Families use portable electronic devices for a range of needs, including tracking a family's weekly schedule of school and sports, as a handy reference guide for summer vacation research, and for educational apps in spare moments. But with smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and other devices come daily charging needs, which equals cords and clutter. Fortunately, there are a range of options -- some simple, made-in-an-hour solutions, others more involved but streamlined -- to help you regain control and love of your electronics.
- Commandeer a drawer. Out of sight doesn't equal out of mind for smartphones, tablets, and more in a carefully engineered drawer. Some new cabinetry may be constructed with predrilled holes for access to plug-ins and cords. For existing cabinets in a kitchen, mudroom, or home office, install a power strip at the back of the drawer (you may have to hire an electrician). Dress up the bottom of the drawer with pretty contact paper or nonslip liner to keep electronics in place.
- Repurpose existing mudroom spaces. Many entryways are equipped with separate spots for each member of the family -- lockers or cubbies, for example. If there's room, an added shelf and outlet in each help to keep portable devices separate and eliminate clutter, as the devices will be gathered with other daily necessities such as coats and bags.
- Find narrow space. A between-the-studs spot in a high-traffic room can be transformed into open shelves or a slim cabinet as a space for home electronics. In a less visible area, open shelves work; try pretty storage trays and boxes as well as cord organizers to stash and contain electronics. In a spot that's on display, a door helps to shield the tech clutter.
- Create a charging console. A console is a great way to add a home charging cabinet when there is none. Find a premade piece that has at least one drawer. Install it at counter height and include electric outlets hidden inside the back of the drawer.
- Reimagine ordinary office supplies or vintage finds. Vertical file holders with numerous slots, divided organizer trays: The office supply store is a treasure trove of low-cost, high-function tech-charging solutions. Look for an item with multiple slots or several levels, like a paper tray, in order to divide electronics by person or size. Flea market discoveries can be repurposed, too, with drilled holes for wires and covers to hide cameras, smart phones, and other items.
- Hide tech in a wire basket. Attached to the underside of a counter or desk, a wire basket can stash multiple smartphones and tablets. Its construction provides an easily accessible way to attach cords, too.