No trip to Charleston, South Carolina, is complete without a stopover at The Market—here, at the very end of the battery, the coastal vibrancy of the area’s beaches and islands intersects with the lush, decorous beauty of Charleston’s haute couture, making it just the right place to sample the city’s laidback beauty. Overflowing with leather pieces, woodworking, and art, The Market offers a visual feast, but among the vendors and stalls, there’s one site that is sure to captivate: the so-called “basket ladies,” selling their curved sweetgrass baskets—pieces that twist and turn like a lurid romance.
What makes the baskets so unique is their construction—native dune grasses are bunched and then coiled tightly into place rather than woven into plates. That allows them to take on any number of shapes—from traditional wide sieving baskets to fantastical curled and lidded pieces as variable as the tides crashing against the shore. In fact, the weavers, many of them from families with centuries-old histories of basket making, use no patterns at all in their work.
And just as there is no one right way to make a sweetgrass basket, there’s no single way to display them in your home. Still, just because weaving is a time-honored tradition doesn’t mean your decor should look tired or dated. Here are some fresh ways to show off local basketry that will add a certain Southern charm to your home.
Via JC Webb Studios
A Tray Within a Tray
A miniature basket (that fits nicely in a suitcase if you’re visiting from a distance) adds a touch of native charm to fresh gardenias and a vintage tray in this luxe living room. Geometric accents and clean white surfaces keep this look modern while displaying woven decor that serves a purpose — a place for loose change.
A set of several matching baskets atop a sleigh bed provides a cheeky, cottage-worthy alternative to your standard bedroom fare in this quaint room. Set against a light blue surface, the details of each basket really stand out, letting you appreciate the workmanship in every piece and giving guests a true sense of the intricacy of the local woven pieces.
Punctuate Accent Colors
When selecting a piece, take into consideration its accent colors—for instance, in this room, there’s a subtle drama going on in these black-and-blonde baskets that’s carried through in the vases and light fixture. Placed against an exposed brick facade, the end result is a backdrop that almost has a mid century feel.
Via West Elm
Basket display is all about placement. Several pieces arranged in an asymmetric unit adds a modern twist to a wall-mounted spread, keeping the space casual and organic instead of overly controlled. To hang baskets on the wall, you can use embroidery floss by weaving it through the basket threads and tying a knot in the back. Then simply hang the newly formed loop on a nail or hook.
The Perfect Planter
Who can argue with this pint-sized fig tree propped in a tall sweetgrass basket? The curvy foliage echoes the unique shape of its planting vessel—giving this room a fresh, soft feel. To lengthen the life of your baskets, line the bottom with newspaper before planting and avoid overwatering.
As you may have noticed, white spaces provide a fresh background for basket display. Paired with wicker blinds and rough wooden shelves, there’s just a peek of coastal rustic in this kitchen that serves up some serious beach cottage chic while being extremely useful to hide kitchen necessities that clash with your decor.
Via The Wedding Row
As a Wedding Cake?
Southern weddings may be elaborate, elegant and frilly, but they’re rarely stiff with an emphasis on meaningful touches that reflect the couple and their style. This nouveau tradition offers a new twist on the three-tiered wedding cake, one that perfectly showcases the island’s regional history for a dessert that’s (almost) too pretty to eat!