Kimett Kolor’s Nail Art Station and Polish Organization of Regular and Stamping Polishes

Lemme’ start off with a great big – “Hello!!” I’ve missed everybody! Unless you *really* want to know, I’m not planning on boring you with the details about why it’s been so long since I last posted…

Suffice it to say, I haven’t been able to paint my nails lately; but, I didn’t want to go any longer without posting. It occurred to me that maybe there was something I could share that didn’t involve painting my nails (a.k.a., a “light bulb moment”). I remember being intrigued by other bloggers who have showed their nail polish areas on YouTube or in a blog post…so I’m hoping this post gives some of you ideas for your own polish places. (In case you’re wondering, this collection of polishes & nail art tools has been amassed over three years.)

Alright, without any more babbling, here we go! I hope you read through to see where I paint my nails and also how I organize my polish collection.

Are you curious? Have you been waiting to get a glimpse into the Kolor Kave?

Nail Art Work Space

This is a (slightly imperfect) panoramic view of my polish station which takes up one wall in the Kolor Kave:

You can see that this room is downstairs in a finished basement and these windows look out at ground level to a small terrace behind the house. Bonus: there are often little chipmunks or the neighbors’ cats who come and peek into the windows at me. Using two folding tables side-by-side against the wall, I sit on the left side to paint,and stand on the right side picking polish and stamping plates.

Here are some closer views:

Using the recess along the wall under the windows as a little extra shelf space where I store my acrylic paints, foils, striping tapes, stones and studs. In addition to the overhead lighting in the room, I have a floor lamp to the left (which also holds my apron made just for me – thanks, Mom!) and an Ott-Lite on my work table. There is a plastic drawer storage section on the floor that has my cotton wipes, Q-tips, and other back-up supplies. On top of it is my stamping tool basket and paper towels (I’ve learned the hard way to keep them within reach at all times – LOL.) On the table, I have an acrylic polish rack – I’ll show a closer view later – it also holds items I want within reach.

In the middle is my tray with all the liquids, nail-art brushes, nail files, cuticle oils, and misc. tools. And, then my stamping plate collection rests up against the “Melmers” which hold my nail polishes. (These are actually craft storage furniture cubes sold by Michaels.) On top of them are my swatch sticks and inspiration sources/sketch notebook.

Nail Polish Storage

The topic of how to sort/store our nail polish is often discussed among polish bloggers/collectors. At the moment, I use two methods. One, my polish swatch sticks are orgaized by colors and the polish bottles are in these drawers alphabetically by brand name. This gives me a couple ways of finding the polish for a design.

I absolutely love seeing the swatch sticks all together – like a great bouquet of colors (see first and last picture in this post). I organize them in small boxes, roughly by these groupings:

  • Red
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Teal/Mint/Aqua
  • Green
  • Yellow & Orange
  • Brown & Gold
  • Black & White
  • Silver & Grey
  • Multicolored Toppers
  • Stamping Polishes


Early on, I found that while creating nail-art, I would often change my mind about which top-coat or stamping color I wanted to use. And, reaching into the drawers with wet nails was asking for trouble. So, I asked for this acrylic polish rack for Christmas last year – and thanks to Santa, walla! Starting from the bottom, here is how I organize this rack by row:

  • Basecoats, Zoya color-lock system, matte top-coats
  • Quick-dry and Regular Topcoats, Gelous (for heavy glitters that need extra smoothing), and clear polish
  • Special Effect toppers (holo, sparkle, shimmer, etc.) and Striping Polishes
  • Top 3 rows are Stamping Polishes

And, my life-saver: a jeweler’s magnifying visor!! My old eyes need this baby – and you’re glad I use it for macro nail art photos!!

Swatch Sticks And Stamping Polish

Another popular discussion with nail-artists who do stamping, is figuring out how a polish will look when stamped over other polishes. Before I owned true stamping polishes, if I found a regular polish stamped well, I would stamp a small image on the neck of the swatch stick.

Why? Two reasons: 1) I’d remember that I thought that polish has stamping potential. And, 2) because when it’s such a thin layer stamped, it tends to look different than the full-color of the swatch, especially layered over other polishes. In the picture, I think you can see how different the dark-green holo (2nd from right) looks on the swatch -vs- the stamped flower on the neck.

Then, when I began getting polishes made for stamping, I just pick a full-nail image and stamp that on the swatch stick. I can hold these over another swatch sticks to see if I might like that combination or not.

Here’s a glimpse of me swatching both regular polish and stamping swatches. I use a label maker with the brand and color name on each stick.

One last look at all the pretty colors….

If you’re interested to see what polishes I have, I’ve updated my Polish List page. There is a link to a shared portion of my spreadsheet that goes along with my swatch sticks. In it, I include how many coats of polish is on the swatch and other information about each polish.

Well, what did you think? How do you store and organize your polishes?

