How I organize my stash

Heyhey, right now I'm about halfway through swatching my entire stash on my new swatch sticks, and I know some of you were interested in that, so I figured to share how I organize it all :)

Like a lot of you, I'm keeping my stash in Helmers from Ikea. These things come in white, red and silver, are €29,95 and perfect for storing polish! A Helmer can hold around 400-600 bottles, you can drive them around which I find handy at times, but you can also remove the wheels and stack them on top of each other. The downsides are that a drawer can fall out if you slide it all the way out (it's handy that you can remove the drawers but support the drawer when going for that polish in the back!), and that the drawers make the polish slide around. I'm using anti slip mats which I cut to the right size (for the Dutch, stores like Big Bazar have them cheap). And if you find the Helmers boring, they can easily be fixed, for example with big stickers.

I sort my drawers by brand, I've tried to sort it more specific but it becomes a mess sooner or later anyway. I do have a separate drawer with polishes that work for stamping, and those aren't sorted. Indie polishes go together as well, and brands that I have less of are in a drawer together.

As you can see on the left here, with some bottles it's still easy to see the color of the polish, but as Catrice shows on the right, some bottles ain't handy at all! I know some people store their bottles upside down, but I'd never risk that in case polish leaks in the cap. I used to have stickers on top of my bottles with the polish painted on it, but then the weather got really warm and I ended up with colorful circles all over the place and sticky caps, yuk! So I decided to do it different and just polish on top of such bottles, which makes life a lot easier :) Every time I'm done swatching a polish now, I use a dotting tool and just apply a bit to the cap.

I always used nail wheels to swatch my polish on, but there's just too many things that I didn't like about them:
- If you get rid of a polish, it's still on the wheels.
- If you polish them by color (which I did at start), you can't just add another color in between later on.
- If you no longer want them sorted by color (or brand, finish, ...), you'd have to redo it all.
- You can't easily label them, I used to write numbers on them and wrote the matching polishes down, but then you end up with a lot of paper and it becomes a hassle.
- If you want to hold wheels together to look for combinations, it's not so handy if the colors you're looking for are on the same wheel.
- And well, try to find that one specific color in a mess like this!

If you do choose wheels, they come in different shapes and clear or white. I'd always go for the clear ones, to clearly show things like jellies and layering polishes.

I decided to replace my wheels with sticks, I've wanted those for a while now but I needed quite a few sets to cover my stash, and the few times that I looked for them on eBay, I didn't find them all that cheap. But this time I did find them, I payed slightly over €2,- for each set of 50 sticks, including the screw and shipping :) If you're looking for sticks or wheels, I'd suggest to go to eBay and search worldwide for things like 'nail practice wheel' or 'nail art sticks', I haven't found any place cheaper than eBay yet. Please note though, that swatch sticks can also come in different shapes, I ended up with 2 slightly different shapes.

Now these clearly ain't 50 sticks yet, but just to give you an idea of how a fan will look once it's finished:

I'm just not sure how to sort them yet! Layering polish will go together, stamping polish goes together, but then? Holos between the rest or also separate? Glitters? And those berry colors, go red or purple? Argh, lol! Yeah, I'm not sure yet, but luckily it's now easy to change my mind later on =)

Sticks (or wheels) aren't just handy to sort your stash on, they're great to help with combining as well, I love them especially for stamping combos! All the polish that works for stamping will be swatched twice, once to go between the normal bunch, once to go together on a separate stamping fan.

And here's how I'm doing it! I typed all the names of polish (I don't have a document with all the polish like some people have, so that was quite a task, lol), printed them, cut and tape them to a stick. I went with the brandname in bold and the polish name, but you can of course add whatever you like, like amount of coats needed. You could also print the text on stickers, simply write them on the sticks, or use a label maker instead. I use old cutting boards so I can easy move the sticks while they're drying, a dotting tool with some kitchen paper to dot caps if needed, and cups with roughly sorted, dried sticks.

I am polishing on top of the sticks, you can polish on the bottom as well, which I think is easier because of the curved, smooth surface. However, I have quite a few matte/textured polishes, and I'd rather have that shown on top, and I also think that the top might get scratched sometime if I polish at the bottom, which I wouldn't like.
I am using top coat on my sticks as well (old bottles TC that I never use anyway), because some polishes slightly change color, or simply come to life with TC, and I prefer seeing them how they'd look on my nails. Holographic polish and other polish that I would normally wear without TC or sandwiched, I also swatch without it. For crackles, I start with TC and apply the crackle on top, then TC again.

Right, time to continue swatching, enjoy your weekend!

Update: I now have my swatchsticks on a dog tag chain (a chain made of tiny balls, bought on eBay), and have them sorted by color. Holographics, glitters, toppers and matte/textured all have their own chain, and stamping polish is swatched double, 1 of each color goes on the normal chains, 1 goes on the stamping chain.