room wall tv.jpgMost new year’s resolutions aren’t kept. It’s the truth, but why? Resolutions get dropped quickly  because we ask too much of ourselves, or set goals that are unreachable.

While we’re looking at realistic goals for 2016 on the blog, I’ve got one that will be easy to keep, because we’re breaking it down into digestible bites; how to clean up your media room clutter.

Take stock of the room (and recycle old gear)

The first thing you need to do is take a good objective look at what’s cluttering your media room. Do you have old peripherals (VHS/VCR? Or an old laser disc player?) still hanging around? Now’s the time to take them to a local electronics recycler and say goodbye. You can find electronics recycling depots in your city by searching google.

If you have a drawer or box where old electronics bits and pieces have been stored, open it up and go through it all. I had a large shoe box filled with old connectors and cables for things I no longer have or that don’t even exist any more. So take inventory and get rid of any junk you don’t need.old remotes.jpg

Get rid of old remotes

Another clutter culprit that needs to go is old remote controls. The last time I decluttered, I found not one but THREE remotes to components I hadn’t had in years. So pop out the batteries (recycle those too!) and send them off to electronics heaven.

But what about if you’ve still got three or four remotes for things you are using?  Now’s the time to upgrade…

Get a Universal Remote to reduce clutter

Universal remotes are the best way to reduce component clutter. Many like those from Philips or Logitech will work with hundreds of devices, even older ones, so you can get everything merged into one handy remote, and then tuck all the extra remotes in a drawer out of sight.

While setting up a new universal remote can be daunting, they’re easier now than ever before, and some even let you do all or part of the set up on your computer. Logitech’s Harmony Elite remote can also even transfer your settings from your old universal remote, to the new one if you’re just doing an upgrade.

Use Sound Bars to declutter audio and improve sound

onkyo sound bar room.jpgPlenty of people don’t consider sound when they get a new TV.  They think the TV speakers are good enough. (After all why would a manufacturer build cruddy speakers into a high def TV, right?) The truth is today’s TV are so thin and light, it’s nearly impossible to build in any kind of quality speakers. Ever used a pocket portable speaker that’s the size of a salt shaker? They do give you sound, but it’s tinny and hollow. The same holds true for TVs, so you’ll need a sound bar or speakers to make the audio picture as good as the 4K video picture.

I like sound bars because they give you a great sounding audio experience all in one package. Many sound bars now are also wireless or have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning you can not only use them for your TV, but you can play or stream music from them too, making them very versatile. Still wondering if sound bars are worth it? Read Tom’s blog “Are Sound Bars Worth the Investment?”

Of course, you can also invest in a good set of speakers. Many are wireless now so there’s no trailing cords, meaning you can have a less cluttered and messy room. Whichever sound preference you have, you’ll get a much better sound than just going through the TV. Just make sure to keep cords (if you have some) tucked out of sight.

Wall mount your TV to keep things tidy

tv on wall larg square.jpgBest Buy blogger Travis recently did a whole series on wall mounting your TV, including what you need to know, and how you can get it done.

Suffice to say wall mounting can allow you to create space, by eliminating the need for a TV stand, which is particularly helpful in small spaces. My husband and I have wall mounted TVs in our media room for a better sight line, and in the living room too (the TV there is actually hidden behind a sliding painted canvas to keep the focus on our friends and the room itself, not the giant black hole on the wall).

Hide cables too

Wall mounting keeps clutter from accumulating on the furniture, and if you properly handle the cables, you can also keep the wall area tidy too, so there’s not a whole bunch of wires hanging down behind the beautiful HD TV you just attached to the wall. Installing a pipe inside the wall is not as hard as you might think, and there are plenty of YouTube videos that can show you how. Want an easier solution? Consider a cord cover kit that can make cables virtually vanish.

If you have a sound bar, don’t forget to wall mount that too. Many come ready to affix with small holes in the back so you can just hang them on screws or hooks; no special mounts required!

Velcro is your friend

One of my secrets to a tidy media room is velcro. I use it to attach small components, like my Apple TV to the wall, behind the set. It’s hidden, but if I ever need to pull it out to take it somewhere, or do a reset, it’s easy to access.

I have an AC plug high up on the wall, directly behind my TV, so I also used velcro to tie up long loose cables and stick them to the wall behind the TV so they’re not hanging down and cluttering up the area around the set.

Hire a geek to help you out

When wall mounting, you need to pick the right mount for your TV’s weight and size. Seem intimidating? If wall mounting and cable hiding is beyond your skills, it’s good to know there’s help. Geek Squad can come over, assess your needs, and give you an estimate on cost. Read more about Travis’ experience working with Geek Squad to lift his TV and hide the cables.

Geek Squad can also help you with other electronics-related tasks like installing any new purchases, configuring components or even calibrating new equipment. If you’ve been procrastinating on doing any of those tasks, just take a deep breath and make the call and make 2016 the year you get these things done.

Do a deep clean of the media room

Once you’ve decluttered, wall mounted your TV, worked out universal remotes and improved things with a sound bar, now’s the time to do a thorough cleaning of everything in the room. Vacuum everywhere, including around and under furniture, and don’t forget to vacuum your components too. Follow that up with giving any electronics a wipe down with a soft cloth and a proper cleaner . Finish things off by using glass cleaner on any glass surfaces like tables, glass doors or windows for a sparkling shine.

Each piece of this puzzle can be done one at a time, so on the whole, it’s not as daunting a job as it might seem. Once you’ve decluttered your media room and spruced everything up, it’ll be a much more enjoyable place to relax and kick back.

Erin Lawrence
Editor TV and Home Theatre
Erin is a journalist, writer, and TV producer with a fascination for technology and a love of gadgets. Check out her blog