Consider this is a “what we wish we had known before” post. It’s a combination of design mistakes (Emily’s specifically), design rules and style hacks. It’s about cords and it’s riveting. In this age of technology where devices are king (I even did a post about it) and iPhone chargers are plugged in every two feet, hiding electrical cords is not for the faint of heart. As lovers of design, we consider ugly outlets and long cords our Achilles heel, and as such we are always searching for ways to hide, completely rid of, or disguise them in the home.
Ironically we try to avoid showcasing these ugly necessities to you, but today we are breaking down how to place outlets in the first place, disguise what you do have and implement some easy hacks to eliminate these eyesores. EHD is no stranger to disguising and designing around our technological nemesis’ so consider this Cord Management 101. Alright class, let’s begin.
For The Renovators: Prevention Tips And Tricks
If you are in the process of renovating, congratulations and I am sorry. I have to apologize because you are likely thinking of a million things at once so I hate to add one more thing to your plate. However, I have it on good authority that if you consider electrical outlet placement during the renovation process your future self will thank you. So for our first lesson…
Install outlets strategically so furniture can cover them
Furniture can be great for hiding cords and outlets so it helps to think about where in your home you will want access to an outlet (e.g. on both sides of your bed) and how you can design around them. But don’t just take it from me. Let’s compare some past EHD projects:
During the renovation of the mountain house master bedroom, the contractor suggested placing outlets behind the bed (which is definitely an option), but Emily and the design team knew that this would make accessing the outlet more difficult. Instead, they opted to place outlets where nightstands would eventually be. This is a matter of preference, but I think we have all experienced the dread of having to reach behind a bed frame, blindly search for a plug and hope a 127 hours situation doesn’t occur.
We can compare this to Emily’s LA master bedroom, where she shared with me that she wishes she would have put an outlet on the far wall where the nightstand is. Clearly the outlet, in this case, is in view because furniture can’t be placed there, and if the lamp were plugged into it, the cord would be difficult to conceal.
Before you decide on outlet placement in the bedroom, consider the size of the bed and add 4 inches on either side to account for the bed frame and nightstand arrangement.
Match outlets to the color of your kitchen island
In the mountain house kitchen, they used Forbes and Lomax outlets that blend in with the ebony stain of the kitchen island. Since nothing is visually breaking up the wood, your eyes can gloss over the presence of the outlets and instead fixate on everything else that is beautiful in the space.
Know the potential places you can have your home wired for outlets while you are in the renovation process. Think about your needs and general ideas for where big devices will live and go from there.
Consider installing floor outlets
Again, consider where you will want access to an outlet, and if one on the floor makes sense for a specific room, why not go for it? It’s 2020, baby. Just know that if you don’t have a crawl space, the wiring and installation will need to be done before wood goes down, but if you do have a crawl space, you can put an outlet in at any time as long as there is some prewiring already in place.
If you haven't installed flooring yet and you have the depth, we recommend using recessed outlets. Since they sit a few inches below floorboards, it will allow any plugged in cord to lay flat under a rug.
Place outlets where TVs will be mounted
In the mountain house family room, they installed outlets where the TV would be, so the wires would be securely hidden behind the screen. Luckily smart TVs have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the number of wires required for a Netflix viewing experience (praise be) but, EHD is no stranger to creative problem solving when it comes to TV placement. If your outlets aren’t where you’d like them to be, you’d be surprised what a drill and some courage can do.
Recently, Emily decided to revisit the “Should we put a TV in our Master bedroom” debate. Their room wasn’t designed for a TV so mounting one called for some creativity. With no preventative measures taken during the reno, and to avoid unattractive wires from hanging down, they had a handyman thread the cord through the wall (by making two new holes) and plugged it into the outlet behind the dresser. No electrician needed.
Now boys and girls, we’re moving on to Chapter 2…
For The Renters (And Homeowners): How To Hide And Disguise
As renters, we aren’t as enthusiastic about drilling holes into walls or gutting floorboards to install fancy floor outlets. It’s more about innovative solutions and creative disguising when pesky cord conundrums are in our midst. Let’s hack it out:
Disguise cords by running them underneath a rug
Sometimes our things need to be plugged in but plugs are out of reach or in really awkward places. This is why I personally own about 10 extension cords, just in case. But getting the cord to the plug is not the problem as we have (painstakingly) discussed so far. In order to hide a cord that will need to travel a few feet to reach an outlet, EHD will do whatever it takes. This has included cutting a small hole in a rug and running the cord through underneath it. It’s a little lawless, we know, but it does the trick of hiding the cord and getting rid of tripping hazards.
