Bin Sins

Have you ever considered the notion that something as simple as a trashcan could be a home fashion statement? Trash receptacles, whether large or small, are a part of our daily lives. This simple, often overlooked necessity, offers endless possibilities to show your personal style while remaining functional and decorative.

Many years ago when I was still a banker, we were consolidating two branches. An old vault was opened and inside there was a large wire mesh trashcan, about three feet tall. The workers discarded it in the dumpster. This dumpster just happened to be in eyesight of my office window. I looked out and saw this wonderful old can lying in the dumpster. I immediately set out to rescue it. Believe it or not, I climbed up the outside of this dumpster and jumped in, Gucci’s and all. It was worth it. Today it is proudly displayed in my office and everyone comments on my fabulous wire mesh dumpster dive!

Truth be told, one needn’t sacrifice style for function. This is often where we lose sight of the importance of a cohesive design esthetic by forgoing the opportunity to discover your options. Although we are talking trashcans, creating a casual luxury home is all about even the simplest of details. Things not typically used as trash receptacles can be repurposed and utilized as one. I designed a mudroom and used an extra large watering can as the perfect trashcan alternative. When I designed an office space that was industrial in design, I used a galvanized bucket. My home today displays my appreciation for a can that can do so much more.

Antique stores, estate sales, flea markets, tag and garage sales are great places to discover interesting receptacles that can be brought back to life as trashcans. Something old can be something new in your home. Old receptacles bring with them the patina of history and start the mind imagining how they might have been used.

Here are some ideas to avoid commonly made “bin sins”:

The number one “bin sin” in my opinion is to have it as part of a matching bathroom set. Nothing is more boring and sad than a soap dish, a water glass, a tissue dispenser and a trash can that match. And God forbid that the shower curtain also bears the same design theme. This is a “bin sin” of massive proportion!

If you have a beautiful trashcan, please don’t put a plastic bag in it. It takes away from its beauty. If you find yourself with something wet or sticky that needs to be thrown away, take some extra steps to the kitchen where surely there is a garbage can lined with plastic.

The kitchen often has more than one trashcan, not including the recycling bin. One of my pet peeves is seeing the recycling receptacle that you put outside to be emptied, inside on the kitchen floor. Please, if you are going to display your recycling, opt for a matching set of bins that separates each category in a professional, eye pleasing way.

You can sin without a trashcan too. In fact, not having a trashcan that is easily visible in a powder room or bathroom is equally as disturbing, particularly for women.

If you recycle in the garage, no rules apply for most. However, I personally think you can even step up the garage recycling by using large heavy-duty rubber trashcans. I prefer the ones with wheels as they are portable and make it an equal opportunity job for everyone in the house.

Let’s talk about the kitchen can. If it’s going to be visible, then it must have a lid of some sort and be preferably not made of plastic. That’s my own personal opinion. If it’s tucked away under the sink anything goes. I do recommend something smaller rather then larger, increasing the need to empty it more frequently. Nothing’s worse than packing down a trashcan to accommodate more kitchen garbage. If you choose to house your can in a closet, I still prefer it to have a lid. This will cut down on any odor that may occur. Keep a few trash bags in the bottom of your trashcan. This makes it really convenient with no down time when you go to empty the can.

If you have a powder room, this is your public restroom and should have a nice decorative can that is small in scale and has a cohesive look to your overall dÌ©cor. Do not confuse cohesive with matching. Since this room is generally used by guests, it’s a good idea to never ever let it become full and unsightly. In fact, I am constantly emptying my powder room trashcan to ensure that my guests know that I keep a tidy house.

Now to the bedrooms: A guest bedroom should always have a small trashcan by the bed or near a desk. I don’t believe that plastic liners are necessary in a guest room or personal bedroom because the type of trash is not typically “icky”. Usually it’s a tissue, a tag, a piece of string or thread or a small piece of paper. I do love the look of wicker or other natural material in the bedrooms and also the powder room. However, wonderful painted metal cans, can be found, both old and new.

In a home office however, I love to see a large, industrial type trashcan that may even be vintage. It is such a great look and works with almost any design style. It is the one can that I manage to fill rather quickly in spite of its size as it can accommodate mountains of paper. This makes it really easy to recycle.

So now you can can the idea of a can that can’t be so much more. Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch made a home out of his can with very little effort. Just imagine what you CAN do!

And there you have it.