January 25, 2015

Nailstash: A 2015 Update on the Hoard! [Bottle Spam]

Hey everyone! How is your weekend going?

Today I have a pretty fun/ frivolous post for you! The last time I documented my polish hoard was two years ago, in January of 2013! So, I thought it was about time for an update! Here is the previous stash post, if you're interested in comparing or seeing how my storage and organization has changed.

You may or may not have seen most of these photos already on Instagram, but here I'll talk in a little more detail about the system I use to store, organize, and catalog polishes. Originally, I did not want to do this update until my swatch sticks were a little more organized, but hey- this is kind of a behind the scenes type of post, so I thought I'd share the current situation as it stands!

I've moved from organizing polishes by color to grouping them instead by brand. Although the by-color system is way more aesthetically pleasing and a bit easier to navigate when trying to do nail art or look for dupes, it's not really practical once you reach a certain number of polishes. *ahem*

Two years ago, I was moving the overflow from the four wall-mounted racks into a stacked duo of Michaels "Melmers." I quickly outgrew that! (Well, I suppose it took a year and a half.) Now, I use the four wall racks and a tall IKEA "Alex" drawer unit to store polishes. The Melmers have nail art supplies, as well as miscellaneous stuff like Ipsy bags, baby wipes, extra swatch sticks, ect. A couple of the drawers are still empty, too. I'll show you the important ones at the end of the post!

Before I give you a peek into the storage, I want to talk about my cataloging system!

Here's the top of the Alex unit:

It's a mess! Actually, it's really chaotic for me!

As you can see, I am using the clear, straight swatch sticks to catalog and swatch polishes. These usually come in sets of 50 for super cheap, and you can buy them on eBay or Amazon. (Most of the time they are shipped from China, so make sure to order a few weeks in advance of when you'll need them!)

This style of swatch stick comes on a long bolt with a nut, which is helpful for grouping color families. Some people choose to put them on one long string, and while I can see the benefit of that, I think I just have too many to do that!  Once upon a time, all of my swatch sticks fit in that long, glass container (from Michaels) you can see in the back, and they actually looked lovely when sorted rainbow style! Now, I have too many different "bolts," if you will, of swatch sticks, and I need to get a second glass container.

These are really still not in order, but this should give you some idea of how cool it can look this way:

So my cataloging system goes something like this:

  1. Obtain new polish. (easiest part, amiright?)

  2. Swatch on blank swatch stick & let dry overnight.

  3. Create label with a label maker, cut to size, adhere.

  4. Swatch sticks go into the mug for future color-sorting if I'm not currently working with those polishes. If I am, I keep the swatch sticks (and polishes) close to my work computer, in case I need a reference for color-correction.

  5. At some nebulous point in the future, sort loose swatch sticks into appropriate color order within their color families. This process does take a while, since you have to remove usually all of the swatch sticks from each bolt and lay them out in a line. Then, you make sure you have decent enough light to determine where the new swatch sticks should go. Then, they get re-strung onto the bolt.

Obviously, I am very, very hopelessly behind on these sort of catalog-housekeeping tasks! The mug I use as a holding area is overflowing, and I've just got loose swatch sticks everywhere now. It's even worse than that though. Probably more than half of the swatch sticks that you can see in the glass container are not labeled with the label maker! They have written Sharpie labels instead, which is what I was doing previous to discovering that the Sharpie eventually wears off. So, I've got a lot of labeling in my future! Ack! (It's actually really easy to keep up with labeling as new polishes come in, but to go back and do it for that volume of swatch sticks is a different story.)

I should mention that a lot of times, I keep polish on top of the Alex unit too. It is either waiting to find a home inside, or is polish I'm intending to swatch or use for nail art in the immediate future. So, it's really kind of a staging area.

Here's a picture I just took this morning:

Sometimes the jewelry tree lives there too, and I've got the China Glaze Road Trip collection waiting for storage, and a few other polishes I'm meaning to swatch soon! (L'Oreal- Masked Affair!) Oh yes, and I've put the loose swatch sticks into another mug. *sigh*

So, this cataloging system works really well for me if I keep up with it! I think everything kind of went to shit when the swatch bolts outgrew the glass container, lol. Normally, when I am searching for dupes, or certain polish shades, my references are the swatch sticks. I don't have to rummage around in drawers or have to guess what polishes will look like together! And, this allows me to keep brands grouped together which makes the most sense to me anyway.

