What goes down, must not stay there: Our new mailbox!

When we first moved in, I remember remarking, “It’s so quiet here. We fall asleep to the sound of crickets, and wake up to the chirp of birds.” It was idyllic. It was tranquil. It was short lived.




Torn up street

Okay, that’s not really our street, (Did the age of the cars give it away?), but the scene was similar.



Apparently the water main on our street had something terribly wrong with it. A malady that required digging and hauling and street-patching to make it right again. And so, two months ago a construction crew arrived complete with tractors, digging machines (forgive me, I’m sure there’s a more technical term) and a port-a-potty. They set up shop and every weekday morning they drowned out the sound of the birds. For two whole months!




BirdsImage via David Kanigan



Which was bad enough. Then one day, we came home to find this.




Mailbox knocked down

Our mailbox, down for the count.



And I couldn’t have been happier!


I’m a firm believer that good design should start at–or extend to–the mailbox so we’d already agreed to replace ours. But the laid best plans…can be put off. Fortuitously, now we were forced to make that good design happen–sooner than later!




Buck mailboxes

No, not like this, but these made me laugh. Image via Odd Stuff Magazine




First, we needed a design plan. For inspiration, I started studying mailboxes as I drove around town. Most of them fell into two categories: dull or unattractive. I was disappointed to note that even some very nice houses didn’t extend their great design to the mailboxes.




Ugly mailboxes




So I Googled “creative mailboxes”. And found this….



Microwave mailbox

Points for creativity and wacky irreverence, but a demerit for “Neighbors Would Hate It!”




We wanted something more sophisticated. One of my favorite mailboxes is this one in Montecito.




 Cyclist mailboxIt gives you an indication that the house just might be awesome, too. Which it is. Image via flickr.





Book house

This is the house that matches that mailbox. Neat, right? Image via Ed Hat 




So we racked our brains to come up with something cool we could repurpose. And came up with zilch. Then I took Lilo for a walk in our neighborhood and my jaw dropped.





Cool mailbox front

Uh huh.




It was the best I had seen! But we couldn’t just copy it exactly; that would be a design no-no. But we could use it for inspiration.




Cool Mailbox side viewThat’s a surfboard skeg for the flag. Oh so clever!




Side note: When I gathered up the nerve to measure the mailbox (for reference) who was standing next to it, putting out the trash, but its owner. When I admitted I was coveting his mailbox, he couldn’t have been nicer and gave our planned mailbox-homage his blessing.



We started with–where else do all good projects start?–a trip to Home Depot….




Lilo on Home Depot Cart

 Poor guy walked the plank and jumped on the hard concrete right after this shot was taken.  (Bad mommy.)





Selected our numbers…(spoiler alert: we went with the large, nickel finished ones at top).




Address numerals




We plotted the width of the planks and used nails to determine the spacing between them…..




Plotting the planks




We framed and secured the box…. Well, JB did. I said supportive things like,  “That looks really good!”



Mailbox frame





Next we plotted the spacing of the address numerals using the templates they came with.



Plotting mailbox numbers





Once we had the templates in place, we found it was easier to drill right through them rather than tapping a mark, removing the paper, then drilling–as the instructions suggested.




Drilling holes

Ignoring instructions.  Almost there….



And here it is…front left.




Mailbox front




And front right.




Mailbox side

We used a metal ruler as our flag as a nod to all things engineering and JB.




Both sides…a total delight! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself; it rhymed.



I purchased the Kangaroo Paw plant but the rest were cuttings from larger plants in our backyard. That’s the great thing about succulents, you can just snip, plant, cross-your-fingers-while-you-water-them, and they’ll reroot.


I’m looking forward to when they’re full-sized (especially the agave) and fill in the surrounding area so it doesn’t look so “new construction-ish”. And as the redwood ages, it will mellow out to a more subtle, silvery patina. But for now, it’s working for us and sets the tone for the rest of the house which we have finally decided (finally!) will be a little modern meets a little rustic.



What about you, have you driven around studying mailboxes too? Or am I the only one with mailboxes on the brain?




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7 Comments on What goes down, must not stay there: Our new mailbox!

  1. Chris
    March 24, 2014 at 5:43 PM (7 years ago)

    Looks good, you two. Now I have to send you a letter.

    • Kisha Gianni
      March 24, 2014 at 5:54 PM (7 years ago)

      Yes, please do! Yay, you’re reading my blog!!! I was about to send you guys a friendly, nudging email. 🙂

  2. Sharon
    March 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM (7 years ago)

    Your writing is a joy to read! I will be following along for a very entertaining journey!

  3. Erika
    April 23, 2016 at 11:10 PM (5 years ago)

    Hello! I want to do the same thing. What were the measurements and how did you guys install it to the ground? Was it cemented?

  4. Sophia
    August 12, 2016 at 7:27 PM (4 years ago)

    I’m obsessed with this mailbox and I would love to find out more information on how to build one for myself. My first question is how did you stake the mailbox in the ground? Is it heavy enough to that it doesn’t need a concrete footing?

    • Kisha Gianni
      August 15, 2016 at 11:20 AM (4 years ago)

      Thank you, Sophia! Sorry for the delay. We built it a couple of years ago (and the “we” was mostly my husband) so I had to get all of the details from him before I could give you a proper answer. We live in Santa Barbara, California so we have a very temperate climate so that should be factored in; we weren’t up against the elements of weather. That said, we dug a post hole and put in a 4 x 4 Redwood post (you can either use Redwood or pressure-treated wood to avoid rot) then set in in place with quick-setting concrete. (We sourced all materials from Home Depot). Then we built the frame of the mailbox out of 2 x 4s and clad it in 5 3/8″ x 5/8″ horizontal slats, but left the top open. We set the frame onto the post and attached it with a crossbar made from another 2 x 4 set on top of the post. The top was made from more of the slats attached to a 3/4″ piece of plywood. We used silicone to heavily seal the top to keep rain from penetrating and ruining our mail. We used soft-close cabinet hardware for the cabinet hinge for the door on the front that opens to access mail and it is recessed so you don’t see the hardware on the front. I really love the numerals and they were also from Home Depot and really inexpensive. I hope that helps!


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