Storage Issues, by Musette

Please welcome back our special guest poster, Musette!

anne-taintor-storageBefore I fell in with y´all my perfume life was simple: I had 3 or 4 perfumes, tops (okay, maybe 5) – they sat on a tray in my personal dressing room (back when I had one). I wore them. Case closed. I had my perfumes. That was it. That was then.

Times have changed, certainly the way I approach perfume. But <insert heavy, put-upon sigh> …well… it´s changed something much more profound: my storage space. I no longer live alone (sharing is hard) and am in a much smaller space. Not quite the perfect setup for a budding perfumista – I am a bit compulsive re home décor, with everything in its perfectly designed place – but what does that mean when you have over 100 samples? (and I know that´s peanuts – don´t snicker: you sound like my samples!)

My first attempts to wrangle everything were successful because I simply didn´t have that much. I had an adorable little stand with a little drawer (not drawer – drawer) that held two cute little mesh bins. Cute! One held about 20 1ml samps. The other held the 7 or 8 5ml decants I had. Actual bottles were in the linen closet in a little basket – all 5 of them, bless their hearts. So charming! Orderly, too. I was Mistress of My Domain.

You know where this is going, don´t you? Of course you do.

As the samps and decants grew in number I tried to wrangle them into some sort of organization by note or house. One great idea: charming little painted blocks of wood that El O drilled holes in to hold the 1ml samps. Got dumb, quick: El O got sick of drilling and sanding blocks and I had nowhere to put those cunning little blocks. Drawers are a disaster waiting to happen, as you pull the block out and the vials either wiggle or they stick. Arrrgh. It was a nightmare. I managed to break only 4 vials – and thank the Universe they were mainstream!

We are prepping for bathroom reno so all I have right now is one of those tacky plastic rolling drawer thingies. Lemme tell you about them: If you pull them out wrong they break…. and, well, let´s just say that (1)it´s a mercy that it´s on a rug and (2) Creed Love in Black isn´t the worst samp to break in your bathroom – it could´ve been an Oud! Or worse? Aromatics of Doooom.

And why am I even keeping my samps, etc in the bathroom anyway? Is that a good place or a dumb place for them? I have no idea where to put them. Bedroom is out: no room and El O has to sleep in there, too – the thought of Catagan seeping into the new carpet…

So they rattle around in those awful plastic drawers, multiplying.

And just listen to how they mock me:

Look at her, they hiss, with her little trays and pathetic note´ and niche v. mainstream´ attempts. And what´s with the little holes? Ha. If she thinks we´re gonna fall for that, she´s a fool. 1ml holes? Let´s get stuck ‘by accident’ Bwa hahahaha! 1.5mls, go mess with her mind. And you 5 mls: FALL OVER! Yeah, that´s the ticket. Hey, L´Eau d´Hiver! Go hide under Shocking! Watch it take her 10 minutes to find you! Heeehee!! Yeah, baby!

Perfume can be very mean.

I enlisted the help of El O, Master Builder, of the aborted Drilled Block System (now known as DBS (the acronym means something else, entirely, to him – and it´s ugly). I want him to make a brushed-steel apothecary cabinet with slidey-out trays (and a New and Improved DBS) that would hold, upright, any 1ml-2ml sample, with additional trays/DBS for 5mls plus little drawer-baskets for FBs. I drew this thing up, complete with antiqued glass doors and a finial on top. El O, no fool he, took one look at this cabinet and laughed right in my face.

“All this will do” he said, ” is encourage you to get even more bottles, decants and samples. No, thanks!”

El O can be really mean, too!

So until he relents I´m stuck with my little rickety FB system: the vintage mirror bedroom tray, with full bottles I use on a regular basis, along with pretty Venetian and French perfume bottles that will never hold a drop of perfume…. It´s vaguely glam and I feel civilized every time I see it, except there´s a ginormous blown-glass bottle that rattles blinkety-dink,blinkety-dink´ every time I walk by – and it´s leering ominously at my poor, defenseless Chicken bottle. I finally separated them and I think Chicken is sleeping a bit better at night.

So far, so good….but now those samps and decants call, luring me to their overflowing, rocky shores.

5mls upright in a funky wooden box I got Lawd knows where – they are settled and secure BUT! I only view a sea of golden tops. Lots of time spent picking up and putting back (and you know the one you put back will be the one you pick up again!) – all 1ml-2ml samps and minis in those awful plastic organizers, crammed into Sterilite drawers. Elegance Personified. Every time I open a drawer I hold my breath, fearing I´ll hear the dreaded crrrunnnch!´ of a sample getting broken – they´re getting´ kinda cranky in there…

I do what I can – but I still dreaming of my metal apothecary cabinet with its slidey-out trays and DBS…. A Certain Somebody thinks I´m nuts. But that´s what thrills my soul – gotta have order in an insane world…

So what about you real perfumistas, with your incredible collections? I´m a piker with my li´l punk stash. I know some of you have collections that rival Donatella´s!

How do you corral/control/coordinate your collection? Do you own it or does it own you? Do you care?

Any suggestions? I do love to organize and create order out of chaos. Who amongst you keeps order and how do you do it? What´s your plan for expansion? How do you allow for the other people in your house (El O fears an avalanche of tiny, vicious little vials). Bedroom? Bathroom? Home office? Fort Knox? Do you keep them temp-controlled or just trust that goodness and mercy shall follow your perfume collection? Are the rules different for vintage?

Should I just …….let them be? I so want to organize them in pretty little rows of fantabulousness. But maybe it´s a pipe dream.

What about Aouds? Where do you keep those? I´m thinking a Level 5 Biolab at the CDC. Like cobras, they can be beautiful – but deadly. Especially if you break one in your house!

Come help an Alien out! Share the Sea Salt! And the Big Silver Bowl! I think it´s gonna be the bathroom for awhile – should I buy a cabinet to devote solely to perfume? Am I insane?

