How to Make Monogrammed Decor Feel Thoroughly Modern (Yes, Really)

Learn how to create your own modern monogram, then leave your mark (literally) across your home.

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Bedroom with monogrammed pillows on bed and bird wall art

Kim Cornelison

Bold botanical prints, embroidery, and an appreciation of the old mixed with the new: It’s all part of grandmillennial style, a look tastemaker Melissa Smrekar cleverly distills to “needlepoint, but make it cheeky.” Grandmillennial style is all about bringing back “what our grandmothers loved ... but with an introspective humor about it all,” Smrekar says. Another decorative element that this playful trend is bringing back? The monogram.

Monograms are a perfect way to add a touch of personalization to your decor—they’re often used in decor on throw blankets, pillows, yard decorations, and more—and they seem more popular now than ever. But how do you make a modern monogram in a world where family members don’t always share a surname? And how do you make monograms feel fresh and contemporary, rather than dated?

We talked to experts to get their ideas for designing a decorative monogram that speaks to today’s lifestyle.

Why Monograms Are Trending Now

Monograms are a classic motif that have never really gone out of style, but like anything else, their popularity wanes and waxes. Right now, they’re having a strong resurgence—along with many other trends, including grandmillennial style—that reference time-honored looks. These days we’re all craving a little bit more stability in our lives, so we’re creating it in our homes by returning to classic designs and familiar motifs.

In addition to falling within current design trends, Smrekar thinks there’s another reason for the recent resurgence of the monogram.

“I attribute the resurgence of monograms to the modern awareness of a ‘personal brand,’” Smrekar says. “What could be more central to a personal brand than one’s name? Gone are the days of monogram options being limited to ‘Do you want that in block or script?’ With limitless personalization options, a modern monogram showcases [your] personality and shows your brand to the world.”

Perhaps that combination of the very modern idea of personal branding and a renewed appreciation for heritage designs is why the monogram is striking a chord right now—it’s the perfect distillation of the old-meets-new grandmillennial or even old money aesthetics

Pink living room with monogrammed pillow on couch

Kim Cornelison

Tips for Modern Monograms

Traditionally, a couple would use the first letter of their last name as a standalone monogram on home goods and stationary, but that doesn’t always work for modern families. Now, more women choose to keep their last names after marriage or create a hyphenated last name. Today’s households come in many configurations, so sometimes, that simple single letter just doesn’t fit the situation.

Since a one-size-fits-all approach no longer applies, how do you tackle creating a monogram? Pam Haney, owner of Invitations, Etc., says monograms are “an ever-changing world” because society is changing. Luckily, she also has lots of ideas for creating a modern monogram that will feel uniquely you.

When hyphenating a name or creating a dual last name monogram, Haney assures us people have quite a few options. They can use the two last initials side by side or stacked on top of one another, which works particularly well for a couple with two different last names. 

For those with a double surname, the first initial of each last name with a bar or a bullet between them to signify hyphenation is a popular choice. “Another trend which is more contemporary is two first name initials stacked one on top of the other with the larger last name initials to the right,” Haney says, adding that this is another elegant solution for households with hyphenated last names, too.

If all of that still feels a bit too formal, you can use the letters of your first names to create a more casual take on the monogram tradition. Any of these options would be a perfect way to make a first impression, so consider using them for things like welcome mats, a wreath, or even engraved on a door knocker for everyone who enters your home to see.

Bedroom with bird wallpaper and monogrammed pillows on bed

Helen Norman

But why limit yourself to initials? Smrekar encourages people to think outside the box for their monograms.

“I find it particularly charming to monogram things with a nickname,” she says. “[Like] a stocking featuring my childhood nickname ‘Wiss’ or a tote that said ‘Midge,’ the name my godson calls me. Nicknames are intimate, and embroidering a nickname feels personal and special.” We also love the idea of a pair of towels or pillowcases with nicknames for a sweet touch (and an excellent idea for a wedding or anniversary present!). Display them on a simple white comforter like this Better Homes & Gardens White Cotton Blend Comforter Set ($64, Walmart).

Stylistically, your monogram options are virtually endless, too. Regarding what’s trending, Haney says vintage styling is very popular lately. But more unique choices are fashionable, too.

“Electric neon colors, symbols from your personal heraldry, and raised monograms with variegated threads stand out as three of my favorite trends in modern monograms,” Smrekar says. “Madison in Dallas does it best!” So really, anything goes! The modern monogram is a perfect opportunity to quite literally make your mark on your decor.

Perhaps the best advice for making this personalization yours is this thought from Haney: “Many customers call with etiquette questions, and I usually tell them what the ‘rules’ of etiquette are, but they were created by people like you and me ... I feel like we should be conscious of those rules, but they need to work for our time.”

With that do-what-suits-you approach in mind, go forth and monogram—whichever application or styling you choose, you’ll love your upgraded twist on the classic monogram for years to come.

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