Hello fair read­ers!  If you would be so kind, as I wel­come myself back to the screen after a month-long hia­tus, and excuse my appalling absence, I would be much obliged.  As pre­vi­ously men­tioned, my tal­ents have since been oth­er­wise engaged in the design and re-location of the Everyday-Modern World Head­quar­ters, also known as my hum­ble apartment.

Through the process of mov­ing, I had the won­der­ful oppor­tu­nity to re-engage with exactly how much shit I must cart around with me to live what I deem a full and nec­es­sary life.  Once again, boxes and boxes of junk chal­lenged my stal­wart ded­i­ca­tion to min­i­mal­ism, but after weeks of chaos, I am happy to report that min­i­mal­ism (or it’s 530 square foot coun­ter­part) prevailed.

And after that ultra-lengthy intro­duc­tion, I am sure you are all won­der­ing where I am going with this, and what mov­ing has to do with cord man­age­ment.  Well, as you will come to see in future posts, a lot.  It all started with the deci­sion to place my bookshelf/entertainment unit smack dab in the mid­dle of my stu­dio.  What promised to be a beau­ti­ful state­ment of how orderly my life is, quickly became an exer­cise in patience, ded­i­ca­tion, and above all, Cable Wran­gling.  All said and done, it is stun­ning, and the secret that makes it all pos­si­ble is the abil­ity to coax those cords into submission.

The shelf at the bot­tom of the cab­i­net helps to add usable space, and keep the cables in their nifty lit­tle corral.

1. The first step to cable man­age­ment is to admit that you have a prob­lem.  It’s okay, don’t be shy, every­one does.  Unless you are a lud­dite (and the fact that you’re read­ing a blog gives me a sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that you are not), you will have cords and cables.  So do us all a favor and stop hap­haz­ardly shov­ing every cable in your arse­nal through crappy holes cut out of the back of your Kmart enter­tain­ment stand.  Kids, that’s just not how it’s done.

Plan ahead for the space to accom­mo­date the rat’s nest of cords.  Chances are, if you take the road that seems anti-minimalism and allow more space than nec­es­sary for your enter­tain­ment sys­tem, the result will be more min­i­mal­ist.  The best part is, it doesn’t have to be a big space!  To power my TV, Blu-Ray player/receiver, record player (yes you read that right), pre-amp, Apple TV, Apple Time Cap­sule, modem, Wii, Wii-mote charg­ing sta­tion, and Super Nin­tendo (yes, you also read that right), I need a mere 30”W x 12”D x 2.5”H.  This charm­ing lit­tle space is built in to the bot­tom of my stereo cab­i­net, so it’s tech adja­cent and there are no cords run­ning willy nilly all over my apartment.

This is the bad-ass Belkin surge pro­tec­tor I was telling y’all about.

2.  The next part might seem obvi­ous, but the fact that I’m attract­ing web traf­fic with an arti­cle about orga­niz­ing cords tells me that peo­ple will Google how to do just about any­thing!  The stupid-obvious thing I am refer­ring to is proper power.  With a some­what in-depth tech setup in my house, I have come to find that plug­ging things in can become a bit of a chal­lenge, espe­cially since I usu­ally only have about one out­let to work with.

Your best bet in this case is to spend the bucks on a nice surge pro­tec­tor.  As lame as Belkin is, I must say that they get the Awesome-Surge-Protector-Design-Of-The-Year-Award in my book.  Sure, there are all those nifty lit­tle power strips that artic­u­late for the pain in the ass trans­form­ers, but Belkin kicks them all to the curb with their rotat­ing plug head.  No more wrestling with the tightly wound cable and sta­pling it to one side of the out­let so it doesn’t pro­trude from the wall like some unsightly fun­gal growth, just a swivel here, a twist there and you are golden.

Addi­tion­ally, when wiring any­thing with sound, make damn sure you’ve got your ground straight.  There are any num­ber of techy sites like this one http://www.epanorama.net/documents/groundloop/ but the gist of it is, don’t split your shit up over sep­a­rate grounds (ie: sep­a­rate cir­cuits).  If you have your stereo plugged into one out­let, and your Blu-Ray player (that runs through your stereo) plugged into an adja­cent out­let (that just hap­pens to be on another cir­cuit), you could have what we nerds like to call a “ground loop” prob­lem that man­i­fests itself as an obnox­ious buzzing in your speak­ers.  Fix this prob­lem by con­nect­ing your sys­tems to the same cir­cuit.  It’s fairly easy to con­nect any­thing run­ning through the same sound sys­tem into the same power strip – espe­cially if you’re cool and got the Belkin surge protector.

Re-training your cables to fit where you want them — reward-based train­ing and a firm hand work best

3.   Plas­tic is pretty awe­some, I’m quite sure I couldn’t sur­vive with­out it. But when it comes to cables, there are some really annoy­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics to plas­tic that just infu­ri­ate me, namely, the ele­phan­tine mem­ory.  Have you ever noticed how when you get a new piece of tech, the cable is all neatly wound in the box and the coils align just per­fectly? That is until you cut off that lit­tle clear piece of cel­lo­phane hold­ing it all together and that nice neat coil imme­di­ately turns into a big pile of spaghetti.  That, folks, would be the mem­ory to which I am referring.

Unfor­tu­nately, as plas­tic ages, it never seems to lose its mem­ory.  This can become a Cable Wran­glers night­mare.  Through­out my long years of cord coer­cion, I have learned that it’s best to pick a method of cable wind­ing that floats your boat, and zip tie the hell out of it.  As it hap­pens, a cable’s mem­ory can be mod­i­fied, but only force­fully.  This mem­ory mod­i­fi­ca­tion will become a nec­es­sary way of life if you are going to jam all of those cords into your allot­ted space from step 1.

