By Marni Jameson
Last week I told you about my recent monogram frenzy. After a lifetime of going by my middle name – not my choice – I finally legally shook my first name, put my middle name up front, and added my new last name. I feel freshly minted. I can finally be myself, and not someone in the witness protection program.
As a result, I am tattooing everything – with monograms, that is: my leather writer’s notebook, bed linens, towels, tailored blouses, stationery. I am not done.
However, because there is a limit, and I have almost found it, I am now extending my monogram-mania to others. This holiday season, I am adding monograms to any gift that isn’t edible. I recommend it.
“Aren’t they a little pretentious?” asks DC carefully.
“Not at all,” I defend. “A monogram elevates any item instantly. It makes the common personal, the pedestrian unique.”
“I thought it just made it more expensive,” he says.
“Adding a monogram to a gift says I went to some extra effort. Even a single letter reflecting the initial of the person’s first or last name says this couldn’t be for just anyone. It’s a huge compliment.”
“I’m happy you’re happy. Just don’t start monogramming my shirts,” he says, drawing the line in case I get too carried away, which I have been known to do.
So I carry on as I was, having monograms put on pashmina scarves for the daughters in my life, personalizing stationery for work associates, ordering monogrammed cocktail napkins for hostess gifts, and thinking about initialing food bowls as presents for my favorite pets.
A book I recently came across confirmed all my instincts: Monograms, whether on apparel, or in the home are classy, timeless and decorative, according to the beautifully illustrated “Monograms for the Home” (Gibbs Smith Publishing, 2015). Author Kimberly Schlegel Whitman has given me even more ideas for how and where to put my mark.
“The top monogramed items in the home are towels, table linens, bedding and stationery,” said Whitman, of Dallas, as we recently spoke on the phone about all things monogrammed.
But monograms are also popping up on less precious items like coffee mugs, hairbrushes and phone chargers, she said. Monograms on the brushes and chargers help keep others from walking away with yours. The oddest item she’s seen monogrammed is a vacuum cleaner.
That may be taking the inspiration a little too far.
Her book has chapters showing how monograms can be used in every room in the house. Here’s a sampling:
- The entry – Starting at the front door, a welcome mat with the initial of the family surname makes a great opening statement.
- The dining room – Silver service, table linens and dishware have long been bearers of the family logo. Old tradition dictates that linens and serving pieces carry the monogram of the lady of the house, while the man’s monogram emblazons the barware. “Today we are seeing a movement away from those old-school rules,” said Whitman. Now duograms, marks that combine the names of the couple, are on the rise, gracing both table and barware. (I’ll drink to that!) A duogram puts the surname initial large and central, the woman’s first initial first, and the man’s first initial last, so Sarah and John Welch becomes sWj.
- The bath – Individual monograms on bath towels inject personality, and can also help the sorting process on wash day. Use a light-hearted font for kids. Monogram soaps and finger towels add a touch of class in powder rooms, and make nice hostess gifts.
- The kitchen – Coasters, cutting boards, coffee mugs all wear the family moniker well. Ergonomic single-letter monogram floor mats (from Wellness Matts Signature Collection), offer function and form, classing up the kitchen while taking some of the back ache out of doing dishes.
- The bedroom – Here’s the perfect place for a married couple to display a duogram. I have MCD stitched on our pillowcases and main accent pillow. Whitman has seen couples put their individual monograms, or just their first initials, on their respective pillow shams, and their duogram on the duvet cover.
- The living room – some households design a monogram so it serves as a family logo or crest, and use the stylized lettering the same way in all applications, which works well on throw pillows for the living and family room, or serving trays on the coffee table.
- Don’t overdo it – You get the idea, but curb your enthusiasm. “One or two monogrammed items per room is enough,” said Whitman. “Too much overwhelms.”
- Do make it legible – If you can’t read the letters, you’ve missed the point.
Join me next week as I share “a few of my favorite things” in holiday gifts for the home.
Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of two home and lifestyle books, and the newly released Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go (Sterling Publishing 2016). You may reach her at www.marnijameson.com.