If you have the Secret to Success, please – come sit by me. These samps are getting meaner by the minute!

image: Anne Taintor postcard swiped from eBay, presumably also on annetaintor.com

88 Comments

  1. OMG….I lust for your problem!!Bot at my age(in all my ‘ripeness’)…I KNOW what works,so,I have only 30/40 laying around at any given time,+ decants,and REAL BIG BOTTLES…..JUS’ LIKE A GROWN UP…my latest are 10 Corso Como,layered with Narciso Rodriguez Musc for her….impossible,you say,but nooooo….it izzzz wunnerful on me;can’t believe it….Ahem…for your ‘problem’…DO NOT USE THE BATHROOM…too hot/steamy.Buy the most gorgous silver(maybe plated,if spending $$$$ for ‘fumes)plate for bottles/decants,and a silver bowl for the samples…put it on your dresser.This is ‘inviting,and once and a while,wonderful scents will waft up to greet you….love your posts!

    • I ment but,not bot(sheesh)….I was thinking I jus’ might have a REAL bottle of Hadrien,around,also for summer…love it

      • It’s funny – I think most people who read these posts mostly ‘substitutes’ the right word. I know I did. I agree with you on the bathroom and just realized that I have a perfect little corner nook in the renovated bedroom (we are doing this shack one room at a time….)

        ox>-)

  2. LOL, I am in the same boat – the bottles can be stored with some semblance of order, but the samples – all different sizes, some carded, others not, and how do you organize – by style, by house? I had them all over the place until I started to lose track of them.

    I finally ended up getting a fairly deep flip-top box of the kind meant to store keepsakes in, and I have them (more or less) in rows, at least the carded ones. Small decants go in here too, and uncarded samples go in small ziploc bags. Some of them are by style, others by house or who they are from, my brain somehow sorts them out. I keep few enough in each bag so that I can see at a glance what is in there.

    My main problem now is that this box is now FULL, and I have nowhere to put another one. It is in my bedroom, which is the coolest and darkest room in the house, and this box and my FB boxes (2 of them) take up all the space on top of my dresser. I can’t stack things on top of them, gotta have access, so I must soon figure out a better system. (Note that no part of this so-called plan includes acquiring fewer samples.)

    I do feel it is important to keep them out of the light and not expose them to heat and humidity, so the bathroom is not a good place. Not that there is any extra space in mine anyway – it’s chock full of all my makeup and scented bath stuff and I am running out of room there too. 😀

  3. I hear ya, sister! If you could see it, you would chuckle at my “system,” which consists of a disposable plastic tupperware bowl (samps) and a sturdy wooden dresser drawer (full bottles). The stress of keeping the tupperware from overflowing is actually a good thing for me; often the second or third sniff changes my mind about a fragrance. Have fun, and please send a picture of your dream system if it ever materializes!!!

    • I think your system sounds about as good as mine! This post, though, has energized an >-) I am going to pop into the shop this very afternoon and start to drillin’! Then it’s to Farm King for ammo boxes. I’ll have to check their flyer – they might have a sale (not joking – it’s a different world out here)

      xo

  4. …you’re appealing to my Inner Chaos-Destroyer Goddess…
    I have 6-drawer plastic stacks for my samps, all labelled by big company: Guerlain, Bond No.9, Serge, Chanel, Dior etc. I have a separate stack for my niche/others and have them organized by category: rose, iris, gourmand, chypre, etc…

    New samps go in a bowl until I try them, then POP, into a drawer they go! I love my little perfume library system. Now, they’re not very neat in each drawer, but the drawers are small (4″x4″) so it’s manageable and easy to find things when i need them in a pinch. The stinkers go in a mini plastic baggie first…

    Phew. That was better than therapy! THANKS, Musette!

  5. I know this sounds a little nuts, but I went on ebay and bought a box of empty Altoids tins. They’re just the right size to hold 10-20 samples. Then I decoupaged the tops in different patterns and organized by note, so I know that the leopard print box holds my animalics (rrrow!), and the one with the wood grain holds my woods (shocker, that!). I have about 10 boxes and counting. They’re not incredibly pretty, but they do the job, and I can usually find what I need. Then again, the “floral” box isn’t cutting it anymore. Soon I will need an “Iris” and a “Violet” and… well, you get it.

    • Brilliant! But what do you do for some of the oddball fragrances that defy categorization? Or even fragrances like floral aldehydes? Flowers, molecules and little champagne bubbles to signify the sparkly topnotes?

    • BRILLIANT!!!!!! I’m going to start with this system – – what fun. Mussette – I absolutly loved this post. It made my day – – – thank you!

  6. I have three largish boxes with file cards, and all my samples and decants kind of alphabetised by house. They fall over a lot and I still have to rake through, but the boxes are moleskin covered (fake moleskin, no diggers’ paws sliced off in their making) and the best/ most attractive solution I’ve come up with.

    Tip No. 277: no matter how numerous your samples, or how streamlined your storage solution, nothing is perfect. You will always dither at the array, and once in a while be stymied in your attempt to locate vial X or Y. And that’s the best there is…

    • You have FILE BOXES? With CARDS? wow. I bow to you. But then I always bow to you, my liege:-) (damn, that bowing emoticon would really come in handy here!)

      I’m going to start drilling this afternoon. Did I mention that? I’m so excited!

      xo>-)

  7. Oh my. I swear it really doesn’t matter what you do. They go where they wanna go. I purchased these 5×7 clear plastic photo print cases from The Container Store. In each plastic box are 6 smaller boxes deep enough to hold 5ml decants and but pushing it for some eights. I decided to sort by house, spent an entire weekend doing it, labels and all, and now? Well I still have a ziplocks full of decants that only have one or two decants per and then the issue of buying all the boxes TCS had. So I’m stuck. Now when I take them out of their organized home I tend to want to try them more than once so they need to hang around. And I don’t just try one at a time. So the whole thing starts all over again. Minds of their own. I accept defeat.

  8. Like Snowcrocus (great name!), I got me samps in Tupperware, and my bottles and decants in a large wooden/bamboo dresser with deep drawers, in a corner of the bedroom. The only problem is that my collection is now so large that it is spilling over into the top drawer of my “real” chest of drawers (who needs underwear, anyway?), the top of both dressers, and some back-up boxes in a closet.

    Damned if I can find a thing ; ( , but really happy with my ‘fumes.

