How to use storage baskets properly – 5 storage solutions that don't contribute to clutter

Avoid baskets adding to clutter with these five tricks for using them around your home

A collection of large woven baskets on the floor in front of a console table
(Image credit: Pacific Lifestyle / January Furniture Show)

One of the most thrown-about pieces of organizing and decluttering advice is ‘to just use a basket’. But applying this everywhere and anywhere around your home will only lead to more clutter, more stress, and less space. 

This is not to say we want you to abandon storage baskets altogether, though. They can certainly help corral clutter, tidy up storage ideas, and generally make your home look more expensive – but only when they’re used intentionally, designers and home organizers warn. 

These are five of the best ways to use storage baskets properly around your home so they don’t add to the clutter. 

How to use storage baskets properly 

You don’t need an overabundance of baskets to make your home organizing ideas look nice. Rather, it is about using a basket with intention to avoid overcrowding your home. Rather, you should pick beautiful baskets that entice you to tidy up while blending into your home decor, says Audrey Scheck, interior designer and Founder of Audrey Scheck Design:

‘Storage baskets are incredibly versatile for achieving beautiful organization in any room. Choose baskets that complement your decor while providing functional storage, such as woven, wire, or fabric options. Utilize them for open shelving to corral items neatly, or for hidden storage within cabinets or closets.’

Before you can buy your baskets. However, you need to work out what you will use them for. Professional organizers suggest these five uses to prevent extra clutter. 

1. Use them to minimize visual clutter

Wooden wall, wooden shelves, storage baskets, vase

(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

If you have open storage such as shelving or a unit, storage baskets work perfectly to keep visual clutter to a minimum – providing a great aesthetic organizing alternative to piles of cables, for example. 

‘Open shelving paired with a basket or container can be an attractive way to store items out in the open. With the right storage containers and baskets, your storage can also act as decor and make a room feel put together,’ agrees Sabrina Gardener, home organizer and Founder of Salt by Sabrina. She also points out that baskets can be used to make storage in otherwise wasted spaces, such as on unused surfaces, or beneath furniture. However, be sure not to cram a basket onto every available surface or risk making your home overwhelming and cutting off vital workspaces.  

2. Use them to define landing zones

rustic entryway with limewashed walls, a reclaimed wood bench and large antique mirror with patina

(Image credit: Kara Childress)

If you are putting baskets out to increase storage without adding bulky furniture, you can make the most of their placement by thinking in terms of ‘drop zones’, suggests Ryan Eisland, a professional organizer at Home Sort.

‘You want to keep your surfaces as clear as possible so they’re usable on a day-to-day, rather than just be a landing place for random items. For things you use every day or want to display, we use baskets to keep everything together.’ This approach works great for everything from organizing entryways and adding a basket where you would usually drop mail and keys,  to organizing kitchens and creating a drop zone for utensils, or cleaning cloths. 

‘Bathrooms are another area where items tend to pile up, and you likely have multiple products that you want to be able to access easily,’ they continue. ‘We recommend using baskets to store hand towels and washcloths, so they're available to you and guests but aren't in the way.’

3. Consider basket size for storage

A small round storage basket with a lid on a wooden shelf, surrounded by other woven baskets

(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Contrary to popular belief, ‘bigger is not always better when it comes to basket storage,’ warns Sabrina Gardener, home organizer. This goes even when you are trying to organize a small house with no storage. The bigger the basket, the more likely you are to add items you should be decluttering. Using smaller baskets, ones perfectly sized to fit in everything you need and nothing else, is a great decluttering tip that prevents constant clearouts. 

‘A great mini basket is perfect for holding keys and phones to keep clutter contained and easily accessible,’ Sabrina suggests. ‘Save the bigger storage containers for oversized items only.’

4. Use them to make the most of vertical space

Simple but clever storage solutions. Blankets, towels and baskets in bedroom alcove store.

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson)

There are several great ways to use vertical storage to save space, but deep shelves and drawers often leave us with underutilized gaps. This is where baskets can make the most of this added space for real efficiency, home organizer Sabrina Gardiner proposes: 

‘You might be surprised at the amount of space that’s going unused, even in the smallest areas. Using clear and stackable storage containers can help you leverage vertical space while still being able to easily access everything inside.

‘Some rooms or spaces will have different storage opportunities than others. Your kitchen may need more stackable storage inside the cabinets and pantry, but your home office organization could utilize more wall space for storage baskets. Look at all unused surfaces, forgotten corners, and opportunities to stack storage. Consider what unused space you could take better advantage of.’

5. Use them to make family dividers

bathroom organization ideas - baskets

(Image credit: Future)

Baskets don’t just have to be organized by item or room category. If you want to make the most of them, consider other smart ways they can help to categorize belongings – such as having a basket for each family member to help corral clutter in a logical and, most importantly, helpful way. This is a fantastic way to help introduce children to chores, or even organize your morning routine more efficiently. 

Chelsi Jo, home management expert and Founder of Systemize your Life, likes to give each child in her home their own basket. ‘This serves as the focal point of our system to keep all personal belongings from cluttering up the downstairs of our home,’ she shares. 

‘Using baskets to keep all the miscellaneous items grouped makes it possible for each person in the house to drop their items in their basket throughout the day, and then as we go up for our bedtime routine each evening we take our basket and put away the items inside.’


Do you need baskets to organize a home? 

When organizing your home, it certainly helps to use baskets or storage totes to keep loose clutter items together and keep your storage neat. However, they are not necessary, and there are plenty of easy ways to organize a home without spending any money. For example, you can recycle boxes and containers from around your home, or from packaging to keep smaller items together. 

When picking storage baskets for your home, always start by decluttering and tidying your home first before buying any additional organizing products. This can prevent you from overspending at the store, so you are not left with tens of baskets that are now taking the place of the clutter you just got rid of.  

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.