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Concealing Your Home Electronics

Some technologies get better as they get smaller - cell phones and handheld computers come to mind. And then there are technologies that definitely get better as they get bigger, like televisions.

Gadgets big and small, however, come with a similar conundrum: how do you conceal the techno-mess? How do you contend with the infernal multiplication of electronics and their accessories, the piles of cords springing like snakes from the Medusa's head of sound systems; the massive, gaping expanse of big-screen televisions; the alternately charging and beeping phones, MP3s and Blackberries?

As technology has changed, so too, has the challenge of incorporating gadgets and appliances into our spaces without our homes looking like the deck of Star Trek's Enterprise. But don't despair - there are methods for controlling the technology madness.

For Televisions:

Inch for pixilated inch, televisions are far and away the biggest culprit for dominating home-decorating schemes. If you're a big-screen aficionado, gone are the days when you could just plop your television on an old coffee table and pile the videos underneath next to the eight-track cassettes.

According to Jimmy Pedrojetti of Joseph Winans, the most popular way to house a home theater system nowadays is with a media console. In a range of styles to suit all decorating tastes, consoles have cabinetry to conceal entertainment components, and plasma/LCD screens can pop out from the cabinetry with the simple push of a remote button. The units are usually stock but have customizable shelving to fit your individual needs.

Another option for plasma television screens is to hide them beneath artwork or mirrors. Many companies will now either convert a piece of art or a mirror into hinged covers for the plasma screen. You can move them either manually or with a remote, and some companies will even customize your own art.

For Sound Systems:

For Tom Garson of Lithia Sound in Ashland, if you want a discreet sound system, the best time to start planning for it is when you're actually building your house. Many people are daunted by the expense of a top-notch sound system and put off installing one until later. But it's possible, Garson notes, to plan for your system without yet investing in the electronics: arrange for a room that's laid out for acoustic use and put conduit in the walls, even if you leave out the wiring and electronics. Later you can run the wires and buy the system components. This gives you the leisure to plan what you want and to save for the expense.

Retrofitting an existing house for sound can be cost-prohibitive, says Garson, so you may have to have more exposed equipment.

For Smaller Electronic Devices:

While you may spend more time, money, and thought on concealing large electronics, sometimes it's the smaller ones lying around with their chargers and cables that drive you crazy. Following are some ideas for dealing with those smaller, but equally awkward, electronics:

  • For charging cell phones, drill a small hole in the desk or table. Run the cord through the hole and tie up the remaining cord with a humble, low-tech twist tie.

  • Designate one area for the charging station. An added bonus: no more racing about in the morning wondering whose cell phone is charging where.

  • To avoid the jumble of cables and cords that come with synchronizing devices to your computer, label each one with its owner's name and the device it goes to (a file folder label should do the trick). This is especially helpful in larger families or when you have more technological devices than the geeky PC guy in the MAC commercials.

  • Don't ever forget the miraculous abilities of the lowly twist tie: it contains cords like nothing else can and is absolutely free (well, with the purchase of a loaf of bread).

    As homes become ever more complex, the challenge of creating a place of simple warmth and gracious serenity increases. With an eye towards elegantly blending the form and function of your electronics with the style of your home, you can display the technology itself without being buried under all of technology's accoutrements.

    Concealing Your Home Electronics