Tip # 142 – Corral Your Cords.
I don’t usually go in for overly tech-y solutions to small apartment problems. But if someone were to come to my apartment tomorrow and tell me that every single cable and cord could be magically consolidated into one sleek (and tiny, and artful) package that I’d never have to wrestle with, I would sign right up.
We don’t even have a lot of cables and cords. There’s no entertainment system to contend with. No desktop computer. No speakers. And yet cords and the plugs at the end of them feel like they’re in constant need of wrangling in my apartment. For me, the trouble is mostly related to the gadgets that bring us the internet.
When the company Plume came across my radar earlier this summer, I got very excited about what it could mean for the tangle that lives under my bed. And I might well be the first to sign up when they start selling their solutions individually this fall. But that’ll still only solve part of the problem and there are months yet to wait. As it is, we still have the same hulking wireless router that James owned when I first met him.
An aside: The first words I ever uttered to James were “I heard you have the connection.” I know, not at all awkward. But he did have the connection. The wi-fi connection. And I needed the damn password. The same ancient router that fueled our internet and romance that sticky Georgia summer ten years ago, now lives with the jumble of modem and bedside lamp cords beneath our bed. It makes for a pretty ugly mess, even on a good day. (For the record: Replacing the router of our courtship with something new and tiny would not be the slightest bit bittersweet. Let’s not take sentimentality too far.)
Here’s the thing: There’s no shortage of “cord solutions” out there. It’s just that most of them are terrible. They’re brightly colored and plastic. Or they’re bulky or ugly and in need of hiding themselves. Or, most often, they solve a very specific problem and not my very specific problem. (Don’t get me started on A/C adapters that take up two outlets worth of space in a surge protector.)
And while there’s no shortage of pretty cloth-covered outlets and extension cords these days, alas alack, other uglier cords still have to go into them. They’re kind of like the wire baskets of the tech world: pretty when empty but pretty messy when full.
Lately I’ve been on a mission to tackle our cords in new ways. To be clear: this is not the first time I’ve done this. It’s just that cord needs change, and co-habitants unplug your carefully wound cables leaving unfurled chaos in their wake, and solutions that worked for a while simply don’t work any more.
Here are few recent solutions that have helped our situation. (Don’t think of them as miracle workers; just think of them as somewhat helpful buddies in the fight against cord clutter.)
For wrangling: The chief trouble with most cords is their length. There’s too much of it. Some amount of careful coiling is required. I used waxed twine that I had leftover from another project in my attempts to tame the beasts this go-round. Any twine will do, but waxed twine does have the added advantage of creating a little friction so that everything stays put. (This isn’t the moment for your finest silk ribbon.)
For hiding: Sometimes you just need to hide the effers. Excuse my fake curse. I just hacked a little shelter for my enormous router et cetera. It makes the whole mess basically disappear beneath the bed, which is, precisely, what we’d all prefer. After wrangling the cords as neatly as I could manage, I cut the back off the pretty cardboard box that came in the mail last week and stuck everything inside. Cords, corralled. PS. If blinking and blue lights bother you as much as they do me, allow me to introduce the concept of a strip of black electrical tape. I’ve covered all offending blinkers on our router and modem and it’s made a huge difference.)
Care to commiserate? Got a genius cord solution? Please share!
Tiny apartment survival tips #1-141, RIGHT HERE.