Should You Hire a Couch Doctor?


For most surgeons, the operating room is the same: A dedicated chamber in a hospital, these sterile spaces are full of bright lights, heavy machinery, and the lingering smell of antiseptics. But things look a little different for Sal Giangrande. The whole country is his hospital, and his operating rooms—dark hallways, busy sidewalks, or building lobbies—are much more haphazard, dependent on what’s available, not what’s ideal. But don’t worry, this isn’t the start of a medical horror story where someone gets sepsis from a dirty street corner. “We don’t work on people,” he says. “We operate on couches.”

Sal, also known as the NY Couch Doctor, is part of an extremely skilled community with a niche expertise: fitting too big couches and chairs through staircases and entryways that just weren’t meant to accommodate them. “Whenever I tell someone what I do for a living, they all say the same thing: ‘I didn’t know this service existed,’” he tells AD.

What’s a couch doctor?

Most people in Sal’s line of work are expert craftspeople, gifted upholsterers, and professional movers, and it’s this smorgasbord of skills that makes their work both desperately needed and difficult to define. But the gist is this: Couch doctors specialize in cutting up furniture to get it through tight spaces, then putting it all back together once it’s through the door.

In New York City, and other metropolises known for tiny living and quirky layouts, it’s practically a right of passage to have a sofa saga. “Everyone has a story,” Sal says—I know I do. During my first local move from one Brooklyn apartment to another, I broke the drywall of my new pad trying to squeeze a sofa through a hallway where it didn’t fit. Not exactly my finest moment. While my dad was able to patch the wall, come move-out time, he had to return once again and cut the couch down to pieces to get it out the door. If only we had known then that there were specialists who could have been hired to do the same thing, only in a way where all the pieces would go back together.

But as Sal says, what he and others do isn’t a service that’s widely known. Part of the public’s lack of awareness might be that there’s no real name for this niche profession. Though lacking a dictionary entry, many professionals who work in the same field pull from the medical lexicon, referring to themselves as couch/sofa surgeons or operators. A few popular businesses, aside from Sal’s, include Dr. Sofa, Couch Doctor NYC, and NY Couch Surgeon. Even if you don’t live in the New York area, many of these specialists are willing to travel for the job.

A few months ago, Allie Provost, a New York City–based content creator, was shocked when a pair of delivery couriers couldn’t fit her new couch into her building’s elevator. “In my head, I’m thinking, ‘No, because my old couch was able to fit in the elevator without an issue,’” she recounts. “This is very shocking that this couch won’t fit.”

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