What is a Cupboard Bed?

Gregory Hanson
Gregory Hanson

A cupboard bed is an enclosed bed, occasionally built into a large movable piece of furniture or, much more often, built directly into the wall of a room. This type of bed can be snug and cozy, particularly if it is built with doors to close the bed off from the rest of the room. A cupboard bed can be a very simple construction, with little more than a bed, some wooden walls, and, perhaps, some simple doors, or it can be very elaborate. A truly opulent cupboard bed might include drawers for storage, elegant carved woodwork, and built-in touches, such as lights, either for decoration or to aid in the enjoyment of a good book.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

This variety of bed has roots that stretch far back in human history. Homes in antiquity were typically not kept very warm at night, and it made sense, particularly in northern Europe, to sleep in a smaller space that could be more easily kept warm. Homes throughout most of human history also featured little in the way of space or privacy, and sometimes a bed in a nook screened off by a curtain or a door was appealing simply because it did offer a modicum of personal space.

In the modern world, cupboard beds are often an expression of taste rather than practical objects, but they remain very practical in smaller homes or apartments, which may not allow separate bedrooms for everyone who lives there. Such beds can add storage space to smaller rooms or homes. They can also be a useful way to keep a rarely-used guest bed out of sight when not in use, and they can be both great fun and handy space savers when used for children’s beds.

This type of bed can be fashioned quite easily, as it generally contains no load-bearing or moving parts and can be constructed with a simple but sturdy wooden framework, which can then be covered with wooden paneling and painted or finished. Before building a cupboard bed, of course, a homeowner should be sure that they want to devote one wall of a room to a bed and should make sure that no vital heating or electrical systems will be disrupted.

More ambitious carpenters can add drawers or cabinets to a cupboard bed. Curtains can be added easily to screen off the sleeping niche, or wooden doors can be mounted, although some provision for ventilation is an absolute necessity for safety reasons. A bit of salvaged or faux antique Victorian brass ornamentation makes an excellent finishing touch for this type of project and adds considerably to the charm of such a bed.

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    • Woman holding a book
      Woman holding a book