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Staining Wicker Baskets, and Finding The One

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Do you believe in soulmates?

You know, that person who is meant to be with you forever and for all time and always love your morning breath? That person who will know that you take your pancake syrup on the side, who loves the tiny mole on your foot and who makes you laugh with their awkward dance moves?

Well, I’m here to tell ya. There IS a “The One,” at least when it comes to yard sale finds. I know, because I found my The One(s) at recent yard sale:
honey baskets
It wasn’t love at first sight, I’ll confess. I thought they were just okay. Like that guy who you kind of date a little because there’s nothing wrong with him but you’re not sure if it’ll work out?

They were a little rough, and plus I wasn’t really into blondes, at least not when it comes to my baskets. I wished they were darker. But get this: there were eleven of them at this yard sale. For a buck a piece! STEAL! So naturally I… offered less.

It’s a disease. I can’t help it.
We took home ELEVEN of these baskets for EIGHT dollars. Isn’t that outrageous? I didn’t even know exactly what we’d use them for. I knew we had a few places in our house that needed closed storage, like on our office bookshelves and in the kids’ closets.

I hoped I could come up with some way to make them look better. Maybe cover in fabric? Maybe stain them? I wasn’t sure… but when I saw how perfectly they happened to fit in our office bookshelves, I knew…

…that this was meant to be. And that I would do whatever I could to change their appearance to fit my personal whims. (And this is where the love metaphor breaks down. Don’t read too deeply into it.)

Tutorial: How to stain wicker baskets at View Along the Way

1. Gather your supplies

Supplies for Staining Wicker Storage Baskets
I used a foam brush and minwax wood stain in dark walnut. One 32-oz can of wood stain worked for six baskets. No sandpaper. No polyurethane. Just stain and a brush. Then I started experimenting…

2. Brush on the stain.

I tried a few different methods here, so you can choose your own adventure. I didn’t sand these at all before I stained them, and it worked out a-okay.

Usually when you stain wood, you brush on the stain, let it sit, then wipe it off with a rag. The longer you let it sit, the darker the finish. I let my stain sit for about five minutes, then wiped it off.
Staining Wicker Storage Baskets at View Along the Way
Yeah… no. Not the look I wanted. It was dark in all the crevices with the blonde roots showing through where I wiped it.

So I reapplied the stain…
Wood stain on wicker storage baskets
And didn’t wipe it off at all, ever. Just let it dry like this.

3. Allow to dry completely.

I waited for it to stop feeling sticky/tacky.

And waited…

And waited…

About 48 hours. Until it was totally dry. Took FOREVER. But I loved the shiny end result!

Tips for applying the stain:

Just glob it on. Get your foam brush wet and soak the basket so it gets in all the crevices. I set my basket on top of a paint can so I could stain around the bottom.
Wood stain on wicker storage baskets with foam brush
Wood stain is very thin and wet, so it’ll drip all over your floor, self, arms, walls and children. But sometimes you just have to make sacrifices.
Wet wood stain on wicker storage baskets

Despite the appearances of that last photo, my left hand is not deformed. I mean seriously. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH MY FINGERS?
(Small pause while I closely examine the skeletal structure of my hand for deformities.)

*(Relieved sigh.)*

Back to business. I wasn’t sure if you could stain wicker baskets, but it turns out you can. And they turn out great:

And for just a few minutes of work, you can take something that was just okay, fully functional and perfectly acceptable…
wicker storage baskets
…like the guy you date because your biological clock is ticking and he appears to be capable of fathering healthy young…

…and manipulate it until it looks like you always wanted it to and remembers to do the dishes. Crap. Forget the metaphor again. Just look at the baskets.
Have you ever stained wicker? Do you believe in soulmates? Do you have any deformities you’d like to share?

Let's connect


  1. So much better! I have some that are very similar and I might have to do this as well! I love the darker finish!

  2. Whew, glad you managed to turn that boring guy with the pocket protector into a Brad Pitt lookalike!

  3. Lol!! Great SCORE and transformation! The metaphors speak for themselves! 🙂
    xo Heidi

  4. WOW. I would never think to stain those, but they look so good! What a great (cheap!) find!

  5. $1? For each one? But then you got them for LESS? You are my yard sale hero. They look awesome with their new stain, too.

    Real deformity: my left foot is a half size larger than my right. I can’t wear sandals with a back because then the difference is really obvious. Hooray for being unique? 😛

  6. These look awesome! You got a great deal on them too! I also have a few pictures where my hand looks deformed. It’s the nature of the job I guess!

  7. they look SO much more elegant and modern- great job! 🙂

  8. Awesome score and great transformation! I love buying things that I don’t necessarily need at the time, but they’ll come in handy later.

  9. That was a steal. A STEAL!!! So much so I just yelled for effect.


  10. These look great! I need to reorganize my playroom and I have some from Ikea which are just begging me for an extreme makeover!

