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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2005

Initial statement: Monogramming adds a stylish touch to many home accessories

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Christie Bush displays a monogrammed growth chart she made. Christie Bush displays a monogrammed growth chart she made.
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Would you like a Helvetica font on your towels? Papyrus on pillow shams? Times New Roman on dining room chair slipcovers? Monogramming is the new must-have household decor detail.

While initials on guest towels in the powder room are still popular, monogramming has extended beyond the traditional to incorporate whatever a homeowner desires, from ottomans to bed linens and table runners, and even on details such as curtain tie-backs, according to local design experts.

Christie Bush, owner of the Monogram Shoppe in Toledo, said the design conscious are experimenting more with monogramming as a way to add a personal touch to their homes.

Designs such as this teapot and cup can give many household items a personal flair. Designs such as this teapot and cup can give many household items a personal flair.
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"The whole idea of monogramming is that it personalizes an item. It shows off your personality and a sense of something that reflects you," said Mrs. Bush, who operates her business out of her home.

Sonia Taylor, a spokesman for West Elm, a contemporary San Francisco-based mail-order catalog, said monogramming is a new component of the furniture and accessories company.

"We have a lot of monogramming. If you look at the fonts in our catalog, it's very modern and not the classic old-fashioned fonts. It's a modern take on something traditional," she said.

Stephanie Mattoni, a designer at Betty Rumpf Interiors in Toledo, said an increasing number of clients request monogramming for their furniture and accessories.

"Sometimes when people think of monogramming, they think of the embroidered items that their grandmother and great-grandmother have passed down, like on tablecloths or hand towels, but we're seeing it really have a resurgence. It adds a little elegance to the house. It shows that you've taken that extra step in a detail that personalizes your home," she said.

Her clients generally request a large single last name initial on pillow shams, or on dining room chair slipcovers.

Traditionally, the order in which initials are placed in monograms is the last initial in the middle - and larger than the other two letters - surrounded by the smaller first and middle initials. For example, if someone's name is Jane Ann Doe, her monogram would read jDa.

But it's not uncommon for people to request their own takes on the tradition.

For children, many furniture and accessory mail-order catalogs such as Pottery Barn use the child's full name in lower-case lettering. And newly married couples are opting for the more contemporary use of the couple's first initials: wife's initial first, husband's initial last, and their last-name initial in the middle.

Mrs. Bush, a 33-year-old wife and mother of two, said she left her group trust accounting job at Owens-Illinois, Inc., to stay at home so she could rear her children, and in the process started her in-home monogramming business in 2001.

"I was no longer working outside of the home and I had just had my second child and I was looking for something to do," she said, adding that she was inspired to begin the business after reading a story in Martha Stewart Living magazine on other women who started similar businesses.

She bought a touch-screen embroidery machine, which looks similar to a sewing machine, and began practicing on various fabrics, including dress shirts of her husband, Kevin.

Home embroidery machines, which can range in price from $500 to $3,000 depending on size and features, are made by sewing manufacturers such as Bernina, Janome, Singer, Brother, Viking, Simplicity, and Baby Lock.

Mrs. Bush, who is not a professional seamstress, said she has a contract with a preschool to monogram items such as backpacks, and has many clients who request monogramming on wedding, baby shower, graduation, and holiday items. She's also had requests to monogram dog coats and sweaters, shower curtains, towels, and slipcovers. Metal and curtain tie-backs are also being monogrammed, she says.

Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.



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