Mixing bins and baskets on open shelves - need help please

gfultDecember 1, 2013

I'm looking for suggestions or guidelines for mixing bins and baskets on shelves. I need to accommodate a variety of items and would like a care-free yet orderly look.
I have a wall of shelves in the play room, a long hallway lined with shelves upstairs which is half used for books and half for laundry, sewing, and extra toiletry items, plus a couple of ikea Expedit shelves off of the living room where we keep hats, gloves, and lunch boxes.
My dilemma is that my random selection of containers doesn't look good or function as I'd hoped.
I've searched here and on other sites but the topic is too broad. Any suggestions, rules of thumb, or examples would be appreciated.

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I'm curious--why do you want some bins and some baskets?

I'm guessing you want some stuff that you can access without messing with a lid (basket) and some stuff that you want to protect w/ dust.
But I'm curious about your personal reason.

You could use photo boxes and just leave the lids off of some of them.

Or, if you can find a single type of basket and a single type of bin, you could then try to do something so that they coordinate with one another--find a bin w/ colored handles or lid, and then weave a ribbon in that color through the basket somehow.

Or get translucent plastic bins, and then slip a colored paper behind the front panel.

You can also make them look uniform by making labels in the same style for both. Make the labels big enough to mostly cover the side of the basket or bin (to make labels stick on baskets, you can laminate and use double-sided poster foam; or you can use a hole bunch and a binder ring. Or a binder clip (bonus: they come in colors, sometimes, so you could try to get the same color for all places you need to use them.

If you don't feel you have the design skills, the Internet (and Pinterest) is full of "printables" that other people have designed and you can download.

Thinking about it, having big labels all the same design might let you keep the containers you've got. It would certainly be a fast and cheap fix!

Another point about visual standardization: If you pick them all the same size, regardless of what's in them, it'll look uniform. It may mean some wasted space in one, and needing two for another category.

but the more I think about it, the more I think you should start with a snazzy label design and the containers you already have.

This post was edited by talley_sue_nyc on Tue, Dec 3, 13 at 10:51

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 9:46AM
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Here's a baking cabinet w/ matching labels (you can download them). This shows how they've got two styles of containers, a unifying color scheme, and matching labels (of different sizes for different-size containers)


a bunch of downloadable labels (though they seem sort of small), plus tips and a slideshow of visuals to see how they look.
(a basket w/ a tied-on label on slide #1 shows you how you can label a basket)


Even if all you do is choose a colored paper and create a rectangle w/ type in the middle; add a border with Word if you want to, or know how.

I'm torn on whether to recommend the same exact proportion of rectangle for every label, regardless of container shape (and only changing the size, or maybe not changing the size, if the containers are roughly similar);
or whether the color/border/typeface will be unifying enough on its own even if the label changes to match the container underneath it.

I think I'd vote for only as few shape changes as you can get away with.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 9:59AM
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This person has a nice round-up. She laminates her labels w/ clear packing tape.


I especially like this one she found:

It shows the same label in different sizes (same proportion/shape but in three different sizes).

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 10:48AM
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You might be able to visually get away with mixed containers if you grouped 'like' containers across the top or above eye level shelf. It pulls it all together at one glance. You could still use differing items below that.

My other thought was to get similar containers in different sizes and and tie it in by color. For instance, I have 3 or 4 different styles of a dark colored wicker baskets. I think I could probably have more than one style basket in area if needed. I guess that would be similar to Talley Sue's idea with the labels.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 4:39PM
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