    • Oh, you do jes’ fiiine – and you know it!LOL! now your NPs and lippies……I dunno…

      xoxoxo>-)

    • …would gladly go commando if The Samples wanted it that way…

  9. Thanks for starting my day with many giggles, Musette! I took a quick look at my perfume storage situation. OK, mea culpa, they’re all in the bathroom, but since they’re all enclosed and there’s just the DH and me–well, that’s the best I can do. After I got hooked on this addiction, I knew I needed more space than the medicine cabinet that holds 4 Goutals and one Santa Maria Novella. So I rearranged a pretty standing cabinet we’d purchased from a friend who was closing her store prior to moving, so that I could dedicate two of the cubbies to fragrances. More FBs, and 8 and 5 mill decants are standing on their own feet, and then I purchased some of the little plastic drawer units from Container store mentioned above. I more or less know where things are, and I don’t have as many samples as some, so it usualy doesn’t take me more than a minute to find what I want. This morning I wanted PdN Temps d’une fête, which I realized I’d better apply sparingly for work as the skank meter just went off and winked at me.

    • Mistress Shelley is pushing me towards Td’une Fete – can’t wait to try it. Am wearing Maharani today. It’s pouring with rain, freezing cold and it seemed like the perfect antidote!

      I love the sound of your cabinet!

      xo>-)

  10. My collection is in 5 different locations: three shelves in a cubbard for the vintage stuff: the bottles are housed in tall Lucite boxes so I can pull out a number of them without risking breakage. The smaller bottles are in a lower Lucite box with compartments. It is pitch dark in there.
    Then there’s a shelf in a closet for the taller boxed ones, non vintage.
    Then there’s fireplace mantelpiece in my bedroom for boxed bottle (there is daylight) and a Lucite compartment box for 5 ml decants.
    Then there’s the top of a low chest of drawers for the incoming samples to be tested (in boxes and bags, I’m afraid).
    And finally, small Lucite boxes with drawers labelled with brand names, for the samples I find most interesting and have the most of (Guerlain, Hermès, Lutens…) plus boxes and decants of my current rotation, on my lingerie drawer.

    Not a perfect system, but I can pretty much find what I need… problem is I tend to forget/neglect what’s in the closets!

    • I’m with you on the forgetting. Your collection must be pretty impressive, D. I remember you have several iterations of vintage Femme alone! I ^:-^ (that’s supposed to be ‘bowing’ – we’ll see).

      xo>-)

  11. One word: Purge!

    LOL

    But really, guys and dolls, while you, Musette, seem to be joking at the horror, I went into full blown OMG-Whadda-I-do a few months back. Samples have babies–lots and lots and lots of babies. I’ve gotten rid of all my samples except maybe half-a-dozen “important” ones (the few scents FBW for me in the future) about four times now in six months. And I don’t even buy samples or swap for them. I also have only one decant right now–Rue Cambon that’s about to turn into a bottle (thank you, S, for that decant!). Decants were a pill to organize and find…

    Before, when I was in full-addiction, I handmade boxes to specification to house my samples and decants. So convince, flatter, do whatever to encourage El O! One key to organization: each sample in its labeled baggie. They store so much easier that way. My bottle collection is still too big (but half of what it was), but I keep everything boxed (I’m a sucker for nice packaging) and arranged on a bookcase right next to my favorite books.

    Clearly, I’m mad or I need to turn in my perfumista-button.

    • Purge? You must be mad!:-D

      Here’s the problem with purging. Except for mainstreams I absolutely cannot stand and wouldn’t revisit on a bet, there is always something I want to revisit.

      Aaaand….I have phenomenally generous friends who send me samps and FBs when I’m not looking.

      That’s why I want to organize. To be honest, I think I like having them around.

      And hey, guess what? I have the technology! I don’t know what is wrong with me – I can drill the damn holes myself! I own a machine shop. WE HAVE A DRILL (or twelve).

      Can’t build the cabinet, though – my welding skills are minimal at best. But Billy, here I come!LOL!

      xo>-)

      • Oh, my gosh. I’ve just fallen hard for you!!!!!! A machine shop! Drool. Swoon. 😀 !!

        • Well, don’t swoon TOO hard, LOL! I don’t run the machines. I can do a bit of welding and deburring and certainly some hand-drilling. But anything lathe-drillpress-mill worthy is my partner or one of the other skilled machinists. I also do forklift and hauling, though forklift of heavy, long loads (like 20′ steel bars) is still subject to a lot of shriekage. It can be very dangerous work and I sort of still suck at it. If El O isn’t around the steel driver usually takes it off his truck just to stop my shrieking.

          Embarrassing. But I do all of the marketing and 99.99% of dealing with our customers, which can be a trial, so I don’t feel TOO bad.

          xo>-)

  12. I’m just starting out on this path to the darkside, so my collection has yet to creep beyond the over-the-toilet cabinet. My FBs/decants have evicted the spare rolls of toilet paper, and now get glorious display on the whole shelf, three bottles deep. His bottles are in the cabinet, but he’s only got 4.
    I’m going to buy one of those stepped spice shelves so the bottles in the back feel more love. Think the risers choirs stand on.

    As for samples… I bought metal pencil tins (found em at the asian grocery). They have a top and bottom tier plus a removable tray. Sofar I have two tins. I keep all my BPALs in one, the other has a tray of Jo Malone, and a tier of DSH, everything else is mixed in. Any samples that I consider trade aways live in plastic baggies in a Jo Malone shopping bag that also holds my frag journal and the Guide.

    Now my perfume mentor has a GINORMOUS Guerlain collection spanning her lifetime, not to mention every oakmoss frag needing saving. She bought three of those BILLY single bookcases with frosted doors from IKEA to house her collection. Within each shelf are shoe boxes that hold various groupings by house.

    I think if you have the room, this is the perfect solution for a large FB/decant collection!

    • I want to sit at your mentor’s feet, grasshoppa! I love the idea of one of those frosted glass Billy bookcases and was just looking at the Ikea catalogue last night (why is the computer flagging ‘catalogue’? That’s how it’s spelled, isn’t it?)

