Dining Room

Embroidered & Monogrammed Dining Chairs

Remember this picture of the dining chairs with the embroidered design on the back that I posted a couple of days ago?

Well, that day I had a family-owned embroidery company here in Texas, F & M Promotions, contact me and say that they’d be happy to do an embroidery design on my chairs for me! YAY!

So for the last day-and-a-half, my mind has been spinning with the possibilities. The very first image that popped into my head was a chair makeover that I saw many years ago on a blog called Absolutely Beautiful Things. Do any of you remember that blog? It was written by Anna Spiro, a shop owner and designer in Australia, and sadly she stopped blogging a couple of years ago.

Anyway, I searched and searched on her blog to find that chair that I remembered, and could’t find it anywhere. I finally found it on Design Sponge.

black chair with white piping, by Anna Spiro of Black and Spiro in Australia, via Design Spongevia Design Sponge

Eight years later, I still love that chair as much as I did the first time I saw it. BUT…now that I see it again, I think the design on the back is quite a bit heavier in appearance than what I’m looking for. And I don’t think that’s embroidered, either. It looks like some sort of appliqué.

As a side note, Anna’s blog was one of the very first blogs I ever read, and it was probably the most influential blog as far as me realizing my love for color. Anna is much bolder than I am in her use of color and mixture of patterns. But even now, all these years later, I can spend hours looking through her blog archives and getting inspired. She no longer blogs, but I realized yesterday that she is on Instagram.

But back to my chairs…

I also considered the possibility of a monogram design. I absolutely LOVE a three-initial monogram design, but unfortunately my ignorance on monogram etiquette has kept me from owning anything monogrammed since Matt and I have been married. I’ve never bothered to research the topic, but for some reason, I always thought that Matt’s initial was supposed to come first in a three-initial monogram. That would make our monogram MLK. 😀 Ummmm…no. There’s just something strange to me about having such widely known and recognizable initials embroidered on stuff in our house. (Was I being weird, or can any of you relate? Anyone out there with the monogram MLK? JFK? FDR? LBJ? 😀 )

Yesterday I finally decided to look it up just to be sure, and lo and behold, I was totally wrong! Proper monogram etiquette dictates that MY initial would come first! And even though KLM is the name of an airline, I’m okay with that since it’s a Dutch airline and not so widely recognizable here. I might feel differently if our monogram was DFW or LAX, though. 😀

Now that I’m okay using our monogram, that’s opened up a whole new world of design possibilities! I’ve been searching, and I still haven’t found anything that feels quite right to me. I’d like to find a happy medium between this…

…and this…

Somewhere right between this…

monogrammed chairs, via House of Turquoisevia House of Turquoise

…and this…

With just a tiny bit of the frill and artistry of this…

monogrammed chair, via Nell Hillsvia Nell Hills

…that could spice up something like this…

But I’m not picky or anything. 😀

Ha! Okay, the problem is that I’m VERY picky and hard to please when it comes to monograms. This is one of those things where I always love the IDEA, but I almost never see one that I like or that feels like “me.” The problem is finding just the right balance between artistic and simple, something with flair but not over the top, a little bit frilly but also kinda modern.

So that’s the direction I’m heading for my dining chairs. I know that the perfect inspiration is out there. I just haven’t found it quite yet.

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 9:17 am

    This is a really cool idea, but I’d keep it on the simple side and not too big, if it were me. You could potentially have what, 3 of them side-by-side if you set a full table with both leaves? If they’re too big or bold, it could look busy.

    Also, consult the embroiderer to find out what format and restrictions there are and if they have any “canned” fonts or design motifs you can choose from. Embroidery isn’t like printing where, if you can draw it on a piece of paper, you can scan and reprint it. Whatever you choose will probably have to be re-drawn by a graphics artist in a vector art application (like Illustrator or a CAD program). Think of it like connect-the-dots artwork that the sewing machine needle can follow. That can get expensive, especially if they don’t have an artist on-staff. Perhaps you have some readers that are vector graphic artists who could do some samples for you?

    Either way, this is so neat. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    Incidentally, have you considered a coat of arms? I think there are rules for creating a family coat of arms if you don’t have one (and websites that’ll help you do it). If you’re having custom art drawn for it anyway, it might be something worth exploring.

    You also may just consider a nice stylized K and M, maybe alternating on the chairs. Or a word or small phrase that has meaning for you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Initial order soooo matters!!! When I was a kid, I went by Beth instead of Elizabeth. One year for Christmas, my mom got me a monogrammed sweater …and then never understood why a 13 year old hated wearing a sweater with BRA in huge block letters!! 😳😖👎

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 21, 2016 at 9:28 am

      I just snorted out Diet Coke as I read you comment. I can just imagine your horror at 13, or even today…

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Carol Fraley
      April 21, 2016 at 9:36 am


    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Marianne in Mo.
      April 21, 2016 at 10:21 am

