On the list of of modern-day necessities, I think we can all agree that electricity ranks pretty high. And yet, despite the fact that outlet-powered electronics have been a fixture in homes for, oh, about 100 years, we're still grappling with how to incorporate (read: hide) them in our interiors. You know the feeling: You've moved into anew home, have finally figured out the perfect configuration for your living room when you come to the sinking realization that your table lamp is a whole 14 feet across the room from the outlet. Or you splurge on the perfect plug-in sconces only to realize that their ugly, dangling, white plastic cords really throw off your selected paint color. Fear not: We're here to help. We reached out to some of our favorite designers to hear how they handle pesky cords; prepare to be inspired.
Sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest, as in the case of this suggestion from Caitlin Kah of celebrated firm Kemble Interiors. "Tape them to the back of a console or a side table," advises the designer. Designer David Frazier agrees: "Depending on the specific condition, I will use rug tape or painter’s tape to tape it to the legs of a console or chest—and will run it along that to the nearest outlet," he shares.
When the cord goes out of reach of furniture, Kah suggests an age-old manner of camouflage: "fasten the cord to a wall and paint it the same color so it blends.”
Designer Andrea Goldman has a more secure alternative to tape: "Our go-to products for cord management are zip ties in both black and clear, so that we are prepared for whatever material we’re trying to hide the cord against," she tells House Beautiful. "Zip ties are great because they can tighten to any size you need, or you can lace two together to lengthen them as needed. You can also use them to bundle the cords so that you keep the cords tight and hidden behind the fixture or the furniture."
If you're lucky enough to be able to run your cord under or behind a sofa or other low piece of furniture, make sure to fasten them. "When in a pinch I coil them carefully and either duct tape them to the bottom of furniture or secure them with a hair elastic," suggests designer Bella Mancini.
If you're working with a patterned wall, make the cord a part of it, like MA Allen did in her bedroom for the Southern Style Now show house. "We did custom fuchsia cords in an upholstered room with a fuschia perimeter band and made the cords part of the landscape," the designer explains.
Hang over 'em
Cord running up a wall? Anthony D'Argenzio has a simple suggestion for where to hide it? "Behind art!"
"A loosely-woven area rug that will allow a plug to pass through it with some shimmying," points out designer Scott Sanders. "Then snake extension cords under rug." Got your eye on a tighter-weave? There's a solution for that: "
I will definitely make small holes in a carpet for lamp cords," says Jaime Walters. IT's not as scary as it sounds, we promise! "The holes just needs to be big enough for the cord, not the plug," the designer explains. "Cut off the plug end and rewire it once the cord is through the rug. It's scary to cut into a rug, yes, but scarier to have ugly cords showing! Plus, the hole can be hand-stitched so no further damage.”
Sam Hilliard of Hilliard Lamps has seen just about every trick in the book, but one, in particular stands out. "Out of all of our projects, the most memorable was when working with designers installing fixtures for a superyacht. Because space was limited, and many of the rooms looked pristine, we suggested making custom brackets to thread into the furniture that would disguise all the cords."
"From a stylistic point of view, we recommend camouflaging with the texture that surrounds, not so much the color," he advises on choosing material for brackets. "For example, if the room is an outdoor patio, playing with rope or cane mimics the rattan in a space. If it's inside, get creative and choose leathers that you can weave for a real pop."
Sometimes a cord just can't be hidden—and in that case, it should be as beautiful as possible. "If it’s not possible to hide it, celebrate it—by having it wired with attractive (old-school) cording instead of standard plastic," advises David Frazier.
Pull 'em tight!
Whether you're taping, zipping, or painting, there's one thing that makes a huge difference, Andrea Goldman points out: "Our biggest suggestion is to just make sure you pull your cords tight! When they are loose they tend not to follow the lines of the furniture and become more visible over time."
If you really want to erase a cord, there's always a last resort—in photos, at least. As designer and interiors photographer Sarah Winchester quips: "Photoshop!"
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