My Gel Nail Polish Stash, Organization, Storage & Swatch Sticks!
It’s been a while since I’ve shown you my stash! I stayed up late the other night working on creating new swatch sticks and organizing my polishes, and I thought that some of you might really enjoy seeing how I organize and store my stash and swatch sticks. I know I love getting a peek into other bloggers’ work and storage spaces.
First, if you don’t already know, I keep a spreadsheet of all of the gel polishes that are in (or have been in) my stash. You can find that online here. I have also built up a collection of regular nail polish, mostly indies and stamping polishes, but I don’t track those in my spreadsheet. I update the file very regularly because it helps me stay on top of what I have, and what colors I have swatched (or need to swatch) for the blog.
Normally when I buy or receive gel polish I also swatch the colors onto swatch sticks so that I can easily compare the color(s) with other colors that I already own. Having the colors on swatch sticks also makes it easy to select one when I want to polish my nails or do nail art. I have to admit though that choosing a color can be a little overwhelming at times!
Below is a picture that I took with all of my swatch sticks together. You can see that I put them on binder rings, and most are organized by color. Some are also organized by brand and then color. The cup of swatch sticks sits on my work station, and that’s where I put them right when I’m done creating them until I have time to put them on the binder rings. There are probably another 100 polishes on my shelves that I haven’t even created swatch sticks for yet.
When I post my swatch comparison pictures, I’m often asked about the supplies and techniques, so let’s get into that a little. I like to swatch my colors on clear swatch sticks. I prefer the sticks over swatch wheels because it’s easier to re-arrange, organize, and label them. I’m also a little OCD about keeping them uniform, so I try to always buy the same kind with the rounded handle. I once bought the clear sticks with square handles and I hated them… they didn’t fit on my binder rings and I had to do the swatches all over again. I usually buy the clear swatch sticks from this listing on eBay– they are shipped from China so it does take some time to receive them. Update 9/18/14: I just got a new shipment of swatch sticks from this listing and they were not the same kind that I have always received. :(
I find that sometimes the sticks have an oily covering on them which makes the polish application a little wonky, so I use alcohol wipes to clean off the swatch sticks before applying the polish. I don’t use a base coat on the swatch sticks, I just paint the color right onto the stick and cure each coat. I do apply a top coat, and for the sticks I just use whatever top coat I have handy – a less expensive brand if possible.
As the picture above demonstrates, I also label each of my swatch sticks. I use a Brother P-Touch label maker to create the labels that go onto the handles. I like clear labels with black text, but the clear tape only comes in 1/2″ size and I do have to trim them down with scissors to fit. I think the 3/8″ labels would probably fit on the swatch sticks perfectly, but they don’t come in clear.
As you saw in my picture of all of the swatch sticks, I organize them on binder rings by color and/or brand. The 2″ binder rings work perfectly. I hang the binder rings on my wall using Command wire hooks. I love that they aren’t permanent and are easy to remove from the wall without leaving any damage or sticky marks.
Below is a current picture of my work station. You can see that the swatch sticks are hung on the wall beside and below my shelf. I put them there so that they are within reach when I’m sitting in my chair. My work station is a little messy, but hey, it is what it is. I made the work station out of two helmers with a glass table top resting on them. The helmers, glass top and chairs are all from Ikea. I don’t have an Ikea near me, so I purchased them online. And since I’m also often asked about the light that I work under, I use this OttLight from Amazon. I love it!
The polish shelf on the wall was custom-built for me by my dad. It’s the best thing ever! I have most of my polishes sorted by brand. I can usually fit two rows of polish on each shelf, depending on the brand/bottle size. It works great with round bottles. Some of the larger square bottles don’t fit in two rows. I haven’t counted, but I think if I completely maximize the space and put two rows of polish on each shelf, I can fit between 5-600 bottles on it. I love to see my polishes out in the open – stuffing them away in dark drawers makes me sad!
My polish stash has also started to overflow onto my bookshelf. I cleared out all of the other stuff and placed 4 clear nail polish display racks that hold approximately 60 bottles each. On the top shelf I have a rack filled with stamping polishes, and one filled with indies… these are all regular nail polishes, not gel. And then the second shelf has two racks that are filled with the complete gel polish collections from Revel and Pink Gellac (you will be seeing more of both of these brands on my blog very soon!).
In addition to all of the polishes that you see on the shelves, I do have a couple of helmer drawers full of regular nail polish, but they are ones that I’m very unlikely to use. Eventually, I’d like to find something crafty to do with them (last year I made ornaments). I also store my swatching supplies, nail art supplies, extra cotton balls, etc in those drawers. I think that about sums up my storage, display and organization of polishes and swatch sticks. Please let me know if you have any questions.
If you want a little peek into the history of my polish stash, just visit the posts here. I’m absolutely amazed at how my collection has grown in just two years. If you look at my post from September 2012, I said I had 90 bottles of polish – that included base/top coats, RNP, and gel. Right now I have right around 500 bottles of gel polish colors, which I know from my spreadsheet. I have no idea how many base and top coats or RNP’s I have… probably a couple hundred more. Maybe over the next 2 years I’ll take over the giant empty shelf that’s in my daughter’s room! She’s away at college and I keep teasing that I’m going to take over her room with my stuff. LOL