...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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??


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

DIY trash enclosure text

The warmer weather has us turning our attention outside. While our home’s interior is mostly done (I use that term loosely…nothing is ever done here), there are a few things we’d like to tackle outdoors. We were hoping to install a few shade sails in the backyard but that project has been put on hold while we wait for the verdict on Everett’s medical bills. Until then, we’re trying to knock out a few smaller scale (i.e., less expensive) projects while the weather is cooperating.

We had been brainstorming a trash / recycling bin enclosure for over a year, and we finally tackled it a few weeks ago. Our trash can and recycling bin sit on the driveway against the house just past the overhead garage door. We wanted something simple in appearance with horizontal slats, without gates or lids. After pricing out materials for a DIY version made with composite decking, we decided to go with plain ol’ cedar for less than half the cost. Here’s what we did:

DIY trash enclosure steps

1 – Up until a few weeks ago, the bins sat with their backs against the house. We turned them 90º with the backs facing the backyard. This allowed us to design a simple L-shaped enclosure off the side of the house. We measured the bins in their new orientation, added a few inches for maneuverability, then installed two fence post brackets in the driveway with concrete anchors. We added a treated 2 x 4 to the brick facade with Tapcons. This provided a surface to tie the slats in to.

2 – We wanted the enclosure high enough to hide the bins but lower than a nearby windowsill. (No one wants a trash enclosure staring at them through the window.) We measured accordingly then screwed a treated 4 x 4 fence post into the first bracket. Scrap pieces of lumber stood in as temporary supports to keep the fence post from jostling around. For a narrower slat, we ripped 1 x 6 kiln-dried cedar boards (from Menards) in half. Working from top to bottom (to ensure full top and bottom slats) and using stainless steel deck screws, we installed the first cedar slat and checked it with a level. Subsequent boards were added with ~1/4″ spacing. Each board was cut to size and mitered on the outside corner. To avoid rot, we kept the slats a few inches off the driveway.

3 – Once the shorter side was finished, we moved on to the longer side using the same materials and methods.

4 – The slats are up!

DIY trash enclosure 2

We added a treated 2 x 4 vertically to shore things up on the longer side but didn’t take it all the way to the driveway.

DIY trash enclosure 4

Finally, we capped the enclosure with two (non-ripped) 1 x 6 kiln-dried cedar boards for a finished look. We decided to hold off on sealing the cedar for now and see how it holds up since it’s mostly under an eave and is usually blocked from rain / snow by our parked minivan. (Yep, we held out as long as we could but the minivan was inevitable. I love it and I hate that I love it.)

DIY trash enclosure b+a 1

Bins be gone! The fragrant cedar is a welcome distraction when taking out the trash.

DIY trash enclosure b+a 2

This little area looks so much tidier from the road now. (Btw, I lost the DirectTV battle. HOWEVER, we’re canceling our service once our contract is up later this year so that dish is going buh-bye. Netflix ftw.)

DIY trash enclosure 3

The bins are easily pulled out on collection day.

DIY trash enclosure 1

It’s pretty basic and no-frills but we’re really happy with how the enclosure turned out. I’m a sucker for the narrow slats and natural wood. And tidy is always a winner in my book. We’re going to use a similar design to create a hanging screen / planter to conceal the electric meter on the back of the house. I’m on a mission to HIDE ALL THE UGLY THINGS WITH CEDAR SLATS!

How do you conceal your waste bins? Electric meter? What outdoor projects are you working on this year? Last year I painted the peeling garage door as a stopgap measure and we had the elderly asphalt driveway replaced with concrete. Even if we aren’t able to do the shade sails this year, we’d still like to put in a few raised beds, install a clothesline and start a compost.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking