A Breathless Cat Fence Update! YIKES!

I’m all excited.

And a little freaked out.

For, the first part of the famous Cat Fence has been installed!





So why, you might be asking, am I a little freaked out?

Because the finished look is not, ahh, quite what I anticipated.


I ordered a bronze-like metal.

What arrived looked more like…brown. Sigh.

Then, when Justin and I finished the first “room”, I stood back, all excited, and burst out laughing.

“Justin! It looks like a shipping container just landed on the lawn!”

Justin also laughed. “I was thinking the same thing!”

Later, my neighbor, Brad, sent me a text: “I saw your new border security wall. Is the Cross House the new Mexican consulate?”

I wrote back: “Just wait until I get the spikes on top! And the barbed wire!”

Oh dear.


I was looking for something very minimalist. Like a Richard Serra sculpture.

What I got was a shipping container.

Wanna see?

Scroll way down…

..and prepare to freak out!


















CLICK TO ENLARGE.To the left is one of two small “rooms” This is the shipping container. To the right is the other small room; it is covered with a temporary brown tarp. Inside the latter room are three AC condensers. Tomorrow, Justin and I will start to replace the brown tarp with metal. So, soon, I will have TWO shipping containers in my yard!


The room on the left will be the “summer” cat house (and a place for the mower and such stuff). It will have a roof (not visible). This will give the cats a place to get out of the rain, and escape from any, say, owl. The cats will also likely sleep in the room.

Now, even though the finished look is not quite what I was expecting, the following is important: The look is not finished yet.

See the “hall” between the two small rooms?

That hall will be topped by a pergola-style roof.

Kinda sorta like this roof:


But my pergola roof will be unpainted, pressure-treated lumber.


Having a pergola-style roof between the two small rooms will massively change how all this looks.

In addition, when the entire cat fence is finished, the two small rooms will vanish from sight. Really:


See the red lines? That is where the “Corner Room” fencing will go. When the Corner Room fencing is built, the two small rooms will be invisible to people passing by. I am uncertain if even the pergola roof will be visible.


Well………….I now understand that I cannot do the exterior of the Corner Room in the same metal. The result will look like a HUGE shipping container dropped on my lawn. It will prove, I now appreciate, overwhelming.

Also, I belatedly realize that while the interior of the cat fencing needs to be metal (so the cats cannot climb it) I can actually do the exterior in any material.

I repeat: I can actually do the exterior in any material.

And I have a thrilling idea for the exterior material of the Corner Room.





  1. A.H. on January 4, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    Hmmm. Is a wood lattice fence, like the ones under the porches, out of the question for the outer layer? I don’t trust a sheet metal industrial aesthetic to live up to the Cross house aesthetic.

    As long as the outer layer can be anything, I suggest you just put up the fence’s inner layer as is and defer the decision to make it look nice for later.

    Priorities! The cat fence cannot be allowed to wait on aesthetic decisions.

    • Ross on January 5, 2019 at 8:22 am

      You are brilliant!

      For, lattice is just what I was thinking about for the exterior of the Corner Room fence.

      The porch lattice is like 2-inch wide boards. But, for the fence lattice I was thinking of a much bolder scale, like 6-inch-wide boards.

      The effect, I hope, will be striking.

      • Jonathan W on January 6, 2019 at 4:21 pm

        With vines growing throughout them?

  2. Dan Goodall-Williams on January 5, 2019 at 6:08 am

    Well, this is good actually. The ability to keep the cats in will work nicely and the exterior will compliment the house. It became a win win situation. You can use any metal for the interior, thus bringing the cost down. Can’t wait to see what you decide.

    • Ross on January 5, 2019 at 8:24 am

      And, Dan, you are also brilliant!

      It had not occurred to me that I can use any metal for the interior fencing.

      • Sally Moore on January 6, 2019 at 11:08 am

        Corrugated galvanized tin – there’s a pile of it laying around every farm in the county.

