We own a great deal of audiovisual equipment - and that's only likely to increase, since my husband is a real hi-fi buff - but the more we get, the messier the wires become. What can we do to make it look more attractive?
We all own more technical gadgets than ever before, which bring with them a seemingly endless mass of wires and charging needs. Despite the increase in wireless abilities, it seems a certainty that wires will always be with us and will always gravitate towards each other to become entangled in a knotted mess. However attractive the equipment itself might be, there's nothing more unattractive than seeing a bunch of wires piled together in a corner, attracting horrible amounts of dust and dirt.
Luckily, there are some very easy solutions, both temporary and permanent, to hide wires. Luckily you don't need to buy a whole set of new, wireless equipment.
Minimise the mess.
Start by keeping cables in line as soon as they appear in your house. A straight cable always looks better than a chaotically curvy one, so always keep wire tapes and wire tidies nearby - this keeps the unruliness down.
Strap it down.
Ikea sells a kit with wire straps, tapes and nails that's handy for keeping wires neat and untangled, and can be used directly behind the television to keep everything hidden. There are several cool gadgets on the market to assist in managing wires and cables, such as the Wijo, a bendy little figure also known as the wire jockey (available at Etcetera Living in Dubai for Dh30) and the new Powermat, a sleek wireless pad that lets you charge small devices in one go and in one place (www.powermat.com).
Ikea also has two plastic boxes that act as junctions to hide cables, ensuring that they are visible only at points of connection to the gadgets and to the walls: one is a long, flat box that can be hidden inside a TV table or coffee table, while the other is a smaller, square box. It also has desks and tables with built-in caddies for wires to help hide them from view.
Place objects where your power points are, rather than where the pieces of equipment look best. It sounds dull but if you can hide some cables simply by placing your television and speakers against the wall, that's a great help.
It is available at any hardware store and is easy to install - I've done this myself and if I can, anyone can. Trunking works especially well to conceal wires leading up from skirting level to wall-mounted TV screens. It can be painted to match your wall colour or covered in matching wallpaper. (It's therefore always useful to save an offcut or two of paper or keep a small tin of paint colour). You can also cut into the wall and move the plug points higher, so they sit behind the equipment, although this requires an electrician so will be a more costly exercise. Also, simple nails with wire clips can be used to track wires along skirting, up walls or along ceiling corners.
Install a panel of drywalling all along the wall, approximately 120cm up from the floor with a dado rail. This adds a decorative feature and is a really handy solution to consider if you're going to be staying in your present home for the foreseeable future - especially if there are lots of wires.
Apart from all the DIY solutions, there are a few simple things you can do with your furnishings to hide things effectively: position wires - especially extension cords - behind big pieces of furniture and pot plants; move side tables or taller accessories to cover plug points and then cover any exposed wires with masking tape of any shade - just make sure it is matte, not metallic - and stick it as closely to the floor as you can, using the longest strips possible to keep it seamless.
A more comprehensive solution is to put all your audiovisual equipment in a cupboard or to integrate it into a custom-designed unit. And consider getting Wi-Fi, no matter how small your flat is; this immediately removes at least one cable from the chaos.
Emily Davies was talking to Marie-Inez Botha, an interior designer at Etcetera Living, Dubai. www.etceteraliving.com.