While I'm talking about cataloging, I guess I should let you know that I maintain a spreadsheet of current polishes in my stash. This is really helpful as well! It helps me quickly reference release dates or collections- and, most importantly, whether or not I've tried the polish! To go along with that, I also have a Pinterest board of 'Untrieds,' so that whenever I'm stumped on what to wear on my nails, I have a quick and easy visual reference! That board is secret, but I'd recommend anybody make one, if they have a good number of untried polishes. I've found it so, so useful (and motivating)!

Okay! Now for the stash! I'll show the drawers of the Alex first, since I'm already talking about it.

Here's the first drawer from the top of the unit:

This drawer just has indie polishes! Like I mentioned on Instagram, I'm fairly brand-loyal, and it takes a lot for me to try out new-to-me indie polishes. I'm working on that, but as a result, my collection probably contains a lower proportion of indie polishes vs. commercial brands than most nail bloggers.

From the front this drawer has Smitten Polish, A England, Emily de Molly, ILNP (not including the six in the new packaging from the most recent mail-time!), KBShimmer, Cirque Colors (two rows), ALIQUID Lacquer, and Mint Polish. The little group on the side has two Elevation Polishes in the front, one Glam Polish and one Kester Black, three Pomegranate Lacquer polishes, and one Dance Legend.

Second drawer:

This drawer is also indie-only, and it just hold brands that I have more of. Indigo Bananas is in the front right (with a lot of space for expansion, LOL!), Rescue Beauty Lounge is on the left there, and Cult Nails is in back with another row that you can't see.

Third drawer:

By far, my most aesthetically-pleasing drawer, I think! I've got Essie and Butter London in here. I do store my Butter Londons on their sides, because if you store them upright, all you see is black cap. This makes it really easy to see the color, and the risk of polish getting into the neck and making them hard to open is worth it, IMO. It hasn't happened to me yet, and there are ways of getting stuck bottles open, so I'm not too worried.

One drawback of the IKEA Alex units is that, while the drawers are nicely self-supporting, they don't open all of the way. Anything in the back few inches is much harder to see and get to. I've got a couple Butter Londons that are hiding back there. I'll have to rearrange stuff soon/ switch drawers, because this one is getting full!

Fourth drawer:

Just Orly polishes in here! I have a lot of minis for some reason. The other thing is that all the different packaging makes me twitch a little! Oh well!

Fifth drawer:

China Glaze! The Road Trip polishes are not in here yet, so this one is getting full too!

Sixth drawer:

Just OPI polish in here! This is the first drawer of the Alex that's deeper. Because of that, it's way easier to see and reach into the back part, so I'll probably move the Essie and Butter Londons in here soon.

Seventh drawer:

This is kind of a catch-all drawer for non-drugstore mainstream brands. My Color Club and Barielle are in back, and there is actually a lot of polish that you can't see or get to easily. Bummer. Nubar is in the front left, and on the right is Nfu Oh, Deborah Lippmann, Morgan Taylor, and Models Own. The tiny little group behind them is two CND Effects plus Max Factor- Fantasy Fire.

Eighth drawer:

Drugstore polishes! I don't have a ton. One of the reasons is that, as a Prime member, I do a lot of my normal drugstore-ish/ incidentals shopping on Amazon. So, I don't go into drugstores as often.

This also means that I'm usually slow on the uptake concerning the latest drugstore polish crazes! (Recently, Sinful Colors- Prosecco and L'Oreal- Masked Affair come to mind!) I think I'm going to make an effort to pop into CVS and Walgreens once a week just to gawk at the displays, because I feel like I'm letting you guys down in a way!

Anyway, this drugstore drawer has lots of Revlon and Nyx; Duri and Sinful Colors behind them; Milani in the front right; L.A. Girl, L'Oreal, and Kleancolor behind the Milani; two Cherimoya magnetic polishes behind those; and a few random polishes in the very center!

Ninth and final drawer:

The very bottom drawer is a continuation of the drugstore polishes, but this one just has Sally Hansen polishes! When I very first got into nail polish, the first brand I fell in love with was Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, and I still love them!

There are also Xtreme Wears, three Triple Shines, one Lustre Shine, and a Color Frenzy. You might notice the lack of Insta-Dris! The ones I had were completely dried up, and I've never had luck (like most people) for stamping with them, so I just tossed them. :/ Maybe I'll try some of the new ones though?

Now, I'll show you my nail racks!

(you can middle click for a larger image in a new tab)

I have four separate nail racks, but they are mounted right next to each other. You're supposed to use drywall anchors I think, but I did not. So far, so good! (Eek?) They seem really sturdy, but my geographical area doesn't normally experience earthquakes, so there's that.

Three of these racks are from Transdesign/ Nailsupplies.us, and one is from Amazon. The one from Amazon is the third, and you can see it is, annoyingly, not the same exact dimensions as the others! The quality of the acrylic also does not seem as nice, and it doesn't have four pre-drilled mounting holes like the others- just two at the top. I think I saved 5 or 10 dollars getting it from Amazon, but I wouldn't recommend it! 

On the wall racks, I keep brands that I have a ton of or that have a high percentage of untried polishes. Just being able to see them helps motivate me to use them! I've previously had this rack in rainbow, color order, and it looked really cool that way, but I've decided it's more manageable for me to store them by brand.

Right now, I've got Misa, LVX, Picture Polish, Formula X for Sephora, Illamasqua, SUPER BLACK Lacquers, and Zoya living in the racks! Zoya is the brand that I have the most of in my entire collection, and it is rapidly usurping the space in the racks!

Starting from the left:

I've tried to arrange them in some semblance of color order, but it's definitely more of a puzzle when constrained by the brands!

Now onto some fun stuff! I told you I'd give you a peek inside the Melmer drawers too, but most important is probably this drawer:

This is a desk drawer where my editing computer lives. It's also where I do my nails, so it only makes sense that I have my most used supplies here! From the left I have various cuticle removers (tried a few before settling on the blue Sally Hansen!), cotton rounds, polish thinners, acetone, and drying drops. The flip-top container is not the Zoya Remove + one (that one actually doesn't fit standing up when the drawer closes), but a generic from Amazon, and I love it!

I have two giant bottles of INM- Out the Door going at the same time for some reason. I really need to combine them. The next row has current basecoats. I've got the mini OPI- Lay Down That Base, Orly- Tough Cookie for peel-base purposes, and Duri- Rejuvacote which I'm currently trying out.

The final row has other top coats: American Classics- Gelous for glitters, OPI- Top Coat for non-quick dry purposes, NYC- In a New York Color Minute, Poshe (which is super old, and I'm just using it to remove polish at this point), Essie- Matte About You, and Butter London- Matte Finish.

I also have tape in here because I use it a lot to clean up around the cuticles, to mask off parts of the nail (or cuticle skin when sponging), and also to clean my stamper. The nail scissors are actually just for removing tape from my fingers after I've masked them off, but they are also handy for cutting water decals, ect. I also have my cleanup brush, nail brush, a corrector pen, buffer, and some miscellaneous extras in the back!

Onto the the Melmers! This is the top drawer:

This holds basically all of my nail art supplies other than the Scotch tape! Stamping stuff and plates live in here, as well as nail studs & stones, loose glitter, nail foils, water decals, striping tape, nail stickers, feathers- you name it. I only have two nail art brushes, because I haven't really gotten into hand painting yet, but there are also dotting tools, makeup sponges (more in the back), nail wraps, ect.

Oh yes, and I believe the white containers are from Wal-Mart or Target, but any big box store should have something like that.

Second drawer:

Mostly this is for unscented baby wipes which I use when I'm doing makeup things! The Melmers live on the left side of my makeup table, so this is really convenient. I also have back-up sugar scrubs, extra bolts for swatches, nail wheels, and used-up nail wheels which I probably need to throw out.

Usually extra swatch sticks live in here, but I'm all out! D'oh! I have some more on the way, but...China.

Third drawer:

Non-nail-related: this is just Ipsy bags! I have no idea what to do with them, so I just throw them in this drawer!

The next two drawers are empty, but here is the very bottom drawer:

It's kind of a sad drawer, really! This is my de-stash drawer, and is basically all the polish I am saving to trade/ blog sale/ giveaway/ ect. at some point. I really need to de-stash some more, actually, so I expect this drawer to fill up a little bit.

That's it! Thank you so much for letting me take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of my nail world!

I'd love to know how you guys store your own polish! 
Do you have a cataloging system of some kind?
Do you prefer to sort by color or by brand?


  1. I love seeing how others organize their collection! Yours is so nice. I've swatched the majority of my polishes on swatch sticks too but there are a few more I have to do. Your storage and how you store everything is awesome!

  2. Yay! I love these kinds of posts so much. Your essie & BL drawer is SUPER aesthetically pleasing, wow! Your whole stash looks really nice and I especially love how the Zoyas look all lined up like that. And how do you keep everything so white and pristine?!??