  11. They look awesome! And that’s not a bad price for all those baskets since most stores charge like $15 for a nice big basket like that.

    I’m fairly certain my husband and I are soul mates, because no one else on God’s green earth could put up with us! Haha!

  12. You are a negotiating queen!

    Plus you only stained one side, so theoretically you could spray paint/stain the other sides in different colors and then rotate them to suit your mood. Or maybe that’s just a but too freak-show for you:)


  13. oh my god. can i tell you how jealous i am?? I was looking at baskets the other day that were on SALE for $9 a piece. what a score! and seriously ingenious idea to stain them. i have never even thought about staining wicker before!

  14. Clever! I wouldn’t have ever thought to use wood stain on wicker. Also, I know what you mean about hand photos. Every time a try to take an “action” shot, my hand looks like a weird bird claw or something that belongs to the Michelin man, especially since I haven’t mastered the take-the-picture-with-my-left-hand-while-cutting-or-painting-with-my-right-hand-which-is-my-dominant-hand dance.

  15. Fancy! I’m feeling bad for all of those ugly baskets I’ve ignored along the way!

  16. Awesome!! I just tried to do something similar with IKEA baskets and used fabric spray paint. ha! This seems more logical. But, hey, it worked. Turned them a gray/ silver color. Sweet.

  17. Erin @ DIY On the Cheap says:

    What a great idea! I may have to try this.

  18. Kelly – How do you tell which garage sales are worth stopping at? It seems that I never stop at the good ones. Any tips?

  19. They look great with the darker stain, Kelly!
    I have two rattan chairs that I’ve been experimenting with changing the color on using Polyshades. I’ll have to try a swatch of stain….. I have enough of those little Minwax cans in my garage to open a hardware store!!! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  20. very very very cool! I have these baskets as well I am SO staining them! I would have never thought of that!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. Genius! What a fantastic idea! Excuse me while I go and stain some wicker baskets now 🙂

  22. Ummm, let’s not talk about deformities first thing in the morning. Love the baskets now, perfect addition to your great shelves!!

  23. Holy cats, less than a dollar each?! That’s such a good deal it’s downright scandalous! In the weird looking hands department, I always think of that man hands episode of Seinfeld when I see my hands close up in pictures. I don’t have the dark hairy knuckles or anything, but my hands just always seem disproportionately large. It’s troubling.

  24. Perfect idea and a perfect fix! The office is looking awesome!

  25. Sweet! Now I will be on the lookout for cute baskets. I never think to stain them. Love your cabinets too!

  26. What a great idea to stain a basket. I have spray painted them before but I never thought of staining them! You are brilliant!


  27. Whew! Good to know it takes at least 48 hours to dry. I stained a wicker lamp shade yesterday, still tacky today! Thought I did something wrong…but like you, I wanted it dark and “soaked” it with stain, not much rub off. I will be patient….I will be patient….I will be….

  28. re: the foam brushes — I picked up a 10-pack in assorted sizes (1′-3″) at the 99cent store.

  29. Susan @ says:

    Wow! How gorgeous do they look? I have a long running love affair with baskets of all shapes and sizes and am currently thinking about painting a wicker chair which lives under my verandah. You have just given me another method to think about. Your shelves look so lovely – are they always that tidy?


  30. Great result! I just sold all those baskets at a yardsale and regret it. But, nonetheless, IKEA sells them.

  31. Your tutorial on staining wicker baskets was very entertaining! Your mind seems to work… and wander… like mine 🙂 But in all seriousness, I’m excited that it truly WILL be super easy to stain my laundry basket!

  32. Lisa Cross says:

    Were all the baskets in last pic, stained the same stain color?

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  35. Kimberly Bruhn says:

    Next time you get a super deal like your baskets…try putting the stain in an old spray bottle (I re-use ones I get cleaning products in for this). I re-did a couple old baskets and it turned out super! Found your blog via Pinterest (wanted to see what you all did to pay off your house in about 5 years…wish we lived where you could buy a house for that kind of price…we live in an expensive area, Ashland, Oregon). I’m not complaining…my husband has a great job!

  36. The baskets look great. I recommend a bit of felt on the bottom so that when you slide them in and out they don’t stain the shelf the are on. Impossible to get off (says she with a stained basket up against a now also stained wall in her kitchen).

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  42. Any tips for LIGHTENING baskets?? I bought some that were the ONLY dimensions that would fit into the cubbies of my hall tree, but am not loving the really dark color in an otherwise beachy kitchen… i don’t want white, but i would love to lighten the brown and make it more ashy… Anyone? 🙂 Thanks for your help!

  43. :). Thanks

  44. nice tutorial, did you find it hard to get a consistent colour staining multiple baskets? We might start offering stains alongside our products if there is a demand.


  1. […] as my kids get older. Yikes!)The baskets on the bottom shelf are a little DIY project you can check out here. The painting on the top shelf is my DIY chipboard art project I created a while back. (You can see […]

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