Sparks fly at Chez Green

Filed in Blog by on December 1, 2008 8 Comments
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woodburnerSparks flew here last week. No, Mr Green and I didn’t argue about which toilet paper to buy; the fire regurgitated sparks when the doors were opened.

No big deal, this happens on a daily basis and we have the most forgiving rug imaginable that doesn’t show the scorch marks. It kind of goes with the territory of running a wood burner. No matter how seasoned and lovely the wood, there is always a rogue piece that gets into the load and likes to spit at you like a man chewing tobacco.

I was in the kitchen when it happened and heard Little Miss Green trying to put the sparks out. The next minute she cried because she had trodden on a spark with bare feet. Owie! My attentions turned to her with soothing cuddles and aloe vera plants whilst trying to put out the rest of the sparks with my other hand.

Now I don’t know if you’re familiar with the smell of burning rug or cat’s tail (yep, even that has happened twice), but you get used to the idea that it’s a bit like getting something in your eye. You get out the offending eyelash or piece of grit but your eye still waters and feels like there is something in it. It’s the same with the smell of spitting wood. The sparks are out but the smell still lingers. Or so I thought.

I was busily checking around for more mishaps but the smell seemed to be lingering longer than usual. And it’s top note slowly became more reminiscent of………….


Oh my! Mr Green and I do not take large purchases lightly. We had set our hearts on a sofa bed for those lazy hazy Sunday afternoons in front of the fire. The sofabed had to be firm, none of this flop our foam rubbish, buxom enough to take a lively child running around the house and robust enough to withstand three heavy people with full bellies lying on it.

I’ve slept on some surreal sofa beds in my time, so we took months to find ‘The perfect sofabed’. We were ecstatic when we finally found it – in the perfect colour, perfect bed mechanism that we had never come across before (and have never come across since) and perfect size.

What more can you ask for?

No sparks I guess.

I looked down at the cushion after putting out the offending sparks to see two eyes peering back at me.

sofa bed 1

I had to laugh, or I would have cried.

The sofa is plain. Dang! and it’s £850 worth of kit no longer available (why does that happen to the most perfect purchases in your life?)

Ok, we COULD have put an insurance claim in, but what of the fate of the sofa? The delivery people would take this one away and dump it no doubt. No one would want to live with a sofa with two holes in the seat and Mr Green hates with a passion – I mean HATES – throws or anything remotely ethnic. So my suggestion of jazzing it up with a piece of elephant print material was met with a frosty stare enough to put any remaining  anflames out in an instant. When I suggested making lots of holes in the fabric and turning into a kind of ‘featurette’ he was even less impressed.

We silently wept into one another’s arms and wondered what to do. I started having a few epiphanies about how superficial our lives are in the Western world. Ok, our sofa seat has a couple of holes in it, but really, so what? Most people might be horrified that I was even contemplating keeping our faithful friend, but you know, it’s a living room for heavens sake – it’s a room where life happens (shit too it would appear), but it’s life, it’s real and our open fire, along with scorched rug and burns on tails and feet are part of our family life. It’s now become part of that sofas history.

Mr G was all for an insurance claim; I didn’t want to do it because of the fate of the sofa and hell, I LIKE our sofa and I knew we would never get another one like this one.

So we set about in true zero waste fashion to come up with a creative idea. We thought about paying someone to repair it – a seamstress or furniture restorer. Then thought of the upheaval of that. The seat cushions don’t come off you see; they are part of the folding mechanism of the furniture and the construction is made from hard wood – you’ve never lifted a more heavy sofa in your life. Plus, the thing doesn’t go through the door without taking it all apart (and you have to take it apart to move it anyway). It does provide me with the perfect excuse never to have to vacuum behind it because I can’t even move the thing just to slide it out a little. For that reason alone, I’m not in a hurry to part with it.

ho hum.

We discussed options, procrastinated, reminisced and then got to business.

First thing was to cut away the black singed edge of each hole

cutting away singed materia
sofa bed 3

Mr Green cut a small piece of material from the inside of the sofa where it wouldn’t be missed and in the meantime I had a bit of fun making the sofa man to keep my spirits up.

sofa man

We drew around the circumference of each hole to make a kind of ‘plug’



Next we fixed a piece of tape to the underside of the holes (we decided on carpet tape after trying rope glue and super glue on some scraps of material)


And pushed the round plugs in.


We stood back to admire our handiwork and you couldn’t see a thing


Except for 2 red eyes, instead of 2 white eyes. <sigh> Of course, the material from inside the sofa is a slightly different colour from that on the cushion, plus the material has a slight napp to it, which, erm, doesn’t quite match.