My enter­tain­ment system’s fine ass

4.  If you have any amount of tech in your home, you will likely notice that there are a few major ter­mi­nals where your beloved receiver or router begins to resem­ble a cthulhu.  At first, it may seem as though there is no rhyme or rea­son, and cre­at­ing order out of the chaos is sim­ply not pos­si­ble.  But fear not, for the ded­i­cated Cable Wran­gler this should be a sim­ple exer­cise of pick­ing a few divi­sion points and coerc­ing those cables into groups.

For exam­ple, with my tech, I noticed that on each major piece of equip­ment, the cable ter­mi­nals were typ­i­cally divided by side.  It was easy enough for me to pull all the cables on each side together and zip tie them.  Not only does this save your ass when you need to under­stand how some­thing is wired, but it looks absolutely delight­ful from the rear — and when your enter­tain­ment unit is a free-standing pass through in the mid­dle of the room, you want it to have a very fine rear indeed.

Imag­ine the red as a lit­tle road map for all the cable-based sig­nals run­ning through the space

5.  Now friends, I am about to say some­thing that would seem to go against the very fiber of what Every­day Mod­ern is all about – no, you have not acci­den­tally clicked over to Hoarders-R-Us, so please, do not adjust your dials.  To what absur­dity am I refer­ring? This lit­tle gem: always buy more cable than you need.  Yes, that’s right, buy more of some­thing than you think nec­es­sary – you heard it here on Every­day Modern.

The secret of your home appear­ing at it’s most cable-less glory will likely be the result of buy­ing way more cable than you need so that you can run the damn things around the most cir­cuitously secret courses nec­es­sary to make sure they are out of sight and out of mind.  For instance, in my apart­ment, to get cables to the rear sur­round speak­ers that are a whop­ping 10 feet from the receiver, I needed a good 70 feet of speaker wire.  That’s right, I ran the cables around nearly the entire perime­ter of the apart­ment to get them to their final des­ti­na­tion.  And guess what?  You can only see about 2 feet of cable between the two of them!

Now you see the unsightly speaker cables, but with a mere flick of the cur­tains, you don’t!

6.  As many of you know, my per­sonal belief is that “stuff” is some­thing one should strive to elim­i­nate from their home.  How­ever, there are a few times when it can come in handy.  Cable wran­gling is one of those times.  Obvi­ously if you have your com­puter inte­grated to your receiver/TV, and sur­round sound, there are going to be a cer­tain amount of wires that just go with the pack­age – even if you buy as many wire­less gad­gets as you can.  The trick of cable man­age­ment is not to try to elim­i­nate cables, but find sneaky ways to hide the cables that are required.

One of my favorite tricks for hid­ing cables is to run them under the base­board.  This may seem like a one cable won­der, but you would be sur­prised.  I have found that in sev­eral of my dwellings, the dry­wall does not go all the way to the floor, allow­ing a nice lit­tle niche for cables right behind the base­board.  All you have to do to access this holy grail of unclaimed cable space is shove cords under there with a Philips-head screw driver.

Another trick I like to use is to make my “stuff” work for me, and run cables under­neath fur­ni­ture, behind cur­tains or cab­i­nets, and attached to the sides of the book­cases.  These are the items that are mov­able in your home, and enable you to snake cords all over the place by sim­ple lift­ing up a chair, or adding a few zip-ties here and there.  The “stuff” is going to be there any­way, so you might as well take advan­tage of its abil­ity to hide some­thing, and give your home a more min­i­mal­ist clut­ter free look along the way.

Just say no to adhe­sive cable guides

7.  You may not be aware of it, but a huge debate has been under­way here at the Everyday-Modern world head­quar­ters.  Said debate: is it bet­ter to sta­ple or use those nifty cable guides?  At first glance, this may seem like a no-brainer.  I cer­tainly thought so when wiring my last apart­ment.  For $5 you can buy a nice white plas­tic tube that attaches to your wall with adhe­sive back­ing, and run cables down the wall or across the ceil­ing with the stealth of a trained CIA oper­a­tive, and leave no holes in the wall?  BAM! No argu­ment there.

How­ever, when it came time to re-arrange, add another piece of tech, or move out, I dis­cov­ered the huge shitty totally-not-worth-it pain-in-the-ass part of these seem­ingly handy guides.  The adhe­sive is strong as a mother.  I peeled off the first layer of dry­wall all over that apart­ment.  What started out as a benign way to man­age cords turned into a hor­rific assign­ment in dry­wall and paint repair, all. over. the. place.

Need­less to say, now I have reverted back to the old standby: 3/8” sta­ples every foot or so.  It’s a lit­tle ghetto fab­u­lous to be sure, but hav­ing a few tiny holes here and there from sta­ples are much pre­ferred to re-drywalling the entire apart­ment.  Enough said.

If you’re still with me, con­grat­u­la­tions on fin­ish­ing the world’s longest blog post — your merit earns you an offi­cial entry to the Everyday-Modern.com Reader Appre­ci­a­tion $1 Mil­lion Dol­lar Sweep­stakes!  But seri­ously, that’s every­thing I have for this week, so stay tuned next week for the long awaited tour of the new digs.  I have had a few pretty epic projects that I just can’t wait to post, not to men­tion, a new bun­dle of joy that’s on the way — more about that later.  As always, thanks for read­ing – please feel free to share, just please give me credit for my work when you do.