Decorating with vintage baskets is an easy way to add charm, as well as bringing in functional storage. I’m sharing all about how to decorate with versatile and practical vintage baskets.
Drawn to Vintage Baskets
If you were to follow me around while I’m hunting for vintage treasures, you would probably hear a lot of exclamations of “Oh! I like that basket!” or “I’ve never seen a basket like that before!”
I can’t help it. I really love baskets and I notice them everywhere we go. Perhaps it’s partly because they are functional and practical items, or because of their form and beauty. But there is such a wide variety of shapes, styles, and materials of vintage baskets, and I find them all charming.
In fact, if it were up to me, I’d buy so many vintage baskets. My collection would be so large that I’d probably have to start storing smaller baskets inside bigger baskets.
Unfortunately fortunately, my husband reminds me to restrict my basket-buying impulses to a useful and normal amount. But I still notice and appreciate them everywhere I go.
Decorating With Vintage Baskets
I firmly believe that vintage baskets are one of the best pieces of vintage decor for decorating with, especially if you’re “dipping your toes into the water” of decorating with vintage decor. They’re easy to integrate because they are first and foremost a functional item. But you also get many other added benefits when decorating with vintage baskets.
Benefits of Decorating With Vintage Baskets
There are so many different benefits of incorporating vintage baskets into your decor. To be fair, many of these benefits can also be achieved by incorporating baskets that are not vintage as well. They’ll just be lacking a bit of charm and patina.
Here are some of the benefits of decorating with vintage baskets in your home:
Charm and Warmth
Vintage baskets will be imperfect and worn, perhaps even broken, stained, faded, or rusted. These signs of age and use bring great charm and warmth to your decorating and help to personalize your style. As well, their materials and form can add beauty and textural interest.
Use Them Anywhere
Vintage baskets are so versatile and useful that you can use them in any room of the house. The only room that I can think of where I would perhaps avoid putting a vintage basket is a really steamy, humid bathroom. But I would put them everywhere else – living rooms, kitchen, entry, laundry room, bedrooms, office, rec room, less-humid bathrooms – anywhere!
Baskets are a vintage decor item that can be beautiful as well as practical. In fact, the main functional purpose of a basket is to carry or contain items. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own a farm to use apple picking or egg baskets for their original purposes. You can use vintage baskets in such a wide variety of clever ways around your house. More on that in a bit.
Again, the main function of baskets was to carry items and move them around. This mobility can be helpful within your home, whether it’s using a vintage basket as a laundry basket, or relocating your knitting basket around the house. On their own, they are normally lightweight, and many baskets have helpful handles.
Repurpose Them As Needed
In keeping with the function and mobility of vintage baskets, you can also repurpose them in a variety of ways as your needs change. Perhaps you originally use one to store diapers near a change table, and then repurpose it later on to hold toys. Or a larger basket that used to hold stuffed toys now holds extra throw pillows and blankets.
Baskets are so versatile for storage that there’s no end to the ways that they can be repurposed. There’s no need to sell or donate a vintage basket. Simply walk through the rooms of your house and think about where else it can be useful.
We originally purchased one small basket to hold programs at our wedding. And now I’ve lost track of how many different uses it’s had since then. I used it for several purposes in my craft room, and now it holds masks which need to be easily accessible.
There are many places you can display a basket so its contents are decorative and visible. However, another benefit of using baskets in decor is that they can be very effective at hiding clutter. Whether it’s a row of baskets in shelf cubbies, or a large basket on top of a piece of furniture, you can simplify visually with one charming basket rather than viewing a whole lot of messy items.
Blend With Any Style
While you may find baskets that lend themselves more to a particular decorating style (think industrial-style laundry baskets, or traditional wicker baskets), many other baskets blend seamlessly into just about any decorating style. They can help to add a bit of textural interest to an eclectic and personalized style, especially when mixing in a variety of styles of baskets.
Where to Use Vintage Baskets
I’ve already stated that vintage baskets can be used in nearly every room of the house. But how?
Here are some ideas for places to incorporate vintage baskets in your home:
On Top of Furniture
Baskets can look great on top of large or tall pieces of furniture such as wardrobes. It’s a great place to corral items that would look like visual clutter.
I keep my vintage pie basket on top of the bookcase in my craft room for now.
You can slide baskets under a piece of furniture that has legs such as a dresser or buffet. If you can find baskets that are shallow enough, you can even slide them under a sofa or bed. This is another great way to create storage from wasted space.
Tuck smaller baskets on bookshelves or on the shelves of cubbies where the basket is visible but serves to hide visual clutter.
In Cupboards or Closets
You can also tuck vintage baskets away inside cupboards, your pantry, your linen closet or other closets. Just because they’re not out in the open doesn’t mean baskets can’t bring function and charm to any space.
On the Floor
Oversized baskets are probably best placed on the floor. Think about placing them near a fireplace, or in an empty corner of a room that needs a little something.
We found two identical green wire tobacco baskets at a flea market one summer and they work great to hold extra homemade quilts and pillows.