Wrap cords as small as possible and tape to the back of furniture
Once again, furniture is the best partner in crime when it comes to combatting cords. Whenever possible, wrapping up cords and taping them to the back of a furniture piece with something that is easy to remove (like masking tape) is such an easy and renter-friendly fix.
Zip tie cords together and use conduit covers
Can you believe this living room has a very intense TV projector set up and nearly all the cords are concealed? It’s true. Here’s a close up of the magic:
For something as intricate as the TV projector in Emily’s living room, a cable cover and zip ties did a great job of concealing the number of cords required to get this puppy up and running. Stringing cords along baseboards and then threading them through covers can make them nearly invisible – just make sure to paint the conduit cover the color of your wall paint so it blends in easily.
Tape power cord to underside of a table
Who says power cords have to stay ground level? Not us. Again in Emily’s living room, they snaked the cords along the baseboard, attached a power strip to the bottom of the table, and slipped the excess cords into a fabric cover. This isn’t completely invisible, but it could be SO MUCH worse. And with something like this you can place a beautiful basket in front so the wires are hidden for the most part (and who’s looking under your table anyway?? Tell them to mind their business!)
Congratulations, you made it to the end of today’s class. Unless you didn’t, and I am just here talking to myself. Well, if you are still here consider yourself my star pupil. A+++.
But before I resign my teaching abilities for good, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the cord management products we love:
1. Cord Cable Management Organizer Storage Box | 2. Cable Box | 3. GO-Oblong Cable Organizer | 4. Cable Management Box | 5. Cable Management Box with Rubberized Feet | 6. Power Strip Organizer
1. Parsons Tables with Tabletop Power & Charging Outlets | 2. Freedom Desk with USB Ports Made of Solid American Oak | 3. White Helferich Simply Glass Credenza Desk
Now I hand things over to you. Have you any creative cord hiding secrets? What kind of hacks would you like to learn about in the future? Meet me in the comments and let’s discuss.
Thoughts when furniture floats in a room and a lamp cord runs several feet across hardwood floors? We cannot have floor outlets due to to flooring being set over concrete. This has driven me crazy for years!
Cordless Lamps! http://www.modernlantern.com
You might cut the cord and use a puck light? I read about it on Room for Tuesday, who credits The Makerista. https://www.themakerista.com/the-laundry-room-makeover-blue-white-black-toile/
This is genius. Thanks for sharing!
We have tiled floors over a concrete slab foundation and also have all furniture floating in the room, about 42 inches from the wall. While renovating, I had our contractor cut a shallow groove in the concrete (just deep enough to run electrical wire) from the nearest wall outlet to 6 inches past the edge of where I knew the sofa would be. I chose a recessed floor outlet (2-gang) in case a rug would ever go there. It took an hour of jackhammering, an hour of the electrician’s time, and we had to replace tile – our drywall/baseboard wasn’t yet installed but those would also require patch/paint. If you can get all materials on site in advance (flooring, baseboard, floor outlet, paint, etc) the entire project can be done in a few days, accounting for time to patch, paint, and flooring.
I have the same problem, I ordered retro looking extension cords from Etsy. They are cuter than regular extension cords.
Hiya – This may end up being one of your Top Ten Posts of 2020. Cords are everyone’s nemesis! I’m hoping the next post will be Count Your Home’s LEDs at Night and See Who Wins/Loses and How to Hide *Them*…
My trick (I learned from Houzz) was to install a strip of outlets, as you find in an office or along a workbench, on the underside of my wall cabinets in the kitchen. They are made by Wiremold and are hardwired and face down. I didn’t want outlets in my backsplash because we were using handmade mosaic glass. I had to fight with my contractor because he thought there were more things that people would want plugged in on the counter all the time. I knew I wouldn’t have anything plugged in all the time but we compromised with low wall outlets at either end in the corner.
