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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

DIY: A Stylish Charging Station

It seems that with each passing year, we add another "must have" gadget to our lives. It started with a cell phone, then came the digital camera, then the iPod, then the work Blackberry, then the bluetooth, and who know what's next. As most everyone knows, all those cords can get a little unsightly, not to mention unwieldy. Every day I sigh as I fish my cell phone cord out from behind the dresser, where it invariably falls when I disconnect it from the phone.
I've seen a lot of "solutions" out there in the form of charging stations from West Elm, Pottery Barn, et al., most of which average from $60-$80. While they looked promising, when I saw them in person, I realized they were must too massive and "office-ish" to offer much of a solution. I don't have an entire desktop or side table to devote just to a charging station. And while they are more attractive than a mess of cords, in terms of design, they don't add much to the room.
Bedford Smart Technology™ Recharge Station
The usual suspects: Pottery Barn (above) and West Elm (below)
lacquer docking station
Always the DIY-er, I decided to keep an eye out for some sort of box or tray that I could convert into my own type of charging station. Something that I'd want to put in my house even if it didn't have charging-station capabilities. Enter the "Treasure Chest" that I found for $24.95 when MoS Charlotte led me on a whirlwind tour of The Sleepy Poet antique mall in Charlotte, NC this weekend (NB: The Sleepy Poet is AMAZING. It's a terrifically edited selection of antiques, collectibles, furniture, etc. It's just eclectic enough to be the type of place where you can find a unique bargain, but even amidst the odds and ends you are never looking at anything junky either. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in Charlotte! MoS Charlotte, thank you for taking me there as part of our fun weekend!)
In calling this box the "Treasure Chest" someone at the Sleepy Poet must have known about my fascination with all things maritime/nautical!
There are two components to a charging station: 1) a bottom compartment that houses the extension cord where you plug the chargers; and 2) a top area where you can rest your gadgets and actually plug them in. If you want to make your own charging station, this is all you'll need (and chances are, you'll spend a lot less than $60-$80!). 1) A box or tray that, in terms of size, is commensurate with the number of gadgets you have on hand. A lacquer box would be fun, as would a cigar box. Use your imagination, but before you grab grandma's antique, remember you have to drill a hole in it! A 5x7 box snugly holds one cell phone and one blackberry, so plan accordinly. 2) An extension cord; size can vary depending upon how many items you need to plug into it. 3) A heavy piece of cardboard or foam board cut to fit inside your box that is 1/2 inch smaller width-wise. So if the box is 7" wide and 5" deep, make the cardboard a little under 6.5" wide by 5" deep. 4) A piece of fabric at least 2" wider and longer than the cardboard. 5) Strong tape (I prefer clear mailing tape). 6) A drill, or if you don't have one, something you can use to bore a hole in the box. 5) Optional- zip ties help in keeping the chargers and extension cord organized. Once you collect your materials, assembly is a snap! Aside from the box, you probably have all of these materials them lying around the house. And yes, bamboo fabric + treasure chest makes for a slightly odd combination, but it's the only fabric I had on hand. 1) To start, make a hole in the back of your box large enough to be able to run the extension cord through. Since this hole has to be about 1.25" by 1", use the drill to bore several small holes in a square shape, then pop out the middle. (NB: If you have a handy husband/significant other/dad/brother you may just want to get them involved in this part). Since my treasure chest is up on "feet", I drilled the hole into the bottom of the box so as to preserve the back. However, if your box isn't on feet then running the cord out the bottom won't work, so drill the hole in the back. 2) Run the extension cord through the hole and arrange it in the bottom part of the box (zip ties help here!), then plug in your various chargers. Try to make the cords flat and even.
3) Wrap the fabric around the cardboard and secure with tape on the bottom. Try to wrap neatly and make any gathers as flat as possible. This is the "base" of the charging station. 4) Grab the ends of your charging cords and pull them towards the front of the box, then place the base section into the box over the extension cord and charger bases. The base should fit snugly into the box with a little extra room in the front; the cords will come through the 1/2 inch space that is left in the front.
5) Plug in your gadgets and start charging in style!

Now you see them... you don't!

Give this project a try and let us know what you think. Trust me, the hardest part is finding a box you like; the rest is cake!

1 comment:

Chic Coles (Cole Design) said...

What a great idea! That fabric is so fun, I should try doing that project, I have a bunch of Trina Turk fabric pieces that are just big enough for something like that! Thanks!

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