An Old Fashioned Solution For a Modern Day Problem

An Old Fashioned Solution For a Modern Day Problem

Gregory Han
Sep 15, 2011

This corner of our apartment has been a total pain in the kiester since we moved in. It's where our internet cable connection intersects to our router, alongside a connecting electrical extension cord, and also where the main living room outlet resides. At one time all these elements were exposed, an ugly mess and shameful blight for an editor of Apartment Therapy Unplggd to admit to. Later, I was able to hide the majority of the cable clutter inside an IKEA cable box. Better than before, but as you can see above, it's an awkward and temporary solution at best. Then last weekend I stumbled upon the solution I've been looking for...

Though it looked much worse before the introduction of the IKEA cable organizer (part of the SIGNUM cable management series and the very same design I also use under my desk) and I've already run Wiremold to hide a great deal of the cable along the wall, the corner remained an eyesore.

My girlfriend recommended painting the plastic box the same colour as our living room walls (paint would reduce its presence, but due to the container's long narrow shape, it would likely still be noticeably an eyesore, at least to someone as nitpicky as I am). Not to mention the plastic IKEA design looks completely out of place amongst the surrounding elements of midcentury and antique curios.

The shame...the horror within!

This weekend we drove several hundred miles to attend a wedding, trekking from Los Angeles up northward to one of the Yosemite gateway towns, Oakdale. Dotted with barns in disrepair and a quaint downtown the size of a LA shopping mall parking lot, Oakdale is one of those charming small towns where the modern life hasn't erased away all the wonderful elements of the past...where the cows seemingly outnumber bipedal residents, the police stop to nod and let you cross the street (even though we were jaywalking), and there are still bargains to be found if antiques and collectibles are your thing.

Combing through antique malls happens to be an activity my better half and I enjoy, if not just for browsing and combing through old radios and other household electricals, handling vintage kitchen tools and imagining their past, perusing photos of people long since forgotten, etc, etc. And it was shortly upon scanning the shelves of our first antique mall in Oakdale I spied this curious box, hidden up on a shelf in the corner.

The Western Electric Telephone Switchboard has seen better days, but at just $25, I knew I wanted it just for the novelty factor. It was when I noticed the wooden box was both deep enough and revealed an empty interior that I realized the potential of this long obsolete piece of yester-tech offered in solving my gnawing dilemma.

So here's the plan and project for this weekend: I'm going to drill a hole in the back, large enough to snake through cables and cords and hide everything inside this more compact form factor and say 'goodbye' to the IKEA unit. I'll also be ditching the power strip currently in the IKEA cable management unit, since the idea of cramming in a surge protector inside tight wooden quarters seems iffy at best. But the excess amount of internet cable should fit safely, alongside the majority of the extension cord crammed inside the IKEA unit.

Best of all, this vintage find should look great positioned in the corner underneath the tripod lamp and inbetween the floating shelving unit and vintage hi-fi system, appeasing my near OCD obsession with hiding as many of the ugly elements of the modern digital life behind the facade of yesterday's more appealing designs, saving me from the difficult premise of embracing cable clutter. So next time you're at a garage sale, flea market or antique store, keep an eye out for container items from the might find yourself your next incognito cable organizing solution like I did!

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