Jumble of home-entertainment gear
can be put in its place
By Harriet Schechter
July 9, 2006
Remember the days when finding a good
place for the remote was your biggest home-entertainment storage
Side-by-side storage may be best
to house today's big-screen TVs and related audio-video
equipment. This arrangement features a cherry-veneer TV
console ($395) and audio stand ($405). Both at www.ergoindemand.com
Then videocassette recorders came
along, and with them more remotes – and the ensuing tidal wave of
videotapes. Around the same time, compact discs began nudging aside
vinyl albums, yet never totally crowded out “classic” LPs.
(Audiotapes haven't gone away either, despite predictions of their
supposedly inevitable demise.)
But wait – as the infomercials say
– there's more!
Now you can also be entertained at home
with an ever-expanding array of attention-absorbing options such as DVD
movies, TiVo-recorded programs and video games.
And in addition to more stuff,
everything's gotten bigger. As TV screen sizes keep growing, the
essential entertainment center has morphed into the humongous
One of the downsides of all this
entertainment excess is that most forms of electronic entertainment
require, at minimum, three potentially clutter-causing components:
equipment, media, and wires. (The most notable exception is the iPod and
Fortunately, with a little self-control
and the right storage solutions, you can prevent multimedia clutter from
taking over your home.
No doubt you've heard that everything
will soon be wireless. Of course, long ago, it was also accepted as
truth that computers would soon create the paperless office. So it's
probably safe to assume that “soon” will never come soon enough.
Luckily, taming your tangled jungle of
cords and cables isn't as tough as it used to be, thanks to several
innovative and affordable products.
FlipWorks Multimedia Storage
Tray will store all types of media packaging ranging from VHS
tapes to CDs and Zip disks. The units fit in drawersor on
shelves. Prices range from $7 to $20.At www.rockler.com.
HSN Catalog Services
How to corral all the cords
needed to run today's multimedia? The Cord Cover Kit features
paintable PVC that attaches above baseboards. Cost is $15.At www.homefocuscatalog.com.
If you've got gamers in your
household, you've probably got video-game clutter.
Thankfully there are now
storage solutions expressly designed to accommodate the consoles
and accessories of PlayStation, Xbox, GameBoy and other popular
Atlantic's 3-Tier Wire Gaming
Rack ($40) has space for up to three consoles, two to six
controllers, and 30 games in a compact space (20 inches wide by
14-½ inches deep by 19-½ inches high). The rolling 4-Tier Wire
Gaming Tower ($60) holds the same number of consoles and
controllers but offers room for 70 games (21 inches wide by 15-½
inches deep by 30 inches high) and includes a slide-out shelf.
SOURCE: Atlantic – www.atlantic-inc.com
– HARRIET SCHECHTER
WireMate ($20) offers the most streamlined solution for both controlling
and camouflaging multiple strands and sizes of cords. Designed to
organize and hide up to 18 wires of varying thicknesses, the sleek,
high-impact plastic case (14 inches long by 8 inches wide by 2 inches
deep) mounts easily with screws or double-sided tape on a flat surface
such as a wall or the back of an entertainment center (all mounting
materials are included).
SOURCE: Innovative Problem Solvers – www.wiremate.com
you only need to cover up a couple of cords, the Cover Cord Kit ($15)
lets you tuck your wires away into a system of long “channels”
designed to fit atop baseboards or along other wall surfaces.
Constructed of adhesive-backed white PVC (paintable to match your
decor), the kit's snap-together components include four 36-inch lengths
of channel (which can be cut to size), two inside corners, two outside
corners, two flat corners and three couplings.
SOURCE: Home Focus Catalog – www.homefocuscatalog.com
corralling individual strands of cable or other wiring, Cable YoYos
($15, set of three) are a compact way to conceal cords. Each “YoYo”
case is a mere quarter-inch thick and 3 1/8 inches square yet holds up
to 6 feet of coiled cable and attaches to most surfaces with self-stick
tabs. The cases can be stacked or lined up in a row to create a neat
network of cables.
