Stair step baskets can help control clutter

I am not a basket person. I’ve never thought that a room in my home could be improved in some way by bowl shaped, woven wood with a handle. My mother, Queen of Baskets, disagrees with me strongly on this point. She believes that baskets make everything better. Everything.

In her home, if you want to blow your nose, you get your tissue from a basket. Toilet paper? Basket. Magazine? Basket. Silverware? Basket. Television remote? Basket. Flour? Sugar? Q-tip? That’s right, baskets. Her house is extremely organized, and its organization system revolves primarily around baskets.

As I said in the beginning, baskets are not my forte. However, amid all of my mother’s baskets, one of them makes complete sense to me: The stair step basket.

This basket sits on the bottom two steps in her house and throughout the day she fills it with items that belong upstairs. When she heads upstairs at some point, she takes it and returns the items in the basket to their proper places. Then, she sets the basket on the top two stairs and fills it with items that belong downstairs as she comes across them. The cycle repeats each time the basket is full. The basket collects out of place items and keeps them from creating clutter. Her system of using the basket is a brilliant clutter-busting and time-saving solution.

Her specific stair step basket is no longer made but it is very similar to this one. Honestly, though, any storage container that is easy to carry would work and could serve the same function. I think this is a wonderful idea for anyone in a multiple-storey home.


This post has been updated since its original publication in October 2007.

20 Comments for “Stair step baskets can help control clutter”

  1. posted by Welmoed on

    In our house, we call these “asyou” baskets — “As you pass, pick up what’s yours.” Since we live in a one-story house, our baskets are on a shelf in the kitchen, and there’s one for each of the four family members. It’s the spot for small personal items that might otherwise go missing.

  2. posted by Karen on

    Michaels also sells stair-step baskets. (And if you watch their sales flyers, they frequently have basket sales for 50% off.) I love baskets, and use them all over my apartment. I keep one by the door for all those little things that I need to keep track of – the papers that I need to take into work tomorrow, the recipe I want to try next week, the Netflix envelope, the 3 cent stamps. It’s convenient to have all these things in one place.

  3. posted by Kris on

    I used to have one. It didn’t work for me at all in that we’d load stuff into it to go upstairs and eventually just forget about what was in there. It cluttered up the stairs and we got rid of it.

  4. posted by jen on

    Yeah, we do fine just putting stuff right on the stairs and taking it as we go up. If I can actually see the stuff, I’ll actually take care of it right away. If it’s in a pretty basket, then I’d be much more likely to let it go and forget about it.

  5. posted by Maria on

    I loved mine, but it just didn’t work with cats. They follow us around and run up and down the stairs next to us, and there were too many close calls. Organization wasn’t work cracking my skull open!

  6. posted by Ethel on

    We may try this. We get so much clutter around our stairs since they are right near our entrance, and the design of our home makes furniture near the stairs and entryway to hold the necessary clutter difficult.

  7. posted by Adam on

    We have one and it’s just filled to the brim and isn’t going anywhere soon. One day I should just pitch it because we haven’t used anything in it and it just blocks the stairs.

  8. posted by Jasi on

    It’s dangerous to put things on the stairs. Why not install a small ledge near the steps on either side. It keeps the floor clear and the clutter up in plain view so that you could see it (and possibly be shamed into putting it away).

    Really, though, I’d prefer none of these at all. It’s just more crap around the house.

  9. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Jasi — Different solutions work for different people. What may be crap in your house, may be a clutter-solving device in another home–and vice versa.

    Also, this idea isn’t “unsafe” because you’re supposed to carry the basket with you when you go up or down the stairs. You can’t trip over it if it is in your hands. The basket becomes unsafe if you don’t employ the method.

  10. posted by Kate on

    I’m pretty sure Lakeland sell these in the UK…

    Wicker is a bit cheesy in my eyes but I do like the theory…

    Yep –!20948

  11. posted by verily on

    I admit to hating baskets. I don’t know why; I just don’t like the look of them. Too crafty, I think.

    When I was young, my mother would frequently put things on the side of the stairs and expect us to pick them up as we went upstairs. It worked for the most part. And we never came close to tripping and breaking our necks…considering that the stack was close to the landing and at one far end.

  12. posted by Sneezie on

    I have 2 plastic baskets on the steps at our home, one for each child. As I find miscellaneous kid-clutter laying around out of place during the day, I drop it in the appropriate basket. One of the kids’ daily chores is to empty their basket before school each morning, so it doesn’t pile up. My kids are 11 and 7.

  13. posted by Lisa on

    I have a similar clutter-controlling method– a totebag on a hook by the basement stairs (which lead to storage & my crafting area). Whenever I come across something that needs filing in my memory archives or a piece of fabric or a gift for the gift shelf, I chuck it in the bag. When the bag is too full to hold more, I distribute everything. This save a lot of running up and down, and stuff actually gets put away instead of just piling up.

  14. posted by Serene and Not Herd on

    Mr. Safety Man in me says: “Things left on stairs are a trip hazard.”

    Jasi is right about the hazard. Sure it may be a decluttering tip for some, but it has the potential to be seriously dangerous.

    And to rebut Erin, you arn’t going to carry the basket up and down with you everytime, if the basket is empty. Or if guests are using the stairs.

    A shelf or table near, but not in the path of the stairs should be an acceptable compromise. A topsy-turvy trip down the stairs, and out to the emergency room shouldn’t be acceptable.

  15. posted by Jasi on

    @ Erin: I wouldn’t expect guests or my small children to carry the basket. So it’s still a hazard for most of us. My house is always full of people, clear of junk.

  16. posted by laura on

    I am not a Basket person – too country. However, I have constant clutter on my steps – things of the kids that belong upstairs. I am embarassed by it when we have company. This would get it out of sight & I could make emptying it part of kids chores. As for safety – if you put it under the rail, it won’t stick out that far & it’s no more dangerous that the hazards of books, papers & clothes that are always there. There is a more contemporary one at Ballard Designs that I will consider.

  17. posted by Stop Clutter with Baskets | Mom Living on

    […] mother-in-law has always used this simple tip from – baskets on steps can help clean up clutter! You could use a stair basket just to collect items […]

  18. posted by Rachel Mason on

    I really love these. I’m about to order some. Do you know the approx measurements for the one you show? I’ve been lookin at the ones on this site Stair Basket

  19. posted by infmom on

    I like baskets and use them to corral all kinds of things–craft supplies, TV remotes, etc–but my experiment with putting a basket on the stairs was a bust. Stuff went in and it never came out.

  20. posted by Bette on

    I love baskets and my husband, like you, doesn’t. One of our compromises has been trays — which are featured in many design magazines and websites right now, and which come in any number of sizes, shapes, and materials. A tray on a coffee table allows you to corral everything in an attractive way. When you want to dust or you need the table, you simply move the loaded tray. So easy! I really enjoy using trays and wish I’d thought of this years ago.

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