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According to Webster’s Dictionary, separate is a verb. We separate our lights from darks when doing laundry, our refrigerated goods from non-perishable items when shopping, and we separate our bills from our receipts for tax-time. Separate can also be an adjective meaning different, distinct, unrelated, set apart. Using the laundry example, who hasn’t turned a “white” load pink because of an overlooked item of red clothing? Thus, the important need for separation.

I began obsessing over this the other day when I reached under my sink for eye makeup remover (which is pink) and instead grabbed the nail polish remover (coincidentally also pink) beside it. Oops! That was a close call.

It may be time to overhaul my under sink cabinet situation.

This isn’t the first time I have unwittingly grabbed the wrong product. A few years ago I was hurrying to leave for work before the traffic became heinous. Just after the first squeeze I realized I was putting my hormone cream, not toothpaste, on my toothbrush! Is this normal or a crazy family trait?

I remember back in the 60’s, my Mom accidentally applied hairspray to her freshly shaved underarms after showering. From downstairs we heard her whooping and hollering. And to this day, my sisters and I still laugh about the time she chased a huge roach all around the kitchen and living room with a can of hairspray she’d mistaken for Raid. Funny, yes… but why weren’t the cabinets better organized?

I realize this is a first-world problem.  

I do need to tackle my bathroom cabinet. Things aren’t breeding down there, not even close. It’s all contained, but not as organized or easily accessible as I’d like. It’s just a builder’s grade cupboard… A big hole with a pair of doors.

Have you noticed that most bathrooms aren’t designed for women? Case in point: Almost all of us use them, but where are we supposed to store our blow-dryer and curling-iron? I fantasize about opening my doors and having a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Without splurging on custom built-ins, I may well be dreaming the impossible dream. 

Is there an easy way to have beauty, ease, and function? Do you have any photos or favorite organizational products you can recommend? I’m anxiously awaiting your answers…

XO, Donna


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Donna O’Klock spent 35 years in the beauty business, talking, teaching, and learning. These days, she’d “rather write than talk. It’s better that way because I can edit.” She writes two blogs, and, and is the author of  Sick and Tired & Sexy: Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness.

Austin, Texas, has been her home since 1978, but she and her fiancé have downsized and are traveling the country in their RV.

12 thoughts on “SEPARATION ANXIETY”

  1. I think we are fantasizing of the same thing! I anxiously await others’ ideas, as well! And I have come close to putting handsoap on my toothbrush! More than once!

  2. Hahahahaha!! That’d be a new one, Beckye… washing out your OWN mouth with soap!
    I hope everyone has some great ideas.

  3. Fifteen years ago when we had our house built, the bathroom specialist sold mirrored cabinets for above your vanity. It was pricey and out-of-style even then. It has three separate doors so those small things that are used regularly are separated and easily visible. It’s also the most practical item in my ensuite.

    I have drawers on each side of the sink. Unfortunately, I forgot to use drawers instead of doors below these.

    I do wonder about the new style of countertop that is almost all-sink. What purpose does it serve?

    • Mirrored cabinets would be wonderful! The builder here did a wall-to-wall mirror over the vanity… consequently, I have no medicine cabinet at all. I think an all- sink counter isn’t realistic for how we live, either… I can’t imagine what it’s purpose would be – where would we put our makeup when we were applying it, or our blow-dryer?? Whose idea is all of this?

  4. After I sold the Little House in Boerne, I moved three times fairly quickly and all of those items wound up in a trash bag under the sink. That was my idea of storage, but it almost backfired on me because I came inches away from taking off my eye makeup with nail polish remover. Been there!! When I moved here and redid my bathroom, all of those things are in a bathroom closet. Since I don’t share the closet with anyone else, each shelf is for a certain “category” of products like hair, face & teeth, etc. In there I have a gold lacquered tray I bought in Florence that has all my creams and toothbrush items so when I’m ready to use them, I bring the tray to the counter of my sink and when I’m done, move the tray back into the cabinet. I like clean counters. xoxox, Brenda

    • Yep, that was a close-call for you, too. Wow! Categorized shelves sound so luxurious, Brenda! May figure out how to use my silver tray for daily items rather than just showing-off perfumes and art glass. Thank you for the inspiration.

  5. I hung my appliances up by installing hooks under the cabinet in the area where a chair can be pulled up. I put an outlet in there also. An electrician installed it relatively inexpensively but it is necessary to drill into the cabinet. No one can see anything and tidiness makes me happy!

    • Great idea, Stacy! Going to ponder that for a bit and see if it could be a solution here… tidiness makes me happy, too!
      Thank you,

  6. I have a small cabinet next to the big bathroom mirror and not much counter space. So my things are organised, standing, in plastic containers (of the type q-tips are sold in): dental care things, face cleaners, face masks, everyday face creams, nail polish removers, husband’s shaving stuff, etc. These containers fill the same function as Brenda’s trays, in much less space. Plus they get re-used rather than recycled. Larger things are under the sink. All nice and tidy… Except when the cleaning lady mixes things up.

    • Thank you, Ramit, that is a great solution – re-use functional stuff, and reduce waste, even avoiding recycling. And smaller containers offer the chance to sort by function – which would avoid mistakes.
      Luckily, or perhaps not… I don’t have a cleaning lady to mix them all up.

  7. Oh boy does this one ring clear! I have used mouthwash for shower gel in a hotel shower (no glasses couldn’t see), and I know of someone who used super glue instead of eyelash glue on her false eyelashes and ended up at Davis. My makeup drawer is a mess …note to self clean it out! Great post Brenda.

    • Glad it struck a chord for you, Cindy, “my work here is done.” LOL. Oh, my, your poor friend!
      And this is why we organize..

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