When I was re-doing my office recently (click here to see that makeover), one of the issues I had to fix was how to store (or should I say hide?) my router, modem and various other internet-related electronics and cords.
I hate to admit it, but the original condition of all that internet gear looked like this. It was basically a pile of stuff on the floor, with cords everywhere!
Every once in a while, the internet would go out…and I would find that one of my cats had pulled something out while they were playing with the cords.
I definitely needed a better solution…something where the cords were not tangled up and the boxes were organized.
Most electronics need some breathing room to prevent overheating, so the storage needed to “breathe”.
Since they also need to be reset every once in a while, I needed to be able to get to the boxes easily.
And I had to be able to plug everything in.
Read on to find out how to hide your router and modem.
The Solution? A Linen Cabinet
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My solution? Convert a linen cabinet into electronics storage. And fortunately for me, I already owned one, so I didn’t have to buy anything new! (You can see the pile of electronics and cords just waiting to be organized!)
Why a linen cabinet? They are meant to fit in a bathroom…which means they usually don’t take up much floor space. And they’re tall enough to allow for space between the shelves…which lets the electronics breathe.
They are usually stand-alone pieces of furniture which means they have a back. That allows you to hide the cords behind the unit.
They also often have mesh or wicker fronts which allows the heat from the electronics to dissipate. Many others have glass fronts that can be easily replaced with mesh.
Converting the Linen Cabinet To Store Electronics
Since the cabinet was being re-purposed, the first step was to make the changes required to turn it into an electronics storage cabinet.
1. Figure out the layout of your electronics in the cabinet. The least messy way to do this to put things that need to connect to each other close to each other. Then use short cords to connect them. I put the power strip on the bottom, the OOMA box (telephone service) and HDHomeRun box (TV over wifi) on the second shelf, and the cable modem and wireless router on the third shelf.
Make sure to leave at least 4″ behind and above each of the components…this will allow for adequate ventilation.
2. Drill 2″ holes in the back of the cabinet just above each shelf. A hole saw attached to the drill is the easiest way to make a hole this size. These holes will allow you to pass wires in an out of the cabinet.
3. If your cabinet has a glass front that you want to change out for mesh:
a. Remove the glass. There are usually clips that you can undo to take it out easily
b. Cut the mesh to the same size as the glass. Tin snips usually work pretty well for this.
c. Install the mesh where the glass used to be (if you are painting the cabinet, you will probably want to wait until after you have finished painting to do this step).
4. If you are going to paint the cabinet, remove the hinges, the door(s) and the knobs. This makes it much easier to paint!
The next step was to make the cabinet fit with the style of my room…I liked the shape of it, but not the color. Since this cabinet wasn’t real wood or an antique, I decided that painting it was the way to go.
There wasn’t a lot of time to spend waiting for paint to dry (I did this project only 3 days before the end of the One Room Challenge!), so spray paint was the only option I even considered. But I have to say…I was a little nervous about it since I have heard some horror stories about getting black lacquer finishes to look smooth without blotches.
Fortunately for me (and my timeline), it went MUCH better than I was expecting. I followed all of my spray painting rules, and the finish turned out great! I did do about 5 very thin coats to try to make sure I got an even finish…and I think that definitely helped.
I also spray-painted the mesh with gold spray paint to brighten it up a bit.
Installing the Modem and Router
The last step is to install the electronics into your cabinet. Use the layout that you came up with at the beginning…but don’t be afraid to make changes if you come up with a better arrangement. I was even able to add a shredder on the top shelf…one more electronic device that is not out in the open!
Use the holes you drilled previously to pass the cords in and out of the cabinet. Even if you are just connecting the cord from one shelf to the next, have it go out through the hole on one level and in through the hole on the next level..it will make everything look neater inside the cabinet.
If you have any long cords that are gathering on the floor, gather up the excess wire and tie tie together with a twist tie or elastic band behind the cabinet. That will keep them off the floor so you can’t see them (and, in my case, also prevents the cats from playing with them!)
The final product fits right into the room…and you would never know that it is the electronic hub of the house!
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This post was originally published on July 18, 2016 but was updated with new content on January 8, 2022.