I Sent a Pro Organizer a Photo of My Disaster Cabinet and She Fixed It

published Jul 1, 2023
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Credit: Meg Asby

I’m an incredibly organized person, and I absolutely have a disaster cabinet in my kitchen. They’re not mutually exclusive qualities. My disaster cabinet is home to a mix of things, from seasonal and speciality kitchen tools, like Popsicle molds and cookie cutters, to an array of candles, candlestick holders, and more. Part of the function of a disaster cabinet (preferably one with a door) is to contain the chaos in one spot. My shamelessness notwithstanding, I jumped at the chance to address the clutter via video chat with professional organizer Jean Prominski of Seattle Sparkle

Before our meeting, I sent her a photo of the cabinet in question, resisting the urge to right the Popsicle molds that were knocked sideways and spilling out. I chose authenticity! 

On that note, Prominski told me that she rarely takes before photos of her projects. “People can feel embarrassed about the state of their home,” she shares, and she never wants to ask to take photographs when clients are feeling vulnerable. I thought this was beautiful, and it made me feel even more comfortable sharing my mess with her.

Credit: Meg Asby

Step 1: Quick purge.

Prominski gave me several tasks for homework, and all of them were straightforward and effective. The first was to empty the cabinet and do a quick purge. My cabinet is deep, and I was surprised by the number of items spread across my kitchen island. I attacked the purge with gusto, adding to my “banish” pile with no regrets. Prominski loves that label because a purge can often remove negative energy from a space. Goodbye, bad vibes from broken Popsicle molds and BPA plastic.

Credit: Meg Asby

Step 2: Sort and purge again.

My next task was to group the items into categories, which proved to be a little tricky with this random collection, but I managed. This was followed by another purge — the “not quick” one. A few more items were moved to the go-pile after permission was quickly granted by my children. I thought they were going to be a bit more sentimental about their preschool cookie cutters, for example, but for most of the items it was an easy “donate.” 

Credit: Meg Asby

Step 3: Contain, label, and reload.

It was time to “containerize” the remaining items. Prominski recommends using what you have first, which is good, as my budget for this makeover was a generous zero dollars. I used leftover IKEA SAMLA bins from a previous project and a black cardboard box that came with a holiday gift. Now that the Popsicle molds are contained, I don’t have to worry about them getting knocked over. For labels, I used budget-friendly masking tape and Sharpies, and after cleaning the cabinet, all that was left was to return the keepers to the shelves. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Final Takeaway

The biggest win of this project came from the purge. There were so many large items taking up space unnecessarily. I also moved the ice cream maker to a small appliance cabinet which made more sense and freed up even more space. 

I wondered if it was “OK” to leave the box of candles uncontained, as my family needs to access replacements about once a week. Prominski told me, “I don’t have rules; I never say you have to do it this way.” When the candles were buried in the cabinet, I sometimes didn’t replace them because it was too effortful. Now it takes mere seconds to grab them, and I don’t hesitate.

I asked Prominski what makes her business unique and she shared that she is certified to practice Reiki, a form of energy healing. Over Zoom, there wasn’t much she could do, but inspired by her practice I lit a candle over my cabinet and focused on amplifying all the good energy inside: from the special-day banner we use on birthdays to the unicorn cookie cutter that reminds me of my eldest’s preschool days (I kept that one for myself). 

I’ve decided this gratitude practice is here to stay. And, thanks to Prominski, it won’t be hard for me to find a candle the next time I need to celebrate an organizing win.