Cable clutter can be unsightly and unsafe, luckily its easy to fix
Jared Norman | Aug 10, 2013
A home theater tends to be rather expensive and time consuming to set up, so you want everything to look pretty awesome when you’re done. Thanks to thinner TVs, smaller projectors, and attractive speakers a lot of this has already been solved for you.
However, there is one aspect of home theater setups that tends to get overlooked: cable management. Nothing can turn a home theater from awesome to ugly like unsightly wires hanging all over your living room. Dangling cables can also take your living room from a place of relaxation to an obstacle course. Luckily, this is also a problem that is very easy to fix. When fixing your cable clutter, there are several different things you can do to organize or to hide your cables.
Organize Your Cables
If your TV sits on a console instead of being wall mounted, you can probably get away with simply organizing your cables. This will make your equipment easier to manage and make things look that much cleaner and more organized.
Bundle your cable ties together using cable ties. This can be done with simple zip ties or with velcro straps or velcro cable sleeves to make things look even cleaner and make your cables more easily accessible. By bundling your power cables, video cables, and audio cables separately you can avoid audio/visual interference and make for more coherent organization.
A MOS prevents your cables from falling behind your cabinet, console, or table when they are unplugged. It uses the power of magnets to easily and conveniently keep your cables in place.
If you have a hard back cabinet you can also use cable tacks to secure your cables to the back of the cabinet. This is a slightly more permanent solution, although you can always pull out the cable tacks if you need to change or move the cable.
Hide Your Cables
While organizing your cables works for the wires hidden behind a cabinet, that solution won’t work very well for wall mounted TVs or if you have a surround sound system. But you don’t have to haphazardly run cables along the walls, there are a variety of ways you can cleverly keep those cables out of sight and out of mind.
Cable tracks are hard plastic coverings you can put over your cables. They aren’t invisible by any means, but they can provide a much cleaner, more finished look. They can also be painted to blend more with the wall they are lain against.
Under the Carpet
If you have carpet in your living room, it offers an easy way to hide cables. The easiest way to hide cables is to use steel fish tape to pull cable from one side of the room to the other. While it may sound difficult, this is actually fairly easy.
To start, gently pull up the carpeting where the cable will enter and exit. Try to get as close to the wall as possible to avoid the cable being stepped on. Starting from where the cable will come out of the carpet, slide the fish tape below the carpet and the padding and slowly push it toward where the cable will enter the carpet. Draw the loop out from the carpet and loosely tie your cable to the loop, then slowly pull the fish tape back.
If you don’t have carpet or you want an easier solution, you may consider Ghost Wire. It is completely flat, paintable cable that can go anywhere, essentially allowing you to hide your cables in plain sight. Even if you run the cable all over your walls, after it’s painted, no one will know it’s there. It is also adhesive, so you don’t need any other tools. Ghost Wire Audio Cable is white, so it can be run along most floorboards without even needing to be painted. You can find Ghost Wire HDMI Cable and Ghost Wire 16 AWG Speaker Cable.
Behind the Wall
One of the best ways to hide cables is to hide them behind the wall. Normally it’s best to leave in-home wiring to skilled professionals. If you don’t know what you’re doing, trying to run cables behind the wall can quickly turn into a disaster. However, if you have a wall mounted TV and simply want to run cables down the wall to your peripherals, a simple solution that you can do yourself would be to use a WallBlade.
The WallBlade is a clean looking wall plate that has a cable drop and allows you to run a power cable safely down the wall. Check out this video to learn how to hide your cables using the WallBlade, or read about it here.
A relatively new solution is to go wireless. While completely wireless home theater systems are still just a dream, you can find some pre-matched surround sound systems that can eliminate at least some of the wires. For example, their surround speakers are wireless so you don’t have to worry about running cables to the back speakers.
Whether you choose to organize, hide, or eliminate your cables, following these simple tips will make your home theater look cleaner and more professional.
Choosing a Cable Organizer Solution
There are many solutions to solving cable mess. Since cables are a way of life and now connect all the devices that we rely on day to day, we should be able to master them and make them as beautifully arranged as the rest of the items in our homes and offices.
Option 1: Velcro Cable Sleeve Wrap - Velcro is used in a lot of cable management solutions. One nice and tidy way to keep unruly cables manageable is with a velcro sleeve. The durable nylon sleeve keeps cable snug together and the velcro is very convenient.
For my own desk, I went ahead and tried this solution with great results. I have a lot of thick cables going up from my computer to my desktop because I have two monitors that use thick DVI cables. I also have a set of speakers, a keyboard, and a mouse cable to deal with.
Wrapping the cable was easy because I could just start at the bottom, start bringing the velcro together, and work my way up.
Option 2: Velcro Strip Cable Ties - For several years I used these strips to handle the cable clutter under my desk. It worked fine for me, and it was a pretty inexpensive solution.
These strips have a loop that you feed the strip through which is convenient. The whole side of the strip without the velcro hooks sticks to the velcro quite well after the strip is pulled through the loop.
When wrapping my cables with these strips, I would have to squeeze the cables together in order to get a nice tidy cable bunch, but as you can see in the images, it was flawed and untidy in places. I think I prefer the velcro sleeve, but if you need to have some cables branch off, the cable strips might be best.
Option 3: MOS Magnetic Organizing System - Using the power of magnetic attraction, the MOS holds your cables steady without cumbersome straps or sleeves. Of course, this level of organization is a lot lighter weight than a velcro sleeve or strip: it's more for your table top where your cables hang out until ready for charging or syncing your devices.
The MOS has a micro suction bottom that sticks to flat surfaces and can be employed on vertical or horizontal scenarios. For instance, if you want your charging and sync cables to be hidden off the side of your desk, you can stick the MOS on the side and your cables will be ready for you to use at any time. you can use a combination of the MOS and a sleeve for an ultra-slick set-up.
If your cables don't have enough metal in them, you can use included magentic ties that have magnets inside for a nice firm grip.
Option 4: Cable Management Tracks -This product is used more often with HDTVs and home theater set ups. When an HDTV is wall mounted, a common problem is unsightly cables dangling on the wall. One option is to drill holes in the wall and feed the cables through the wall to avoid ugly cable clutter. Another option is to use these cable tracks to feed the cable down without it looking too ugly.