      Anyway, now that I remember this little nook in the bedroom (where the bedroom door and closet door would meet, except for the 18″ of wall space on either side, bless ’em)…I think I will ogle me some Billy.

      xo>-)

  13. It started off with a couple of bottles on a silver cake stand on my dresser. Then, I pressed into service a few old lipstick holders I had for the few sample vials I ordered. Then, I got serious about samples, ordering “sniffing flights” from TPC etc., and pulled out some odds n ends stemware, filled ’em 1/3 with sea salt, and sunk the vials by collection (which at the time was how they came, whether by note, history, what have you).

    Then the real madness began.

    Most samples are now in a box…well, a couple of boxes…there is one box, the box of champions, grouped by designer/manufacturer. The other boxes short samples by source, whether the source is 1) a particular perfumer–as in independent, 2) a friend in scent–which means I have the option to think of what I know of their inclinations as I sniff, or 3) a general score–store sample, inclusion with online purchase, etc. A few boxed scents are out on a lamp table, or stuck among my shoes.

    You can see that my previous collecting interests (vintage stemware/dishware, lipstick holders) and my penchant for applying new uses to finds (those egg cups were castoffs from the school science department) influences my thinking on storage and display. Hence, I put buds from the garden in old graduated beakers, bell jars, and an oddball American ceramics collection; flower frogs are paper weights (personal stuff goes under the metal pin kind, LOL), and cake stands become pedestal displays for perfume bottles (not vials or decant minis). I KNOW, I know, the evils of light. In theory, I could put the lid over them to counteract…but then the plant on there would suffer…

    Back up full bottles and out of season stuff go in shoe boxes in the linen closet in the hallway. Not glamorous. I once considered getting a beverage refrigerator for storage, but had a fit of reason…thought about upfront investment and electricity usage. Much better to use that $$ for scents and postage and decant supplies. 🙂

    There is a cluster of samps by my writing chair, and another by my escape chair. (Yes. Ask if you must.) These are scents in test drive mode or which I intend to put in test drive mode, or which I’d like to write about. These could be grouped into tiny clusters — I see two egg cups and a taper (as in candle) with 1 or 1.5ml vials as I look to my left, plus a nice pouch another group was sent in, to my left as I write. And a tiny tupperware with another treasure from a perfume friend. Upstairs, next to the escape chair, are some old child-size baking tins/jello molds which hold some scents awaiting pronouncement. (Keeper? Archive for the museum? Test run again when inclined? What the heck was this one? They’re all there.)

    Um.

    I’d like to say that I’m not really into this. I don’t think about it much. I just enjoy the snorting. But it is rather disturbing to read all that…. 😉

    • You are SO addicted, bless you:-). But you are the >-)’s addict, LOL!. I’ll bring you an ammo box or two, shall I? I’m going to paint mine, I think….

      xo>-)

    • Do you have room to move around more than a few centimeters? 😉

  14. Oh my. Reading all of these replies, I feel a bit better now. My husband actually used the word “hoarder” this weekend in reference to my perfume obsession. He said instead of a hoarder, he thought I was a “collector” cause I actually use the perfumes, and they are a possible investment. But the fact that the word HOARDER even crossed his lips made me go into rabid defense mode. And I don’t even have that much!!! 46 full-sized bottles, probably 10 or so minis, and about 50 samples/decants. Of the FBs, only three or four of them are in purgatory – ready to be sold, swapped, or given away. The rest I wear.

    With this relatively “small” collection, I may not be of much help, but I keep bottles in spring/summer, fall/winter rotation. Current season scents lay flat in boxes in a shallow drawer in my 2-drawer vanity in my bedroom. Two large bottles that don’t fit in the drawer sit on top of the vanity, boxed. I also have a small 3×3 inch box that holds all of the samples that I’ve tried and liked and tend to wear. Second drawer holds my makeup. Out of season scents go into a larger drawer in a dresser in our spare bedroom – a room that also acts as my husband’s study. This drawer also houses those purgatory bottles and a small box of samples that I’ve tried and don’t like – giveaways.

    I always keep FBs in their original boxes, if possible, and store them away from light. I am, however, worried about heat in the summer, and have considered setting up storage in the basement. But who wants to trudge down into the basement to find a scent of the day??? So far, I’ve convinced myself that the drawers keep out the heat…but perhaps I’m fooling myself.

    • Wanna REALLY freak out el hub? Buy a baby refrigerator! You can go to a restaurant supply store and buy a used (little) True with the glass front for not a lot of dough – or you can really go low$ and just get one of those under-the-desk kind.

      Why is it we get so much grief for perfume – and none for wine? El O does not drink much wine yet he had NO problem building a wine cellar for me in our former house, to house my vintage champagne. But build a better perfume cabinet with the slidey-outs? Ha.

      odd…

      xo>-)

      • HA!!!! Musette, I had to laugh. Guess what my hub’s profession is??? HE SELLS WINE!!!! Ha ha ha. And before your post, I was actually thinking, hey, wait a minute, isn’t my perfume collection sort of like that big stock of wine we have in the cellar? Granted, he is more into the selling than he is into the buying and storing, so we don’t have much “stock”, but we definitely have enough to warrant a little talk about it. We do not have a proper wine cellar. If we did, I’d be storing my perfumes down there. We’ve even joked about having a shop in the future – wine on his side, perfume on mine. They don’t go well together AT ALL, however, so it obviously wouldn’t work. Interesting how closely the whole wine and perfume thing are, though. All those “notes.” 😉

        LOVE the refrigerator idea. In fact, people talk about storing perfumes in the fridge, and I think typical fridge temperature is too cold. I’ve tried it before, and I think it altered the scents. Perfect temp for perfumes = wine cellar temp!!! Ah ha. Methinks we need to build a wine cellar. Problem solved! AND, I’ll add a little wine cellar temp fridge under my vanity for easy access to current favs.

        BTW – you know champagnes are not meant to last very long, right? You may want to start drinking those “vintage” bottles! After all, what good is wine if it’s not drunk and enjoyed? And furthermore, what good is perfume if it’s not worn with abandon?

