One of the drawbacks of living in a house built in the 19th century is the small hallways and tight spaces. It’s not always possible to buy the piece of furniture you truly want because you know that chair you have your eye on will NOT fit down the narrow hallway, never mind through the tiny doorway. I knew what I was getting into when I was looking for a new chair for my office so I bought pretty much the smallest one I could find that was still elegant and comfortable. This chair — at its widest — is only 23 inches across. Pretty nice, right?

What a beauty but it's in the wrong room

Unfortunately, the doorway was smaller and the hallway narrower so off came the door. (By the way, my new office used to be my son’s old room and, though I completely renovated it myself, I was loathe to get rid of the doorway of his childhood so I kept it up, skateboard and snowboard stickers and all.)

Cool stickers, no?

Still, the chair would not fit so it was time to call in the experts. The store where I purchased this beautiful chair recommended Dreams Upholstery & Draperies in Ozone Park. It seems I was far from the first consumer to have this problem. “Happens all the time,” said the salesman who had warned me when I bought the chair that it might not fit given the measurements I’d provided.

“But what are they going to do to my chair?” I asked.

“They’ll peel back the leather and take off the back but don’t worry, it will look as good as new when they’re done,” he said.

Well, okay. Now mind you that, for me, this was a pretty expensive chair and I didn’t cotton to the idea of some handyman taking it apart and putting it back together “good as new.” But I didn’t have any choice so on the appointed date, a craftsman by the name of Louis came into my house lugging behind him a very heavy case with a lot of tools. My beloved chair was about to undergo serious surgery. Louis pulled back the leather, took off the arms and then the back of the chair. Take a look:

I know what you're thinking. Me too -- ugh!

The arms of my poor chair


Look ma, no arms or back!!

With the chair denuded and now only a shadow of itself, Louis and I picked it up, held our breath and carried it toward the offending hallway. It fit through the first narrow space but the doorway awaited us. The trick was to get it through with no damage. We slid and pushed and pulled and it worked! Louis rapidly put it back together with a few screws, a lot of staples and some expert craftsmanship. It worked as you can see below. My only advice — never try to do this yourself.This chair — now in the correct room — looks as good as new. Total cost: less than $300. Time: 90 minutes.

The reconstructed chair. Whew...



  1. Ari Z. says:

    Furnishing an apartment in NYC is tough, especially because of the multitude of buildings that are without an elevator and feature old-world style narrow stairs and hallways. Luckily there are furniture retailers out there that specialize in furnishings for urban living that offer products that are easy to move and maximize space.

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