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DIY meter screen 1

We’ve been scheming ways to disguise the electric meter on the back of our house for nearly two years. I had always pictured a slatted trellis with planters hanging from the eave in front of the meter. With a legit photo shoot scheduled for next week (!), we finally made it happen.

DIY meter screen b & a

I don’t have any in-progress photos to share because: 1) I’m a bad, bad blogger and 2) they would be really boring. I will give you the play-by-play in text though. Because somehow that’s not boring??

Anyway.

We opted for cedar slats with ¼” spacing, similar to what we used for the trash / recycling enclosure. We simply ripped 1 x 6 kiln-dried cedar boards in half and used exterior wood screws to construct the screen. There was some math involved (details, schmetails) to have only full slats in the finished product, but there’s a sneaky trick to make things a little easier.

HELPFUL HINT: Construct the side and top pieces of the frame using mitered corners. Add horizontal slats all the way down on the backside of the bottomless frame until you reach your desired height. Then cut and install the bottom frame piece for a perfect fit.

DIY meter screen 2

Hanging the screen from the eave proved to be more difficult. First, we removed sections of the vinyl soffit above the meter. We discovered a layer of plywood covering the ends of the rafters and Steve drilled a few pilot holes to determine rafter spacing and location. Lo and behold, there was a 2 x 2 centered just above the meter but we needed supports on either side as well to support the screen. Using a hole saw, Steve cut two holes in the plywood on either side of center to place two 2 x 4 supports. He used a palm nailer to secure the additional supports to the ends of the rafters and the top plate of the wall. Then he replaced the sections of soffit and installed a trio of hooks tied into the three supports hidden in the eave. Three eyelets on the top of the screen slip over the hooks.

DIY meter screen 5

We installed a pair of Woolly Pocket wall planters on the front of the screen to bring in some greenery and break up all the hard surfaces.

DIY meter screen 3

To keep the screen from swinging into the house from the weight of the planters, Steve added what we’re calling a “prop” or “kickstand” to the back with L-brackets. The screen swings away from the house to gain access to the meter, although the verdict is still out on whether or not we’ll piss off our meter reader. He’s actually a pretty swell guy. We’ve had outdoor furniture, french door screens, deck boards and all kinds of other stuff piled up against the meter at one point or another and he’s never complained but, if there’s an issue, we figure we can easily hinge the slats in between the planters for direct access to the face of the meter. Yeah, we planned for that…just in case. #breakingthelaw

DIY meter screen 6

The bottom of the screen extends just below the top of the outdoor sectional for a layered look.

DIY meter screen 7

I’m pretty proud of myself for those planter arrangements. I didn’t really have a plan in mind when I went to the nursery. I knew I wanted something willy-nilly and organic feeling with greens and deep purples but beyond that I had no idea what I was doing. I grabbed some sedum, purple sweet potato vine and ferns and threw them together and I kinda love it.

DIY meter screen 4

Obviously, there’s no guarantee I’ll actually be able to keep them alive, but I’m hoping the Woolly Pockets are as foolproof as they sound. They’re self-watering (I think I read to water every other week) and the vented shells allow excess moisture to evaporate, promote healthy root systems and prevent plants from becoming pot bound – something I’ve had problems with in previous containers. They’re made in the USA from recycled materials and were super easy to install so I’m a fan regardless of the fate of their contents. #notsponsored #butIhopetheyareplantmagicians

DIY meter screen 8

Now if it would just STOP RAINING so we could actually enjoy our deck without a fugly meter mocking us that would be great.

P.S. – Immediately after snapping these pics, it started raining and I put the outdoor cushions back up in the attic where they have been all summer. On the bright side, the meter has never looked better!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

27 Comments

10.July.2015

This is rad. What a great idea! I’m sure the reader will be so impressed that the inconvenience won’t bother him.

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10.July.2015

This is awesome! I have never been a fan of painting the meter box. Do you think the planters would hold up well with some paint? If so I just might attack the exterior of my husbands workshop!

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replied on July 11th, 2015

The planters are plastic so primer + paint would adhere. Just make sure it’s an exterior paint!

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10.July.2015

Love it! Our meter is read by some sort of electronic device so they do not have to physically see it….fingers crossed that yours is the same!

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10.July.2015

Boy your weather is terrible. I would just plain hate it. I am in California and spoiled in comparison to you. Why oh why do you live there? And why did you not go all the way to the ground and cover the rest of the pipe’s? And when are you going to tell us about the photo shoot? I know I ask a lot of questions. Ha! Happy Weekend to you. :)

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replied on July 11th, 2015

The screen doesn’t go all the way to the ground because the sectional hides them. We just thought the screen didn’t need to be any larger necessary. I will share more details of the photo shoot as soon as I get an okay from the peeps who are involved. Promise!