      • Oh wait! Trick your husband by asking him to build you a new wine cellar in your current house…and use it for your perfumes instead. 🙂

        • Karin –

          I have to hold onto my 96s for a bit more time – there’s this weird phase they go through where they are totally undrinkable – and the 96s won’t be ready for awhile. But I started sampling the 90s awhile back and yum-ola!

          psst! I’ll let you in on a little secret: I stopped drinking them when I moved here because I hated it so much that I was afraid I would turn to alcohol as something other than enjoyment. 3 years later, I’m coming out of my hatey and can once again drink without fear of self-medicating.

          And I have an actual dining room again (sort of) – so I can find my champagne glasses. I had to move a 2500sf house and 2500sf studio into a house roughly 1/2 that size. Difficult.

          xoxoo>-)

          ps. tell your hub to come sit by me and bring that Krug 90 with him!LOL!

  15. Baggies. I’m still only at the 100 samples or less stage, so I don’t know if I can really make suggestions. But what I do is stash ’em by grouping (masculines, leathers, irises, florals, etc) together into those little clear plastic baggies, then I put the baggies into a bigger bag – a GWP washbag cum evening bag thing that’s just a good size to sit on my desk and is a pretty blue sparkly colour. Oh and there are some in little IKEA drawers in my bedroom too – just remembered about those.

    And the decants fit into tins, like old-fashioned tin pencil cases. Also makes them portable.
    But the full bottles? Ah. They have taken over the linen cupboard, and the top of my chest of drawers AND there’s a stash of them in the cupboard in the storage room in the attic. They are getting out of control.

    • Aren’t you afraid of the heat in the summer (I’m assuming you don’t live on Mt Everest…but I’ve been wrong before…:-) (wish I knew how to make the blushing emoticon)

      You’ve got me ROTFL! Give in. Resistance is futile. The samps will get you, just like the got me – they’re very sneaky. I loved the ‘remembered’ the Ikea drawers”!LOL! SO been there – I have these charming little lavender boxes my Recchiuti caramels come in – perfect for vintage samps. Trouble is, I rarely remember to look in the blasted boxes, as they are jammed in the back of the little plastic drawer.

      xo>-)

  16. Two words: ammo boxes! They come in a variety of sizes for various diameters, they block the light, and you get to go to entertaining/terrifying places like Cabela’s to purchase them.

    • Baby, I got hijacked from my Urban Home of Fabulousness and now live in a shotgun shack in the heart of Corn Country.

      We have a gun cabinet in our walk-in closet. It’s very surreal. I never even thought of ammo boxes. I can run up to Farm King and get those, easy! I’m not allowed to have a gun (I’m a 12-gauge, sawed-off kinda gal) because I have a hairtrigger temper, am menopausal and I hate this place….but I can have the boxes for my samps! How ironic is that!

      xo>-)

      • I hear ya, sis… A couple of years ago I went from the Center of the Known Universe to a smallish city with biiig pretensions — I’d almost rather be consorting with shotgun-toting pig farmers than with self-important yuppies. And I am a walking advertisement for gun control, since I’d be picking off people right and left if I were packin’.

        Anyway, do try the ammo boxes (and bring a few vials to Farm King to try the different calibers — yes, you will get funny looks). They’re not exactly objets d’art, but they’re cheap and work well. I still haven’t worked out the perfect labeling/organizational system; I’ve got my samps in alphabetized clumps in the boxes, but sometimes a fresh batch means re-doing the whole shebang.

  17. I pretend to be a compulsive organizer, but I get halfway through a project, decide that I don’t like it, lose energy and leave it until the next semi-brilliant idea hits me. But really, lack of space and funds play a part too. I dream of the perfect office/hobby room, with built in drawers, shelving, and cubbies for storage and a large workspace for decanting, labeling and, well, you get the idea.

    So, in the meantime, I’m like pretty much everyone else. Bottles are kept in their original boxes on bookcases in my office, organized by 1)topshelf: modern/niche 2)middle shelf: classics/designer fragrances and 3)bottom shelf: vintage/unclassified. Decants are kept in the bedroom on a small bookcase in decorative coffee mugs, alphabetically. I don’t worry about light because I want to use them up. I hate clutter and I have too many! Samples are kept in small craft boxes in a dresser drawer alphebetically. I try to use these too. If money was no object, I would transfer all the decants into one type of atomizer. I like uniformity.

    • You and I were separated at birth. I can relate to everything you’ve tried and are currently doing. Can you imagine if we lived together? We would have the most fabulous almost-organized house on earth!LOL!

      xo>-)

  18. I was expecting some genius, storage, idea by the end of your post. I am using a floor length, jewelry cabinet. Mirrored front door, opens up to lots of little shelves, good for decants. Of course, I am “growing out of it”. Also, my vanity has a cabinet with 2 shelves. But in this, I do experience the dreaded domino effect. Samples are in envelopes according to house, in different boxes. At the end of the day, I never know where anything is, and I still have to rummage. But that’s when I may find something that I’d forgotten I had, or come across something that I decide to wear on impulse. All good…

    • No you werent!LOL! You know I have NO genius storage idea. Every idea I’ve tried has come undone by those vicious little vials. That’s what so amusing – to be outflanked by a bunch of glass…

      …..but persevere, I shall… I will emerge victorious. Or covered in Aoud. Whichever comes first!

      xo>-)

  19. We have a dresser with a series of four “sock” drawers across the top. I have commandeered one of those drawers, (they are nicely lined with faux velvet) and arranged my FB and decants (I don’t have many yet). Then I went to a craft store, and bought these little lidded six-compartment trays that they sell for keeping thread or beads in, and I have my samples (laying down) in those. I have six trays thus far. I’m a newbie, so instead of organizing by samples by note or house, they are organized in order of receipt. I know that it makes no sense, but it is easier for me to remember that my Chanel 22 sample is from two years ago, and therefore in the bottom tray, and my Chanel Beige sample is from a few months ago, and is therefore in the top tray. I’m sure I will soon out grow this system, but it works for now. Though the drawer is getting awfully full…

  20. Thanks for this post! Suffice it to say…I have *issues* in this area. I won’t get into detail b/c I’m not at all satisfied with my system, but it involves baggies, alphabetization, lipstick holders and my dresser drawers.

    Glad to know I’m not alone.

