If you like my boho wall of colorful, handmade African baskets, please follow along as I show you how I sourced, designed and mounted it. And if you like what you see, enter a giveaway to win a handcrafted basket of your very own from a vendor whose sales support Ugandan charities.
First, some background…
Recently I ended up with a bare wall in my dining area after passing to my daughter an inherited cupboard to use in her first home. It made our space a bit tight anyway, so I was glad to pass it along. But the brightly colored cocktail plates that hung just above the tallish cupboard now looked lost in space.
I thought a shelf would help define the corner, so I bought this one from Target, which Chris installed. Then I waited for more inspiration.
When my cleaning lady came next, she asked about the blank space and what was planned for it. As we talked, she picked up a woven tray I keep on an ottoman and dusted it. That’s when it hit me: A basket wall.
A COLORFUL basket wall.
Colorful baskets in an irregular, flowing arrangement, as if spilled from a cart or dancing on the wind!
These baskets wouldn’t be like the cheap wicker ones that decorated my kitchen back in the 1980s. These would be handcrafted baskets. Baskets that could become heirlooms.
Then some inspiration…
My first step was to search the Internet for photos of basket walls to copy to a private Pinterest inspiration board. Among those I found, my favorites were these:
|Dabito photo via My Domaine|
I soon narrowed my search to African baskets and found a dazzling array of choices—many sizes, designs, colors, and price ranges. In truth, the beauty, availability and value of these handwoven baskets overwhelmed me.
Now comes the tough part: Choosing.
Remember that post I did on creating a gallery wall over my desk? And how I used Microsoft PowerPoint as a simplified drawing program? Well, I used that for this project, too. First I measured my available wall space, found a paint chip online of my wall color (Martha Stewart Arrowroot), loaded it into my PowerPoint document, and sized it to ¼ scale.
I also loaded the corner photo to get an idea how the baskets I chose looked with the shelf and adjacent painting. I wanted to keep in mind the height of the dining chairs, as well as seated diners, to avoid collisions.
Next, I returned to the online basket stores and pinned images of ones I liked to my private Pinterest board. I recorded each basket’s dimensions in the notes field. When ready to start designing, I copied and pasted the images into PowerPoint and used the software to remove backgrounds and resize each image at ¼ scale.
Only then did I begin arranging and moving.
And moving and arranging.
And arranging and moving some more.
It took a while. Not the six months I spent designing my office gallery wall, but a good four weeks, working on it as the spirits moved me.
I created several arrangements, but both Chris and I liked this one best. I then ordered the baskets. Because I’d pinned each one, I had a built-in link to easily find the ones I wanted.
No, WAITING is the toughest part!
But it turned out not so bad after all. Baskets from two of the suppliers (including Bright Kids Enterprise) arrived in two or three days. Those from a third supplier were here within a week.
I printed out a copy of my plan and used it as a guide to help me lay out my baskets on my dining table. The area you see above is directly in front of the wall where I planned to hang them, so it allowed me to eyeball how they’d look. I found I needed to elongate the overall arrangement a bit but make it slightly narrower. I also decided to move one of the two smaller baskets positioned on the upper right of the plan to the lower left.
I took an overhead photo of this arrangement so I could adjust my plan in PowerPoint. (The white spot in the center is Plan A, covered in baskets! My bad, haha!) Although I couldn’t hold my smartphone high enough to get one of the smaller baskets in this photo, it gave me enough information to go back to my laptop and alter my layout.
Here’s Plan B—just slightly different, but better overall.
Time to drive some nails!
I presented Chris with my new plan and we discussed how to start. As you can see, he’s holding it upside-down, so the first order of business was for him to orient the drawing with the layout of actual baskets on the table and the wall space where they’d hang.
Which brings up a good question: Did I need his help to do this? It’s not tough, after all, to hold up a basket and pound a nail through. However, it helped tackling it as a team because I could stand back and see how everything was taking shape, as well as issue directions—up a little bit, to the right, down, to the left, perfect!
We started with the right-hand top-and-bottom anchors (1) then built toward the left (2). The flower-motif basket moved the arrangement a bit higher (3). I altered the plan a bit by placing the magenta basket so the smaller brown-and-white basket (4) had some breathing room.
The basket on the upper left (5) had a winged insect image woven into its bottom, so we positioned it to fly into the group. We kept building until all the larger baskets were placed (6 and 7). The small triangular basket went into a niche on the left side (8). Though in my diagram I had it touching the baskets above and below, I decided I also liked it better with space around it. I did the same thing with the small basket in the upper right (8). It had a bird pattern in its bottom, and we also positioned it to fly into the group—“joining the flock,” so to speak.
We couldn’t be happier with our new basket wall!
This is the view I enjoy at every meal now, and I can’t stop gazing at that wall! Flowers? What flowers? All I see is basket delight. I’ve truly gone to heaven in a handbasket, and you can, too!
Baskets and more: Shop for the children
The other bright spot of creating my basket wall was learning about Bright Kids Enterprise through its friendly and helpful general manager, Alisha Chaffey.
BKE was established in 2008 to raise money for the Bright Kids Uganda Children’s Home in Entebbe, Uganda. In 2015, it expanded into ASA Social Fund for Hidden Peoples, a 501(c)(3) organization, to reflect support of additional projects in Uganda:
- The Great Kings and Queens Children’s Centre, a home and school for orphaned and abandoned children as well as those whose families cannot provide school, food or clothing for them.
- United Against Gender Violence – Blessed Survivors, which helps individuals—mostly women—who are victims of acid attacks and other gender violence in war-torn Uganda. Funds raised allow these women to receive counseling, medical treatment and other support.
- Advocates for Children with Disabilities, which helps disabled Ugandan children and their families to receive medical treatment, equipment and emotional support to improve their quality of life and ability to achieve.
“All of our baskets, purses, clutches and market bags are made by the women served by United Against Gender Violence – Blessed Survivors so they can help support their families and develop an identity based on independence and not victimization,” Alisha says. “Other items in our inventory are made by artisans the director of the children’s home contracts with. The children absolutely do not make any of the products. We exist so they can concentrate on being children and students.”
In addition to baskets and purses, the BKE inventory includes beaded leather sandals, carvings, sculptures, masks, wall art, handwoven kente cloth, and vintage African items. So buying from Bright Kids Enterprise should make you feel good on two counts: The money you spend helps people in need, and the products you buy provide fair-trade work and income. PLUS, you get a gorgeous basket or sandals or purse or—well, you get the idea.
Enter to win a basket from Bright Kids Enterprise
|Bright Kids Enterprise|
Alisha has graciously agreed to donate a basket of the winner’s choice from among those priced at $28 or $30, plus shipping in the continental United States for the one item.
To enter, simply visit Bright Kids Enterprise on Etsy, look around, then return to BoHo Home and leave a comment on this post identifying your favorite basket. (If you win and change your mind about which one you like best, that’s okay too!)
You have until end of day Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, to enter. The drawing will be held Monday, Oct. 17 and the winner announced on the BoHo Home Facebook page. Be sure to include your email in your entry comment, so I can contact you if you win.
And I’ll give you an EXTRA entry if after you leave a comment you follow my blog with Bloglovin or one of the email subscription services at the bottom of this page.