      OMG, my hearty laugh of the day! You poor child! Thanks for the laugh!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      I feel your pain! My initials are PMS 🙁 No monogramming for me!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Melissa Cain
      April 21, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      This is hilarious! I wonder if your Mother snort-laughed behind closed doors.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Beth Swartz
      April 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      That is hilarious! I’m also a Beth and never wear monograms because they would all have ‘BS’ on them.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Alta Craig
    April 21, 2016 at 9:29 am

    How about just monogramming the wing chairs?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susan C
    April 21, 2016 at 9:48 am

    You could download the free app, Monogram It, and play around. We use it cut monograms from vinyl or for making appliqués.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 9:54 am

    I like the idea of monogrammed chairs but agree that they should be smaller rather than bigger. I also think simple script will go with your decor better. I’m sure the company that offered to do the monogram designs have tons of scripts to choose from. They could probably make a sample or two for you to try.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Anna Spiro has just published a book called Absolutly Beautiful Things — you will love it!

    I can’t offer much about the monograms, as I have never been a fan. (Unsouthern, I know. Sigh). I would tend to agree with the commenter who suggested doing it just on the wing chairs.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Design your own monogram! I look at Pinterest, print out several monogram alphabets, and then combine them by sketching my own onto graph paper, adjusting til I find a style and size I like. I do alot of hand embroidery, including monograms for family gifts, including for my grandchildren. I am sure there is a major re high tech wy to day this on the computer, but this works for me. I think you might enjoy designing your aown monogram, as well…Then, have the embroidery company use that design.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

    If you have access to the Silhouette online shop, they have loads of different monogrammes there and I could imagine you might find something along the lines that you look for there! Even if you don’t get out your machine to cut it with, it might be a helpful source 🙂 Having the offer to embroider your design is of course so much better than painting it (esp. since this time somebody else is doing it for you :)!) I’m really looking forward to the result!
    (And can somebody please enlighten this German girl as to what MLK stands for? to me KLM is far more common, but that’s clear as the Netherlands are fairly close to me in comparison with the US…)

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 21, 2016 at 10:03 am

      MLK is how Martin Luther King, Jr., is often referenced — perhaps the most widely-known leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement here in the States. There’s even a federal holiday to honor him.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 25, 2016 at 2:21 pm

        Many thanks for clearing that up for me! I do know Martin Luther King, luckily enough the knowledge about him spread around the globe! – but I’ve never come across the initials used instead of the name. So, another thing i learned here 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Linda K
      April 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Martin Luther Kind Jr. is referred to in the US as MLK. So we have MLK Highway, MLK Day, MLK High School, etc…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I LOVE monograms, but like you always struggle with the balance of simple block seems too plain, and while I love the frilly, they are often almost illegible (is that a monogram? Or a bunch of artistic swirls? Is that a W? or an M?). I’ll be excited to see what you find, because I’m thinking it will be perfect for me!

    BTW: my monogram with my husband is HBV–in some of the frilly fonts, it can look like HPV. Uh, NO! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Why not ask F & M Promotions for samples of your monogram in the different styles they offer?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Marianne in Mo.
      April 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Great idea. I’m sure it would benefit to have them show you what they can do, instead of finding something you love and them telling you it cannot be done.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dana Jordan
    April 21, 2016 at 10:20 am

    You could have a graphic designer develop a monogram for you. 🙂 I know a good one. 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cindy Richardson
    April 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I’m picky about monograms too, that’s why i haven’t decorated with it yet. I can’t wait to see what you end up with. I love the way your room is coming together. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

    What about a modern silhouette of a flower or bird? It would compliment your painted wallpaper design or your fabric choice for the chairs. For that matter, you could use a flower for the center chair and bird design on the outer 2 chairs. If you used a very stylistic design or something slightly abstract, it wouldn’t be a busy embroidery at all.

    Even if you choose a monogram, I think it would look good with one out of three (or 2 of 6) being done in the monogram and a different design on the others. The designs on the chairs flanking the monogrammed chair in center could be done in mirror image, drawing the eye towards the center.

    I’m not a fan of that much repeat of a monogram in one room. One monogram on either side of the table would be pleasing to the eye without redundancy.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marianne in Mo.
    April 21, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Love the look of monograms, but I’ve always chickened out on them. I always think of the next person who may get my item, and the monogram would not work for them. Silly me, I just need to consider myself, instead of always thinking too far ahead!
    I could do a pillow cover or something removable, but I doubt I’d be able to bring myself to do something permanent. Yay for you – having the guts I don’t!!! 😉
    ( I like the less swirly type myself! )

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

    If you don’t want to worry about the “correctness” or busyness of a monogram, what about just doing an “L” that way it’s correct for everyone in your family? (Including the pets!)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Thanks… now I know I will never monogram anything… ARC Bah ha ha ha ha… oh my… what a hoot!
    It’s good to be picky. 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Nice that you’ll be getting them monogrammed! I almost snorted my coffee over the MLK. LOL. My hubby’s initials are BKW so I always think of the Burger King Whopper. Tough to decide on the font though. I like something with a bit of scroll but overly so myself so it’s legible with a bit of flare. Did they give you a list of font options they offer to help you pick one?