  21. Am going to be reading all the responses to this post w/ extreme interest. *Always* need more storage ideas. I recently bought five of those things you hang over doors to store shoes in w/ 24 pockets in each one. Have quite many of my samples in these organized by houses or alphabetically. It’s not perfect, but it’s helped. I need a few more. My current problem is finding doors that I don’t mind having samples hanging from. I keep the vast majority of my perfumes in a back room in our house that was meant to contain the washer and dryer (which ended up elsewhere). I have kitchen storage carts and shelves on which I have all my perfumes in boxes (not their original boxes, but packing boxes – as in those from LS, BH, etc). I’ve ended up running out of room back there, so some have entered into the hallway leading to the garage. I’ve tried to organize them according to houses, notes or era, but I’ve not been entirely successful w/ this (when in a hurry, I tend to just stash perfumes into an ever growing number of boxes for miscellaneous scents). I keep all my current rotation scents (usually around 50 or so, but more in winter) in my study in large decorative boxes (closed to keep out light) on book shelves and on the floor. Some perfumes are also stored in our bedroom walk in closet on shelves. And there are random decorative boxes around the house that I’ve put some in for reasons which now evade me. UGH. I *need* to get them all together again, get more shelves and reorganize everything. Maybe by 2015 I will.

    • Honey I know ALL about the ‘reasons that now evade me’. Lawd. If I had a dollar for every evasion…

      Good luck!

      xo >-)

  22. I have a series of shoebox-size clear boxes from The Container Store stacked in a cold closet and labeled/organized alphabetically; I group my samples and decants by perfume house(although then I have to remember whether Serge Lutens is in S or L. But I like having a house’s samples together when I browse.) The boxes hold all my samples and all but the largest decant bottles.

    My bottles are (in theory) rotated twice a year, warm/cold weather, out of the same closet. Obviously some things stay out year round, and some samples and decants never get put away because I’m fiddling with them. For the sample vials I have an enormous silver “purgatory bowl” they toss in until I’m done with them.

    Having said all that, I think my perfume shelves in my closet look fairly chaotic and to the untrained eye there would appear to be no system. 🙂

  23. OMG I was getting sweaty just thinking about all the work you’re doing trying to keep your samps together. I have them in different bags, no order at all, just wherever they happen to fall! I feel so messy, but that’s how I do it, I just find a bag and upended on my bedspread and find them that way. If I want to try a particular one for a couple of days, I put it in my bedside table until I finish it, for some reason I don’t throw away the empties, they rattle around in my drawers. I know, you must be sweating by now! That’s my system, no system at all!

    • What’s interesting is that you sound like a real perfumista whereas I sound like a compulsive organizer! I do love perfume and perfume sampling – love it! But as I said to March, the sight of all those little 1ml vials brings out in me the same wiggly delight an Australian cattle dog gets when he sees a herd. Gotta work ’em!

      I take unholy delight in organizing, sometimes to the point of losing sight of the purpose of whatever it is I’ve so stringently organized.

      xo>-)

  24. This was my project for the Easter weekend… and my solution unfortunately failed…
    I bought a set of clear plastic business card folders that fit into a lever arch binder- Easy to organise and add more sheets etc. However, the Business card slots are horizontal and the samples keep on falling out… I was thinking that perhaps some sort of coin/stamp collector’s file might work… I will be investigating this week….

    • Babe, I see the Dark Side…and it’s sitting in a vintage Corvette convertible, whistling low and sweet and calling your name…

      xo>-)

  25. I also collect thread for my machine quilting. Lots and lots of thread. I, too, use the plastic drawer system, but put rubberized drawer liners in them so that the thread doesn’t roll, move, or migrate. This would work well if you are willing to lay down or stand up samples or decants. It works well for perfume if you have a bathroom or closet that has a deep enough counter/shelf.

  26. You guys are freeking me out! What I want to know is what to do with all the box’s I’m hiding in weird places all over my house? If I die and my family finds all this hidden crap all over the house they are going to think I was really crazy! For real! 🙁 Maybe I am, well a little ocd anyway. p.s. I have way over 200 perfumes. And I dont want to talk about lotion, shower gel, body splash and make up.

    • 😮

      wow. you’d better leave a couple of notes stashed around various points in your house…:-D

      xo>-)

  27. I use cardboard expansion files from the office supply store (designed for bills)for loose small vials & carded samples: alpha by house, vials often grouped in mini-bags for small houses. Vial leakage has been very rare for me, but the minibags are readily available at jewelry/craft supply stores, and offer some leakage protection, plus I like grouping the smaller houses by bag. My first file expanded to about 2 feet , and has a ginormous stretchy band that secures it, and I am about to start a second one. I stick this file on a shelf usually, but I like that it is easily portable; I can carry it to a different room and file new vials while watching TV. Newly acquired sample vials that need to be filed are my problem, I’ve got a boxfull waiting right now. I’m not so much a natural organizer like you. I have to be in the mood…

    Also: Dedicated cabinet with open shelves for my full bottles, mostly boxed. Heavy rotation bottles in bathroom cabinet and some in a drawer. (I just realized DH gets one shelf and one drawer in the bathroom for every three I get. Ha!)My bathroom doesn’t get particularly hot & steamy, if it did, I’d be more hesitant about keeping bottles there.

    • poor guy(s). El O has just given up. We’re (he’s) building a powder room (we’re currently a 1-bath house. Not good). I told him to put in a shower and it could be ‘his’ space. He looked SO happy.

      It’s better when they just give in, isn’t it?
      xo>-)

  28. I don’t have a collection yet. Three full bottles plus a new vintage atomizer of some mysterious Estee Lauder perfume. Maybe twenty samples. And a sad little vintage My Sin with only one, two most, applications left. Once I have a higher income, sky’s the limit.

    I have an idea. You could get those little round stickers some libraries use for their books to help identify the decants. Red for mainstream, blue for niche, green for house exclusives? You could even attempt Very Small Handwriting and put the names of the perfume on the label.

    • I like the idea of the little stickies. I tend to group by ‘feel’ rather than note/house, which is sort of a disaster waiting to happen. I think I will break this back down by house. Easier.

      Or maybe by note…

      see?

      🙂

  29. I’ve been using a jewelry organizer, one of the ones you can stick rings into, for the 1-mil samples. I like the Altoids tin concept though.

