the art of the monogram (some basics and some inspiration)


Chessie Breen

Milestones call for monograms. Don’t you think?

As we are in the midst of wedding and graduation season with lots of showers and parties and receptions to attend (not to mention Father’s Day gatherings), I thought it would be a good time to talk about monograms. I love the fact that monograms are an old-fashioned kind of gesture and a timeless detail that can make all the difference. They make a gift even more thoughtful, and though they might make us think of our grandmothers, they are also a way to make a room look fresh, personal, and interesting.

But—there are so many choices. So where does one start?


Here are 5 basic things to consider:

  1. Decide on the basic style (classic, modern, masculine, feminine, etc.)
  2. Think about placement (middle, corners, front, back, etc.)
  3. Choose a thread color (bright, bold, soft, understated, etc.)
  4. Determine number and order (a helpful initial etiquette guide from Southern Living Magazine here.)
  5. Find out if the seller provides in-house monogramming or look for a skilled embroiderer.

I’ve gathered some images and ideas of monogrammed items for the home. And my sister-in-law, who is a very talented seamstress, recommends thinking outside the box by adding monograms to ordinary things like kitchen towels and handkerchiefs

Cathy Kincaid

While it might seem like there is a lot going on in the lead photograph, I think the monograms actually work as a calming feature as your eyes come to rest on them. And it’s such an enchanting mix of a plain double initial on the small romantic velvet pillow and a more whimsical triple initial on the other two larger pillows.

Interior designer, Cathy Kincaid often includes monograms in her rooms of many layers and patterns—again there is a sense of grounding that happens with the initials as accessories within these charmingly busy spaces.

Cathy Kincaid
James T. Farmer

James T. Farmer III, another designer fond of the monogram, shows how three patterns and one monogram style can pull things together in a bedroom and look very chic.

Version 2

A large, bold, and bright monogram in a child’s room adds a bit of sophistication. And I like that the style of this monogram is not overly childish, but something they could have forever (besides it’s never too early to start; I wish I had done more of this for my children).


I like how this casual, simple, and masculine monogram elevates this slipcovered headboard with side ties just a touch. Very handsome.

Leontine Linens

Jane Scott Hodges, founder of Leontine Linens and author of Linens: For Every Room and Occasion, has basically written the book on this topic. Or re-written I should say. Her approach is to create linens based on the past tradition but with a modern sensibility. Both her website and book are wonderful sources.

Leontine Lines

Table linens can be antique (in which case the monograms will already be there and even if it’s not yours, that is part of the charm), casual (like the buffalo check square napkin by James Farmer), fancy, or very simple.

House Beautiful

Notice how designers create table linens that pick up on patterns and colors and even the mood of the china itself.

Leontine Linens


James T. Farmer



Beautifully monogramed linens in the loo!



Last but not least, the slip covered dining room or occasional chair is always a nice statement for a room. I’m fond of the tone on tone look and the traditional three letter initial. But look how a simple one letter initial in pretty scrolled script dresses up an otherwise plain chair.


Barbara Westbook



To think of monograms as stuffy and old-fashioned (or, even, ironically trendy) is to underestimate their timeless ability to convey a lasting sense of art and craft and identity and beauty. They might just be the perfect touch you are looking for!




    1. Thank you Cindy! I know what you mean about napkins. You could do a whole post on monogrammed napkins alone–so many beautiful ideas out there and ways to style them on the table. Thanks for reading along! Holly


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