Smart Design Tips for Your Tech (and Your Home)

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan.jpg If there’s one person who knows organizing, it’s Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, the founder of The site started out as a services resource for those in small spaces, but it’s morphed into much more and is now a go-to blog and connected community for organizing and home-related advice and tips. So who better to turn to for advice on how to fit tech smartly into your home?


The mission of is “saving the world, one room at a time.” These days, Ryan says that includes lots of questions from readers about how to best corral and organize an increasing number of technology and related gadgets. Luckily, today’s technology looks a lot better than it used to, so organizing no longer means just hiding it in a closet.


“Technology has stepped into design, and the design of hardware is more sensitive to people’s aesthetics and desires,” says Ryan. “Technology used to be unsightly, and now it’s a part of the decorating landscape.”


For example, we can now get a speaker that looks like a retro record player to blast the sounds of our HP Pocket Playlist. Or, we can get Dr. Dre-approved Beats Audio in HP PCs to hear every note of your favorite songs.


The result is a product that’s not only functional and streamlined, but that also looks cool and meshes with just about any décor. And that, says Ryan, is the point.


“Part of what we’re seeing is people wanting to express themselves,” he says. “They’re using technology as a surface for decorating and personal expression.”


apartmenttherapy2.jpgThat integration of technology also includes our proclivity toward a more web-based entertainment experience – and if it looks cool, why not show it off? Ryan says it’s easy to find ways to adapt technology to your space so that colors and shapes complement each other.


Take the HP SpectreONE for example. It’s a sleek and modern all-in-one device that’s equally at home in a kitchen or living room. Maybe you want an all-in-one TouchSmart computer that fits into any room in the house -- and when you don't want a keyboard or mouse getting in the way, you can stow them and use the touchscreen. Meanwhile the ENVY x2 can go anywhere with you, it's equally, well, your home. Wherever you go around the house, it's flexible enough to move with you. Ryan says he’s seeing more tablets and hybrids doing double-duty in the kitchen – as essential as the “Joy of Cooking” when it comes to looking up recipes on the fly. Then breaking loose of its base, you can kick back and use the ENVY x2 on the couch.


“Brands have been bringing in great designers in-house, and that’s reflected in the sleek design you see for tablets with touch technology,” says Ryan. “There are lots of tablets in the kitchen – we see a big spike in the evenings on our kitchen site.”


Printers are also following the same design sensibilities. Smaller, wireless versions like the HP ENVY 120 are emerging from the home office to stylishly sit on bookshelves and print from virtually anywhere. Space-savvy and design-conscious, it’s a design tech win-win.


Above all, Ryan says that design should be thoughtful and considered when you’re organizing a space, like making sure your desk fits in with your sofa and living room if that’s the only space for a home office. And, to always remember that less is usually just enough.


“People try to put too much in a space,” he says. “One of the coolest things about where technology has gone is to make things better while removing more – companies know that you don’t want a lot of stuff in the way of your experience.”




Spring Forward with Exclusive Tips from the Apartment Therapist


Create balance
Find unique ways to adapt technology to your space so the colors and shapes complement each other. Rethink your arrangements—the T.V. doesn’t have to be in the center of attention.


Clean up your hard drive

Spring is a great time to update your PC—whether that means an entire desktop refresh or just purging all those old files and unused icons. Organize and archive digital photos, and print out memories that you can hang in the home office. Original HP ink creates a rewarding printing experience, whether the desired results are long-lasting photographs with true-to-life colors or creative projects and gifts.


Deck out a desk

Velcro is a simple fix for too many cords. Neatly wrap up the wires and tuck away behind bookends, PC towers or around your desk. Or, wrap them with colorful yarn and string to turn them into decorative, eye-catching elements.


Keep calm and shine on

Keep your gadgets shiny by dusting and wiping down with a glass cleaner or a homemade solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Use an eyeglass cleaning cloth for your PC screen, and use circular motions to prevent streaking.


Recycle those boxes

Keep all the user manuals, setup guides and warranties, and recycle those old tech boxes to make space for new gadgets and open up to shelving and closet space you never knew you had.


Add a splash of color and use natural textures

Energize your space with color. I have a bright orange Herman Miller chair – it makes me happy when I come to work. And, each Apartment Therapy employee has a big piece of leather on their desks to give them something natural and soft around the technology.


Do you have any tips on how you've designed tech into your home? We'd love to hear about it!


Photo credit: Zach Jopling; shot on location at DwellStudio

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