    Right now, though, I’m just sitting here sniffing my wrists. I have L’Air du Desert Marocain on one, and Chanel 22 on the other. I am in love.

    The Chanel is disturbing me, though. It’s triggering some kind of memory that can’t get through, except, ‘Oh, yes, this smells familiar.’ It smells so beautiful. Is is possible for a 35-year-old woman who wear blue jeans a lot to actually wear Chanel 22?

    The Marocain just makes me want to ride the range.

    • I’m not qualified to answer the Chanel question except to say that you can wear whatever you want! That’s the beauty of it. Just enjoy it. One wrist, two…an ankle.

      That jewelry organ. is gonna get more and more full…..just you wait. I don’t know how it happens – but it does.

      xo>-)

  30. I love reading everyone’s organizational strategies! I have to give a shout out to those Altoids tins, too. I carry one in my purse for a rotating collection of samples I’m working on at the moment. I also like my fold out plastic craft box from JoAnn’s. It’s portable, closes up tight, has bunches of compartments to store my 1-2.5ml samples by house. Some 8″x14″ fabric covered boxes from Target are attractive enough to display on my dresser and hold all my 5-10ml decants on their sides. At times I want to sub-divide everything more, but part of the fun is sifting through the collection, browsing for the next hit…

  31. “Perfume can be very mean.”

    GAH! Thank you SO much for making me laugh really hard right now. I loved all of that because I’ve experienced so much of that (you just know that 5ml and 10ml decants LOVE to fall over!).

    I’ve sort of come to enjoy having my desk look like a chemistry lab. Just wait till I buy the decanting supplies… the DEA will be kicking in my door for sure.

    I’d actually love to see photos of everyone’s collection and storage “systems” — somebody should start a wiki or flickr group or something. I have a full shelf of a wide, built-in bookcase for the FBs (god forbid we get an earthquake), one of those plastic craft/hardware cases with multiple sections for the samples (some on their sides, some standing upright, and I keep it in a dresser drawer), and I’m in desperate need for something to hold decants (I need to look into ammo boxes). There are always samples scattered around my desk inside the front door. I’ve only ever broken one decant — Apres la Mousson — by dropping it on the bathroom counter (and no, it was NOT on purpose! I actually like that scent and replaced it with a manufacturer’s mini). I don’t recommend bathrooms: too many hard ceramic surfaces.

    Thanks again, Anita, for this excellent and very entertaining post. Good luck with your dream.

    • Joe? Jooooe? (that’s meant to be a croooning sound:-)

      why don’t you start a Flickr/wiki?? I would be thrilled to contribute my weirdo attempts at organization (even as we speak I am laying out the boards for the drillage – my BFF Denise is doing a template for the holes because I am too moronic to figure it out on the computer and she can’t stand to see me do it by hand)

      Because I love little colored stickers more than Life itself, I think I will try Eric’s suggestion on the tops of the 5mls. If you do the Flickr/wiki drop me a line and I will send you a photo of this cute ‘found’ box I use for the 5mls. I think that would be a GREAT Flickr.

      Can you tell I have NO idea how to do a Flickr?:-D

      xo>-)

  32. I live in a NYC apartment (read shoebox for baby shoes) with a husband, two dogs, and fifty pounds of cow kneecaps. And another 50 pounds of White Lily flour because they are changing it and I made my sister send me every bag on the shelf at her grocery store down south where they still have the original version. She isn’t speaking to me anymore, but I did get the flour so it was totally worth it.

    My samples and decants are in ziplocks organized by house and those are thrown haphazardly into a large oval wooden shakerish-looking cheesebox with a lid which sits on a low shelf in my closet next to a second identical cheesebox which hold clutch purses and wallets.

    The full bottles, both in boxes and not in boxes, are on top of my built-in dresser, also in my closet, which has no doors and is open to the room. The things I am currently messing about with in terms of deciding whether or not they are FBW are in a little drawstring bag that I think came from Patty the last time I received samples from TPC, which sits on the nightstand beside my bed.

    I am at total maximum capacity for bottles, so I’m a bit freaked out right about now and will soon have to rethink my system, which sucks, but waddayagonnado?

    • Carter –

      I know! on the White Lily! That so sucks. I hear it comes out slightly grey now. SOOOOOO ICK! Can you imagine what the old stuff is going to go for, once folks run out?

      What are cow kneecaps? And why do you have 50lbs of them?

      Your apartment sounds like the studio apt friends lived in until their son was 6 mos old. His ‘nursery’ was their walk-in closet which was, in and of itself, a bit of a descriptive stretch. They could fit a bassinet in there but got into real trouble with a full-sized crib. Next thing you know, they’re in Brooklyn – not the worst thing in the world but a bit of an adjustment for them.

      xo>-)

      • The White Lily tragedy is killing me. Grey! I could just scream, wring my hands, and weep bitter tears.

        Cow knee caps are doggie delicacies, and are perfect for entertaining adolescent puppies who are driving you insane. You can get them from the butcher or online for about a buck a pop.

        New Yorkers everywhere have closets that have been converted into rooms. Closets within closets. I am at the point that when I bring any new item into the house, whether it be clothing or perfume or even food, something old has to go in its place. I once put a couch out on the curb as a result of this ruling principal, and it was gone within 15 minutes, and I have no doubt that on that person’s curb, another couch was placed.

        • As opposed to here, where people put their old couches out on their front porches…and sit on ’em.

          ew.

          >-)

  33. I meant to reply to this yesterday, but the posts wouldn’t load for me. Anyhow, I’m such an organization nazi that I have actual furniture pieces for my perfume. I have a small (2.5’x2’x4′) dresser that I use for my sample vials and decants. You know those lovely little fabric baggies that jewelry and samples from TPC come in? I use those to group my samples by house, and I have little vinyl labels that I print out to stick on the outsides of the bags. All those little baggies are somewhat haphazardly arranged in the drawer, but I have done a pretty good job of keeping particular colors and patterns for each grouping, so they’re easy to identify even if I can’t see the labels (e.g. Annick Goutal=pink w/ gold flowers, SL=old Crown Royal pouch. I have a separate, much larger dresser for the FBs, which are kept not only in the box, but even in the cellophane where possible. Those are also arranged by house, though it’s hard to tell by looking because the SL collection is so large it creeps into almost all the space in the main shelf area.

