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:
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.