There’s no hiding the fact that technology is a huge part of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we have to fill our living rooms with ugly black boxes and all the wires that come out of them. The audio-visual industry has coined the phrase “decorating” to describe the process of incorporating technology into home décor – think flat-screen TVs that display artwork when not broadcasting your shows and art deco speakers that are a conversation pieces.
But some technology, like a wireless router, is just going to look like a high-tech, oddly shaped black or gray Christmas tree no matter what you do. Or is it? We racked our brains and surfed the Web to find the best ways to hide, disguise, or otherwise beautify your Wi-Fi router. If you just moved and are setting up your electronics, phone, and Internet, there’s no reason to ruin all your decorating work with an eyesore like your wireless router.
Form Follows Function with Wireless Routers
Before you try to hide your router, you’ll want to take steps to secure your Internet connection to block hackers and prevent anyone, from neighbors to passersby, from tapping into your bandwidth. Fortunately, securing your Wi-Fi router is even easier than hiding it if. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps.
Make sure your router uses Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2) for maximum security and make sure your firewall is switched on.
Using the default password is an open invitation to hackers, so make sure you change it. While changing it immediately after you get it is essential, it’s also a good idea to change the password every few months. Here are some tips on how to create a secure password.
It should be something that’s not obvious, like a birthdate or other significant number, and that is easy for you to remember but hard for hackers and their software to guess.
Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. And you can use a phrase, or the first letter of each word in a phrase, which means something to you, but would be difficult for anyone to guess.
You can replace some of the letters with numbers or special characters. For instance, “FlatRate Moving saves movers money” might become FRMsav35mov3r5$.
Change your router’s Service Set Identifier (SSID), which is a unique identification code tied to your wireless network. Just like your password, you want to change the SSID to something not easily recognizable or something that is downright unappealing to hackers, like “virus-infected.” You can also opt to hide your SSID, but you’ll have to manually enter it to add devices to your network.
If you don’t mind a few extra steps for network security, you can add a wireless MAC filter. This prevents any devices that don’t have a MAC address listed on your router from joining your network. With these steps, plus any security that’s already included by your Internet service provider, you shouldn’t have to worry much about network hacking and can focus on the aesthetics of your home and hiding your wireless router.
Hiding Your Wireless Router in Plain Sight
You can take a page from the book of decorators and hide your router in plain sight. Not every router looks like an ugly black box. For instance, this one looks just like a flower vase. Other routers, like those from Belkin and Nintendo (yes, the maker of Wii also manufactures routers), complement game systems so they will look right at home on your entertainment unit shelf.
But if you don’t want to spend money on a fancier-looking router, we’ve come up with 10 other solutions for disguising your router.
Entertainment Center – You likely already have all your entertainment center boxes tucked into a cabinet already, so you can add your router box here as well. All you need is a small closet in proximity to an AC outlet, and you can hide your wireless router here.
The Basement or Attic – You likely aren’t spending a lot of time in the attic or basement of your home, so either of these may be the ideal place to tuck your router. The effectiveness of these locations depends on your signal strength, as you don’t want to deal with slow Internet just to have the router out of sight. You can use wireless repeaters, which are significantly smaller than the router itself, to place your router virtually anywhere in your home and boost your signal for the connection you need. Remember you may need to access your router to reboot it, so make sure it’s not too hard to get to.
Behind Objects on a Shelf – Whether it’s picture frames, books, DVDs, or any other items you keep on a shelf, there is likely space behind them. This might be the ideal place to put your router.
Magazine Holders – Based on their size and shape, magazine holders are ideal to stow a router. If you find one with holes as a design element, that’s perfect, as you can run the cables out there. Otherwise, you can simply snake the wires out the top.
Picture Frames – We’ve already mentioned tucking the router behind standing frames on a shelf, but you can get creative and hide the router inside a picture frame. You’ll need a deep frame or a shadow box for this design trick, which you can get at IKEA for around $6. Drill holes in the back of the frame for ventilation and cabling. Add plastic ducts or trunking, the kind you might use to manage your TV wires, for an even cleaner look.
Books – Choose a classic book with a cover you like, or a book cover that complements the other books on your shelf, as you’re going to be putting the router inside the book. Pull the binding and pages out, and wrap the book around the router. Lifehacker recommends selecting a book a few inches larger than your router for proper airflow to avoid overheating.
Decorative Box – Any craft store, office supply store, or home goods store, including retailers like Target and Wal-Mart, sell decorative boxes with lids. These boxes can easily hide your router after a few modifications. Use a box cutter to slice holes in the back to snake the wires. You may want to wrap excess wire in zip ties so they take up less room in the box. It’s important to make sure the box is large enough for proper ventilation.
Decorated Shoe Box – If you don’t want to spend the money on a decorative box, or if you enjoy crafts, you can get the same effect with a shoebox. Decorate the old shoebox with whatever you have, including scraps of material, lace, or construction paper. This is a great rainy day project for the kids that will give you a fun and functional home décor piece to hide your router. Again, remember to cut holes in the back for ventilation and to run the cords.
Cigar Box – Would a cigar box look right at home on your shelf? If it would, why not use one to store your router? Follow the same steps you would to prep a shoebox or any other decorative box, also making sure it is large enough to hold your router. We recommend spraying the box with Febreze to remove any cigar odor, and letting it dry before placing your router inside.
Jewelry Box – If you’re not a cigar-type person, perhaps a jewelry box is the better solution. Remove any shelves or ring holders that take up extra room in the box so you have plenty of space for the router. Cut out holes in the back for ventilation and cabling.
We all understand that wireless routers are essential, but they sure don’t look that appealing. Hopefully, some of these solutions both help you hide your router while adding to your décor!