    • :-O

      wow. I don’t know which one is more impressive, the organization or what sounds like a HUGE collection. Or both!

      xoxojealous >-)

  34. Late to the party but…I have a big painted Mexican gourd that I keep samples in. They’re organized (mostly) by type: incense, office-floral, night-floral, etc, in those little organza bags. There’s also a white bag for unclassifiable, and a black one for intend-to-swap.

    I found a rattan cabinet at a flea market last summer, with a drawer on top and doors below. The drawer holds decants and the lower part full bottles. Of course that has overflowed already. I read that you can take the bottoms off the perfume boxes and that way the perfume can sit out on the dresser, protected by its box. Since the bottom flap is gone, it’s easy to take off and replace the box.

    I keep new samples in a little wooden box on the nightstand, and once I’ve tried them they (well this is how it’s supposed to work anyway) go into the bags in the gourd.

    Except that the gourd is full, the cabinet is full, the drawer is getting there, and a few “seasonal” bottles have migrated into my underwear drawer.

    • Nature abhors a vacuum, Olfacta, and so do perfume cabinets! It’s just the way it is. I’m convinced of it!

      xo>-)

  35. From one of your replies above, I think I know the answer, but are you using a handheld drill to make all those holes? I guess that *might* work but don’t you think the angles of the holes might be all cockeyed? What you need is a drill PRESS, dear, and it will make all that work smooth as butter, and the idea of all that uniformity and PRECISION is getting me excited. Dang, wish I had access to a drill press.

    What kind of wood do you use for the DBS? Just a pine 2×4? That seems like it might get heavy.

    I wonder how it would work to punch a bunch of holes in sturdy 2×4 styrofoam blocks? Then that might be too light and overturn too easily? I remember someone writing a comment somewhere saying they would press their samples into florists’ foam, but that seems like it would end up being a big ole crumbly mess in no time.

    I may just work on that Flickr thing.

    • We have a drill press but I don’t use it because I don’t work the machines, dangit, which is why I’m in thrall to El O (I can’t afford to put our guy(s) on this – we’re not that divinely funded, alas – at least not yet)

      see why this is taking so long? I can only nag him so much. Well, I could nag him unto eternity but that would be sort of icky:-)

      No, plain old 1″ pine board – for anything 1-5ml you don’t need anything deeper. I’m fond of duck-egg blue so he will make the holes in the new DBS and I will paint the boards. He thinks it’s dumb to paint storage stuff – but he’s not a girl.

      Joe…Joe….you and me, in love with the uniformity and precision. Tell me all about it, baby. See, it’s that very thing that stirs my soul, much like the herd stirs the cattle dog. I love to straighten and organize things, even unto not being able to find stuff later. Organization means nothing to El O. In fact, he sort of likes mess…and the life insurance policy isn’t nearly big enough..

      Alas…:-D

      xo>-)

      ps. please do the Flickr thing. I’ll contribute my photos. I promise. They are weird and funny, the organizational ones…

      • I’ve gotta disappoint you here by telling you… I’ve got me some messes. Papers seem to reproduce under my care, but I do at least try to make all the messiness more acceptable by “organizing the mess” into drawers, baskets, piles. I’ve got some of the neatest piles of mess west of the Mississippi.

        Still, the idea of precisely drilled (drill PRESSED!) sample boards, all lined up and neatly painted…? I almost need a cold shower.

        • Joe:

          STOP THE PRESSES!

          AMMO BOXES!

          Who said, up there, ‘ammo boxes’? You are hereby enshrined in the Alien Hall of Fame. I went to Farm King to day (I never thought I would ever say that in a nonchalant, “I went to the drugstore” kind of way but it’s funny where Life takes you)…but in typical rushrush fashion, forgot to take any vials.

          But! I can say, without reservation that the little 1ml vials you get via TPC or Luckyscent fit, just like a hand in a glove, in the Plano(R) Rifle Cartridge Holer 1211-01 http://www.planomolding.com (in case there isn’t a Farm King near you). $3.29 (I think) for one box. Plastic, alas, but dark and once you put a pretty lable with House descriptions on top it looks just fine. They DO NOT hold perfume house samps which are slightly bigger (though still 1ml – see what I mean about storage?). But there is another size up from that – I’ll be back at Farm King tomorrow and will check those. There’s also a size for the 5ml but I like my Rivits Tax box (photo for that, too)

          Anyway, this one holds 50 cartridges and/or 1ml sample vials. Send me your email and I will send you a photo anon.

          Oooh! this is so exciting

          xo>-)

  36. I have about 500 samples, mostly tiny 1ml vials but some carded, sprays etc. I keep them in a small cabinet, about 30cm wide and 30cm tall, with little drawers with adjustable compartments, that I got at the local hardware store. It’s black metal and transparent plastic, not very pretty, but I keep it behind a closed door in my bookshelf (I have some add-ons with drawers or doors that fit into the shelf) I sort them in alphabetical order after perfume house and it’s not full yet, though some houses have to share compartment! There’s also some extra space behind the door in the bookshelf where I keep minis, solid perfumes, large bottled samples etc. The “real” bottles are all out on the dresser in the bedroom, in their boxes to protect them from light.

  37. I would like to suggest that those of you who store your samples in drawers use florists’ Oasis to stick the vials in. It works nicely for me, and I use it for smaller decants, as well.

    THe samples I use the most I keep in the ring thingees…the velvet slots, if that makes sense?

    I now have a standing jewelry cabinet that I use for my perfume…..I am just getting started, so I don’t have many full bottles yet, but they go in the deeper drawers.

    I gather the samples that I get from Aedes (with the label on the baggie rather than the vial) with small binger clips and hang the binder clips from the necklace hooks. I have several sample vials that defy any sort of categorising, and I hang these also, in the pretty pouches from TPC. Also hang my ouds and incense samples in the velvet pouches I got from Posh Peasant, as the scents are so strong.

    I started off using empty jewel cases, and that worked out fine, but my jewelry cabinet with the Oasis in the drawers is working out even better, and is more elegant!

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