Simplify: Whole House Cable Management System

In all the places we’ve lived, we’ve battled with the issue of how to make cords inconspicuous.  Not just the mess of computer cords behind a computer desk, but also all the coax cable, ethernet/Cat5/Cat6 cable, speaker cable, and (becoming much less common) telephone cable that runs throughout a house.

In the best situations, these cables were run next to the base molding, in perpendicular lines, and were painted to match the wall or were at least a similar color.  More often than not, however, these cables were a strong contrasting color, hanging loose, and had no semblance of order.

Well, we wanted to address this issue in our new house.  We also had the problem of needing more light but also have to contend with a flat roof and no attic (and hence, no attic access).  The solution?  Crown molding.

Now I’ve heard of crown molding hiding cable before, usually speaker wire, but I never liked the idea because the molding would encapsulate the cable and it was not easy to access or change.  But, we had pretty decent ceiling height (8 ft) and an idea to offset the crown molding from the ceiling to allow for uplighting as well as cable management:

Uplighting and cable management

Our ceilings are pretty high, but not high enough to have door trim, wall space, and then crown molding.  So we combined our door trim with the crown molding:

Uplighting and cable management

The result was the crown molding sat about 8 inches below the ceiling (and the wall was painted the same color as the ceiling for those 8 inches).  It also means the crown molding left an accessible shelf for us to sit cable in, as well as some new LED lights:

Uplighting and cable management- hide cables in crown moulding

 So now, all our cables can sit in the trough left by the crown molding and, wherever we want a coax or internet outlet, we can simply run it in the crown molding, then drop it down inside the wall at the desired location- with no cables visible and an easy way to swap the cables out in the future!

I love it when design works out!

Simplify: Kitchen Pot Holder

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In organizing our new kitchen, one of our greatest concerns was where to hang our pots.  Probably not a concern for most normal people, but my husband and I had grown accustomed to having our pots hang from a decorative wall holder on an empty wall in our kitchen- unfortunately, our new house had a galley kitchen with no available wall space.

But our new kitchen did have a pantry next to the kitchen, as well as a cabinet pantry in the kitchen with pull-out shelves.  So, we decided to order a towel bar, some chrome S hooks, and a kitchen organizer to make our own hanging pot holder in our cabinet pantry.

I picked a towel bar that had an exposed screw so I could bolt through the bottom of the drawer rather than rely on an allen wrench tightening screw to support the weight of the pots and pans.  The S hooks simply hang on the sideways towel bar, and the kitchen organizer sits on top of the pull out shelf to hold the lids.

We love how this project turned out.

Keep it Simple: Baby Monitor

It seems many simplicity sites try to deal with the concept of minimizing and simplifying with kids.  Well, we have a young son and I can tell you, it isn’t easy to keep things simple or minimalist.

Right now, with all the stuff we keep getting from well meaning friends and family, we are simply trying to survive parenthood and keep the stuff contained.  Baby products don’t help the situation, either, since most items are extreme uni-taskers or just plain ridiculous (examples here, here, here….).

So in looking for a new video baby monitor, I was disappointed in how expensive they were, or how BIG they were.  I wanted something portable instead of a small TV.  I also wanted something that, ideally, could work for other uses after a child no longer needed a monitor.  We ended up finding exactly what we wanted in the Foscam IP network camera. Although its primary use will be as a baby monitor, it has the potential to also work as a security camera, or just a curiosity camera to see what our dogs do during a typical day.

Alternative to video baby monitor- less expensive IP camera

The best part about this camera?  No monitor!  It uses your smart phone, kindle, computer, or other wireless device to stream video.  So, if I’m working at my computer I can have a separate tab open and check in.  If I want to work outside, I can use my phone to check in. Currently, our camera is set up so it will only work on our wireless network so, for example, we can’t go out to a movie and check in on the babysitter- although if we configure the settings differently, it is possible to check in from anywhere with an internet connection.

With all that, why don’t more parents use this as a monitor?  Well, my husband is a pretty technical guy and this still wasn’t the easiest thing to set up.  In fact, I doubt I have the capability to set this camera up.  We also happen to have a static IP address, which made set up even easier, although likely still above my capabilities.  But, since my husband had the know-how, this is by far my favorite baby device yet.