Does the back of your desk look like a spider web of loose cables and power cords? Our computer desk, which my son uses for all his gaming gear, was an eyesore. There are more than 20 cords once you factor in the power cables, the router, microphone, headphones, amplifier, keyboard, ethernet cables, and mouse and that’s before you add in the two monitors and the computer. This is the ultimate cable clutter and unfortunately, there were no unnecessary cables that I could get rid of. I struggled with letting people go in the room at all because it looked so terrible.
My main goal was to find a cable management system that would tame this bunch of wires and cable mess and at least look somewhat organized and presentable. I decided when he was away to take a bold step and disconnect everything and try to improve the way it looks. It doesn’t have to be perfect, better is good enough for me. Most importantly, it has to be inexpensive and easy to use on a daily basis. It’s not super exciting to spend a lot of time and money to hide a lot of cables.
The first step for me is always to lose myself in the internet rabbit hole by researching cord organization. I watched videos and read blog posts before deciding to buy a few things.
Once I was armed with these examples (which in hindsight were unachievable) I headed out to the container store looking for cable management options and purchased three key components. My total cost was $30.28. I’ll tell you about each of these items later in the installation notes.
Cord Protector & Concealer by UT Wire -This is a basic cable management system designed to attach to your floor to hide cords that have to go some distance across the floor. The only outlet that could be used for this room is in the closet. Two cords needed to go across the floor from the closet, power, and ethernet. This seemed like a good cable management system in theory but it didn’t lay flat for quite some time. It comes with double stick tape, but I didn’t really want to tape it to my wood floors. The double-stick tape also appeared to be from the 1920s. It was terrible.
Scotch indoor mounting tape – I purchased this to attach my power strip to the bottom of the desk so that most of the chords could be tacked up to the top.
A headphone stand – This seemed like a good option but didn’t improve the look of the desk, so it went back.
I also used items I already had including adhesive velcro and a small piece of furniture from Ikea.
1.) Hide Floor Cords – Ready to do battle with the cords, which I was dreading, I tackled the floor first. It took a surprising amount of time to stuff the cables into the cable management compartment cable channels. I struggled to make it flat but it served its purpose. It stayed flat after I put some books on it, but it doesn’t lay as flat as the manufacturer’s photos. I finally opted for a small piece of double-stick velcro at one end instead of the double-stick tape included because it can easily be pulled up and cords can be swapped out. As a side note, the double stick tape included in the package looked like it had been around since the 1950s. The power cord goes in the bottom, so it’s better not to permanently secure it to the floor.
2.) Attach the surge protector to the desk. What a great idea… I put the mounting tape in two long six-inch strips on the back of the surge protector. I thought this would be a good place to hide the surge protector and it seemed easy enough. The next morning I awoke to find these items didn’t stay mounted. They came unstuck overnight. I added more strips to the bottom of the surge protector but switched tactics and used velcro for the rest of the job.
3.) Velcro cords to the top of the desk and the leg of the desk. I tried to group a number of cables together where possible. No post had recommended using velcro but it was the best cable management trick thing I tried, much better than double-sided tape. I stuck one part of the velcro to the bottom of the desk after removing the sticky tape. I left the sticky tape on the other side of the velcro and sealed the bundle of cables up with the velcro. The best part of this solution is that it’s very easy to take the cords up and down without removing any sticky surface. I found of all the mounting options, velcro worked the best.
4.) Add a small piece of Furniture for Storage – I had this small piece from Ikea in my bathroom for toilet paper in our old house. Our new bathrooms are much smaller and there was no place for this. It was the best way I could find to hide some of the cord mess and it provided a bit of additional work area.
Takeaway Lessons Learned
The videos of desk cable management I saw on the internet don’t reflect the reality of what most desk organization projects look like. The reality is less perfect.
For example, if you have a gaming pc and use a mouse, microphone, microphone stand, and a keyboard with a cord, there is no way to hide that completely. Let’s face it, cords have to be visible to use the computer. Why not go cordless you ask? What a great idea, but no dice for my son. He believes there is a performance tradeoff.
I still think it looks drastically better and much cleaner. See the before and after photos below.
In hindsight, the most important lesson is not to let perfect be the enemy of good. This quote I owe to Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”, my favorite book. My solution is far from perfect but it looks 95% better. A small plant and some nice-looking books can also significantly improve the way it looks.
I think it would be good to add a few other organization tools like this cord organization tube. I tried something similar before, but this one looks like it can be much larger and allows for cords to exit the loop as needed. The problem with the tubes is that not all of the cords have the same beginning and end points.
I saw a lot of desks that were done with peg board. This might be a better option for next time. Have you tried to organize large bundles of cables or have a trick for next-level cable management? What methods did you try?
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