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Home design inspiration: Building a bedroom around the skeleton of a Murphy bed

The space was turned into the centerpiece of a Beacon Hill bedroom.

The space that once housed a Murphy bed became the centerpiece of a bedroom in a Beacon Hill home.michael j lee

The prior owners of this Beacon Hill condo outfitted this room with a Murphy bed. Ana Donohue’s clients, however, wanted to use it as their bedroom. Rather than relegating the whole contraption to the trash, Donohue used the Murphy bed’s platform as a base for a queen-size bed and transformed the niche into a headboard with upholstery. “I wanted to enlarge the cavity, but there’s a brick wall behind it so we left it,” the designer says. “We also created side rails and a footboard covered in the same fabric.” To counterbalance the straight lines of the architecture, Donohue embraced a tranquil color palette, lyrical pattern, and curvy furnishings. “It feels like a beautiful, serene hotel,” she says.

1. Simple, luxurious bedding by Frette keeps the focus on the feature wall while throw pillows provide a touch of cozy tone-on-tone texture.


2. A small-scale embroidered textile by Schumacher lines the niche. “I wanted fabric with variation rather than a solid so it wouldn’t feel overwhelming,” Donohue says. Tufting adds another layer of interest and brings down the scale further by breaking up the expanse.

3. Phillip Jeffries smoky blue floral wallcovering is simultaneously soothing and statement-making. The pattern’s varied sizes and shapes help to camouflage the soffit by distracting the eye.

4. Art Deco inspired sconces by Hudson Valley infuse romance and cast light around the room. “The client has moments of liking feminine, reflective, sparkly things,” Donohue says. “These satisfy that inclination.”

5. A mirror framed with chunky metal orbs hangs over a Noir dresser with an undulating front. “We didn’t need art because of the wallpaper,” Donohue says. “I like the edginess and weight against all this softness.”

6. Donohue commissioned decorative painter Pauline Curtiss of Patina Designs to paint the wallpaper pattern on unfinished wood nightstands that she purchased on Etsy. “It looks like the leaves and flowers are falling down onto them,” Donohue says.


Marni Elyse Katz is a contributing editor to the Globe Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @StyleCarrot. Send comments to