Designing Saratoga

Baskets are as easy as 1,2,3

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When a friend of mine bought her first place I went back and forth trying to decide what to buy her as a house warming gift.  Since I had only seen her place in pictures and I had no idea what her new furniture would look like or what colors she was going to use I hesitated buying anything. Should I just send a practical yet sometimes impersonal gift card? That seemed like I was mailing it in, literally. After almost 30 years of friendship I wanted to send her something that she could open and something that when she looked at it she would think, "Oh yeah, Laurel sent me that."

So I started thinking. Without seeing her new place (we live 3 hours apart) I had to come up with something useful, practical, and something that everyone has in their house. Then it hit me, baskets. Of course, baskets! Baskets can be used in any room, they go with almost any style imaginable, and they are as functional as they are stylish and they can be out on display or tucked away. I knew if I sent her a basket, she would use it. She had to right?  Everyone uses baskets!

If you dare open your computer and search for baskets you will absolutely be overwhelmed with all the different sizes, styles and uses for baskets. In today's busy world we constantly try to find ways to keep ourselves organized. There are even those that come into businesses or into our homes to help us be "professionally" organized. So when I searched for a basket for my friend I finally settled on a long thin basket that held magazines or books that can sit on your coffee table or bed. I thought this would be practical in keeping her living room from becoming overcrowded with books or magazines. I am guilty of this myself and frankly I wish I bought one.

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This is the exact basket that I purchased from Pottery Barn

Baskets are great for mudrooms. I use a basket to put our shoes in. It keeps the mudroom organized and prevents us from tripping over each other's shoes as we kick them off coming into the house. It is also a great way to keep dirt and sand off your floor. Every week or so I take all the shoes out and dump the dirt and contents into the garbage. It doesn't keep my floor spotless but it does catch a lot of stuff that would have otherwise been on my floor.

Baskets are also great in an entryway as seen below. Toss hats, gloves, keys, mail, and other items you need daily access to but don't want to necessarily "put away" every day.

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A friend of mine has a wall size media center. It is really a series of cubbies about the width of two bookcases but only half way up. Her TV sits on top of it. The cubbies are open, there are no drawers so she did the next best thing for hiding all those items you don't want or need anyone to see. She bought baskets that fill the cubbies completely with open handles so she can pull them out and easily get at the items inside. She keeps her movies, media chords, games, books, etc in these baskets. She took it one step further by alternating the color and textures of the baskets. In order to fill the cubbies she had to buy several baskets so by alternating the color and design of the baskets it became more of a focal point in her room verses a place where everyone knew she was hiding stuff. Below is a similar example of this. Although they use fewer baskets, you get the idea; it all depends on what you want to hide.

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Baskets are really great in bathrooms, mainly due to their breath-ability. They are not only useful for putting magazines or books, but on the counter for hand towels or cosmetic items. I use numerous baskets in all my bathrooms. It is an easy way for an otherwise cluttered room to look organized. I'll put just about anything in my basket on my counter, jewelry, face wash, brushes, toothpaste, soaps, you name it, I'll throw it into a basket. It makes for a very quick and easy pick up. For some reason things thrown in baskets just look neater. It is the ultimate illusion.

If you have the wall space for baskets like the ones below, go for it.  This is an excellent way of making items accessible for your family and guests and it is particularly useful for homes without linen closets. It also doubles as wall décor. Practical and decorative is a win-win.

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Finally we'll head into the kitchen. Every time I open my pantry I want to scream. In fact organizing my pantry is high on my long to-do list. Each time I try and get ahead of organizing my pantry I feel like within 2 days it looks exactly as it was before, and some times worse. So it all comes back to baskets. As seen in the picture below this pantry is forever organized. How can it not be? If each basket is labeled and you can just toss can goods and bags of whatever into the designated bin then you will always know what you have to eat and where it is. If you're anything like me I find it annoying when I go grocery shopping, buy items, and then come home to find a jar of the same thing stuck in the back. No more!  My personal mission in the next few months is to have my pantry look like this. I think my family will thank me too!

pantry.jpgSo if you're anything like me and have a busy household, keep yourself organized and looking good with baskets. I use baskets for our firewood, dog toys, shoes, magazines, cosmetics, athletic equipment, socks (quick tip: buy a small basket and keep it on top of your washer and dryer, every time you get an un-matched sock, toss it in there, sooner or later the match will show up!), and more. They make a great gift, can hide just about anything and still look good.


Until next time, Happy Designing!


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Kimberlee Billok
From humble beginnings redecorating my childhood bedroom every few months much to my mother’s chagrin, to years of life as a military spouse making short-term stops our own, to finding myself in Saratoga Springs in a 90-year-old home in need of lots of TLC, I have always enjoyed honing my home decorating and design skills in pursuit of making a house a home for the most important people in my world, my husband Mike and our three children. In pursuit of this goal/obsession I have put my undergraduate studio art studies to work, as well as the unofficial HGTV degree I’ve earned under the tutelage of Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, Candace Olson, and the other pros who make us all feel as if we can create as they do. I’ve had the good fortune to have numerous colleagues, friends and family who have trusted me enough to allow me to design their spaces as well, and even redecorated the office of my children’s elementary school principal, which although intimidating, was quite a good time (think a juxtaposition of animal prints and sharpened pencils…luckily she loved it!).

Outside of the decorating/design realm I inhabit in my free time, I am fortunate to spend my days teaching 3 and 4 year old preschoolers here in Saratoga, who can’t help but inspire me to be creative on a regular basis. So since every part of life is an adventure, please join me on this one…combining form and function, design and real life, making each room feel beautiful, comfortable, classic, and personal. All wrapped up in a structure that has been in existence before the invention of spray paint (it’s true—I looked it up!). Here goes!!