Monograms Make Life Beautiful

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Monograms are magic, in my book. Take an ordinary piece of cloth, like a pillowcase or napkin, and embroider on a monogram, and you’ve transported it from ho-hum to tres chic. Monograms, which date back to ancient Greece and Rome, came of age in the Victorian era, when the aristocracy turned embellishing their personal items with their initials into an art form. Soon everyone had the fever. Including me.

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I’ve been crazy about monograms for decades.  Intertwined letters are a personal creative expression. They link people and families together. They make everday life more beautiful and luxurious. Whether I’m decorating my own home or those of friends and customers at Nell Hill’s, I often use monograms to make a space special. Here are some of my favorite ways to use monograms in decorating and daily life:


Accent with Monogrammed Pillows

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All by themselves, accent pillow have the power to change up the look of a sofa, chair or bed. Add in a monogram? Twice the drama. On this lovely bed at Nell Hill’s, we went for a high contrast monogram, with cream letters on this oh-so-luxurious black velvet pillow.

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When you’re monogramming an item for a husband and wife, or partners, with a shared last name, traditionally, the last initial is placed in the center and in a larger size. The initial for the wife or one of the partner’s first names is placed on the left side and the initial for the husband, or second partner, is placed on the right. For every rule, there is an exception: Sometimes using your initials in this order will spell words you don’t want decorating your home. Feel free to modify!

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When doing a monogram for an individual, the last name initial goes in the center in a larger size. The first name initial is on the left and the middle initial is on the right. Another great option is to simply use the letters of your first and last name.

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While monograms look sensational on solid fabrics, don’t be afraid to put them on patterns. Right now at Nell Hill’s we are doing a lot of monograms on hound’s tooth check, stripes and old fashioned ticking.

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At Nell Hill’s, we can do monograms in hundreds of colors and styles, so you can really find a presentation that fits your unique personality, from delicate to bold, muted to bright.


Make Furnishings Unique

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When a friend of mine had this lovely antique chair refinished, she decided to make it exceptionally beautiful by decorating it with a monogram. I’m captivated by monogrammed upholstered furniture, and we do this all the time at Nell Hill’s Briarcliff. It takes a few extra steps, but it’s well worth it when you see results like these.

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Another tip when you are selecting a monogram is to pick a font and color scheme that suits the size and style of the object you are having monogrammed. For instance, if you are monogramming tip towels for your formal powder room, you’ll want something that looks a bit more elegant. If you’re monogramming a headboard for your little boy’s room, you might want something a bit more playful. When it comes to my own bedding, I’m partial to tone-on-tone monograms in creams because it’s so elegant.

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Here’s a fun treatment we did for a designer show home event a few years ago. This lovely old iron bed needed a little punch, so we made a slipcover for the headboard, personalizing it with a monogram.


Make Dining Special

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I think the ultimate in dining luxury is using monogrammed linens on your table. One of my favorite tricks since we moved into our lake cottage is to use dish towels for napkins. I really like their generous size and how well they launder. And, when I grow tired of them on my table or they take on a few too many stains, I convert them back into dish towels, replacing those that are worn out. This spring, I’m spoiling myself just a bit and having these cute blue and white towels monogrammed with bright pink initials. I think they will look sensational with my blue and white dishes.

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When I entertain more formally, I like to use the monogrammed napkins I’ve been given as gifts or found at flea markets or antique stores. If you love old linens as much as I do, you’ll be thrilled with any monogram – not just your own. Right now I have two different sets of antique napkins that feature beautiful raised monograms that aren’t mine. The script on the napkins is so elegant – and unreadable – that you can’t tell whose initials are on them.


Celebrate Life Events

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Having something monogrammed for yourself or as a gift is a great way to mark a big life event. A wedding, the birth of a baby, the passing of a loved one. Here’s a photo the woman who does our monograming for Nell Hill’s sent me of a pillow she created when her granddaughter was born. This spring I’m giving a few brides monogrammed pillows for their wedding gifts. I picked a 16”x30” size because it’s perfect for the center of a sofa or a bed or a window seat. One side will have the initial of the couple’s last name. The other will have their combined monogram. I picked gray and cream, a classic combo that will go with anything in their home.

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I also love monogrammed jewelry. Here’s a shot of a bracelet a friend gave me that bears my initials. Love it! When my dad passed away, another friend gave me a gold charm with Dad’s initial on it, and I attached it to a bracelet that I wear every day. I feel like, in some small way, it keeps him here with me.  Monograms have that magical ability to link us to the past and the future.

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When I celebrated my birthday this year, I came home and found this gorgeous cake made for me by my friend Tracy from the French Bee Bakery, complete with my monogram done in chocolate. Take about a treat!

Next Week … At market this year we saw the most fabulous trims for pillows, furniture and drapes. I can’t wait to show you my favorites.