SOURCE: Solutions Catalog – www.solutionscatalog.com
It's a seemingly impossible challenge
to find an entertainment center with enough room for your wide-screen
TV, DVD player, cable box, TiVo, sound system and VCR, let alone one
that also has space for DVDs, CDs and videotapes. (Let's face it, most
of us will never get around to converting all those old VHS copies of
home videos and favorite “Seinfeld” episodes.)
Depending on your needs and the amount
of room you have, your best bet may be a TV shelving unit that can be
supplemented by a matching audio stand.
A good selection of well-designed
examples in a wide variety of styles can be found online at Ergo In
800-888-6024). Among their roomiest options are the chrome and glass Big
Screen Entertainment Center ($340; audio stand, $275), measuring 20
inches high by 59 1/8 inches wide by 17¾ inches deep; and the
cherry-veneer TV Cabinet Stand ($395; audio stand, $405), which measures
20 1/8 inches high by 57 7/8 inches wide by 22 1/8 inches deep and even
includes a small drawer for those pesky remotes. A more compact version,
the Wooden TV Cabinet ($270; audio stand, $405), measures 31 inches high
by 31 5/8 inches wide by 20 inches deep and has a larger drawer suitable
for media storage.
Another option is the Stratos
Collection Bush Home Theater ($475; Wal-Mart), 71½ inches high by 72½
inches wide by 20½ inches deep, which accommodates up to a 65-inch
projection TV and offers concealed and open storage, adjustable shelves
and built-in lights.
Other types of entertainment equipment
storage units are modular, allowing you to create more customized
configurations. Can-Am (www.avcabinet.com
(800) 387-9790) has a seemingly infinite range of modular home theater
furnishings. You can have as many or as few drawers and shelves as you
want, with variations such as flip doors, sliding doors, pull-out
shelves and locking wheels. All units are constructed of powder-coated
steel (satin or gloss finish) and come in 16 color choices. The Web site
also offers a helpful “Go Configure” page that lets you
conceptualize which modules might work for your space.
For the insatiable collector of music,
movies, games or other disc-based entertainment, there are numerous
types of multimedia storage systems to choose from. Major retailers now
carry a wide selection of these products, and hundreds of online stores
such as StoreYourMedia.com have sprung up to offer even more.
One of the most versatile products in
this category is the FlipWorks Multimedia Storage Tray ($7 to $20),
which accommodates virtually every type of media packaging: Disney and
regular VHS tapes; all DVDs; CD packaging, whether commercial or home
produced; audiocassettes; 3.5-inch diskettes; Zip disks – all
different sizes of media formats can be stored together. Equally at home
on a shelf or in a drawer, the unit (available in single, double and
triple sizes) can be converted into a pullout tray by adding FlipWorks
Slides ($6/pair). All trays have a depth, front to back, of 16 inches.
The width of a single tray is 6¾ inches; a double tray is 13 5/8 inches
wide; and a triple tray is 20 1/8 inches wide.
SOURCE: Rockler – www.rockler.com
A different kind of versatility can be
found in the Two-Panel CD Screen ($50), which functions as a combination
privacy screen and CD storage unit. Ideal for dorm rooms and other
shared spaces, the black-framed screen displays 54 CDs and measures
four-fifths of an inch deep by 45 1/8 inches wide by 68½ inches high.
SOURCE: Target – www.target.com
Finally, if you're an “analog
animal” who can't bear to get rid of your favorite old LPs but are
short on storage space, consider the compact, rolling Record Albums
Cabinet ($108), made of solid hardwood that's sturdy enough to double as
a low seat or footstool (17½ inches high by 20 inches wide by 18 inches
SOURCE: The Jungles – www.thejungles.com
Schechter is founder of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and author
of three books, including “Let Go of Clutter” (McGraw-Hill). Her
online advice column is at www.MiracleOrganizing.com.