How to Organize and Declutter Your Entertainment Center

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Wow – this does look like the back of my entertainment center! So much for a wireless society! Here are some great tips for getting your entertainment center organized and clean from Lifehacker:

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How to Organize and Declutter Your Entertainment Center

If your entertainment center looks like a fire hazard, it might be time to get the cord clutter under control and hidden away. It’s not as easy as organizing your computer cables, but it can still be done without spending a lot of money.

Regardless of the amount of devices you’re working with, it’s easy for cables to get bunched up, cluttered, and messy. No matter how carefully you put everything together you almost always end up with a mess. It’s actually very easy to minimize the clutter and organize everything. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to do it.

Step 1: Disconnect and Clean Everything

Hopefully your entertainment center doesn’t look like it housed an army of cats like mine in the picture above, but chances are it’s still a bit dusty back there. Disconnect all your cables and clean everything off.

Step 2: Organize by Endpoint on the Floor

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Next, lay out your cables on the floor in front of the entertainment center so you can get an idea of where everything needs to go. Since even on the simplest setup, half are going to the TV and the other half to a power outlet, organize them by end point so you know where each cable is heading. For instance, set all your HDMI, component cables, and coaxial cables together. Set all you power cords aside as well. This also means setting aside the cables that connect to the stereo or other auxiliary devices like a Wii’s motion sensor bar or Kinect.

Step 3: Connect the Power Cords To Your Power Strip

There’s no exact order you need to go in, but if you consider the power cords the foundation of your setup, it helps get the organization process started. They’re all heading to the power strip, so it makes sense to start there. Plug everything into the power strip and lay it out where your devices are.

Step 4: Connect Everything to Its End Point

It’s easiest to start at the end then work your way to the device it’s coming from. For instance, you want to start by connecting your HDMI cables to the TV, the Ethernet cables to your router, and everything else you have at its destination. Once connected, lay them out approximately where your gadgets are.

Step 5: Shorten Your Cables

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Using twist tiescable ties, or Velcro, shorten your cords so that they are the exact length between the two devices they need to be. You can do this by wrapping the cable around your hand and tying it off with the tie of your choice. Shorter cables are easier to manage and hide away.

Step 6: Wrap Like-Cables Together

Once your cables are shortened, the best way to keep everything from ending messy again is to wrap everything heading the same direction together. For instance, if you have three HDMI cables heading to the television, tie all three together with your cable ties. The same goes for every other cable you have. You’re going for an effect like these cord organizers. The idea is that you’re tying everything together in bulk to make it look like one large cable instead of three.

Step 7: Connect Your Devices

Once everything is tied and cleaned up, your entertainment should be looking a lot better. Go ahead and plug in all your devices and slide them into the entertainment center. Depending on the size of your setup, you may have a lot of excess cord or small bundles everywhere. If it looks fine to you, then you’re done. But if you want to hide and organize a little more, here’s a few suggestions.

Organize Everything Further if You Need It

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If you want to step up the organization there are a few extra steps you can take to hide cables or make it all look a little better.

  • Binder Clips: Yes, binder clips work behind your television just as well as your desk. If you have a lot of cables, you can use binder clips to keep all your cables in a neat row or help keep them propped up if they need to cross over everything else. This keeps the cables from dangling or hanging awkwardly across other cables.
  • Hide your power strip: If your power strip is full, you probably have power cables going everywhere. You can purchase a box that hides it away and organizes the cables out of a singular small hole, or you convert a shoe box to do the same thing.

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  • Replace a fiberboard back with peg board: If you have a home entertainment center that has a fiberboard back, rip it off and replace it with a piece of peg board. This gives you a way to easily hang and organize the same way you would with your computer. This method is especially helpful if you have extra game controllers or remotes lying around and want a basket to stuff them in. A peg board is also handy because you can usea tool holder to organize cables.
  • Skip hiding everything and embrace the look: Alternately, you can always just embrace the fact you need cables running everything and mount everything to the wall in a decorative pattern. This takes a lot of work, but the effect can be better than hiding everything away.
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