by Kit Davey
Got baskets? Most of us have a closet full of baskets we don't know what to do with. Don't let them gather dust — put them to use in new ways! Here are a few ideas for using them throughout your home:
In the garden:
* Nail flower-pot-sized baskets along your fence and put blooming plants in lightweight plastic pots in them. Before using baskets outdoors you might want to spray them with several coats of clear acrylic paint to protect them from water and sun damage.
* Store your trowel, gloves and hand rake in a basket with a handle. Nail a big hook in the fence and on the wall in your garage so you can hang it up when not in use.
* Assemble a gift basket for a gardening friend. Fill it with seed packets, a gardening book, a jar with cuttings from your yard, along with a new pair of garden gloves.
* Use several to hold silverware and paper napkins during your next picnic. Line the baskets with napkins or brightly colored tissue paper. Serve popcorn, chips, sliced bread or cookies the same way.
In the kitchen:
* Use a rectangular-shaped basket as an in-basket for your mail.
* Are you forever misplacing your car keys? Place a small basket on the counter top where you can drop your keys the moment you come home.
* Use a small plant basket to hold pens by your telephone.
* Roll up several colorful dish towels, nestle them in a basket and store them on your counter top.
* Put a clay pot inside a basket and fill it with cooking utensils.
* Use a large basket with handles to hold newspapers to be recycled. The handles make it easy to carry out to the recycling bin.
* Make a pleasing arrangement of unusual baskets and hang them on the wall or arrange them on top of your refrigerator.
* Install a series of hooks in the ceiling over the window and hang baskets with handles from them. Put a bundle of herbs or dried flowers in several of the baskets.
* Need a place to store wine bottle corks? Put a basket on top of your fridge and after opening your dinner wine, drop the cork in the basket.
In the bathroom:
* Does clutter get you down? Why not store beauty and grooming supplies in lidded baskets on the vanity top?
* Use a plastic-lined plant basket as a trash can.
* Roll up hand towels or washcloths and store them in a basket on top of the toilet.
* Place reading materials in one by the tank.
* Fill a small basket with potpourri or soaps and display on the vanity top.
In the bedroom:
* Use a decorative, lidded basket as a jewelry box.
* Store books and magazines in a basket by your bed or reading chair.
* Does your cat or dog sleep in your bedroom with you? An old-fashioned laundry basket equipped with a pillow or folded blanket makes a pretty pet bed.
* Big baskets make great lightweight storage bins for toys in kid's rooms.
* Hang handled basket from the ceiling and store dolls, stuffed animals or action figures in them.
In the family or living room:
* Store knitting or stitchery projects in one. Balls of yarn heaped in a bowl-shaped basket makes an attractive coffee-table accessory.
* Fill the fireplace with dried hydrangeas arranged in a long, low basket.
* Store TV and stereo remote controls in a lidded basket.
* Assemble a sewing kit consisting of a few needles, spools of thread and an assortment of buttons. Keep it handy in a lidded basket so you can do your mending while listening to music or watching TV.
* If you have a collection of quilts or woven fabrics, simply fold them up and layer them in a big laundry-style basket. Place them next to a chair or sofa to give the room a cozy look.
•Use a basket as an alternative to photo albums, or to keep your photos accessible until you have a chance to catalog them. You can store a mountain of photographs this way and they're easier to flip through.
Where can you find inexpensive baskets if you don't have a supply on hand? Adapt what you already have by spray painting them or snipping off the handles. Garage and rummage sales are inexpensive sources, along with flea markets. Reasonably priced new baskets can be purchased at Pier One, Cost Plus, Michael's, Marshall's, Ross Dress for Less and Tuesday Morning.