  3. The Nail Smith (Millie)January 25, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    Oh, how I wish I had a whole nicely organized part of a room for my polish collection! Granted, I don't have nearly as much as you lol It's always been hard for me to wrap my head around a collection THAT big! I have about 150 polishes, give or take a few, and I already have a hard time justifying buying any more polish because I tell myself "I have something like that already" haha Thanks so much for sharing your lovely organization!

  4. I see you have a bottle of SH Pacific blue in your sell/swap stash. Can we talk?

  5. Oh my god, this post is an organizer's dream. I really appreciate the effort you put into your hobby! I am at an absolute loss as to how to get my polishes sorted-as of now, they live in six to seven shoe boxes and a few decorative baskets 0_0 Beautifully photographed as always!!! <3

  6. Love this post! I have four Melmers (that fit just so into an old Target tv stand meant for a giant box tv). For some reason the last two I bought have different handle styles from the first two, and the white melamine is a different shade/finish. It's not that big of a deal, yet, annoys me slightly sometimes. :D

    I also have two table top stepped acrylic shelves on a make-shift shelf on my desk (made from the shelf that belongs in the tv stand). My Zoyas outgrew one of the acrylic step shelves, so I just bought what is probably same/similar to one of your acrylic wall shelves. I got all the acrylic stuff from salonsupplystore, who sell on both amazon and ebay. And numerous trays and things for all the other stuff like base/top coats, oils, common use tools. I thought I was fairly well organized, until I tore the place apart last night looking for the few cheapie stamping plates I have. Could not find them anywhere! For some reason the cheapie stampers and scrapers are separated from the plates. I think I thought stamping was not for me, and of course now that I wanted to give it another go, argh.

    Just like you, and so glad I did this from the beginning, I have a spreadsheet and swatches (though I put them on the oval wheels with mailing label stickers in the center so I can write the polish names). They are outgrowing a plastic shoe box. :O

  7. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow!! So what's your total #?
    Also, I LOLed at your drawer full of Ipsy bags. I've started chucking them unless they're really cute!

  9. Thaaaank you! Do you use a label maker too to label them?

  10. LOL, thank you! Nothing is white and pristine- it's mostly a trick of bouncing the flash and having higher key photos, probably! I kind of want to move the Essie back onto the racks because the bottles are so pleasing. I don't know!

  11. I WISH I had an entire manicave dedicated to polish, but these things are just in my bedroom/ office! I usually DO have something similar already when I get a new polish (especially cremes). It's a disorder, I tell you. :)

  12. Lol, nope! Sorry, I think you are looking at Probelle- Into the Blue. It's lighter than Pacific blue...I didn't really bother color correcting these photos to the nth degree!

  13. Decorative baskets are good though! I reaaallly like to be organized, can you tell??! LOL! And thank you! :D

  14. Interesting! I had not heard of a difference in melamine color/ handles with the Melmers. Good to know!

    Also, Oooooh that's a LOT of different brands- your collection is diverse! I hope you find your stamping stuff soon!

  15. Ugggh, I don't want to know, honestly! ;) Last time I actually tallied everything up it was 700+ but that was 6 months ago. Eeeek! Haha, I didn't know whether to include the Ipsy drawer or not, but I find it funny/ useless too!

  16. I want to hang out with your Illamasqua collection! I'm still super bummed they pulled out of the US market, anyone know why? I keep my polish in a Helmer, the only cataloging I have is an app on my iphone where I can input brand, color, collection, color group, and custom notes, and a swatch photo. I suppose if that app ever goes wonky I'd be screwed, but so far so good! I like being able to check it on the fly.

    I like how you stored your BL's on the side so you can see the colors, wtf why didn't I think of that? Durrrrrrr.

  17. The Nail Smith (Millie)January 26, 2015 at 1:57 PM

    Maybe someday we'll each have our own manicaves lol ;-)

  18. You are welcome to hang out with my Illa collection, haha! They are my favorite! I am still grieving over the company pulling out of the US. Now they are pretty hard to get, and it makes me sad! The iphone app sounds super handy! I don't use a smartphone atm (I know, living in the stone ages over here), but if I did, I'd be all about that!

  19. I am currently using a ton of shipping boxes and my organization system is a MESS! I've been thinking about organizing and buying some drawer systems and swatch sticks so this post has definitely motivated me and helped me get over the overwhelming feeling of how I should organize everything.

  20. Hello! Have fun organizing- it's definitely a project! But kind of fun and relaxing too, especially if you just do it little by little. :)