It makes me so happy to not have ugly wall outlets in my beautiful backsplash!
Oooh, I love this idea!
There is a type of tape called gaffer tape that keeps things in place firmly, but removes easily.
I used sticky tack/poster putty to adhere a lamp cord to the back of an end table (very carefully because it’s mostly glass, so I had to make sure to stay on the metal!) and then plugged it in to an outlet behind the couch. Only a tiny bit is visible on the floor, and you don’t really notice. It was a little thing that made such a big difference! I used the same stuff when I had a wall-mounted cordless phone that needed to be plugged in and the outlet was on the other side of a door (house was obviously designed for the original landlines). The wall and trim were white so I used a white extension cord snaked above the door and stuck to the trim with poster putty. It wasn’t perfect, but again, it was so much better because it kept things tight and the cords weren’t dangling
Our kitchen island has waterfall edges (marble), and measures 10 x 5. There was NO WAY I was going to have plastic outlet plates smacked on the waterfall sides. Our contractor installed them on the underside of the overhang, where the bar stools sit. Also, same situation with the marble backsplash – instead of outlets on the backsplash, it’s a strip of outlets installed on the under-side of the upper cabinets. Kind of a pain to use, but considering I’m not really plugging/unplugging anything frequently, totally worth it for the design.
By code, if placing an outlet on the side of an island, counter top overhang cannot be more than 6 in.
Code varies by jurisdiction. Ours was “by code” on an island with an outlet under a 12″ overhang on one side and 8″ on the other.
Brilliant ideas. Love the idea of running some under the rug. We help hide lots of cords and routers and equipment with our book boxes. We use real books and create a panel. It’s amazing there’s been enough need to create an actual business hiding unsightly things!
I love these tips! I recently had to hide my internet router/box . Even though its snall and thin it was still distracting with the flashing lights. I found a nice wicker basket to place on the last tier of my shelving unit, placed the router in it and fed the cord and wires through the back and voila! No one would ever know.
Our second project was to hide the box from a cable provider and since most remotes are radio frequency, we used velcro to attach the box to the back of the television so it’s also out of site. We used the same method for mounting our T.V on the wall by cutting a hole and feeding the all the wires to the outlet behind my dresser.
I LOVE your blog!!! I’ve used so many tips. You’ve saved me and my husband a lot of stress.
I love this, but I am an electrical engineer and you are marking terribly unsafe recommendations. Regular power cables should never be pulled through a wall please add clarification to this on the TV paragraph. There are adapters that make this safe to do and they run about $60 at home depot or amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HIYAD58?tag=hometheate021-20 Something like this meets the national electric code and is safe to use in the kind of thing you are talking about. If your home were to catch fire with that cable in your wall it would not be covered.
Also electrical cables under rugs are also extreme fire hazards, because they are designed to surrounded by air to cool. Cords under rugs can overheat, especially when the wires inside begin to break down because people are trampling on them. This reduces the ability of the cord to transmit current, causing it to get hot.
Once again, I love 95% of your content, but as an influencer you have a responsibility to not lead people towards dangerous choices.
Good advice- and I’m thinking almost no one realizes this unless they know electricity as well as you do. Thank you.
Thank you for raising these safety issues!
We hope you or other electrical experts will come up with safe ways to make ugly dangling cords disappear….
Another danger of cords under rugs is that it can be easy to accidentally place a furniture leg on top of the cord. My friend’s house caught fire because of a chair leg on an extension cord.
Thank you for your comment!
What about the flat extension cords meant to go under rugs?
I also questioned the outlet placements – its my understanding that an outlet must occur every 6′ along a wall (and one on all walls longer than 2′) so sometimes, its going to be inevitable where they end up.
They aren’t meant to go under rugs. If they are being sold that way they are not certified for it.
Also NEC requires 6 feet from any break and within 12 feet of another outlet. so you can usually get away with just one on a wall and I believe it can wrap around corners so you could place them to be behind something usually, or you can get wooden outlet plates and paint them to match your wall and choose whatever color outlet blends in best.
I’m concerned about all of the commenters here and on instagram who are excited about the suggestion to put cords under rugs. I’m also concerned that clearly the ehd staff has read the comments on this post including some that warn of the dangers of these strategies but hasn’t done anything to amend the post or respond to the commenters.
