As our homes get “smarter,” how do we hide the cords and keep interiors clean and the tech discrete?

by Patricia Cove

Some of us are techno geeks. Some of us are not. In fact, when it comes to technology, I usually take the slow lane. It’s not that I don’t like technology, it is that it doesn’t like me. But it certainly is a fact of life these days, and a fact that it must be considered when considering a renovation or re-design project.

In everything from remotely controlled window shades, to fully integrated security systems, there is hardly an interior design element that cannot be connected somehow to a tech feature or “App”, and along with that App, there are physical components that become part of the application. These “physical components” are welcomed , and become the honor badges of techno geeks everywhere. Those same components are considered blatant intrusions by traditionalists and can be reviled by designers honoring the elements of a truly historic interior.

So, all you techies out there, let your gadgets all hang out! But for the rest of us, here are some tips to keep your homes efficient , in the most discreet, yet functional fashion:

  1. Let’s start with security sensors. These critical devices need to be visual in order to be effective. Try to purchase them in the same color family as the trim or wall color on which they will be mounted. Companies are just starting to understand the importance of camouflaging some of these sensors, by expanding their color choices.
  2. Lightstrips are now “outstripping” the more common desk lamp as the main light source for task lighting. But these strips can present problems when it comes to their locations, and associated wires. Mount the lightstrip on the underside of a storage hutch above the desk, preferably behind a narrow strip or cornice. Affix the wire to run along the top edge of the unit, and out the back to the outlet. This can be done with either a strong double stick tape, or wire tacks.
  3. Speaking of wires, wires, and more wires, whether it is your entertainment system or your computer desk, there is bound to be at least one congested mound of wires and cords in close proximity. Luckily, there are companies that provide a solution. These two-piece “cord covers” are made of hard plastic, are about two inches in width and come in varying lengths. They hold up to three or four cords. They sometimes have a sticky bottom, that keeps the cord cover in place on the floor, either along a wall or on the bottom inside of a desk. If you are looking for something more decorative, I have seen the use of decorative stacked boxes, with holes cut for the wires, which are coiled inside. Neither one of these solutions is perfect, but certainly better than a clogged cord mass.
  4. Security cameras present an odd conundrum. You probably want to hide them, but they still need to provide maximum coverage. One of the most unobtrusive locations is at the base of a potted plant.  Or if you prefer a higher location, select what is known as a “flex” camera, and mount it on the side of a book case or tall piece, with enough flex to wrap around the edge for a bird’s eye view.

Even though smart-home gadgets haven’t always been the most design friendly, many hi-tech companies are giving their accessories a much-needed style conscious overhaul. The additions of a variety of metal finishes can be used to blend with photo frames, lamp bases or cabinet hardware, and a much wider spectrum of color choices helps to make them less intrusive. If your home is uber-modern, they all will fit right in, but if you are a traditionalist, try utilizing the tips above, and just think about the Victorians trying to decide where to place their first light switch!

Patricia Marian Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in chestnut Hill, and can be reached through her web site: