I got rid of my land line finally, and switched to dry loop DSL for my home internet connection. That involved having someone from Bell come over last Saturday. They installed a new double-jack wall receptacle and making some changes in the telephone locker in my building.
For the weekend, on my already-cluttered end table, I had the (large, old) DSL modem, the router, my answering machine, and my main land line phone, plus the vase of knitting needles and all the other stuff that regularly live in that space. So I decided to use my newly-upgraded internet connection to research ways people had found to hide the electronics. Pinterest was, as usual, a real help.
The choices boiled down to hiding the components in appropriately-sized boxes, or cutting up some old books and using the covers as camouflage. I decided to go the box route because of some on-line debates about whether or not electronics hidden in old book covers would receive adequate ventilation. There were lots of dire warnings about house fires, but also lots of more measured warnings about the modems overheating and being ruined. I took measurements, kept in mind that I would need at least 5cm of headspace for ventilation, and dropped by the nearest IKEA.
As luck would have it, the boxes which fit the coverage/ventilation bill best were also the cheapest, at $5.99 for a set of two boxes. They've discontinued the ones I bought, so they're no longer in the catalogue, but they're a lot like these Fjälla boxes.
I took them home, did some measuring, cut holes in the side I wanted to face the wall, and set the components in to check the fit. It turned out both the modem and the router had sticking-out bits which necessitated the bottom part of the hole to be cut right down to the floor of the box.
Both pieces of equipment have lots of air circulating above them, and the various power and data cords hanging out the back have lots of room to connect without being twisted or crimped. I stacked the modem on top of the router so that the modem's box could hide the router's wifi antenna.
I checked the gear after watching several episodes of The X-Files on Netflix in a row. The router was at room temperature; the modem was warm, but only slightly — I could hold my hand against it for as long as I liked without discomfort. I checked them again in the morning after they'd been sitting mostly idle all night, and they were exactly the same.
With any luck the boxes will protect the electronics from dust while they let them be stacked.