Thank you for your comment. I did not know about the risk of running a cord under a rug!
I’m in insurance and if your home catches on fire due to the Jerry-rigged cord, you’re homeowners insurance covers that. Just to be clear. Carry on.
Another product I’d suggest is a smart plug that can be turned on and off from your phone… if you use a switch on the cord itself or have to unplug the cord to turn the electronic off, the cord has to be physically accessible which often means visible. With a smart plug, it can all be tucked out of sight permanently.
Applied this approach for my Christmas tree lights this year- no more plug on the counter or digging into the tree to unplug lights from the extension cord. For certain situations it does the trick!
Oh I love this! I didn’t realize smart plugs even existed (though I am not surprised) so thank you! xx
I have been told repeatedly that cords under a rug are a fire hazard. I’m all for covering cords but not at the risk of a fire!
Ugh! We live in a very old house that we restored, rather than renovated. I sooo wish I’d thought more about outlets and unsightly light switches then and there. They totally bug me, every day! But they seem to disappear in my Mr’s mind … after a month or so, he no longer sees annoying or just plain wrong things! He literally DOES NOT SEE THEM! As a result, we have both the TV aerial cord and a long extension cord running under our living room rug. They’re around the edges so they don’t get much, if any, foot traffic, but geez! Then there’s the outlet installed half way up in the middle of the wall in the “vestibule” (originally the workroom off the kitchen we use as a multi function room with desk, sofa etc.). I think the previous owner installed it for the iron around 1950 when they did a makeover! Gah! These things bug me aaallllll the time, but with double brick exterior walls and single brick interior walls, changing, moving or installing new outlets is very expensive. In Australia you are absolutely not permitted to do any electrical work unless you’re a licensed electrician and all… Read more »
Yikes! Running cords under a rug is really dangerous. Maybe it looks nicer, but that doesn’t really matter if your house burns down from hot frayed wires trapped under a rug.
Love your blog! I recommend the Sleek Socket cover to many of my clients to hide unsightly cords. It’s simple, safe, easy to install and can be purchased from Amazon.
adding to cart now. thank you!!
Similar to Mary Ann, we’ve used plugmolds in two kitchens with great outcomes. Kitchen #1: We asked the electrician to install three strategically-placed outlets inside upper cabinets to plug in the undercabinet lighting. For code purposes where we live, you still must have “exposed” outlets for countertop access so we installed plugmolds mounted on the underside of the upper cabinets which enabled us to have a completely outlet-free backsplash. We also had him install an outlet inside one of the lower island cabinets where we kept a printer (so we wouldn’t have to constantly run downstairs to the office every time you need to print something out). This is also where we kept all the cords for the cell phone/laptop/iPad/camera/everything charging station. We would leave the door open while things were charging/printing (for heat escape) but then you could close the door on all the cords and tangled mess when not in use. Kitchen #2: Countertop to ceiling windows meant we had no upper cabinets nor even a backsplash to install outlets. Our solution was to install the lower cabinets a couple of inches away from the wall and have plugmolds running the entire length of the cabinets along the… Read more »
Ashley at The Gold Hive has THE BEST tricks for hiding cords and cable management that you didn’t cover here. Her hacks are genius: https://www.thegoldhive.com/blog/2018/8/7/how-to-hide-cords-plus-all-my-tricks-for-cable-management
I’m going to be honest, I saw this post and thought of Ashley/The Gold Hive immediately. That one is better (sorry EHD!).
I love all these ideas. We have a cable organization box which is to the side of our tv set up so it can’t be seen unless you walk up to it and look to the side.
I have a mid century modern roll top desk that we drilled a little hole in the back for my computer and phone cord.
And, though unpopular, we just bought a gentleman’s chest that we are redoing into our TV armoire; it’s so much smaller than a traditional armoire but big enough to house everything.
I actually find outlets placed behind nightstands to be a real pain because they force the nightstand to not be flush against the wall. I like to have an outlet behind the bed and then I’ll plug in a powerstrip there and route the nightstand cords behind the bed to that power strip. Unless you have a big space between bed and nightstand (I don’t) it’s not visible.
