Despite adding thousands of pounds worth of ‘smart tech’ into our homes every year – British homes are full of ‘ugly tech’ according to a survey, with unsightly wires, daisy-chained extension leads and the plastic, clunky look of devices topping the list of bugbears. But help is at hand as interiors expert, Megan Baker shares six ways to tidy technology and declutter the devices driving us mad.
Today’s homes may be getting smarter but new research by Zen Internet has revealed that the nation is fed up with ugly technology being on show in their clutter-free homes.
- Almost three in five (57%) of those surveyed thought wires around the home were the most unsightly of the lot
- This was closely followed by daisy chained extension leads (43%)
- Three in 10 said they disliked the plastic clunky look of technology (30%) around the home.
And it’s not surprising that technology is impacting our interior design. There are on average nine smart devices set up in our homes, according to the data, equating to over 250 million devices across the UK*. With 16-25 years olds owning the most (10.07 devices), closely followed by those in the 35-44 age bracket (9.28).
But there’s an issue – many homes don’t have an abundance of power sockets so rely on extension cables and most devices need power – and that means lots of wires on show!
Ugly Tech Should be a Thing of the Past says survey
Seventy per cent of people surveyed by Zen Internet believe that in the future technology should be built into new homes (e.g. an internet hub built into the wall) or look nice enough to be on display. And we’re optimistic for the future. Almost half (45 per cent) believe that in the next two years every gadget will be connected and controlled by a master device, almost a third (31 per cent) predict that we will be using voice commands to manage our homes, whilst 17 per cent think that our homes will be in sync with our emotions and be able to adapt our surroundings accordingly.
So how can we strike the balance between smart technology and design aesthetic in our homes today? And what devices shouldn’t be shoved away but perhaps disguised.
Interior designer Megan Baker shares her advice on how to declutter your tech without losing your connectivity.
“If you’ve been home working from the dining room table for the past 12 months you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by wires and technology. Our homes feel calmer, happier and healthier when they are organised and decluttered and often it is just a case of giving everything its own place which can help to make you feel that your home is more of a relaxation space than an office or gaming room.
Zone and give everything a home
Having zoned areas within your home will mean that all of the tech that goes with it is in its rightful place. Consider tech zones as well as device-free areas of the home.
Storage units, fitted furniture, boxes or baskets are all a worthwhile investment if you need additional storage to keep tech tidy. There are lots of media units that combine style and function with hinged doors to give you access to equipment as you need it. If space is tight you could invest in a desk or console which folds away with your laptop and wires inside. Baskets and boxes are great for storing remotes, tablets and console controllers, as well as anything else that doesn’t need to be out day-to-day.
Seek out stylish technology
Often it’s not just the wires, it’s the appearance of TVs, speakers and other gadgets that can jar with the design in your home. If you’re looking to invest in new technology (and you have the budget to choose style and function), you could opt for speakers that are also design pieces, TVs that look like picture frames or works of art when not in use, or even pimp your Hive thermostat with a coloured frame that clips around it. Or why not look at how you can integrate two pieces of tech into one – for example Ikea’s Symfonisk range – which combines a table lamp and Sonos speaker.
For a simple solution, you can paint the wall that your TV sits against a dark colour as this will help it blend in better than against a pale, neutral backdrop.
Whether it’s your TV, speakers, smart speaker or security camera, mounting your technology can instantly declutter your living space. If you’re renovating or want to take integration to the next level, you should consider recessing your TV (and speakers) into your wall for a wire-free and slick finish. Or try trunking that will hide your wires and when painted the same colour as your wall will be hard to spot. You can buy mounts for your smart speakers which effectively plugs it into the wall with space for any wires to be hidden behind. Security cameras will always work better when mounted up high. Remove the need for wires with battery operated models.
Simplify your tech
If your tech is taking over your house it might be time to step back and simplify things. Do you actually need all of the gadgets in your house? Are some of them redundant and are some of them doubling up and doing the same job – for example a universal TV remote can take the place of a bundle of remotes, whilst an Xbox can also play Bluerays. If you’ve been guilty of hoarding gadgets, having a clear out and keeping the things that you need and add value to your day-to-day life can make things feel uncluttered.
Get gadgets for your gadgets
There’s a huge range of cable clips, ties, tidies and handy gadgets that you can buy that will help to keep wires in place and looking neat. Head to Pinterest for some inspiration and ideas and then give them a go in your own home. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to get organised. In fact, once you get started you’ll have a cable clip for everything!
Show your router some TLC and make it a design feature
The rule of three is a key element of interior design and this can very much come into play when it comes to making your smart tech integrate into your design scheme. Rather than having your smart speaker on display on its own, try adding a couple of vases or a vase and a candle in complimentary colours. All of a sudden you have created an interesting design aesthetic and softened the look of your tech, helping it blend into your exterior.
While an internet router was the least objected to item of tech in terms of looks, currently over half (55%) of those planning to place their router in the living room, will hide it out of sight. But Zen is advising caution here. Whilst many may want to bury it away, objects or walls in between can interfere with WiFi reach and potentially cause sluggish internet.
You could instead place a router in a lightweight basket or behind a clever ‘faux book’ display. Consider mounting it on a wall or in the corner by a ceiling, not only will this help to keep clutter off your floor or surfaces it could help to improve your signal strength. Just ensure you place it in the heart of your home.
Georgina Lord, from Zen.co.uk, added: “In the past few years smart technology has completely revolutionised our lives – making our home life slicker, more switched on and secure. As with every emerging technology there are always going to be some drawbacks and it’s not surprising that people are blaming wires, cabling, plugs and bulky gadgets for ruining their interior design aesthetic.
“As this technology develops brands are looking to make tech as visually appealing as possible and homebuilders are starting to develop smart homes that builds this technology into the infrastructure, so many of the frustrations that homeowners face will disappear. In the meantime, some clever decluttering can help to keep on top of wires.
“Whilst there are many ways that we can improve the aesthetic of the gadgets in our homes, a router is something that needs some special attention to ensure that it is working to it’s very best ability. We’d urge homeowners to pay careful attention to where they place their router and avoid boxing it in or attempting a hack for hiding it away. Ultimately the best way to get a WiFi signal from A to B is line of site so always go for function over style when it comes to your router – your household will thank you for it.”