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10.July.2015

Woot woot!! So so happy you guys were able to come up with a solution Dana. I know this has been a long time coming for you friend. Its fabulous.

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10.July.2015

Look at that! Nice work you two! (Also, maybe you took all of our rain? It has been the hottest, driest summer since we’ve lived here. UGH.)

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replied on July 11th, 2015

I’ve lost count of the flood watches. SO MUCH RAIN! Our grass is super green though so that’s a plus. I saw you made it to the beach!

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10.July.2015

Until the last few pictures, I thought it was a box built around the meters, with a hinged door for access. While that would have been cool, your design is so much more functional and easier to construct. So creative!

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10.July.2015

Hey, Alisong. Not everyone can live in California… or would want to for that matter. I’m a Florida girl now, but I was born and raised in Ohio. Not everything is perfect all of the time. In Florida, it is in the 90’s, but at least now we are getting some well-needed rain. Ohio has a lot going for it, so don’t call someone out for living there. Sorry Dana, I just had to vent! The screen with the planters looks great. I like your furniture. I sure hope you get to bring out the cushions soon and enjoy that lovely outdoor space.

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11.July.2015

Ooh, this is great! Our meter (and gas furnace vent pipe) are similarly front and center on our patio, and we’ve been brainstorming how to hide them. My idea is to weld a simple steel planter box and put casters on the bottom, then create a steel trellis to weld to the box and grow a climber up the screen. Not sure how it will all shake out but I hope it works as well as your project did!

Just a note–that fern is highly toxic, so make sure Cheetah doesn’t try to eat it :). Now that I’m typing that, I think I’m remembering she is an inside kitty though? My house if FULL of toxic plants that thankfully my two cats don’t seem to show any interest in.

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replied on July 11th, 2015

Your planter + trellis idea sounds awesome! Oh, and thanks for the fern info. Cheetah stays inside but if she ever shows interest in going outside I will keep her away from the fern.

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13.July.2015

Love this idea! I also am spying that concrete planter on the ground next to the sofa- nothing but heart eyes for that!

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replied on July 14th, 2015

It’s from Crate & Barrel. Love it!

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13.July.2015

What a creative and beautiful way to hide the meter box! Actually gives this area a little personality instead of having an eye sore!

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13.July.2015

This is a fantastic idea! And it looks really great. Sorry about all the rain, but at least your porch looks beautiful now!

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15.July.2015

Fantastic idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

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16.July.2015

Love this idea! Sidenote- in NJ I have the same issue with the rain, and our outdoor couch cushions were a major pain to remove all the time (and remember when it was going to rain to remove them!). These are my life savers…I just throw them on after we are wrapping it up for the night, and remove them quickly when we want to use them again! We opted for the “signature” material since they are waterproof! Plus, it protects them from dirt and pollen. http://www.empirepatio.com/seating-covers/outdoor-sofa-covers

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replied on July 17th, 2015

Good idea! We have high quality covers that we use to protect the furniture (no cushions, those go in the attic for the winter) during the winter. I usually shove them in the garage after we remove them for warmer months. You have me thinking I should keep them closer at hand to throw on after each use in the summer. What a great idea!! Thanks for sharing.

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17.July.2015

You could also spray paint all the ugly stuff brick read so it will blend in better!!

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18.July.2015

I read meters and this would annoy me to no end since you could easily have put the screen a bit farther out so I could just peak in more readily. We are timed on our jobs and have very little margin of error. Every inconvenience like this makes it more difficult to not get penalized for tardiness.

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20.July.2015

Your comment about the cushions made me curious… are they not weatherproof/waterproof or do they just take a long time to dry? I love the look of outdoor cushions but have never had them. :) :) (Probably because I just haven’t done enough research!) But we’re your neighbors over here in equally-wet-Indiana and so I’m guessing you removed them just so they wouldn’t essentially have been sopping wet all summer!!! I’ll check out Kristie’s suggestion above, too, if I ever take the cushion-plunge. :)

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replied on July 21st, 2015

They are “water-resistant” meaning they can withstand some moisture but they aren’t meant to be left out in the rain all the time. They will mildew. I usually pull them off and stick them behind the sectional under the house’s eave when we aren’t using the furniture in the summer. In the winter, I wash them then store them in the attic. We have had so much rain over the past two months that I fear they would have been ruined if I had left them sitting out.

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22.July.2015

Hi! Long time reader, first time comment-er! I love your style so!

This may be a dumb question, but your J-hook screws are placed relatively close together…. did you drill them into the joist under the eaves or are you using some anchors? I’m trying to find a point to mount some hanging pots below my eaves and I thought you might help me! I’m scared to drill into my siding. Are your joists 16″ on center as I’ve read?

Thanks!!

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