Couch Breaking: It’s a Thing

by Grace Bonney

In the course of one week I both found a new apartment and moved in. I felt like the queen of the world, coordinating everything on my own in less than 5 days, only to have it all crash down around me on Friday when I moved. My movers were over 4 hours late and then we discovered that neither my sofa nor my armchair would fit through the entryway of the new building (it was built for doll people I think). Then when I convinced (more like begged) them to take the sofa and chair back to my old apartment until I found a solution, someone had messed up the lock on the old apartment building’s door and the movers had to climb the fire escape into my old apartment to get it. It was crazy. So this weekend I found myself looking up a service that is practically legendary in NYC: Couch Cracking/Breaking. When I told people I was doing this, most people didn’t know it was “a thing”, but if you live in a city with old buildings, you may have run into the problem a lot of New Yorker’s have: narrow hallways that can’t handle contemporary furniture sizes. I couldn’t fit things through my window so yesterday Hope and I sat on the sidewalk and watched my beautiful grown up sofa (the first piece I’ve truly splurged on in my adult life) be gutted, sawed into pieces and then re-built inside.

When I showed some photos on Instagram people asked me to post some more details about the process, so I thought I’d share some insight into the insanity that is couch cracking. Basically they remove the back and bottom upholstery, saw the back apart from the bottom, bring it inside and then re-build and re-staple the upholstery. The whole thing took an hour, start to finish. And while it’s not cheap ($250-$400 depending on couch size), it’s a heck of a lot cheaper and more convenient than buying a new sofa. So, enjoy the insanity of couch-cracking! xo, grace

*I used NY Couch Doctor and would recommend them mildly. Their estimate was way off but they were fast and efficient).



This room isn’t decorated or done, but generally the couch is up and running and I honestly can’t tell ANY difference, it’s amazing.

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  • Who knew? I’ve only ever resorted to begging movers to take things up a zillion stairs or winching a couch up the side of a building.
    So now I know there is an even more desperate option. That’s pretty cool.
    Just when you thought moving sucked enough though!

  • AH! This gives me palpitations, had never heard of it…but glad it’s an option! Congrats on your new place ;)

  • Phew! My heart was pounding just looking at these photos, Grace! I think I’ve watched this once before on HGTV and it is still amazing to watch. Glad to see your comfy sofa is back in one piece.

  • Oh God, those pictures made me cringe! I can only imagine what you must have been feeling!

  • I wish I had known about this/I wish it was a thing where I live. When I moved into my new place, movers couldn’t fit my old but comfy couch in its intended room upstairs. I ended up having to pay some folks to take it away so that I could donate it and I still need an upstairs couch!

  • BRAVE! but it looks great, maybe some shops should sell sofas that dissemble seeing urbanites would all have to do this :-)

  • Seriously? I MUST be sheltered!! Never heard of such a thing, but certainly could’ve used it in my last move! Had to pass on a hand-me-down couch that I was in love with as it wouldn’t make the turn in the hallway!! Can’t believe it doesn’t look like it’s been broken at all!

  • AMAZING GRACE! There really is no where in the world like New York City :) This doesn’t happen in Melbourne!

  • I LOVE that picture of Hope and then when I saw your caption I let out a yelp. So funny! But hey, she’s Boricua after all. :)

  • As if moving weren’t stressful enough, right? After all that, a happy(ish) ending for a couch very much worth keeping. And wow, that floor lamp! Where did you find it?

  • Amazing. My whole world is now changed. When I first moved to London I ordered a grown up sofa… the delivery company got it to my door and then no further. I was able to get a refund for the sofa since I didn’t choose a custom colour (I had been soooo close, but caved for getting it quicker at the last minute) but the charge for the delivery company to take it back was ridiculous. Then again, what was I going to do with a nice sofa just sitting in the street? I ended up buying an Ikea sofa that cost less than the stupid delivery fee, and it is still in my house today. I shall spend at least the rest of today daydreaming of the sofas that could live here should I be brave enough to let strangers saw them in half!

  • so cool! I am guilty of living couch, or box spring, or whatever-free because it doesn’t fit into the building. Currently living with all things that cannot pass through a 29 inch doorway.

  • This is not just a New York thing. I’m in the south Chicago suburbs and I had a regular upholsterer do the same thing for me when I first moved in for about $200. No sawing involved. After you remove the fabric the back of the couch just unbolts and slides out.

    I just moved into another unit on Saturday, but this time they wanted $300. Luckily, I watched them take it apart the first time. I described the process to my dad who took it apart, moved it, and put it back together for the cost of two pizzas. No special skills required.

  • I had to have this done in Boston! We have the same quirky old entry way problems. After searching for years for a sofa that we could get into apartment A I moved and the same sofa wouldn’t fit into apartment B. I was so devastated, until the fine people of Crate and Barrel told me about this service and Melo and Sons saved the day. Scary a little pricey, but so worth it.

  • Haha! Oh Hope, what a cutie! Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been so apprehensive about upgrading my furniture exactly because of this problem. Congrats on the move! That part of greenpoint is my favorite!

