Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Making My OCD Happy - Swatch Sticks

I am going to start this with a warning... I am a crazy person. I just need this understood lol. My OCD makes a lot more steps for me. You can simplify.

Last month I upcycled an awesome nail polish cabinet (original post here). I LOVE my cabinet and knew immediately upon it's completion that I needed to do swatch sticks. Looking for the perfect nail polish for a nail art vision I have in my head proves tedious with everything in drawers by brand and not color lol.

So, I went on a hunt and found sticks on Ebay. The original sticks I bought are sold out, but I underestimated the number I needed and had to order more. I ordered from this listing. They ship from Hong Kong, so the wait is long, but worth it. It only costs $2.78 for 50 of them, with free shipping.

While I waited for them to arrive, I typed up my labels. I couldn't find a pre-cut label size I liked, so I decided to print on paper and tape them on. In hindsight, Im glad I did because the tape sealed the paper and will keep them from getting dirty. While I typed them up, I labelled the top of the bottles with a number, this number was typed on the label. So, if I want Zoya Song, all I have to do is go in the Zoya drawer and look for the number on the stick (85). I organize the drawers by number, and not color.

I printed and cut them, and put the brand stack in the appropriate drawer, then I waited. And waited. And waited.

I FINALLY got them, and started almost immediately on my project. I labelled all the sticks before I started painting. Here are the tools I used...

I have a small self-healing cutting mat, rotary cutter, tape adhesive and transparent Scotch tape. I used the tape adhesive (bottom right) to put a bit of sticky on the back of the labels in order to keep them where I wanted prior to sealing them in with the scotch tape. (all part of my crazy)

Now, at this point, most sane people (ie - not me) would just wrap the excess tape around the back. But, I'm not sane. My OCD took over and decided it would not only be cleaner to cut it off; but there is also a chance over time of the excess tape lifting on the back and catching on other sticks. No bueno. So, I flipped them upside down and used my rotary cutter to cut it off. If you are sane, you can skip this part and make it easier on youself.

Once all of them were prepped, I started my swatch-a-thon. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw my nightly work lol.

Via Instragram

I painted the underside of the sticks. There are two thoughts on this:

1 - the swatch stick acts as a top coat. 
2 - the nail swatches are more protected from scratching and chips.

Via Instgram

I did them in batches, and let them sit overnight to be sure they were dry. When I finished a stick, I wrote the number of coats on the back of the stick behind the label.

When all 296 of them were done, I grouped them in their specific groups and wrote down how many in hopes to figure out how to organize them on the 6 bolts I had, but no luck. I will be running to Ace Hardware to buy some additional ones, but for now I have loops.

Then I had to organize them within their color groups. Here's how they turned out.


Coral - Orange - Yellow



Metallic - Grey



Red - Maroon

White - Black - Brown

Mint - Teal

And the labels turned out so lovely... I used the transparent tape because the other tape is milky and can be seen from the side. This tape is more invisible and makes my OCD much happier.

And they sit so happy in their drawer (please excuse the pic quality, I used my cell phone because my camera hates low light).

My OCD is at peace... For now.


  1. This makes me happy! My ADD and my OCD are constantly at war with each other and the ADD usually wins. I envision things like this but never can get it all in place. I LOVE how neat and clean your swatch sticks are and how beautifully they are arranged.

    1. Thank you!! They are so wonderful. I've only had them done a few days and I already can't imagine life without them! Haha!

      I'm not going to lie... by the 5th and final night of swatching I was struggling. I was very easily distracted by anything and everything. It took me probably and hour longer than it should have lmao!!! (imagine.... "ooooo! squirrel!" ... that was totally me)

  2. WOWZA...I seriously read this entire post with my mouth wide open and possilby some drewl made its way to my lap..I am so impressed and jealous..my brain is ocd but my body shuts it down immediately..awesome!

    1. My whole family is OCD lmao... last Christmas Eve my mom, brother and I sat in my gma's kitchen discussing and reorganizing her santa arrangement on her window sill. Turns out all of our OCD's are slightly different haha!!!! :p

  3. This is amazing...alot of time and work but the end result was worth it I'm sure!!! Very nice job!

  4. I love this and my OCD says great job and I need to do this too! However, what happens to the numbering system and do you have to rearrange the sticks on the bolts when you add new polish to the collection? I'm a polish hoarder with perfectionist tendencies and I need some way to get my collection under control and reign in those dupe purchases.

    1. The numbers just keep getting higher. Right now I am at 296, so my new polishes will go up from there. They will still be organized in the drawers by number, there will just be big jumps lol. The labels on the top of the bottles are small, removable dots (you can see them in the drawer in the last pic)... so if I sell or giveaway a bottle I can take the sticker off easily... and I will likely recycle those numbers with a new polish baby.

      I thought about numbering per brand, but that just causes more legwork for making labels for new polishes. I would rather know my total number than have to check every drawer for their last. It also prevents problems if I ever re-organize. Some drawers have a couple brands in them at the moment. Like my misc indies.

      You do have to rearrange the sticks on the bolt when you add a new one in. It's no so bad, I rearranged a couple of bolts in my organization process. That's why a lot of people use the rings instead; you can open them wherever you want in the grouping... but I really dont like the rings. They bother me. They are 2" rings and if you get more than 12 sticks on it they start to fan out. It's very obnoxious.

      I've decided to keep the new polishes in that white basket in my swatch stick drawer and when I get 10 new babies I will make their swatch sticks and add them to the bolts. That way I dont feel like Im constantly doing sticks.

      Hope this helps!! It's a labor of love, but I LOVE it!!

  5. That whole post was amazing. I have also been working on organizing my swatches and colors and bottles. Lol. Wow your turned out amazing!!

  6. I want this organization in my life! So amazing! Love it!

  7. I love this post and how detail you where in it because I'm SO stealing this idea. Maybe next month when I get paid again, just used my spending money on a big polish haul so no more spending for me. :/

    Amazing job!

  8. I love this !! Soooooo using it as inspiration for organising my self, I'm pretty OCD and this makes me so happy, I need to organise my nail polishes but every time I think about it it drives me insane and I give up :( xx

  9. Posted a link to this on my blog due to be published tomorrow ! xx

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