This year, she cut the ribbon on a wrap room

By Jura Koncius
Wednesday, December 15, 2010; 12:32 PM

Sam Reilly used to keep wrapping paper and ribbons stuffed under the bed in her master bedroom in Olney. She would drag out the supplies to wrap presents while perched on the edge of her mattress, a project that usually ended with an aching back.

Earlier this year, Reilly gifted herself with a home design upgrade: a multipurpose room dedicated to wrapping and crafting.

The room was created out of a 9-by-10-foot basement laundry area. Reilly hired a closet consultant to take stock of all of her gift wrapping, scrapbooking and photography supplies and to design cabinets and drawers to accommodate it all. Everything is made of white laminate with Shaker-style detail. A peninsula-style work table that stands 36 inches tall keeps bending at a minimum. Her contractor added a sliding pocket door and tile floor.

There have long been the usual suspects for organizing gift-wrapping supplies: tall plastic cylinders, under-bed bins and cumbersome hanging gadgets. But how many of us have found that rolls, bags, bows, tissue and tags still end up a jumbled mess? Meanwhile, gift-giving occasions, whether baby showers or hostess thank-yous, seem to be getting more numerous.

Not everyone can have a room devoted to the annual holiday wrap-a-thon or monthly march of birthday parties. But interior designers and professional organizers say they are getting more requests to develop designated wrapping areas.

"A lot of families really want a room in their house where they can do things like wrapping, art projects and all kinds of crafts," says Jeanne Scott, the California Closets senior design consultant Reilly hired. "The space can be very flexible. Many people are looking for multifunctional custom workstations to accommodate their interests, whether jewelry-making, sewing or quilting."

A spokeswoman for California Closets says its wrap stations cost about $1,500 and up, depending on materials used and the type of drawers. A room the size of Reilly's would start at about $5,000.

Organizer Janet Schiesl of Basic Organization in Centreville has transformed closets into wrapping centers, installing shelves, rods for ribbons and over-the-door shoe racks for other supplies.

You don't need a whole room to keep things together, however. Kacy Paide, a professional organizer from the Inspired Office in Silver Spring, says she has found that many people scatter wrapping supplies throughout the house. She is not a fan of under-bed storage containers, finding them awkward. Her advice: "At the start of the holiday season, gather up all the wrap and accessories you've put all over the house, whether the kid's closet, garage or basement. Then really assess what you have and keep it together."

Paide advises clients to buy the best-quality organizer they can. Her favorite is the Container Store's Elfa mesh gift wrap cart, a mobile organizer on casters with sliding drawers, ribbon dispensers and roll racks.

This Elfa model ($195) was used in Reilly's wrap room, and she rolls it out of a closet when she needs it, since she also uses her room to address holiday cards, design photo albums and do craft projects.

She enjoys closing the door and keeping her children from peeking at their gifts. "This is the first Christmas that I can lock the door and keep the kids out while cranking up my music," she says. "It's my own space."

In April, the Reillys' colonial was part of a charity house tour to benefit Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. Her wrapping space had people crowding her basement for a look. Says Reilly, "This tiny room was the most popular room of the house."

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