The Taming of the Wires

Just in time for the Super Bowl last weekend, I decided to tackle another big organizing project around the house – the unsightly wires behind the entertainment center.  Some people might say – out of sight, out of mind.  But I disagree and recently more than one person has asked for tips on this topic. 

So, here is my advice to organize those wires and my suggestions on wire-organizing products that work best.  Trust me, tackling this project now will save you hours of frustration in the future, if you decide to move or to rearrange the living room.  Plus, organized wires make it much easier to clean behind the entertainment center; not to mention, a whole mess of wires must be a fire hazard. 
Step One:  Assess
Your first step is to assess the mess.  Carefully pull back your entertainment system from the wall to determine the number of devices you have plugged in and the number of wires that are running wild back there.  You definitely want a good assessment of the number, type, and size of wires so that you know how many wire-organizing products to purchase in Step Two.
Behind our entertainment center, we have wires for the television, Nintendo Wii (no, I don’t have kids), surround sound system with four speakers, cable box, cable modem, and wireless Internet router.  All in all, that’s around 25 various wires in different shapes and sizes.  
Step Two:  Shop
Now that you’ve got a sense of the number of wires you’re dealing with, it’s time to shop for wire-organizing products.  I stopped by my organizing mecca, The Container Store.  Naturally, at The Container Store on Sixth Avenue, they have an entire section devoted to wire-organizing products. 
During your assessment (Step One), you likely found you have around four sizes of wires back there:  heavy duty, large, medium, and small.  Here are my favorite products for each size:
  • Heavy Duty – Your heaviest wires are likely from your television, especially if you have an HD TV and cable box.  The Cable Zipper is phenomenal to keep these wires organized.  I found myself wishing I had more cables to zip.
  • Large – For wires the size of regular cable wire, the XL Cable Organizer is a gem.
  • Medium – For wires the size of those you’d find on regular small appliances and lamps, the Giant Cable Turtle is the best.
  • Small – For your thinnest wires, likely found on surround sound speakers, go with the Small Cable Turtle (NOT the Mini Cable Turtle).

And don’t forget to save your receipt to return what you don’t end up using.

Step Three:  Organize
Again, you’ll want to carefully pull back the entertainment system from the wall.  Next, take a deep breath because before you organize the wires, you’re most likely going to have to untangle them.  Turn off the power to all devices and get to work.  During the untangling, if you need to unplug wires from a device, use a Post-it note to write down where the wire should be re-inserted.  This is important, because unless you are a skilled technician, remembering where each wire goes can be overwhelming. 
Once the wires are untangled and most likely spread across your living room, it’s time to put the organizing products to work.  Start with the wires creating the most clutter.  Then, wire-by-wire, you’re going to wrap them up with each type of wire-organizer.  For some wires that are plugged in next to each other, you might be able to wrap them together in one organizer. 
Once all wires are organized, label the wires near the power strip (safety first – use a power strip!) where they are plugged in.  At The Container Store, they had these fancy things to label wires, but a label maker works as well.
Finally, don’t forget to dust and vacuum back there while you’ve got the entertainment system pulled back.
All in all, it’s not as scary as it sounds.  Start to finish, I spent about two hours on this project, including shopping time.  And I managed to wrap it up in time for my husband to watch the Packers beat the Steelers.