DIY Swingy Closet Bins

CLOSETS. Even the “really good” ones are never perfect. You need hanging bars, sure, but you also need shelves or drawers. Fancy modular shit is expensive; most of the inexpensive solutions either look like crap or don’t perform well. I’ve got a couple of those fabric “hanging shelves” things, and while they’re marginally functional — my tanks and tube tops aren’t in a heap on the floor — the shelves sag and they don’t look nice.

Functional but ew.

I had a tiny brainstorm (more like a brief summer shower, really, no lightning or anything) the other day, so here’s my new Favorite Not-Bad Solution.

SWINGY BIN SHELVES. THAT LOOK NICE. AND ARE CHEAP.

I used these particular baskets — water hyacinth bins from The Container Store, $16.99 each for the large 17 x 12 x 8 size —  because I happened to have two of them around and they weren’t really serving a useful purpose, but you’ve got a wide range of options! Here’re some 13″ square water hyacinth ones from Amazon, at $23.17 for two. What you need is multiple baskets thaaaat ….

  • Are the right size for your space. Wide and deep (“deep” here indicates the measurement going from the side facing you to the side facing the wall) enough to be useful, not too wide for your space, and not so deep they won’t hang straight. I.e., if your closet rod is 12” from the back wall, you’ll want baskets that’re at least 12″ deep (otherwise you’ll have a huge gap behind them which is wasted space) but probably not over 18” deep (big and unwieldy, and since you’ll be tilting these to rummage, they need a couple extra inches of clearance). Be mindful of how far they’ll stick out when hung — and that measurement is not acquired by holding the basket against the back wall. It’s acquired by holding the basket centered along the axis of your closet rod!
You can see that 12″ deep baskets hang quite a good distance away from the wall.
  • Have handles on the two opposing sides that’ll be their “left” and “right” for your [hanging] purposes. The handles should be VERY STURDY. These aren’t decorative, they’re going to be supporting a little weight, so they need to be reasonably hefty and well-secured.
  • Are of a height which, when spaced vertically in however many separate baskets you want to use, will nicely fit from rod to a few inches above floor.
  • Are suitable, material-wise. Which, that depends on what you’re going to put in them. If you’re using them for hosiery, lingerie, fine-knit scarves or anything else prone to snags and tears, it’s best to get baskets that are fabric or have a fabric lining (make sure they have a sturdy frame and a bottom panel that won’t sag). If it’s a fabric or natural fiber that’s stained, make sure it’s color-fast and won’t rub off on your stuff. If it’s a natural fiber, make sure it won’t shed little twiggy bits on your stuff. Also if it’s natural fiber, a lot of that stuff can brittle over time, so it’s best if the handles have a wood or metal core, and are attached to a wood or metal interior basket frame. Recommended but not necessary — a light color, at least on the interior, which makes it easier to find stuff when you’re rummaging. If you’ve ever spent ten damn minutes cussing loudly while trying to find a black scrunchie in a black-lined purse, I don’t even have to tell you this.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED?

  • Two big S-shaped hooks that fit reasonably snugly on your bar. I use these ones which are $6.18 at Amazon, and which come in a five-pack, so you’ll have three left over to hang handbags up with! (I’ve had all my handbags hanging on these for years and LOVE IT.)
  • Two lengths of strong ribbon, greater than the length of your closet-rod-to-floor space. (Assuming your bar is 5-6′ off the floor, you’ll need around 12′ total.) Nice grosgrain would be best, as it’s usually grippier than satin. I used the first thing I grabbed, which is a ~3/4” grey single-faced satin; I’m probably going to replace it with a wider grosgrain. If you want to get extra-fancy, you can go to the hardware store and pick up two cut lengths of nice-looking chain! Just don’t get one with links so teeny you can’t run things through them, because you’ll need to A) loop the ends over your hooks and B) you’ll also need to be able to get basket-attachment hardware through the links.
  • If you’re doing chain rather than ribbon, you’ll need a carabiner or quick link for each handle as basket-attachment hardware. Make sure that your chosen hardware will fit through your chosen chain, and will also fit over your basket handle. For fabric-handled baskets, this likely won’t be an issue, but if your handles are wood or metal or something woven, make sure your quick link A) opens up far enough to get your handle in, and B) will accommodate your handle when the link is hanging vertically.
SO MUCH BETTER. (These are actually a bit too far apart; I’ll adjust them later so there’s not so much space between each basket.)

ASSEMBLY, OMG IT’S SO EASY

Hang your two S hooks where you want ’em. Attach your ribbons (via tying knots) or your chains (via sticking the top loop over the bottom of your hook). Then get a basket, hold it up to the position you want for the highest one, attach one one handle via looping and knotting the ribbon around it or attaching via carabiner/quick link, hold the other handle up to level the basket, and then attach the other handle. Now hang the other one(s) beneath it, spaced so you’ll easily be able to see inside them and rummage. THAT’S IT. You have swingy hanging baskets! La la la!

Easy to dig in! Tilt and rummage! My other favorite thing about these is if you move and have a different closet configuration, or you find another solution you like better, you can just detach them and use them for something else! Who doesn’t need baskets? I need ALL THE BASKETS.

ETA : One more note. If your handles are a non-bendy material and kinda long (like my grass-wrapped metal ones above), it’s possible that your ribbon or chain could slip forward or backward along the handle, which will shift your basket’s center of gravity and make it tilt all the time. To avoid that, you can either tightly and thickly wrap the handle with a pretty ribbon (and a bow!) on either side of each knot or fastener to keep it centered on the handle. Or, if it’s a skinny handle like these, you could grab some clear rubber or plastic tubing, cut a length to fit each side of the handle on either side of the knot or fastener, and cut a slit down it lengthwise so you can slip it around the handle to act as a bumper. SOLUTIONS. 

Got anything like this or nah? Workable idea or nah? Discuss!