Fugly Technological Behemoth
September 17, 2010 8:09 AM   Subscribe

How can I camouflage this monstrosity hanging out in my office?

I just got a new job and the server for my entire office building is located in my new office. It's pretty big (4 feet long, 4.5 feet high, maybe 1.5 feet deep, about 5.5 feet off the ground), and quite unsightly. Is there a tasteful, attractive way I can cover this up, without running the risk of overheating all of the equipment?

I meet with about 5-6 clients a day in my office and I want to create a warm, welcoming environment, not something that screams *INDUSTRIAL*.

Bonus points for relatively easy and inexpensive ideas.
posted by chara to Work & Money (21 answers total)
The first thing that comes to mind (given the need to not overheat the equipment or create a fire hazard) is a privacy screen. Failing that, could you get a curtain to hang around it (keeping it well away from the machinery, of course)?
posted by LN at 8:17 AM on September 17, 2010

Build a light-weight box around it. Can be open on the bottom. Fabric panels can work.
posted by nangar at 8:19 AM on September 17, 2010

A vented box would be fine. Something made out of pegboard pained white on the outside would work, no?
posted by DarlingBri at 8:20 AM on September 17, 2010

Maybe mount a couple of hinges on one edge of the frame (out an inch or two to allow for cables and vents) and attach a long picture to it, which you could then swing aside as needed, hidden-safe style.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:28 AM on September 17, 2010

Best answer: Be sure to check with your IT department before building any sort of enclosure around the rack. Access will be an issue, so the box will need to be removable or have some sort of opening panel.

If you're not able to outright hide it, you can always gussy up the wood backing. A frame along the free edges, some nice wallpaper (maybe a damask) and all of a sudden it's an art!.

You can also get some paper, tape, and a marker and dress up the rack itself.
posted by truex at 8:33 AM on September 17, 2010 [20 favorites]

Thumbtacking a sheet to the ceiling tiles would seem like the easiest. It could turn a 90-degree corner to hide two sides, going all the way to both walls. Then you could even tack something to the sheet, like a poster or whatever. It doesn't block access or overinsulate, it's cheap, it's temporary, it's colorful (or can be), no construction, lightweight, mobile.
posted by Askr at 8:37 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please don't build a box around it. Askr's idea is probably best. That rack has the patch panels, switch, and server, and on the left is the phone stuff - it some point, the IT folks are going to want to get at that, with no obstructions.

Dressing up the rack is funny, too - as long as it's only a few easily removable items.
posted by HopperFan at 8:40 AM on September 17, 2010

Best answer: Preface: I am being completely, 100% serious.

Get some construction paper and do this. There's no way to conceal it without making it even bigger. It might not be as much of an eyesore, but it's not going anywhere.

If I were your client, this would show me you have a sense of humor and endear me immediately to you, making me want to buy whatever you're selling.
posted by phunniemee at 8:40 AM on September 17, 2010 [10 favorites]

Crud, should have previewed. What truex said.
posted by phunniemee at 8:41 AM on September 17, 2010

Definitely talk to your IT team before doing ANYTHING there. While I understand your desire to have it hidden... When the router crashes, the system is down, and management is screaming at your IT team to get it back online -- the LAST thing they want to have to do is deal with stuff in their way.

As ugly as that rack is, it's a crucial piece of your IT infrastructure. Masking it (without talking to IT) would be like somebody deciding your phone fits better INSIDE your desk rather than on top.
posted by frwagon at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Go smaller and more modest.
posted by rhizome at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2010

(Sorry for the double post - hit post too fast). Also, if your IT team is good-natured, they might have some good ideas on either how that can be cleaned up, or ... maybe, even have a different place they can mount that (Don't count on that last one though - I've only seen it happen once).
posted by frwagon at 9:00 AM on September 17, 2010

I like truex's idea.

gussy up the wood backing ... some nice wallpaper

You can also get some paper, tape, and a marker and dress up the rack itself.

Building a light-weight, accessible box around it would a be a really, really simple carpentry project, if you were a carpenter and could figure out how distribute the weight, make it open and make it look good - not hard, but requires some basic skills - or requires your employer to hire somebody to do it.

truex's solution, though, is totally doable and requires almost no skills.
posted by nangar at 9:10 AM on September 17, 2010

In the rack you've got a UPS, network switch (looks like a Cisco) and patch panel, and that's it. On the left is the terminal block for the phone system. All of these things are routinely locked in small closets with no heat issues. I'd suggest a curtain, degree of style/funkiness to be determined by your company's culture.
posted by bgrebs at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2010

Ask your boss to move you out of the networking closet.
posted by jjb at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you are meeting clients, your office should not IT infrastructure bolted to the wall. That says 'amateur hour' and makes your organization look bad. This stuff should be in a closet or the IT office.

Ask for another office, because that's going to be faster than getting your IT people to move this.
posted by zippy at 10:19 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should mention that I work for a very small non-profit org in a very small building (no other offices available). My clients are (mostly) low-income individuals in need of various services. My goal was to make my office a comfortable, inviting place for people who are going to be shuffled through half-a-dozen more soulless industrial-looking offices.

Phunnieme and truex's idea literally made me LOL. At first, I was against the idea, as I'm going for a more cozy atmosphere, but I have a deep love for all things random and non-sequitur and I think my clients will get a kick out of it too. Maybe I'll even dress the little guy up for the holidays.

Thanks for the help!
posted by chara at 10:52 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

OMG, you should totally dress him up for the holidays. The logo/mascot of the company my dad works for is a particular breed of very large dog. For some completely insane reason, the powers that be decided to build a 20' replica of this dog in front of their building. It's one of those things that's kind of cute, I guess, but you see it, and you're all just, "but why?"

Anyway, to combat the stupidness of this dog, one of the people in his office decided to start dressing it up for the holidays. A jaunty little Santa cap for Christmas (this is in an area where roughly 99.999999% of the population celebrates christmas, so please no grar), a masquerade mask for Halloween, a leprechaun hat for St. Patrick's Day, etc. People absolutely love it, and their clients always remark on "the dog with the adorable hat!"

posted by phunniemee at 11:16 AM on September 17, 2010

Foam board & Velcro. I recommend making the box longer than the actual object.

If you want to get fancy and a little more permanent, use some 1x1 pine pieces to build frames around metal decorative sheets (the kind used for radiator covers. Add a 1x1 pine strip to each wall, hinge on your metal framed pieces, close the two pieces with cup hooks.

For extra special fancy, do the above and add a battery operated LED light (like the Sylvania Dot-It) and turn the light on whenever you have clients - then your eyesore becomes an odd light fixture.
posted by jaimystery at 9:11 PM on September 17, 2010

One solution could be to find a deep bookshelf or cabinet to go underneath the rack unit - this would make is seem less like something hanging off the wall. I think that the way it pokes out into the room has a lot to do with the industrial feel it gives off.
posted by davey_darling at 7:17 AM on September 18, 2010

« Older Looking for Twitter feeds that offer good deals   |   Help me reduce the footprint of my home theater... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.