ask the strategist

Ask the Strategist: What Are Some Nice-Looking Baskets for Storing Bedding?

Photo: West Elm

In our advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and survey friends, call up experts, and draw on our own personal experience to answer them. As always, please email any online-shopping-related queries to strategist@nymag.com with the subject Ask the Strategist — we’re here to help.

I would love to find a large open basket or bin to hold extra pillows and blankets, but everything I’ve found is either too small, ugly, won’t stand up on its own, or has tons of holes on the sides. I don’t want rumpled blankets showing — except for one on top that I can artfully arrange. 

Baskets themselves just look cool, so it makes sense that they’ve earned a reputation as décor that can double as storage, whether for a jumble of toys, a pile of bedding, or even a potted houseplant (that could benefit from having a nicer-looking vessel camouflage its actual pot). Professional organizer Laura Cattano explains why baskets are so handy in this regard: “If someone walks in, they see a beautiful basket instead of the toys” or whatever else is stashed inside it. I’m not sure where you were looking, but there are a ton of functional, not-ugly styles out there — from kid-friendly cotton baskets to traditionally woven ones — at a range of price points. I’ve rounded up a bunch that tick off all your requirements (and a few more unexpected options); some are bigger than others, but the smallest ones should still be able to stow a couple of pillows with a good-looking blanket on top.

Rope baskets can vary widely in price, but you really don’t need to spend a lot on them unless you want to. This one is made from a soft cotton. I’ve bought a couple of them over the past year and a half. The baskets are roomy — roughly 20 inches wide by 13 inches high — and I have used them for various things, including to hold sofa cushions and even my big yoga bolster (so it’s safe to say one would accommodate a couple of pillows and a blanket or two). They’re well made, have handles for easy toting, and come in a bunch of muted pastels that are easy to look at. The sides are a bit floppy if the basket is empty, but that will not be a problem once you fill it up.

Just looking at this one makes me want to get organized. The hefty size (23 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches high) and rectangular shape make me want to refold all my sheets and pillowcases, neatly stack them inside, and then throw in a pillow or blanket on top for that artful rumple. The basket has a sturdy frame that’s “covered in tightly handwoven rattan peel,” according to the retailer.

Should you be looking to invest in a decorative storage basket, I would suggest this exquisite handmade option that I saw while recently browsing the curated home goods at Brooklyn’s Collyer’s Mansion. Each of the baskets is handwoven from totora reed by a cooperative of artisans in Peru, and I think they’re just gorgeous in their simplicity. The baskets stand up on their own, and though their bases are a bit narrower than their openings, the medium size (the one on the right in the photo) has a height of 22 inches and a diameter of 26 inches, so it should be able to hold a decent amount of bedding.

This upright basket is slightly smaller, but, if you’re anything like me, you probably won’t be able to resist its minimalist color-blocking. I think the design is soothing, making one of these an even better option if you’re planning to store your extra bedding in the bedroom. Handwoven from palm fibers by artisans in Mexico, each basket measures 16 inches in diameter and 16 inches tall.

Here’s a basket woven from natural fibers (not cotton) that’s even more affordable. The lighter portions are made from natural maize and the darker stripes of seagrass. It has two handles and, according to the product description, is freestanding. This basket is also plenty large, coming in at around 23 inches wide and 15 inches tall.

World Market is a treasure trove of reasonably priced storage baskets. Handmade in the Philippines from natural hyacinth, this one comes in multiple sizes, but it’s the extra-large (24 inches in diameter, 16-inches high) you should go for — it’s the one on the right in the image. It’s freestanding and has handles, along with generous space for both pillows and blankets.

Here’s another one from World Market. This basket is admittedly a bit smaller (it’s 19 inches in diameter and 14 inches high), but I absolutely love the bleached look of the banana-leaf weave. While this basket is on the smaller size, the photo makes it seem perfectly capable for storing a pillow or two and a blanket — and maybe that’s all you need room for.

This basket has a more natural shape — I’d call it ovular, though it also verges on rectangular — with two handles sort of seamlessly integrated into that shape. The design creates an almost curvy silhouette, but the basket, at 21 inches long by 17-inches wide and with a height of 17 inches, is still roomy enough for pillows and blankets.

And now, a few out-of-the-box (out of the basket?) suggestions for you. While it doesn’t look like any of the baskets on this list, this affordable bin from Target’s in-house décor line is made from felt and has the open top (and built-in handles) you seek. I like how cozy it feels and how the contrast stitching along its top and sides gives it a bit more visual detail. The whole thing gives me a Nordic-elven vibe, for whatever reason. It’s a decent size, too, measuring about 20 inches long by and 15 inches wide, with a height of 14 inches.

I know you asked for something open, but this lidded ottoman is too good not to include. (It first appeared on our roundup of wicker baskets that work for both storage and décor.) Made from seagrass, it doubles not only as storage, but also as a side table or seating. As far as measurements go, it’s 21 inches in diameter with a height of 13 inches. And if you want to keep it open, you could just choose not to use the lid.

Here’s another lidded basket I couldn’t resist. Handmade by women artisans in Senegal, it’s quite tall — nearly 39 inches tall, with a diameter of 19 inches. So it could definitely stand on its own as a statement piece in your living room or bedroom, especially with its blue diamond pattern. But it can also definitely hold a bunch of linens and pillows, too.

Okay, so this is more like a laundry hamper than anything else, but hear me out. While it looks unwieldy, the piece isn’t that big — it’s 23 inches wide by 15 inches deep and stands 19-inches tall. It’s freestanding and, unlike anything else on this list, it also has wheels, which would make it that much easier to move around. Made by the Massachusetts-based Steele Canvas Basket company, the “industrial-strength” steel-framed rolling truck is covered in natural canvas and is somewhat customizable, too (you can choose from a handful of trim colors, or even get it in a black canvas).