  3. Brita Barlow on January 5, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Well. That’s sort of what I was afraid of. And that text would have withered my resolve too. BUT – You are a designer. You will make it work. The foundation of a house never looks very exciting either. This is just the first layer and it has a purpose. If nothing else you could plant a substantial row of Hollyhocks. Pampas grass. Lilac bushes. The landscape possibilities are endless.

    • Bill H on January 5, 2019 at 7:55 am

      Hollyhocks would probably cook from the heat stored by the metal fencing. They also would hide the fence for only a few weeks out of the year. Pampas grass is a non-native, highly-invasive grass. Plus, there won’t be room for them to grow in the small area between the “Corner Room” fence and the sidewalk. That looks to be an area about 18″ wide. I know of no plants that will grow 6-8′ tall, thick enough to hide (even partially) the fencing, and won’t encroach on the sidewalk. A hardscape material (probably wood) is really the only option.

      • Ross on January 5, 2019 at 8:25 am

        I am planning to fence the “North Room” (just outside the dining room) with an evergreen hedge.

        Obviously, the cats will not be allowed into the North Room!

        • Bill H on January 5, 2019 at 8:28 am

          The Adults Only, “North Room”! =)

          Seriously, the lattice idea is superb, and will look better than any other option, IMO!

          • Peter J on January 6, 2019 at 2:00 pm

            Always wondered why Americans have never really taken to evergreen hedges! The UK is absolutely “hoaching” with them! AND they are beautiful! Can also be manicured into many shapes/styles. Perfect for a designer like yourself!

    • Debbie on January 13, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Some wisteria would work great to grow on the oversized lattice! Only problem with wisteria is can overtake a fence. But is would look awesome….

      • Debbie on January 13, 2019 at 12:19 pm

        Also, I have used English ivy, clematis, autumn clematis, trumpet vine etc for lattice fences. We own a landscape company in Central Kentucky and have used numerous vines to hide “problem” areas. My husband lived in Manhattan, Kansas while in the Army and says the weather is like here.

  4. Bethany Otto on January 5, 2019 at 8:42 am

    You have proven your good taste over and over; therefore I will sit back and wait to see the wonders you work. I know it will be fantastic when all is finished!

  5. Stewart McLean on January 5, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Hi Ross,
    Although I have not seen any sign that you are a gardener, you might want to look into a “living wall” on the exterior. The idea is to build a vertical garden that is planted with hardy plants. I have been wanting to put one up around my city yard using recycled milk crates wrapped in black garden cloth and filled with garden soil as the building blocks. The sides would have hardy plants like those used in roof gardens while I would treat the tops like garden beds. You can build them with soaker hoses inside for easy watering.

  6. Jackie on January 5, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    And so the Ross magic sparks! If the panels hadn’t turned out to be not as expected, then the realisations about both outer and inner layers may have come along so much later, maybe too late, once something else was already installed. Karma is at work here, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

    Also, that shot is rather unnerving because it makes it look like the building over the road from you is in fact slap-bang up against the house! That’s the raised lawn playing with our perception, isn’t it, haha, it’s like the road’s just not there.

  7. Mary M. on January 5, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    Hello Ross,

    I have been reading/watching all that you have been doing to restore Cross house and have an idea about your fence.

    To soften the look of the metal there are faux ivy expandable panels. QVC sells one item #M52911. I am sure there are other brands possibly more heavy duty/commercial quality but this will give you an idea of what I am talking about. While I am not a fan of plastic plants there are places where this is a good no maintenance option.

    If your are considering lattice to soften/cover metal, plastic lattice is a good no maintenance option. Again not a fan of plastic but there is no painting or staining required and it does not biodegrade in the summer heat like wood lattice. Perhaps I should say the way wood lattice biodegrades at my house south of Austin Tx.

    By the way I love, love, love you, your house and all you are doing to restore it to its former glory.

  8. Melody Halliday on January 5, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    Fence posts, sheet metal panels, something decorative on the outside, and….. find a friend to paint murals on the inside! No need to look at boring sheet metal all the time.