I’ve also purchased a lot of those flat power strip things so the piece that plugs into the outlet is relatively flat (and connects to a strip) in cases where I do need to have a piece of furniture against an outlet–makes a huge difference!
Any tips for sconces on either side of the couch that you don’t want to hardwire? The outlet is behind the couch so the cord wouldn’t be able to hang down straight.
Could you bend them gently around command hooks placed below sight lines and then run them to the outlet? That would at least give you straight cords.
Check out Modern Lantern Sconces! Completely cordless, and super super easy https://www.modernlantern.com/collections/mini-cordless-lamps
Great suggestions! I’m looking forward to trying some of them (the safe ones?) in my next place.
FYI it is also possible to paint metal outlet covers to match a surface (you can paint plastic too but it will likely get scraped off). I’m looking at you, Emily’s green kitchen island…
I had this done with plastic cover plates, and no chipping in 2 years. I was *extremely* cautious until the paint cured, however. Only thing that’s not painted is the smoke detector, which specifically says not to paint. It is behind the door (hardwired) and not that much of an eyesore.
I had to close 4 – now 5 ads – to read the content on this blog post. I know a girl’s gotta get her money but c’mon..my computer’s fan just turned on.
I always used the trick of taping rolled up cords to the backs of furniture until I discovered these adhesive cable clips:
So great to know this! 🙂 Just a friendly note: I think the links for the master bedroom/mountain house photos are switched. From left to right, the way the pictures are arranged, it’s the mountain house master and then the regular home being shown, no? But the caption and links say it’s the other way around.
Things I have done. – Resolve/ thinking thru before installing, Eg knowing my kitchen table leg size, able to put behind that so you don’t see it. – Hollow up the leg of table for the cord, to snake down to recessed power location to hardwire (not outlet, that’s too bulky and takes away from the leg). I only use a recessed floor outlet next to the table leg (for non moving tables). If a moveable table still put thru the hollow of the table leg, yet have a recessed power outlet to receive it. – “Clock” outlets recess more than regular outlets, so if tight in places like behind microwave Where you don’t have the extra few inches for plug. – Rather than just putting plug behind bedside table, definitely install in the draw so the technology and cords are totally concealed. – As mentioned above “match outlets to kitchen color” take this theory thru the house, with every location you are putting an outlet or switch plate. Eg, my room with painted white baseboard gets white, under the brass kitchen shelves get brass outlet, black steel in the wood rooms with black steel details, etc. – Outlets in… Read more »
Love the post, the absolute BEST solution I have found for not having to worry about cords is when I found Modern Lantern Cordless Lamps! They are amazing. Literally just pop the battery out and charge, they even have cordless sconces. Absolutely obsessed!! https://www.modernlantern.com/
You guys are KILLING IT with content this week. Seriously, between a stellar home tour and two great educational post, I feel like the new blog is giving me what I didn’t even know I was missing.
Would you guys please do a post on room transitions? I feel like a lot of newer homes are semi- or truly open concepts, but even in older homes most room transitions are visible through arch/doorways. I would love to see an educational post on how to create visual similarities from room to room without making every room the same color palette, etc. This could sort of piggy back off of some of the things mentioned in the Dining Room reveal post from the Portland Project.
Thanks again, and keep doing what you’re doing!
Nooooo! You’re not supposed to ever run a cord under a rug, it’s a fire hazard! Eek! ?
My best recommendation is to buy lots of power strips, preferably in several different colors and sizes so they can blend in better where they have to be visible. We have them all over our house to make reaching plugs more manageable . Our outlet in our bedroom is behind our bed, so there are two power strips plugged in there which each run to our nightstands, so now we don’t have to climb behind our bed to reach the outlets. We also have one plugged into the outlet behind our couch and it sits under the couch just a few inches back – easy to reach for plugging in a phone charger or laptop cord when you’re sitting on the couch, but basically hidden under the couch when nothing is plugged into it. We often just slide our laptops under the couch, still plugged in, to finish charging. The couch has about a 4 inch gap under it so nothing is particularly visible, but everything has room to stay cool.
“It’s a little lawless … ”
And it is not at all cute how you so casually talk about your recommendation, one that generally is thought to be a potential fire hazard. Shame on all of you. Safety needs to be a significant consideration of any choice. Who cares if it looks nice if it eventually starts a fire?