Many baskets also have handles and are designed or suitable for hanging. Try hanging them from hooks, knobs, or pegs. Kitchens, laundry rooms, doors, and entries might be a great place for hanging baskets.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m planning to make a peg rail/shelf with oversized knobs instead of pegs. And I found a beautiful hanging Longaberger basket with a leather handle to hang from one of the knobs. I don’t know what I’ll store in it yet, but I can’t wait to see it all together.
What to Store Inside Vintage Baskets
There are also many kinds of items you can store inside of baskets. Generally the type of storage will depend on the size or material of the basket. I’ve separated the ideas into small, medium, and large baskets, though it’s just a guideline.
Uses for small baskets:
- Small craft items
- Office supplies
- Seeds or tools for houseplants
- Decorative items such as dried flowers
Uses for medium baskets:
- Bath tissue
- Mittens and other winter clothing
- Pantry items
- Craft projects in progress
- Smaller toys
Uses for large baskets:
- Logs (decorative, or useful)
- Throw pillows
- Quilts and extra blankets
- Kids’ Toys
- Dog Toys
- Outdoor gear
- Yoga mats
- Laundry basket
Vintage Basket Materials
You will be able to find vintage baskets made out of many different materials if you hunt for them. You may prefer one kind of material to others, or you might like many different materials. Remember it’s ok to mix and match and incorporate a variety of basket shapes, sizes, and materials into your decor and storage.
Metal or Wire
Vintage wire or metal baskets tend to have a more industrial feel to them. A common example is locker baskets which also have the charm of the locker number tag on them. There are ones that are more solid metal with holes, or ones that are made of wire in a grid.
We have two sets of the latter – a white pair, and a green set of three. All of them are a tiny bit rusty. We used to use the white ones in our entry to store outdoor clothing like gloves and hats, but we’ve replaced them with the smaller set of three. We have plans to build a small set of cubbies in the entry to hold those three green baskets.
The white locker baskets have moved into my craft room above our vintage lockers. I like filling them with fabric for upcoming projects. They look lightweight up there since they aren’t solid, and the visible fabric adds a pop of colour.
Other metal and wire basket examples include egg baskets, vintage industrial laundry baskets (with canvas linings), or milk bottle baskets with dividers.
Woven Plant Material
Many baskets are made from a variety of different plant materials that can be tightly woven. These include things such as roots, twigs, canes, runners, and grasses. Wicker is a common term used to include willow, rattan, reed, and bamboo.
Woven Hardwood Splints
Other types of baskets are constructed with thin wooden strips that are usually crossed at right angles. And they often incorporate wooden handles.
I would not go all-in arguing that wood caddies are actually baskets. But as they have handles and can carry or contain objects, the function is similar. I recently added an antique wood caddy to my desk for storage of my painting supplies.
Different Kinds of Vintage Baskets
There are also different kinds of baskets based on other attributes rather than just the material they are made from.
There are many different styles and traditions of basket making among different cultures and Indigenous peoples. I would encourage you to explore and research these important pieces of art and function and to learn more about the significance of any unique pieces you may find.
You may also find baskets designed for very specific uses.
One example is a pie basket, shaped specifically for transporting a pie, and complete with a stand inside. I found our pie basket on Etsy many years ago when I was becoming very enthusiastic about making pie.
I love that someone wrote their name on top of the basket and I can just picture a woman taking her pie to a church picnic in this basket.
Another example of a very specific basket is an upside down L-shaped basket, designed to sit on the stairs. These can be great if your entry is near a set of stairs, or if you want to collect items that need to be moved up or down the stairs all in one go.
Lastly, you may also recognize particular brands of baskets when you’re hunting. One example is Longaberger baskets, made in Ohio out of maple. Many Longaberger baskets sold online are labelled with the year that they were made, and you can often find baskets from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s for sale. While they are too new to specifically meet the definition of vintage, many of these baskets still have warmth and charm and are quite collectible.
Selecting Vintage Baskets
When you’re hunting for vintage baskets, it’s good to keep their condition in mind. It’s best to look for ones that are in good shape – clean, minimal damage, or minimal rust if they are metal. If there is a hole, broken bits, etc., think about your possible uses and places to store it. Will those parts be visible? Will they snag on the clothing that you’d hoped to put in it? Is the structural integrity compromised in any way?
If the flaws don’t bother you, or it will be tucked away in a cupboard, don’t be afraid to purchase it. But you also don’t need to buy broken baskets just because they might be a good deal. You can always find more baskets. Trust me – I spot them everywhere!
Keep your eyes peeled wherever you search for vintage, thrifted or antique treasures. Though I find that local resellers always snap up the best baskets at places like thrift shops around me. You might have better luck at vintage and antique shops. But don’t forget about places like Facebook Marketplace or garage sales. For more ideas of where and how to shop for vintage, check out The Thrill of the Find.
You might also like Vintage Wood Boxes and Drawers.
Decorating With Vintage Baskets
Vintage baskets are such an easy way to start incorporating vintage items into your decor in a functional way. You’ll love their charm, versatility, and variety. And who knows, you might even become as hooked on vintage baskets as I am!
I want to hear from you! Do you decorate with vintage baskets already? What are some of your favourite uses for them in your home? If you don’t own any vintage baskets, do they seem like something you could incorporate into your style? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,