A case for baskets

Today’s guest post is by Amanda Scudder, Organizing Consultant with the company Abundance Organizing. Please give her a nice welcome.

Are you a basket case in the making? If you have a spot where clutter tends to collect — the table by the front door, the kitchen counter, the foot of the bed — you are! And I’m going to make the case that a basket, properly managed, can be just the solution you are seeking.

Clutter hotspots are a leading cause of aggravation for just about everyone. I recently worked with a client who lamented that a basket on her counter constantly filled up with clutter that didn’t belong there — sun screen, library books, art supplies, children’s toys and the like. She had tried removing the basket, but the items still landed on the counter. And without the basket to contain things, it looked even messier. What she didn’t realize was that the problem wasn’t the basket. In fact, she’d intuitively set up a clutter-management strategy that can be very effective. A basket gives you a place to contain things that are not convenient to put away in the heat of the moment, as you are running out the door, emptying book bags at the end of a busy day, or otherwise trying to get on with life. The trick to turning it from a clutter problem into a clutter solution is to establish a routine for emptying it on a regular basis.

In my house, we use an “up-and-down” basket on the table at the foot of the stairs — in it go things I’ve picked up off the kitchen counter, living room floor, end tables, and other clutter-collecting surfaces. Like the dishtowels that need to be washed, the hairbrush dropped by my daughter in her mad dash out the door, socks found under the couch, books, and toys. When I go upstairs, I grab the basket, put the laundry in the hamper, the brush on the dresser, and the books next to the bed for nighttime reading. When the basket is empty, I use it to collect things that belong downstairs and it goes with me the next time I go downstairs.

To set up your own basket system, find an attractive, portable container to hold the clutter. You probably have a basket or tote around the house that you can press into service for this purpose. Reusing things you already have saves you time, money, and space. But if not, there are lots of options available for purchase, like this classic, eco-friendly collapsible bamboo-jute basket from Crate & Barrel:

Or this market basket:

Whatever container you choose, the next step is to put it in the spot where clutter seems to collect. Then, set a time each day to empty the container by returning everything that is in it to its proper home. Some people enjoy the routine of a few minutes every morning or just before bed to take on this chore. Other people use the basket itself as a visual cue — when it is full, it is time to empty it. Just make sure you don’t get a basket that is too big, as you want to be able to empty it pretty quickly on a regular basis.

Think about your clutter hotspot — will a basket strategy work for you?

7 Comments for “A case for baskets”

  1. posted by Kim on

    I’m a total basket case ^_-
    I prefer to do a 15 minute sweep at the end of the day before I go to bed. It gives me peace of mind and does wonders for the house to put all the little things in their designated spot.

  2. posted by Katreena on

    I keep a small basket with lip balm and an emery board on the side table in the living room. It contains those few things very well.

  3. posted by Kay Comer on

    WOW….I LOVE this basket idea! I’m almost a control freak…I like everything neat and tidy with no clutter…but ‘still’…I want our home to be warm and fuzzy and look loved and lived in.

    I’ve often written about de-cluttering in my own blog and ways to make our homes warm and fuzzy…but I’ve never thought of the basket idea. AND I’m going to implement that idea into my own home asap.

    MY clutter spot is on the corner of the kitchen table. Now it doesn’t get bad…but even a couple books, junk mail, a note pad and pen and this and that…even stacked neatly…takes away from my electrical/lighted kerosene lantern ON that table…that I usually keep covered by a small vintage quilt for a table cloth in the winter….

    Just wanted to say how much I LOVE your blog…and I’ll be checking back. GREAT JOB!!! Kay Comer “Bird’s Eye View of the Katydid”

  4. posted by Carol on

    I’ve been using strategically placed baskets for years – a small pot for contents of pockets, aspiring, ear plugs, etc on the bedside table, bowl on top of the fridge, box of things waiting to be fixed on the diy shelf, in-tray on my desk. The OH doesn’t believe in it – he claims teetering stacks on his desk will annoy him enough to do something about it but neat baskets allow him to ignore it. So far the stacks have collapsed onto the floor and still no sign of action…!

  5. posted by CanadianKate on

    In our first home we had an open staircase from first to second floors. I also had a baby. The traditional wicker picnic basket (with lid) was on a rope and sat on a chair on the main floor. Anything that had to go up went into the basket. Then when I was upstairs (probably having carried the baby up with me), I’d haul the basket up and empty it.

    BTW: I learned this from my grandmother whose full attic had occupied bedrooms and she wasn’t about to carry things all the way up two flights so things were left in a cloth bag that was on a rope at the foot of the attic stairs.

    This house has an enclosed staircase so we just leave things on the stairs. Because the washroom is upstairs, the routine is to just grab the things at the foot of the stairs and carry them up each time you go up the stairs. Drinking lots of water helps keep that clutter under control!

  6. posted by GMTB on

    I resisted baskets for so long, because I had co-workers obsessing and spending too much money on Longabergers. Then I moved into a townhouse with three floors, my spouse developed a passion for cooking, and a puppy. Since then I’ve gotten a little more sympathetic to my co-workers’ obsessions.

    One of my rules is that I never pay full price for them. I’ll swipe some at garage sales or clearance racks. We have a nice big one for the dog’s toys, another one that lives at either the top of the stairs or the bottom to corral and carry things back to their rightful places.

    Another basket lives in the kitchen for kitchen towels — we try to use washable ones we buy in bulk each year rather than paper towels for everything.

  7. posted by Marie on

    We got a stair-step basket as a gift, and I tried my best to make use of it, but we were constantly tripping over it. I finally got rid of it before we broke our necks. My husband went back to throwing dirty socks on the stairs, but at least those won’t kill me if I shuffle over them in the dark.

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