Calling all sofa and moving experts

by Eszter Hargittai on August 18, 2005

Super smart and super nice blogger Jeremy Freese is calling out to the blogosphere in a desperate plea to help him figure out how to get his sofa into his new place. Jeremy just moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and it turns out his beloved sofa won’t make it up the stairs into his new apartment. Even before his furniture arrived earlier this week he had already succeeded in finding wifi and keeping his blog readers updated regarding his move. Not having any furniture for a night didn’t pose any major challenges, but the sofa’s arrival yesterday meant the start of some real stress. It is still standing in the hallway its legs now only held up by the remaining three screws that won’t come off.

Anyone with suggestions on how to solve this puzzle, please leave a note on Jeremy’s blog.

I’m sure everyone has and knows of hellish moving experiences. One of the worst stories I recall concerns a friend gearing up for her last year in graduate school. The university’s housing office told her that they could not accomodate her any longer so she had to move. She packed up all her stuff and transferred everything to the new location. Unfortunately, it turned out that several items among her possessions would not fit through the doorway and hallway of her new apartment. In the end, the univ housing office let her back into her old apartment. But so why exactly was all that packing up necessary?

The winner of the most unfortunate move in my circles is my brother. He was in the midst of moving in between cities and spent a night in a motel. His truck in the parking lot got broken into overnight. The culprits managed to take all the really personal stuff that could never be replaced leaving the few things that were perhaps of any objective value (e.g. a computer). Go figure.

It seems that moving always entails some hellish experience, the question is more about the magnitude of the unfortunate events that will unfold.

UPDATE: Thanks to some helping hands and some power tools, Jeremy’s sofa is now in his apartment.

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Tim Worstall
08.19.05 at 7:38 am



JDC 08.19.05 at 4:40 am

When I moved from Brooklyn in March, I had the opposite problem. I couldn’t figure out how to get my couch out of the apartment. I had hired movers before. I think they must have taken the door off the hinges (there were tool marks on the screws). A friend and I tried every which way (including violent shoving) but no dice. Since the couch was too big to come to the UK with me and fairly ratty anyway, I got a jigsaw and sliced it up. Interesting how couches are put together. Surprising amount of cardboard.


James Wimberley 08.19.05 at 5:21 am

I read somewhere that on the scale of the most stressful incidents of life, a family Christmas rated between moving house and a contested divorce. But I can’t remember which came first.


alkali 08.19.05 at 7:19 am

Call an upholsterer — Melo & Sons in Somerville is a good one in that area — and they will quickly disassemble the couch, get it upstairs, and reassemble. It might be $150 but it is the only way to solve the problem.


jacob 08.19.05 at 8:01 am

My parents tell the story of a friend they knew in law school who after graduation traveled around the world, acquiring all sorts of irrreplaceable knick-knacks and other objects from far-flung places. He then returned to Cambridge to live for some period of time before moving. The night before his move, he packed up all his worldly possessions into a car (or maybe truck?)–the objects d’art from around the world as well as his everyday items. Of course, the car was stolen during the night.

For my entire childhood they told me this story, and I have therefore become terrified of packing up the truck/car the night before. I simply won’t do it.


dsquared 08.19.05 at 8:19 am

give it a gentle nudge with a bloody big hammer.


Hektor Bim 08.19.05 at 8:21 am

Am I the only one who immediately thought of “Dirk Gently”?


harry b 08.19.05 at 8:55 am

hektor — no, you weren’t.

Eszter — this is one of those things which requires on-the-spot expertise. If he really cares enough about the couch he’ll hire a moving firm (not one of the cheap ones, either). Comparative avantage and all that…


Cranky Observer 08.19.05 at 9:29 am

Having lived in a succession of old apartments and houses in Chicago, once with my queen-sized bed stacked up in the living room for two years cause I couldn’t get it up the stairs, I can report this: true professional movers can get things places you can’t even begin to think about. In fact, when we moved from the bed-in-the-living room place I was forced to hire pros for the first time (due to aging back syndrome), and they got that bed up a stairway _smaller_ than the one I couldn’t do. When I asked how they just laughed at me ;-(

Of course, it is a question of how much you are willing to pay. Good professional movers don’t come cheap, even by the hour. And creative solutions might involved disassembling the window and hiring a lift truck to get it up there, for example. But if it is important to you, bite the bullet and call a place that offers regular, antique, and piano moving services. They will have someone who can do it.



