square and perfect, so working on a flat surface is best. Check out my wood flooring install tutorial for the details on my floors.

Next, I assembled all the cabinet boxes. The pieces are all 18 inches wide. I used wood glue on every piece of wood being screwed to another. Typically, I’m a pocket hole enthusiast, but since the sides and backs of these cabinets were hidden, I just used wood screws. It’s awkward to build these by yourself, so I used a brad nail to keep the pieces in place while I went in with the screws. Otherwise, the box would shift around while being screwed together, and then I’d have a wonky DIY built-in Murphy Bed.

What also helps is making sure your pieces are cut square in the first place, and using a carpenter square to check your angles.

If your builtin is similar to mine, here’s a tip: the bookshelf sitting on top of this cabinet box is 12 inches deep. So, when you’re screwing in the top cabinet piece to the sides, place the screws where the bookshelf will be sitting. That way they’re hidden. Also, countersink the screws so the bookshelf will be sitting on a flush surface.

I screwed in the bottom shelf which is 4 inches from the ground, and then screwed on a sheet of shiplap to the back of the cabinet. And lastly, I screwed the box to a stud in the wall and also into the side of my Murphy Bed.

My first cabinet box was done and it fit perfectly! Then I just clicked copy/paste and made another one for the other side.

Assembling the Shelves of the DIY Murphy Bed Built-In

Moving on to the shelving of the DIY built-in Murphy Bed.

I built and installed these like the cabinet, except without a bottom shelf. And clearly, I still have some painting to do. Whoops.

The finished cabinet and bookshelf are 40 inches wide. Usually anything over 36 inches wide needs a brace to reinforce and protect that length of a cabinet top. It’s also a good idea to add bracing on the backside of that wainscoting underneath the shelves so they don’t bow. Ask me if I added a brace. I didn’t, but thanks for asking.

green built-ins with shiplap

However, I will be putting a brace on the long section that will go over the actual Murphy bed. It’s really long and it’ll have 4 doors, and that can get heavy. The top shelf was built similarly to the bookshelf, just much longer. I’ll be adding the brace on the top.

wood for a built-in

Adding Trim to the Built-In Murphy Bed

Next up is my favorite part – trim. I love trimming out my built-ins because it gives the piece a high-end look. I had a spare piece of pine sitting around that was long enough for the middle section so I used it and used poplar for the bookcases. Pine is totally fine to use, except sometimes the knots and wood grain will show through the paint. So if you’re into that, go ahead and use pine. I regretted it and wished I would have used Poplar for all of it, but it did save me a trip to the store, so I felt good about it at the time. Sigh and slow head shake.

I cut all the horizontal pieces first because when they’re installed first, it helps me be more precise with my measurements for the vertical trim.

The horizontal trim all along the very top of the built-in is 6 inches tall, and I used wood glue, my nail gun, and wood screws to install.

using a level to build a built-in

The horizontal trim on the very bottom of the cabinets is 4 inches tall to match the height of my (future) baseboard, and I made sure it was flush with the bottom shelf of the cabinet. The horizontal trim on the top of the lower cabinet is a 1×3, and I made sure it was flush with my cabinet top. And lastly, all the vertical trim are 1×2’s, which are actually 1 1/2 inches wide. It’s so much easier to measure for the vertical trim after all the horizontal trim is installed.

green built-in

Adding Adjustable Shelving to the DIY Built-in Murphy Bed

The shelving for the bookcase is ready to be installed. I cut the plywood shelves 1/4″ shorter than the width of the opening. That way they’ll be moveable and adjustable rather than stuck in place. I used my Kreg Adjustable Shelf Jig to create my holes for the adjustable shelving. It’s very user-friendly, and I talk about it in depth in this blog post.

adding adjustable shelving using a kreg jig

Next, I added edge banding to the plywood shelves because that factory edge is pretty unattractive. I just used my iron to apply it and this edge band cutter to remove the excess.

woman ironing on edge banding

Fixing All The Imperfections

Did I mention that I’m so glad I painted most of the DIY built-in Murphy Bed pieces beforehand? It’s helped tremendously. I needed to work on the trim a bit before it was ready to paint. For that blasted middle header I made of pine I used Bondo to cover the obvious knots and imperfections. Bondo is smelly and you have to work quickly, but it will sand so nicely and blend well into the wood.

I just mixed it and applied it using a putty knife.

After the Bondo was rock hard, I sanded it off using my orbital sander. Since I was indoors, I attached the hose of my shop vac to the sander to help minimize the dust.

I also added that vertical piece right in the middle of the built-in. I wanted four doors on the top piece, and I needed a piece for them to be attached to. It’s the only piece where I used pocket holes. That piece had to be exactly centered because of the doors, so my laser level helped me know where the exact middle was.

woman using a laser level for a built in

The Finishing Details of My DIY Murphy Bed Built-In

I’ve built my fair share of shaker doors, so I wrote a detailed blog post with step-by-step instructions on how to build shaker doors. I’ve also written a blog post on how I purchased custom doors for my kitchen, so if making doors seems intimidating, there are a lot of places you can purchase them from.

The final DIY step was to I prime and paint my fancy DIY built-in Murphy Bed and shelves, and it was done! Here’s the blog post with the details on how to paint cabinet doors so you’ll achieve a beautiful finish.

To modernize this basement, another important thing I did was replace all the old ceiling tiles in my basement. It was really affordable and easy, and boy it made all the difference.

Here’s what the basement looked like when we first moved in –

And here’s what it looks like now!

woman showing her murphy bed project

Styling My DIY Murphy Bed Built-In

I really love a good DIY, and bonus points if it includes the option to add decor. I had a lot of fun at Target finding all the bedding and shelf decor, and I’ve linked everything down below.

woman making the bed on a murphy bed


Space Dyed Cotton Linen Quilt
Ceramic Organic Modern Ring Vase
Euro Double Cloth Decorative Throw Pillow
Woven Basket with Lid Natural
Artificial Potted Ribbon Fern Leaf Plant
Lumbar Faux Leather Channel Stitch Decorative Throw Pillow
Natural Woven Storage Bench
Single Handle Ceramic Vase
Tinted Glass Sandalwood & Terracotta Ribbed Jar Candle
Brass Pedestal Table Clock
Shagreen Box
Small Brass Planter
Metal Wavy Bowl Gold
Natural Wicker Table Lamp
Round Leather Links
Large Artificial Trailing Gentian Plant
Black Round Ceramic Vase
Green Ceramic Reactive Glaze Box
Faux Wood Mini Table Lamp
Matted Circle Table Frame
Checkered Knit Throw Blanket
Grid Stitch Comforter Bedding Set
Antique Floral Framed Canvas
Printed Floral Square Throw Pillow
Denim Clay Rug
Gold Drawer Pulls

green murphy bed built in with bookshelves

And there you have it, my fresh new built-ins, complete with a Murphy Bed! It’ll be so nice to be able to use this area as a guest bedroom when we need it, but we can also put the bed away and use it for our exercise/theater room. Three cheers for multi-functional spaces when you live in a small home!

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