Before and After: Gift Wrapping Station

       “Someday… SOME day… I’ll have a gift wrapping station for myself…”  My client said this wistfully while we were working on another project about a week ago. It hadn’t come up on her wish list when we talked about the rest of her home.  Everything on her list had been very practical, and benefitting the entire family of 6.

       As a mom of 4 kids and part of a much larger family of cousins and such, this client finds herself constantly wrapping gifts. Lucky for her, it’s also a task she enjoys doing.  It was just a pain to do, and when she has to do it as often as she does, it becomes a regular part of life.  The problems were:

  • She has no dedicated space for either wrapping or storing her supplies.  Any time she needs to wrap things, she has to gather things from other areas, and find a place to work that is clear enough to use at the time.

  • It all needs to be cleaned up promptly afterwards, which is fine for one gift, but annoying during the holiday season.

  • When she wants wrapping paper, her husband has to fetch it for her from a place way in the basement because she can’t find them or reach them.

  • Gift bags get stashed in other places, especially ones that come in and can be re-used

  • Scissors can disappear in a house like this, with 4 kids!  They need to be hunted down each time.

  • She rarely used ribbons, since they require a bit more space to really use the kind she’d like to use, if it were easier.

       I had asked her where she imagined this space would be some day, and she said her basement, once they were done finishing it in the (somewhat far off) future. When we were touring her semi-finished basement later that day, I noticed that the space under the staircase was pretty large, and currently filled with cubicles and toys that don’t seem to be in the rotation at this point in her kids’ life, and some bags I knew were already filled with donations.  I eyed it up and said, “Don’t you think this space would make a good wrapping station?”   Her eyes lit up!  She saw what I saw:  a wide space, good height (especially for her), and most of what was under there would probably get gobbled up in a donation-gathering anyway.

stairs before

       Around the corner from that space, I saw some boxes of things to be donated in a corner, but they were sitting on top of a rolling butcher block kitchen cart, with shelves underneath. I asked about it, and she said they used to use it in the kitchen, weren’t using it anymore, it just came down here with no plan.  I said to her, “I bet you could wrap gifts on it…”  And the plan was in place!

       On my next visit, we had two objectives:  Get all the donation items in the basement ready for a scheduled pick up (which emptied out both the under-the-stairs area and the on-top-of-the-cart stash, and set up the basics for a wrapping paper station.  I’d purchased some supplies that I thought we could try out in the space, and we went to work.

       We needed to find space for multiple sizes of gift bags, wrapping paper rolls (but not a lot of them), ribbon, bows, tissue paper and supplies like scissors and tape.  I didn’t want to nail or screw anything into the wall, but there is certainly potential to do that in the future if she wants. So, we used 3M Command Hooks for a few items, and started to layout the best arrangement of things.

stairs after

stairs after 2

       All in all, it was a great upgrade to a wasted space for something she really imagined was a huge luxury to have! Here are some of the great features of the space:

  • The repurposed cart will roll out to wherever she wants to use it, if she needs more room.  She even has a large area of wide-open floor next to it if she’s working on something large or cumbersome.

  • A pants hanger, with swing-out arms, holds ribbon either in-place over the cart to use, or comes off the hanger easily.

  • The pants hanger can also be used for things like scissors or tape.

  • Gift bags are organized by size and stored in other bags (that she will likely not use). (She may pick up plain brown ones to have all three bag holders match, too).

  • Clear plastic pails from a craft store help for see-through storage of bows (on shelf under cart) and tools like scissors or tape.

  • The garbage pail has a flat back and nestles perfectly under the stairs, but is deep enough that both short and taller rolls fit well under different stair heights.

  • Tissue paper will lie flat on the lower shelves, out of the way, stored neatly.

  • 3M Command hooks allow for non-permanent, but sturdy, placement of tools right now. If she wants to move things around, she can. If she wants to make them more permanent, some nails or hooks in the wall will work fine.

  • Another trash pail in the space will be convenient for collecting trash or recycling after wrapping.

  • She’ll add some battery-powered task lighting under the stairs to make it a brighter space.

  • She even has room to store a small tote or two of party supplies she uses regularly, stashed in other places in the house.

  • We spent some money on a few supplies (the garbage pail and hanger, and the Command hooks), but for the most part, this was a very inexpensive remake.

  • And, because it is in the basement, if she needs some privacy while wrapping gifts that are meant to be a surprise, she can use the space when the kids are not there, and not have to drag out and gather all her wrapping supplies in some temporary place every time she wants to do something, or have it take over her bedroom, which really needs to be a bedroom!

This was such a fun project, and we were done with the clear out and the set up in less than two hours. The important thing is that we were able to turn a dream that turned out to be not so lofty into reality, and my client is thrilled with her new space!



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