Still, when  Mr Green sat down, you wouldn’t have known it was there.


of course it looked utterly crap when we first looked at it, but by the morning we came to it with fresh eyes and we decided that really, unless you were looking for it, you might not notice it. Well the cat has cataracts, Mr Green can’t see anything close up and Little Miss green doesn’t give a damn about the sofa.

As for me; I can just live with it knowing that this makes part of our history. When you hear of the tragic story of the Wal Mart employee who was trampled to death by “out of control” shoppers trying to grab a bargain at the Black Friday sale and when you consider there are 150,000 single homeless people in London alone, it kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? I can live with an imperfection in my sofa and it will make an entertaining conversation piece in years to come.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (8)

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  1. So sorry to hear about your sofa but what a great account of events. I really know what you mean about the hurt and disappointment when a beloved item is damaged but what a brilliant repair. I wish more people would consider the same. A few years ago our washable sofa covers shrunk when I washed them for the first time. The problem was they were out of guarantee. The sofa had coped amazingly well until then but when I rang to complain, the company told me they could not replace the covers. In the end we bought our own, but the cost was as much as a new sofa. Glad your repair worked out in the end and love the cheeky sofa face 😀 xx

  2. That is a brilliant repair!

  3. Ailbhe says:

    If you damp the new bits down a little, they might blend into the rest of the sofa more invisibly. Of course, ideally you would scrub them with salt or lemon juice *before* fitting them, to age them, but there you go.

  4. ah! people who live by their creed…it is the utter honesty of this site which keeps me hooked.
    a great example of the necessary thought process which should occur before any reactionary purchase takes place.
    too many would just toss the thing or give it to a charity for free withdrawal.
    then pull out the credit card to see how far they could stretch it again–in the face of a recession, (quick, honey, before they repossess the house)

  5. I hope that works for you, Mrs. Green. My beloved kitty, who has since died, was having trouble getting on to our one of a kind carefully selected sofa towards the end. I don’t know what we were thinking, but we just watched as his struggles put a hole in the seat cushion. We bought upholstory fabric and created huge flower shaped patches and carefully stitched them on to cover the holes. Long story short, we now have a couch full of huge holes, legacy of our beloved cat, and that horrible look you managed so far to avoid: throws tucked in to cover the mess. I know that reupholstering probably costs as much as a new couch and puts a gorgeous couch in the landfill so I am hoping to magically learn how to do it myself. We’ll see how that goes.

  6. Layla says:

    YAY for the new-old sofa!! :))

    I love my things too, & can’t part with them easily.. (most of the time) I was gonna suggest a pretty (classy? elegant?) non-ethnic cover (possibly natural-fibre), but you beat me to it with the DIY repair!!
    (You can still get a cover if all else fails… & in the spirit of ‘prevention’… can’t think the fumes from the burnt foam could be healthy, hmm..?)

    We usually have covers over the old sofa these days (thoroughly non-ethnic ones..) – sometimes just sheets &/or blankets too.. or just huge quantities of (washable) fabric… very useful, especially with small kiddies (or dogs) around…

  7. Fr. Peter says:

    We have wine stains on our wooden kitchen table and bottle marks on the bricks by the open fire, I think of them as memories. I know thats SBA to do with couches but it works with carpets “Thats when we had ***** around for a meal and thats where the dog was unwell”.

    We clean the marks as best as possible but, other than that, the faint marks that remain reminds us of the events!

  8. Mrs Green says:

    THanks Mrs A and Sarah – sorry to hear about the shrunk covers Mrs A; what a nightmare! I have put them on slightly damp in the past, and it can be a real squeeze. Still, you made your own replacements, so all was not lost.

    Ailbhe; thanks for your suggestions. I was going to say I’ll try them next time, but of course I’m hoping there won’t be a next time! It doesn’t look too bad a week on; not great, but I can live with it.

    Thank you Nadine. Well, as you’ll have gathered, every possible solution filtered through my mind including the ‘toss it’ one, but after the emotions have burned down, along with the fire, our rationality kicked in! We’re never in a hurry to spend out money unnecessarily, so that works in our favour!

    Thinking Woman; I have had many a sofa ruined by our cats. But now ours is too old to bother, so we are saved. The flower patches sound gorgeous and just the sort of thing I would do. Thing is, I think Mr Green would find it as a divorce clause if I dared LOL!

    Layla, the fumes were pretty dire I must say, but the repair is done and I think we can learn from it. Not least of all never to get sweet chestnut wood in again. Can you believe that a spark shot out AGAIN last night and landed on my computer keyboard. We only opened the door to put on more wood; it’s lethal stuff and I have since discovered that no matter how long you season it for it always spits. Spitting I can take; sparks shooting out several feet is pretty unforgivable.

    Ahhh, Peter, how I would like to share a conversation over your wine stained kitchen table and add more to your bricks by the fire. It sounds like a real home – one full of loving memories 🙂

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