February 25, 2013

The Storage Debate: Helmer vs. Melmer

So you've bought a bunch of nail polish and now you're wondering, where should I put all of these bottles?! No worries, many polishaholics have come before you with the same storage problems! This topic is freshly debated over and over again in almost every nail polish group ever, so I thought I would do a little overview of the different kinds of storage that I've seen for nail polish. First, let's get into the battle of Helmer vs. Melmer, arguably the two most well known solutions to the polish storage problem. I can give you personal insight on this one because I have BOTH! A little bit of background about me and how my ~life style~ relates to my storage: I am a recently graduated college student//essentially broke young adult. I live maybe 20 minutes from Ikea with bad traffic, so I'm there like once a week. Hanging anything on the walls at all is just not an option for me because I'm renting an old house with plaster walls (they crumble into massive holes in the wall from a simple nail =/= cool), so I've never bothered to think about wall racks.



I think the most important things for you, a person seeking a storage solution for your polish, need to think about before doing research are the following: number of polishes to store and/or how many you think you might have eventually, visibility of the polishes (i.e. do you need to see them all the time or can they be hidden away), mobility of the unit, and price range. I guess color/finish of the item is probably also pretty important, but pretty much anything can be spray-painted or decorated into a new color/pattern.

Please also note that I have zero clue about how hard it is to put any of these things together, so I can't help you there (sorry!). My boyfriend enjoys putting Ikea things together, so he volunteers without me asking. They seem easy-ish looking at the instructions!

my two Helmers vs. my Melmer; you can see the difference between the 'whites' here


What is a Helmer?
A Helmer is a small filing cabinet available only at Ikea.
Price: $40 (does not include s&h)
Bottle Capacity: 400-600 (there are varying estimates on these; I think 500 is a safe bet)
Polish Visibilty: None; your bottles are tucked away into drawers out of sight
Mobility: Casters are included with your purchase. You don't 'have' to attach the wheels; the unit is fine without them. I like them for my wood floors and so I can clean more easily
Material: Metal. The pieces come flat-packed; you bend the drawers and make the unit yourself
Colors: 'White' (standard Ikea off-white/cream color, see above), Silver, and Red; smooth, powder-coated surface
Dimensions: 6 drawers; this unit is fairly short and compact - 11" across, 16 3/4" deep, and 27 1/8" tall (shorter than 3 feet tall; it can easily slide under most standard desks)
Note: These seem to be sturdy enough that you can stack them without a problem, but you might have to attach them to the wall (Ikea really likes to tell people that, btw). Also magnets stick to them, which is cool and maybe useful?!

In Ikea stores, Helmers seem flimsy and generally meh - you will 100% have the thought "Uh, this is $40...? This is what everyone likes?" and it rattles a little and kids are running everywhere, while old people are sort of pushing you out of the way to look at the same things as you and there's probably a small dog in a teenager's purse....because you're at Ikea on a Saturday (and yes, these things happen).
BUT! When you assemble a Helmer in the peace and quiet of your own living space (or watch your boyfriend make it for you, whatever) and then fill it with polish, it is very sturdy and compact and generally awesome. The Helmer can slide under desks, or you can make a desk out of it by using two as table legs, or stack some up!

beautiful desk set-up with Helmer legs! (source)


What is a Melmer?
A Melmer is actually a scrapbooking/craft storage system from a company called Jetmax sold at craft stores like Michael's and Hobby Lobby. 'Melmer' is a nickname and the store employees will most likely not be familiar with this name, i.e. a Helmer from Michael's = Melmer
Price: $30 - $40 depending on store location; there are almost always coupons or sales on storage, so it is common to find it for $15 - $24
Bottle Capacity: roughly 300
Polish Visibilty: None; your bottles are tucked away into drawers out of sight
Mobility: None? There is an option to purchase a wheely bottom, and you can DIY some casters to it, but mostly it just sits
Material: Painted MDF (MDF is a wood product; mostly made of sawdust and resin, formed into a board). Melmers also come flat and unassembled in a box. I think if there was like a flood, the Helmer would do better than a Melmer because of the MDF possibly falling apart after being submerged in water, but probably not a priority if you have a flood?
PS. The edges aren't super well finished in my opinion because you can see a somewhat bumpy surface where they didn't seal it properly before painting, but that's a minor gripe from someone that's had to finish MDF for a grade before :p
Colors: Bright white, lacquer paint finish
Dimensions: 3 drawer unit; this is essentially a cube of 14.25" in all directions
Note: This single drawer unit alone is kind of awkward, but it's really designed to go with the other units available in the Jetmax scrapbooking/craft storage collection to create larger furniture units (i.e. stack four in two stacks of two to make a little drawer unit, or two tall to make a Helmer-y Melmer, etc.) You can also make cool things out of this, like a desk with Melmer legs, it just takes more units!