  • We had to do something similar to our bed when we moved into our 1936 home (in western South Dakota). A friend who helped us move commented that it was “so New York.”

  • I also used NY Couch Doctor and wish I could give them a good recommendation but the experience was awful. They scratched up my floors, chipped paint, gauged plaster off the wall in the hall way and when I refused to pay the full amount due to damages, the owner threatened to take my couch apart again and put it on the street.
    I nearly had to call the cops as it got quite out of hand but I stuck to my guns and paid him less.

  • I’ve never heard of such a thing! We live in a 1910 bungalow and had a very hard time getting some of our furniture inside. I’ve often wondered what we’d have done if it didn’t fit.

  • I thought about doing this to our couch. We were only on the second floor of a place with large windows though. We rented a materials lift and managed to raise it up to the second floor and get it in that way. Worked great. In Amsterdam, they have buildings that are slightly angled forward with large hooks to move items in through windows using a pulley system.

  • I feel your pain as a similar thing happened to me. I moved last month (a process of torture that one should only wish upon ones enemies) and I still cannot figure out how the movers could get my dining room table out of my old apartment on the second floor with no elevator (and with a narrow doorway) and could not fit it through my new apartment door (which is new construction and has a much wider door frame). They ended up taking it apart to get it in. I don’t know how you could stand there and watch them do that to your sofa. (I did not watch them do the table) I would have needed a valium. :-)

  • I had to do this to get a new couch in to my first apartment in NYC, thankfully they only had to take off 1 arm to get it through the door. It has been 9 years now and the couch is still in great shape. I think I used Couch Dr but I don’t remember for sure, it was a simple job and I didn’t have any problems with them.

  • I had never heard of this. Glad it worked for you as the couch looks great in it’s new home. Ikea sells couches (and chairs) that come apart (the back comes off). I only know this because I was helping my brother move last week and I was like, “I don’t think they’ll fit in my car.” He took them apart (you just pull up) and they fit.

  • I have a corner that my couch has to go through, and sometimes a big thick couch works going around the corner and other times thinner couches that look like they might go around the corner, don’t!….But aside from the couch issue where did you get that floor lamp from???? I LOVE the floor lamp!!!! It works so well with the clean lines of the couch!

  • That’s so funny. My husband and I were moving a couch into our basement this weekend and I almost thought we’d have to take it apart. Luckily, we were able to remove the banister on our staircase instead (much easier) and get the couch past the stairs.

  • I built a large credenza piece for a client that couldn’t make the turn down the front hall. Ended up setting up scaffold over a hedge outside the intended room and feeding this 600lb. monstrosity through the window! Silly cabinetmaker…

  • Our Room and Board sofa would not fit in our 1920s building. Room and Board works with a company that will do this for you. It was about $250 (9 years ago) and we still can’t tell the difference. I was at work when it happened and my husband was a bit traumatized watching the process.

  • We used a couch doctor in Toronto, and my dad did an improv job on the box spring (took all day). When we sell the house some day they both go with it or no deal!

  • Wow, so good to know! And remember that sometimes you can just take the doors off their hinges, too, and squeeze it by…

  • I have never heard of this, but then again, I live in the midwest where we have huge doors and tons of space. Our current couch is going to be interesting moving into our new apartment, though, since it’s pretty big and the doorway leads right up a flight of stairs (which isn’t where the couch is going). Might have to see if this sort of thing exists here, just in case!

  • I did this with the help of a strong friend to a queen sized box spring. We unstapled the covering then unscrewed the vertical beams. (The springs were attached to the horizontal beams.) Then the box spring moved like a stiff slinky around the tight corner up to my bedroom. Once upstairs, we screwed back on the vertical beams and restapled the upholstery and it was good as new!

  • Grace, I love Design*Sponge for all the beautiful home decor and lifestyle posts and pictures, but I LOVE Design*Sponge for all your amazing pet photos.

  • This is both terrifying and amazing. I wonder how many times you can re-break the same couch without it affecting structural integrity. Obviously that’s not a problem for one move, I’m just oddly curious.

  • Grace, thanks for the post. Can I ask where your couch is from? And, out of curiosity, is it an apartment-size sofa?

  • Same story!! I love my couch I don’t want to give it away. I am looking for someone in toronto that can do this. Thanks to this blog I am not longer thinking on giving away my beautiful couch. Does anyone knows about who can give this services in toronto??.. Thank you very much for writing about this. This is so helpful.

    • I’m looking for one in Toronto too! I don’t want to give up my couch!! Did you find one? Anyone in Toronto who can do this?

  • I bought a sofa or your ago and it dit not through out the doors in my apartment. The delivery guys recommend it Mr Metz Furniture Repair , I called them they arrive two hours and a half later took it apart brought it in put it together and it looked as he was never taught before, this is a great service that I think every New Yorker should know about they also do upholstery and furniture restoration …….Mr. Metz Furniture repair 646-378-9159 ….mrmetzfurniturerepair.com

  • I used a company recommended by G.H. Johnson, the furniture store on Dupont in Toronto. The guys were very good and the sofa looked like new both times they rebuilt it (once to get it up the stairs and again to get it down).