Electrical: Switchplate Organizers
As remodeling contractors and home improvement enthusiasts, we are always looking for ideas and nifty gadgets that can make life around the house more convenient and enjoyable. For us, one of the best venues to find new products and information is The National Hardware Show. This annual event consists of over one million square feet of everything that one could ever hope to find in a hardware store or home center. You name it — hand tools, power tools, fasteners, garden furniture, plumbing fixtures and lighting are a sampling of the almost endless supply of home improvement products and materials being exhibited.
One of the most exciting events at The National Hardware Show is the “New Product Exposition.” Here, an array of never-before-seen tools and products are showcased for inspection by the trade. This year alone, there were over 1400 new products on display in the New Product Exposition.
It was at this year’s New Product Exposition that we came across the subject of this column – wallplates that help organize the home at the light switch. Since its inception, the light switch cover plate has served a single purpose – to conceal electrical wires and the body of the switch. Aside from hiding a mess of wires, the wallplate acts as a safety device by preventing electrical shock. In some cases, a switch plate can be a decorative element in a room – some are made of natural wood, ornamental metal, brass, ceramic tile or can be covered with wallpaper to conceal the plate over a papered surface.
And as if that weren’t enough, wallplates have now evolved into something that can help you stay organized. This new line of electrical switch plate covers combine form and function. For instance, you can replace the tired old switch plate next to your telephone with a new one that contains an on-board digital message center. Thus, the days of searching for a pencil and paper to scribble a hurried message are no more, thanks to this nifty device. Simply press the “record” button and speak. To retrieve a message all one need do is press the “play” button.
The best part is that it is easy to install and doesn’t require any wiring. The unit is battery operated and installs with two screws just like your run-of-the-mill switch plate cover. It’s that simple. The Digital Message Center Wallplate retails for around $15 and can be found in many hardware stores and home centers.
If the idea of a switch plate with an on-board recorder is a bit too high-tech for your tastes, you might want to consider the alternative – the “Memoplate.” This is a great one to have mounted at a switch near a telephone. It eliminates the need to scurry for a pencil and paper because both are incorporated into its design. The Memoplate Organizer holds a 3M Post-it Notes pad along with a pen for quick notes to family or roommates on-the-go. Well worth the retail price of $6.
Having trouble keeping track of your keys? If the answer is yes, you might want to replace one of your double switch plates with a keyhook wallplate. This switch plate gone key caddy has three hooks for easy and convenient storage. With a retail price of about $6., it can well pay for itself with only a couple of lost keys – not to mention the savings in grief.
Not all of these wall plate organizers are designed for use with a light switch. Some can even be used with an electrical outlet such as the “Hair Dryer Hook Wallplate.” This model is designed to fit over a ground fault circuit interrupter (gfci) electrical outlet in the bathroom. It is about twice the width of an average outlet wall plate and has a hook for a blow dryer.
A blow dryer is often the source of clutter at the bathroom vanity. It can also present a safety hazard if the blow dryer accidentally lands in a sink filled with water. Yikes! Thus, it is the perfect opportunity to improve safety and organization. While changing the outlet cover plate, install a gfci outlet. It can prevent serious injury of even death from electrical shock.
Like the Memoplate Organizer and the Keyhook Wallplate, the Hair Dryer Hook Wallplate retails for $6 – a real bargain when it comes to gaining precious counter space in the bathroom.