I bought my Melmer in a sort of moment of extreme desperation; I knew I didn't really want one because it doesn't fit any of my other furniture. It doesn't fit into the spaces of my Ikea Expedit or my bookcase, and it is too deep and generally large for any of my desks, etc. BUT! I needed one because I couldn't keep 300+ bottles just sitting out in my office anymore, so now it's here. It's nice, sturdy, I got it on sale, and it didn't take too long to (watch it get) put together. My bottom drawer makes an awful noise because it sticks, but I can just wax it. As I've repeated maybe 643 times in this post, these craft storage units are sort of large and bleh alone but TOGETHER they are super awesome. I just don't have the money/time/patience to obtain a lot of these units during sales to make it 'worth it' to me and my poor budget. See below!

Jetmax Craft Storage Units: 2gether is better

Overall

  • If you're not near to an Ikea, I don't even know if a Helmer is something to consider because I think the shipping is really expensive...? 
  • I think Ikea Helmers are a great solution if you want to buy something sort of one-off for a medium collection because they hold 2x as much as the Melmer for the same retail price AND they are freestanding (free-rolling?). Also reasonable price always vs. waiting for a sale for Melmers (is it obvious I am impatient yet?)
  • I think the Melmers are advantageous if you're furnishing a room from scratch (like a new office/craft/polish room) and/or have a lot of money to buy multiple Jetmax storage cubes at once because you can combine them really well! I often do not have 'lots of money' at once, or rather I am impatient and can more easily spend $40 once in a while vs. saving to make a Jetmax craft center of epic proportions
  • Edited to add: Someone pointed out that you can get a Melmer from Hobby Lobby with a coupon + s&h for $28 right now and I finally figured out that s&h on the Ikea website is $20, making a Helmer for you non-Ikeans $60. While a Melmer is often half the price of a Helmer, it is also half the storage capacity. Take that as you will!
  • They're both fugly to you? No worries, both of these units are very easy to spray paint or cover with paper, too! Pinterest will guide you with ideas if you're unsure :)

Spray-painted! (source)
Helmer mod-pogd'd (source)

Remember
There might be something similar to these products at one of your local stores - just make sure you take your very tallest polish bottle, or tallest item you want to store like a flip-top acetone bottle, with you sneakily in your purse and test out the drawers in person!


PS. I'm planning to do some more posts in this series, including other drawer systems (Ikea Alex), racks, raisers, and other miscellanious solutions I've seen! If you have a suggestion (especially a photo you'd like to share) please let me know by commenting below or emailing me :D Or if you hate this series and never want me to write this many words in one post ever again, plz tell me that, too!

32 comments:

  1. Great post! I have both as well but am really in love with my Helmer. Is it okay if I share this blog post on my blog's facebook page? Thanks

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    1. Yes of course, share away! I also have some serious love for the Helmer <3

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  2. I don't think you wrote too much and I'd like to see more posts in this series. I especially like the desk with Helmers. This is something I have to start thinking about. I have about 450 polishes now and the collection is starting to outgrow the random drawers, boxes, shelves, etc. that I have them all tucked away in. :)

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  3. A really, really helpful post! Can't wait for the next!

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  4. Is it bad that I have 6 helmers? Though not strictly for polish storage, I actually go rid of an old computer table and replaced it with helmers. I've much more room, they're easy to move and therefore clean (or in my case get behind when you drop something) and having 36 drawers makes categorising so much easier lol xo

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    1. NOPE, IT'S AWESOME. I think it's great that you can categorize so much :) I really like having everything organized that same way in my house, and I think the Helmers look better than the (sometimes more expensive) translucent rolling plastic drawer things

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  5. This is a great post. I love the helmer desk idea and also the decorated fronts. I have 3 helmers at the moment! I bought my first one back in April 2012 but by September my collection grew and I got 2 more (and a spare). But since then I've bought more polish and think I need to make up the fourth. Shameful, right?
    :-)

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  6. Thank you for this!! I've watched the Helmer vs. Melmer debate from afar because I don't have either and this was PERFECT! I love the idea of using two Helmers in a DIY desk.

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  7. I HATE my Melmer. I did a review on it also. I can't stand the squeaky screech the bottom shelf gives off when you pull out the shelf!

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  8. I want a Helmer. I have 2 Melmers stacked on top of each other right now. It works, it looks ok, but I have the same issue of the ear piercing screech that comes form opening the bottom drawer(s). Next time I'm anywhere near an Ikea, I'm getting a Helmer. Thank you for the very informative post! P.S. you have to bend the drawers on the Helmer??

