When we were young, "laundry hamper" might have referred to the floor under the bed.
A little later, it may have meant a mesh sack kept by the front door, with a pouch full of quarters for the laundromat.
But we are grownups now. An attractive receptacle for the day's castoffs is one of the small civilized gifts we give ourselves. It's generally a modest investment that banishes the chaos, and brings in the calm that is the hallmark of a well-kept home.
For contemporary bath or bedroom suites, consider Bed, Bath & Beyond's sophisticated black faux leather hamper with removable basket, or West Elm's sleek white lacquered cylindrical hamper. (www.bedbathandbeyond.com, $79.99; www.westelm.com, $99)
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If you've got a luxe bath, you may want to outfit with the Blomus Slice stainless steel hamper, with a sharp black lid; the Vipp receptacle in black or white enamel; or Zack Quadro's Drumpolish, a shiny cylinder that could probably double as an end table. (www.everythingmodern.com, Blomus, $193.04; Vipp, $599; Zack Quadro, $241.80)
Hampton Bay has a beautiful tilt-door double hamper that's really a piece of furniture; it would work as a vanity as well, and comes in white or hazel wood finish. (www.homedecorators.com, $209)
A nice willow hamper from Seville has a hinged lid, and comes in white or natural. (www.bedbathandbeyond.com, $39.99)
Seville also makes a professional-looking three-bag rack on a sturdy metal frame, complete with telescoping hanging rack and locking wheels. (www.sevilleclassics.com, $59.99)
Ikea has the Lillangen tall-boy cabinet with portholes for laundry, perfect for a tight narrow space. The Fyllen basket in fire-engine red turns laundry gathering into a colorful exercise. (www.ikea.com, Lillangen, $119 to $134; Fyllen, $7.99)
For the nursery, Southern California designer Nina Selby has a sweet aqua-and-lemon-striped hamper for her Cotton Tale label. (www.justforbabies.net, $54.95)
Redmon's Stars and Moon vinyl hamper in white, pink or blue is charming. (www.everythingmodern.com, $29.99)
Trend Lab's Chibi Zoo hamper has a cute, friendly, zoo-animal print in a trendy blue, green and brown color combo. (www.babybeddingzone.com, $40)
Jo Jo Designs has several baby-friendly cotton prints for their nursery hamper, including a graphic circle motif, an animal print, a brown and pink damask and a sweet blue-toned argyle. (www.bedbathstore.com, $44.99)
Or choose Jo Jo'S chic black and ivory French toile hamper, suitable for the baby's room and the boudoir. (www.babybeddingzone, $37.99)