Interior Design Tip: To Outlet or not to Outlet?
On many occasions I have walked into a bedroom with a new lamp in hand only to find the outlet is directly in the center of the wall behind the headboard. How are you supposed to plug things into this outlet? It isn’t an issue if you are Elastigirl and can stretch your arm into that awkward position to get under and over the headboard rail or you can stretch from the side to reach it. If the outlet is centered behind a king-size bed, good luck plugging something in without moving the bed.
I often think that the people designing and building houses are only taking into consideration the building code requirements and costs per outlet but not how people actually live in and use the space they are creating. Wouldn’t it be nice if outlets were conveniently placed in the spaces you want to access them? In most cases, this is a simple and inexpensive project that could help improve your quality of life in the spaces you are in the most.
When deciding the locations of your outlets here are a few suggestions:
- For outlets by your bed (whether a twin or a king), decide where the bed will be placed in the room. Will it have nightstands? What size will they be? Place the outlets behind the nightstand about 2/3 of the nightstand width from the bed edge for easy access to plug in lamps, clocks and whatever else you need to plug in.
- For outlets at your media center, there are several things you should ask yourself:
- Is the TV sitting on a shelf or the top of the media center? If yes, then you should place an outlet to the outside edge of both sides of the media center so it will be easy for you to plug and unplug all of the equipment pieces that often go with a TV without having to move the media cabinet. If you have the luxury to do so, pre-plan the placement of all of the equipment first and place the outlets according to your needs. You can never have too many plugs in this area. As a general rule, figure out how many outlets you need, then add a couple more for future equipment. It is always better to have 10 wall outlets than to have two outlets and multiple power strips.
- Is the TV hanging on the wall? If yes, then you should place the outlet high on the wall behind the TV’s location but slightly off center so it doesn’t interfere with the mounting bracket. You should also plan for a hole/channel in your wall to run other wires from the TV to the media cabinet below. It is rarely acceptable to have an exposed cord going to your TV .
- For living space outlets in new construction, pre-plan your furniture arrangement to the best of your ability and place floor outlets at hidden, but easily accessible locations. You will not want the recessed floor outlet for your side table lamp to show a lump in your rug and give away its location. Cut a hole in your rug if necessary to give it a direct and hidden path to the outlet. Afraid to do this yourself? There are carpet repair places that would be happy to come out and help you with this sometimes difficult task.
- For floor outlets in an existing living space, putting an outlet in the slab is not so easy. Just as with new construction, you need a plan for your furniture placement, then place the outlets to each side of the sofa for easy access to lamps on end tables. If your furniture is in the middle of the room, use wire/cable cover that runs along the baseboard until you can turn a 90 degree angle and head under a rug. Tape the wire down to the floor to keep it in place and find a floor wire cover that is close to the color of your tile/hardwood so it will virtually disappear.
- Another space that can never have too many outlets is the workbench in your Garage. (Notice a trend with the typical man areas?) Know your equipment – does it require a 110 or 220 volt outlet? What are you planning to do in each area and space? Also, don’t forget your car washing areas. Have an outlet near the garage door so your vacuum will be able to reach without any issue.
You don’t have to live with the meager selection of outlets that came with your house. They’re inexpensive and easy to install, even in a home that’s already built. Stop dealing with the hard-to-reach plugs and the tangle of wires and power strips – make your outlets work for you.