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    1. Hey, the drawers come flat and you do bend them yourself. They are pre-notched, tho, for bending and it's easy! Check out this photo of it 'unboxed' - http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QHqfsMAIyQ8/T-ewPrZUDpI/AAAAAAAAAtI/MlaD40IsjRM/s1600/DSC03041.JPG

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  9. Awesome post! I'm over an hour away from an Ikea but one of these days I will have a Helmer!

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  10. GREAT post!! extremely helpful! I have a Helmer myself and I love it :)

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  11. Wonderful comparison post. I wish I lived near an Ikea! I have to settle for the melmers. I do have a cure for that horrible screeching sound on the bottom (third) drawer if anyone is interested. http://brandysnailtasticblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-cure-for-helmer-screech.html

    Thanks,
    Brandy

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  12. Awesome post! I really am glad to see such an in-depth review on the two storage alternatives. I am going to break down and get a Helmer shipped to me soon, and I might do a unique spray paint job on it, maybe, maybe not, the red is awful pretty as it is. But I've decided it's a Helmer for me since I plan on making at least one FULL! LOL! Thanks again! :D

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  13. I want a Helmer now. It gives me an excuse to get more polish so that I can fill it. It would be a shame to have that space go to waste...

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  14. THIS POST IS AMAZING. IT IS SO THOROUGH. Thank you so much for the information!

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  15. Good to know! I read about Melmer's all the time, but had no idea what it looked like. I've got one Ikea about 5 minutes from my house, with the mother ship of Ikea's about 30 miles away, so I'm thinking a Helmer it is.

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  16. I love the spray painted Helmer with colour coded drawers! I want to do this to mine now :D

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  17. Melmer tip for bottom drawer noise:

    I can't remember what blog mentioned this, but you can get "adhesive felt feet" stickers to put on the bottom back corners of the bottom drawer of a Melmer, and no screechy noises. Thankfully I read this before I loaded up my first Melmer, and I'm up to two of them now. Both the bottom drawers are completely silent when I pull them out.

    Note: the blog that mentioned this did say that you only want to put the stickers on the back corners of the drawer. If you put them in all corners, the drawer won't line up/close properly in the front. I happened to have square felt stickers, so I flipped the bottom drawer over and stuck them to the back corners that touch the bottom of the Melmer. When the drawer is right side up, the stickers are felt side down and the drawer glides on those back corners, instead of dragging.

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    1. nice blog! great idea for nail polish storage.

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  18. This is an AMAZING post!! You are hilarious, and this is SO helpful! Thank you thank you thank you!

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  19. Thank you for the great post! My storage right now is polishes thrown in bags and boxes. It's really, really sad. I'm afraid that as soon as I buy a Helmer it will be obvious (to my husband) how much polish I have.

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  20. Ikea has been my go to store for eveything in my home office and salon. Thanks for the info, my gears are already turning...I see a few Helmers in my future.

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  21. Two questions! Will OPI/NOPI (aka tall bottles) fit in both systems? Do the drawers pull completely out in either system?

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    1. JENNA I am so sorry for my tardy response. Yes OPI/NOPI fit in both systems (yay!). The drawers pull completely out in both systems.

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  22. Love this post! Have you done any follow-up for the series with other storage options as of yet? The nearest IKEA I can find to me is almost 2 hours away but we do have a place where I could get a Melmer, although I'd rather have a helmer or two. I've been thinking about asking one of my former classmates if she would would pick me up a couple, if I sent her the money for them (providing that my hubby gets back to work in time) and have her bring them up with her when she comes for our class reunion in August. I could wait until then to save on the shipping costs and get myself a melmer in the meantime, then once I have the helmers, use the melmer for it's original purpose, since I do scrapbook as well. lol If you do have any follow-up posts on storage, could you please post the links to where they are so we can find them please? It would be much appreciated. Thank you and have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Angela! I have not written any follow up posts about storage options since this post because frankly I haven't found anything that works better than a Melmer or Helmer for storing massive nail polish collections. Your comment has definitely gotten my gears turning again about writing some follow up posts, tho, about the items I have found that work for displaying smaller collections!! I will definitely link it if/when I write new ones :D

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  23. Odd question, what are the dimensions of a Helmer box and how much does it weigh? Is the box sturdy? I live nowhere near an Ikea, but will be visiting Seattle in a couple of months and am thinking about buying a Helmer and checking it as luggage to save money on shipping! Thanks :)

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  24. Great post, thanks! I just bought my fourth melmer today but you have me kinda aching for a helmer now. Oh well, I've already invested this much, will stick with what I have. But really, a very informative post. :)

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