Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do Try This at Home: Baskets

It's that time of year. Long snowy weekends spent hunkering down at home, staring at the walls, and at the piles of stuff that have nowhere to go. Some people get the urge to move, some to renovate, and some to clean and declutter. Some close their eyes to the mess and take a nap.

The rest of us go basket shopping. How lucky that Pottery Barn's basket sale is ongoing through February 27. (Another current promotion: sign up for emails and save $10 on an order of $99 or more.)

Here's a selection of their larger baskets. I wonder why anyone would use them to store rotten flowerpots, filthy wine bottles, and crappy firewood that looks spray-painted but, for all I know, this is exactly what you have piled around your house:



In a tiny apartment like ours, one can only have so much furniture but there's never enough storage. The first solution is to raise the bed a few inches, so big plastic storage tubs (on wheels) will fit underneath, along with extra cartons of cat litter. When every inch of that space is filled, the next solution is baskets. Start by recycling the baskets you own, putting them to better use. Then go shopping.

We had a basket for our hats, gloves, and scarves. It was too small; everything kept jumping out of it when we'd rummage through it looking for whatever we couldn't find — which was usually sitting on the floor. We replaced it with this big Workman's Utility Basket. below. It fits in the same spot and holds at least twice as much:

The lid hides the mess and keeps moths out, we hope.

We are using the old basket for cat toys. We'd been storing them in a leopard-print cat bed that Snicky used to use. Now it's back in business, with a pressure-sensitive warming pad that makes it extra cozy. We often find someone napping away in it, usually Wendy.

Wendy likes the new toy basket.

My desk, in our living room, is a marble bistro table: no drawers, no storage, nothing. For years I had a mess on the floor beside it — a shopping bag stuffed with papers and junk was perched on a wooden box crammed with files, with an antique candy tin and some books and more papers in between, plus whatever else that would fit. It was such an eyesore I never photographed it unless by accident. Here's a bad photo of it on a good day:


After a long session with a tape measure, I decided that the Jacquelyne Angled Lidded Basket was the solution:


I was worried it would be so big that we'd trip over it, or that the handles would stick out and jab us as we passed it. But it fits nicely — and doesn't it look much better than the messy pile it replaced?


It's sturdy enough for a (small) cat to sit on. It's also a tempting scratching post; I'm trying to discourage that. The best thing is that it swallows all the clutter I'm too lazy to deal with. It holds all of my files plus that shopping bag full of stuff that's been accumulating since the summer, and much more. (I'll go through it all someday. Maybe.)

It briefly stored Little Harris, too:


See that packed shopping bag on the left? That's my stack of listing sheets, souvenirs from house-hunting. When we finally buy a new place, I'm going to burn them all in the fireplace as a housewarming ritual. The stack will be so huge by then that I'll probably set the new place on fire. But at least I won't have a stupid pile of listing sheets I can't bear to throw out anymore.

 My craving for basketry ought to be sated since we seem to have run out of room. But another cool thing about baskets is that they can often fit neatly somewhere, even in small quarters. There's got to be a basket that would look great on top of my new basket...

The Jacquelyne Wood-Handled Basket, graceful and vaguely Japanese.

The large woven suitcase: handsome, but the latches aren't secure.

Oh, heck, I'll take one of each. 

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