Adding Remotes To Our Bedside Lamps

Number five is alive! (Short Circuit, anyone?) I went with that intro because we recently added a helpful robot to our household (you know I’m into gadgets – I think my favorite post ever was this one entitled Super Toilet).

Let me start from the beginning. We’re big proponents of having lights that you can reach from bed. It sounds obvious, but for a while the only light in our first master bedroom was overhead and operated by the switch by the door (which feels miles away when you’re lying in bed half asleep). So until we installed the wall sconces two years into living there, we experienced a battle of wills each night to see who would have to make the trek to flick the switch. Picture both of us trying to fake-sleep to avoid having to be the one to get up.

And when we rearranged our bedroom last September, we nearly ignored our own advice. Since my bedside lamp was sunken back in that nook, it took a good stretch of my long monkey arms to twist the switch each night. People asked if it annoyed me and I honestly replied that it didn’t. What’s wrong with a little pre-bed stretching? It definitely still beats getting out of bed and walking across the room.

But over time… let’s just say that it wore me and my monkey arms down. My best description of the slow I-hate-this evolution would be this. A week or two of doing the pre-bed-arm-stretch = not so bad. A month or two of it = getting old. Three to six months of it = I’m finished with the straining of the arm (said a la Ben Stiller in this “I’m finished with the checking of the bags” clip). There are certainly worse problems in the world to have, but I’m always down for upgrades that make a room more functional – especially after six months of doing the harlem shake the sloppy swish the light limbo before bed.

And since we’re both really happy with the room’s layout except for this small lamp-reaching detail, the solution I had in mind was some sort of remote (which a bunch of you had actually recommended months ago when we shared the new arrangement). Initially I yearned to implement some Jetson-esque system that I could control from my phone (since it’s often the last thing to leave my hands each night). Then I briefly reminisced about The Clapper (which I had growing up, btw). But the things I was finding (like this system from Belkin) started to feel like overkill. Then I stumbled upon this $50 system that was marked down to just $19. Sold.

About a week after I ordered it, my little robot system arrived – and I was all dorked out about getting it hooked up. That’s when I discovered one major flaw in the design. The remote outlet is so big that no matter which outlet you place it in – the top or the bottom – it blocks the other one from being used. Bad robot.

And since the outlet behind my dresser needs to serve more than one electrical device, I was kinda annoyed at first. But it ended up being a blessing in disguise because it forced me to dig an old power strip out of storage so that I could plug the remote into that. Which meant that not only did I now have room for the bulky remote device, but I could plug everything else in at once (we used to rotate things out, so the fan or the baby monitor were only plugged in occasionally). Now that everything has power, this dresser is the quite the hub of activity.

But let’s not forget the best part. My mystical remote that makes light disappear right before our very eyes. Ooh. Ahh. (No strained arm muscles required.)

Of course, reaching for the remote on the dresser every night wouldn’t be much of an improvement. So with a little 3M velcro I stuck it to the side of our bed frame, where it’s 100% hidden from view beneath the bedspread after we make the bed.

I tell ya folks, this is the life.

And in case you’re wondering, I put one of the other remote outlets (since the set came with three total) in Sherry’s lamp so she doesn’t have to lift a finger to turn off her light either. Hers wasn’t as much of a stretch since it’s not set back in a nook, but I’m a gentleman, what can I say? It’s a far cry from the old days of negotiating who would have to get out of bed and hit the wall switch. Now I’m all “Oh, you must be tired honey. Let me get that light for you. You just rest.” #madhusbandpoints

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has added a simple techno fix that makes life a little easier. Are there any quick and handy updates going on in your house? Do you have The Clapper song in your head now? I do. Clap on. (Clap clap). Clap off. (Clap clap).

Psst- Today my lady wife is over on Style Me Pretty Living, just jabbering about “life behind the blog.”


  1. says

    I had no idea they made such things! Now it makes me want to use our bedside lamps more just so I can be lazy and push the remote. I’m NOT saying you’re lazy, I’m say because ours are well within reach, we would be the lazy ones. I love the velcro strips too. Mad hubby points indeed, yo!

  2. Meredith says

    SHORT CIRCUIT!!! Oh my God, taking it old school. I seriously now feel the need to watch that movie again. “Number five is ALIVE!” Love that robot.

  3. Julie says

    Dang it! I was so sure that this was the baby announcment we’ve been waiting for (John – Sherry – Burger – Clara – #5). Oh well! Will try to be as excited about remotes as I would have been about a wee one. :)

  4. Michele says

    We’ve used a combination of Hue bulbs and Wemo outlets to power most of the lights in our house. As a result we can now turn most everything on (or dim/brighten them) from our phones, even when we aren’t home. With the Hue bulbs, we can also change the bulbs’ colors. Love!

  5. says

    My dad recently had a stroke and upon his arrival home from the hospital, we installed one of these lighting remote systems in his house to make it easier for him to turn lights on and off from a distance. They are awesome! At Christmas, we even hooked the remote up to his Christmas Tree lights. My nieces got a kick out of turning it off and on like magic.
    Gotta love gadgets!!!

  6. says

    Love it. We actually use a system like that at Christmas for all of our window lights & tree lights in the house. It really helps not to have to go to each room when we are ready for bed…especially the ones on another floor. We love it. :)

  7. Avi says

    Even my 3yr old does the sloppy swish!
    So my hubby had to take part in a secret Harlem Shake video at his office yesterday. So we sent him on his way complete with boxing gloves & an Optimus Prime helmet and he sloppy swished away in the video. They’re surprising the entire division with it today at their quarterly meeting and I’m seriously dying to see it.
    Poor Mokiki :(

  8. Laura says

    This reminds me so much of my husband. Remember that episode of Modern Family where Phil is trying to control the house with his iPad? Fireplace, thermostat, etc? Yeah, tha’ts pretty much my tech hubby. One of my favorite things we’ve installed is a wifi-enabled thermostat. So when we’re in bed, and we’re hot or cold, we grab our iPhones (we have the app that works with our thermostat) and adjust the temp. It. Is. Awesome. Also, we turn up/cut back the thermostat a few degrees when traveling, so when we are on a road trip and about an hour from home, we’ll take out the iPhone and adjust the temp so it’s not an igloo (or sauna) when we walk in. It’s the little things!!!

  9. says

    You guys crack me up. This may be one of my favorite posts! I was surprised there was no #firstworldproblems shoutout though. Although I am impressed you lived with it for 6 months. I don’t think I could handle that.

  10. Krista says

    I can’t be the only one who thought that “Number Five is Alive…” was about to be a pregnancy announcement (or maybe a new puppy)!

  11. says

    What a great little gadget! I wonder if they make an outside version? We’re trying to figure out how to turn our globe string lights that we’re putting across the patio off without having to climb up a ladder to the outlet every night to unplug them. This would be a great solution!

    • Kathryn says

      Hear, hear! I love the renter-friendly posts. (Okay, I love them all, but especially the sub-section I can implement)

  12. Mary says

    I grew up in a house with all the lights completely controlled by X-10 (of Big Bang Theory fame). Every light was controllable from remotes placed throughout the house, and it was programmed to turn off all the lights at various times (when everyone had left for work, after everyone was in bed). Now that I’ve got my own place, I’m itching to get it all set up!

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