    • Jackie on January 6, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      OOH‼ Now THIS is a nice idea‼ I was worried about how the inside would end up looking but this is a real fun suggestion and right up Ross’s street I’d have thought. 😀

  9. PK on January 6, 2019 at 9:15 am

    I am concerned about the car noise intensifying because of the metal. Maybe the wood lattice will absorb sound and also will probably be stunning. There are a lot of good ideas shared about a living garden/ivy, etc. and will absorb noise.

    In any case, I know your end result will be magnificent.

  10. Stewart McLean on January 6, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Here’s an idea that may be way out there, yet might be possible. I am putting it out there just for the fun of it. I was thinking that one could do what advertisers do to cars, shrink wrapping an image of pretty much anything. You could make them look like 1903 outbuildings, for example. I don’t even know if it is possible or would have any long term durability, just thought I’d put it out there for those who are knowledgeable about such stuff to comment.

    Another thought would be to extend the pergola over and between both “shipping containers”. I have heard an expression that you as a decorator surely know, “If you can’t hide it, feature it.” A large vine covered pergola would give much needed shade to the cats and might make the compressors more efficient. I would think that netting would be necessary over the compressors’ side to keep leaves out of them if you had a vine.

  11. Desiree on January 6, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    I had a little giggle Ross, because I wondered way back in the first post about the cat fence what you would think when you saw it in reality. I look forward to seeing what sort of creative alternative you come up with. Maybe some of those cedar shingles that you were going to gift as shims could be incorporated in some way?

  12. Izzy on January 7, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Is it an option perhaps to do a wood fence and nail large sheets of metal or something to the inside?? Your new fence did make me laugh, I’m afraid. I am sorry. I know how excited you were, but at least you have part of the project completed!! Happy New Year!

  13. Caia on January 7, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Get some climbing roses and it’ll all be good!

  14. June on January 8, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Whatever goes on the outside…. will it keep more kitties OUT? or will they be able to climb up and over and then Ross will be completely outnumbered??

    • June on January 8, 2019 at 7:35 pm

      Also… will it block the view of drivers who need to have visibility before turning out in front of someone? I ask this because in the city where I work, they recently have taken to making more intersections two-way stops with the more main street not having to stop. All well and good, expect for the one corner has very limited visibility with a house that has a well-kept yard with a fence, a hedge, and in the tree lawn, a row of pear trees that are blocking the view of any oncoming traffic. Someone will get hurt very badly, just a matter of time. In just a few years, those trees combined with the hedge will make it that you have to pull way out to see if there is anyone coming, you already have to a little; and it will only get worse. Things to think over so you don’t have to redo it all in just a few short years.

      • Ross on January 8, 2019 at 7:49 pm

        Hi, June!

        What you don’t see in the images is the large space between the sidewalk and the street.

        Anybody coming through the alley will have zero issue seeing oncoming traffic no matter the cat fence.

        • June on January 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm

          Good, glad you are thinking ahead, too many do not and then get upset when things have to be removed.

  15. Carl on January 9, 2019 at 9:33 am

    A trendy new retail space made of shipping containers just opened in Wichita KS called Revolusia. Perhaps you could string up some outdoor lights and open an urban coffee shop and sell $5 coffee to hipsters to help pay for the wall?

  16. Carlyn on January 9, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Maybe you could make most of the fence out a clear material, like some kind of corrugated hard plastic or fiberglass like you see with patio roofs, with just posts and some framing around it. That would let light through and it wouldn’t seem quite so overwhelming. Then you could put lattice on the outside and grow some vines over it.

  17. Kate on January 9, 2019 at 3:28 pm
  18. bill whitman on April 3, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    I hate to say I told you so but…..
    but now you seem to be thinking more creatively and that’s good. I vote for living plants on all fences. green and growing things make a house look much more lived in and loved.
    keep thinking outside the box – oh sorry – shipping container.

    • Sam's mom on April 3, 2019 at 6:52 pm

      So how does he keep the kitties in?

      • Jackie on April 4, 2019 at 6:43 am

        Ross Magic! He… hypnotises them all!
        ​​🧙‍♂️ ​😻 ​😻 ​😻 ​ ​​

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