Got questions? I’d love to answer them…ask away in the comments!

And – a huge THANKS for sticking with me. I’m constantly flattered that you’re out there interested in my contribution to this fun and addicting hobby!!

Till next time,

  • I do love those polish stick bouquets! All the pretty colors! I am beyond envious of your lovely, neat, clean, organized, dedicated space! I think I need a few of those melmers. My current storage solution just isn’t cutting it anymore. Great post Kim! <3

    • Thank you so much for the positive feedback! It means a lot to me. The only downside to the Melmers is that they aren’t constructed to hold the weight of polish. The bottom drawer can be hard to open/close if too much in it (that drawer doesn’t have a slider). I’ve thought about getting the Helmer from IKEA, but it wouldn’t work for me as I can’t bend down and am too short to put it up on a surface. But they look nice and hold a lot more bottles.

      Oh – and trust me, when I’m in the middle of making designs it looks like a bomb went off. Then, when I’m done, I usually clean it back up to look like this. It’s a constant tug-o-war between my messy artist self and my OCD organize freak self. LOL!

  • craftynail

    what an awesome setup you have !

    • Thanks so much, Jacqui!! I am a lucky gal to have it, that’s for sure! Because I can’t bend down or reach up – it’s kind of a giant sprawl, but it works for me. It’s the 4th arrangement I’ve had over the years. Thanks so much for commenting. I hope you found the post helpful – or at least non-offensive, I definitely didn’t mean to be showing off. I was a little bit out of my element with this one.

      • craftynail

        nope, not show-offy at all. as polish enthusiasts we’re all interested in this kinda stuff ! xox

  • Beth

    Love the polish bouquets of swatches – how cheerful!!

    • Thanks, Beth!! They do brighten up the room – I see them right away when I walk in and love it when I can open the blinds and the sunlight brings out all of the shimmery beauty. πŸ™‚

      • Jo Collins

        I’ve been swatching on these sticks and leaving them on the ring. Adding new colours is a bit painful as I try to keep them all organized by shades (I have nearly 700 colours, on 12 rings). Thanks to you, I now have to have the swatch stick bouquets! You clever, clever woman!!

        • Jo – you made my week!!! πŸ™‚ I’m so thrilled to have inspired another polish collector with this post!!!! Yay!! Like you, I had at first kept my swatch sticks linked by colors…but when I started this blog, I found it helpful to have them loose and available for puttering around with. And, I hope you find your swatch stick bouquets as pleasing as I do!! I’d love to see a picture of them if you want to share. πŸ™‚

  • CurlyGirl66

    YEAH!!! You’re back!! Next time you’ll have to highlight the photo shoot set-up area……….that’s impressive, too! Great shots and explanations……… really have a lot of good advice to share. Just call me “Proud mama”.

    • Yay – I’m happy to have been able to post again too!! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you liked the post, it was kind of awkward to do. I really hope it offers some people some ideas, I didn’t want to come across as bragging…hopefully I didn’t. I’m lucky to have the space and setup that works for my physical constraints. And, I love my apron!! It’s worked out well. πŸ™‚

  • TKny

    Are the paper cups stack for doing nail marbling, please?

    • Thanks for the question! Yes, I have used the paper cups for water marbling sometimes. I’ve also used them to have water for cleaning brushes when using acrylic paint. Or, like in the photo I just grabbed them as they were handy to hold some blank swatch sticks. I think most people who do water marbling often use a more durable container that controls temperature better though. My room can get cold and I think that can affect the polishes when trying to water marble because they are so thin. Hope this helps. πŸ™‚

      • TKny

        Yes, thank you.
        I have been collecting yogurt containers but it is so much easier to use paper cups if that is a large enough circumference.

        • Good point. The cups I have would only fit 2 of my fingers at a time, if I got a good enough pattern. But so far, I have just done 1 nail at a time. πŸ˜‰

  • Tidy and well organised. You’re a girl after my own heart πŸ˜‰

    • Why, thank you very much, Ali!! (It’s only tidy and neat in between designs…I make a huge mess and then have to clean it all up again before I can start another one. LOL)

  • That is so incredibly organized.!!!

    Even a label maker!


    Also, Kolor Kave. Alliteration <3

    • Well, it’s only this neat and organized in between making a hot mess when planning and doing designs – hee, hee!! Yeah, my OCD just wouldn’t allow me to handwrite on the swatch sticks – plus it has a delete key to fix mistakes before printing (phew!). πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for your fun and kind comment!

  • Questions

    This is incredible & I am extremely jealous of your beautiful work area! Going to display my swatch stix now too!

    • Why, Thank You very much! I know I am quite lucky to be able to have the space to spread out and keep everything handy…every time I feel good and get the chance to play with my nails I have a grin from ear to ear. πŸ˜‰ I’m glad you’re having fun with your swatch sticks too, I’d love to see a picture!