Monday, May 7, 2012

Design Tips: Charging Stations for all your electronic devices

What do you do with all those chargers? Phones, cameras, Kindles, iPods, and all the other stuff that hasn’t even been invented yet! Being electronically connected is a good thing, until you try to figure out what to do with all those cords!

A client of ours wondered. She and I agreed there needed to be a better way to keep all that handy and neat yet out of the way but there is not much out there. She’d done some research on her own and found a charming piece of furniture from Ballard Designs that should do the trick for her.

So I did some research too. If you Google “charging stations” you’ll get anything from places to plug in your electric car  to boring traditional dresser- or desk-top pieces with little compartments. The dresser or desk top boxes are OK for now, but at the rate that electronics are changing in size and numbers of items owned per person, these will grow obsolete in a hurry. But I’m entertained by this clever grassy one from Smartfurniture pictured below! I bet it would hold a pencil or two as well.
If you Google “cell phone charging furniture” you'll get some better options but not really. But I knew of some more specific places to look. Behold the secretary! A once-outdated piece of furniture originally used as a desk or bill paying station in the olden days when people wrote letters and checks with a pen, licked stamps (believe it or not, yes we did!) and sealed envelopes. Now the secretary is useful once again.

I like these options from Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs because the drop tops are angled so you’re not tempted to pile it full of stuff and it will close to hide all those messy cords and annoying blinking lights. Ballard Design’s option (below) is better because it has more open flat space (two whole shelves!) and a hole in the back to run a cord for a multi-plug strip.

Pottery Barn’s option (at top) has a built-in outlet with a very useful USB port as well as a phone jack and data port. Both come in different colors but are fairly traditional in style. Place in your entry way for super easy access. The drawers can hold spare keys and other objects, and the very top is a great spot for a mail organizer. I’d be repainting the front with chalkboard paint or installing a bulletin board for a truly useful DIY message center!
Other options of freestanding DIY furniture to use would be new or used nightstands, bookshelf units, cheapie antique cabinets or wash stands, old desks, workshop tables or whatever you like. Look for a nice flat surface and doors or roll-up tops at counter level or a little higher. Don’t be afraid of drilling holes in the back to route your cables but shop for something charming and with low value. It’ll be worth a lot more to you if it serves your purpose than to any collector but at the same time I wouldn’t be punching holes in an expensive heirloom piece.

Add a power strip surge protector (or two!) with some built-in USB ports and you’ll be set!

Lately I’ve been designing places in kitchens, entryway message centers and mud rooms with plenty of outlets and places for device charging. The most important aspects is that it’s handy for you and your family, and not so specific you can’t use the area for other things too.

Until next time!
--Elaine Bothe

Photos courtesy of Smartfurniture, Pottery Barn and Ballard Design.

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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:00 AM 


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