Martin 08.19.05 at 10:40 am

According to Poor Richard, “Three removes is as bad as a fire.”

(A quick google search attributes this to a 1757 B. Franklin essay, “The Way to Wealth.” I haven’t taken the time to pin down the source further.)


Cranky Observer 08.19.05 at 11:03 am

> According to Poor Richard, “Three removes is as
> bad as a fire.”

Funny, I have always heard that spoken “as GOOD as a fire”!



ringverse 08.19.05 at 11:51 am

Believe it or not, a true sofa moving story:

Years ago we were trying to get a curved 4 seater upstairs in a friends house. Trying to manoeuvre it around the turn in the stairs, we dropped it, and it wedged itself irretrievably in place.

Crowbars, hammers and car jacks couldn’t shift it!
After a full days futile efforts, we ended up extracting it in several pieces, with a chainsaw…

I have treated sofa moving with a healthy degree of respect since then.


kharris 08.19.05 at 2:08 pm

Now that the sofa is in place, get a copy of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” You may not like the book in its entirety, but the first chapter will sound familiar.


littleboy 08.19.05 at 3:39 pm

I found this a bit too late to be of any help, but still I find I must offer some moving advice.

I used to struggle with moves, fighting to get things through doorways, up stairs, etc. Being an engineer and all part of my job was figuring out how to get BIG things into little places (part of that stupid buildability crap they kept harping about) but moving furniture always posed quite a challenge.

That is, I had these problems moving until I cultivated the friendship of a fellow who frequented our neighborhood pub. Just your old basic, working class neighborhood tavern (no yuppie swill on tap there). This guy was a professional mover for a local company that specialized difficult moves (weekend moves of 40 stories of offices, safes, that kind of thing). I would pay him in beer (provided after the move) just to stand around and supervise. The number of beers was up to me, but I was pretty generous in order to ensure his future help. He helped a friend and I get a grand piano up two flights of stairs, one of which made two turns. Took the two of us, plus his supervision, less than a half an hour and we barely broke a sweat. Bought him twelve beers for that (about $15 at the time). Best beer ever bought.

So remember, find a “pro from dover”, bribe them with beer, and you will be done in half the time and one quarter the work. All for maybe twenty dollars.


Penta 08.20.05 at 2:47 pm

Do any of em do dorms? (I hate dorm life…)


matt weiner 08.22.05 at 1:34 pm

An ill-intentioned moving company can really mess you up. I’m not the only person I know who has spent weeks in an empty apartment with his stuff in a warehouse somewhere while the moving company twiddles its thumbs. They weren’t even particularly trying to find someone to drive my things from point A to point B within the contractually obligated time–and since I didn’t experience any actual financial loss, only a waste of my time, I couldn’t file an effective damage report. My advice to anyone using movers is to get a contract that states that they will lose $X per day late, if possible.


Jeff 08.22.05 at 4:44 pm

You have to be very careful about movers– it’s just one of those businesses that lends itself to scammers (from overcharging, to theft, to plain incompetence). But a good mover is worth his weight in gold.

My wife and I moved into a two story condo after law school, and for the life of us we could not get our queen-sized boxsprings up the metal spiral staircase to the second floor bedrooms. We tried it a million different ways with as many as half a dozen people helping us, and even considered taking the upstairs windows out of their frames and hoisting the boxsprings up on a rope, but we finally ended up sawing the boxspring in half and screwing and gluing it all back together upstairs (we were broke and could not afford a new bed). Weeks later, talking to other people who lived in the complex, I sheepishly admitted what we had done, assuming someone was going to explain the trick to us and make us feel foolish for taking a saw to the boxsprings– but no. Turns out that it was quite impossible to get a queen-sized box springs up those stairs (all the condos had the same setup)– you could fit a smaller bed up there, and you could fit a king (because the boxsprings for a king comes in two pieces already), but not a queen. One guy had left his queen-sized bed in the downstairs living room for two years before finally getting rid of it. It was just one of those things. Needless to say, when we moved out I sawed the bed to pieces and left it in the alley.

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