    I can’t wait to see the post on how you plan to build those chairs. I learn so much about construction from you and love your tips on building and picking tools and supplies. So, so helpful. I’m renovating my kitchen finally (not doing a total gut to the studs) but will be adding trimwork to builder grade circa 1990 cabinets and building up the gap to the ceiling before painting them so I plan on getting one of those Kreg crown molding tools you mentioned to help me cut all the molding. Hopepfully it won’t be a disaster.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 11:10 am

    What a beautiful idea! I am sure that whatever style monogram you pick it will look great. Did you know that Anna Spiro wrote a book last year – Absolutely Beautiful Things and it’s for sale on Amazon. I highly recommend it. Not only does it showcase her style but she talks about how she came to get that style. It’s as fun to read as it is to look at.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Hi Kristi. I am so looking forward to the chair build with monogrammed letters. I am in a little bit of the same kind of situation. I live in an open plan condo and would like to get two dining chairs that could do double duty as living room chairs when I have more that 4 people over. I always go to your blog first for inspiration. I really like the purple and green chairs above but maybe in a smaller design. Good luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 11:34 am

    I have monogram jewelry & used my maiden name initials since I’m divorced & my married initials read DOH (first, last, maiden) or DOA (first, last, middle)…I don’t want folks to think I’m using Homer Simpson’s catch-phrase “DOH”, much less be dead-on-arrival “DOA”! 😂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 11:36 am

    This is a bit off topic, but I’m still wondering about the use of heavy, upholstered chairs with a dining room table (as in House of Turquoise photo). They would not only be a drag, literally, but would scratch the daylight out of that wooden floor. Without wheels, I can’t imagine these chairs being practical, aside from the high risk of spilling something on them. Tomato or raspberry sauce would give the chair an unintended splash of color.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 11:37 am

    In proper order with my husband, we become “SMM” . I have wanted to use initials/monograms but I have a strange aversion to the double “M”. Also, the double entendre of “S&M”

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    If you got extra fabric could you make a few contenders. Print out a design on transparency. Use the overhead to paint pen on designs you like in the size you like. Just to try em out on scraps? I’d make it a series of decisions that’ll Shrink the pool of choices. Start with: big or small? Then square or round? Thick or thin? Detailed or minimal? Then decide if you want an additional detail (border or not?) and go through the questions on that again. After all this it’ll narrow down what to choose from if you hate it all, adjust from detailed to minimal. Honestly a small simple, but traditional font that is square would highlight the all the corners in the room or go with a rounded font to soften the embroidery detail. Also I like the suggestion to do it on the ends only it adds in a less is more way.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Check out Heather Chadduck and the monograms she uses on chairs. Her stuff is all over Pinterest. Her monograms are small and tasteful.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sharon C
    April 21, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    How awesome that F & M Promotions contacted you about doing an embroidery design for you!!! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. I also like the look of embroidered cushions, etc, but don’t like our initials JCS or SCJ, so I’m happy to learn about ‘Monogram It’ to see what I can come up with too. I always learn so much from your blog Kristi. As I’m not from the USA, I too didn’t know what MLK stood for, so thank you for clearing that up for us that don’t live there.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Kristi, I am a Machine Embroider and love doing it. Monogramming is nice but it limits you to certain decorating, as if you would decide to change something in the future. You were considering the design on the black chair, but thought it was too heavy. As a suggestion, go to Embroiderylibrary.com which includes thousands of designs and Fonts of software that is sold to Embroider’s for their machines. They have soft swirls & curls (I call them) that might attract your fancy! I’m sure the company that contacted you may have a lot of designs for you to consider also. Are you aware that if you have a specific design or monogram in mind, it can be digitized for you at an approximate cost of $25.00+?? Embroidery Library is one of the most reasonable sights I know of. If you find something there, write the design number down and give it to the Embroidery company to give you a quote on. Hope this helps! I always enjoy your blog & ideas!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Your first picture had a smaller design on the backs of the chairs. Perhaps a simple design or your last initial would work for you. It will be fun to see what you decide!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Kristi, a friend of mine has an embroidery machine and does beautiful work. She just posted an embroidery design that she liked so much she had it framed. I thought it was beautiful. When I saw your blog I immediately thought of this. The design is called Hamsa, it represents blessings, power and strength. I am so computer illiterate that I am not sure how to send you a picture! If i can figure it out i will!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 21, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      I just googled hamsa, some are a little freaky looking. The style she chose did not have an eyeball in the center lol

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    The tree of life, referred to in Genesis, is the symbol of God’s provision for immortality in the Garden of Eden. http://cf.ltkcdn.net/hair/images/std/189016-300×300-Celtic-Tree-of-Life.jpg

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Fleur de lis

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    I find the monograms repeated on all the chairs to be off-putting. First, it just seems like too much embroidery and second, it seems so…self-congratulatory? I like the simplicity and elegance of Tobi Fairley’s design and could see something like that for the side chairs and the monograms for the host chairs. And while it wouldn’t be my first consideration, I would also be reluctant to do the monograms because it would keep me from reselling or passing on the chairs to someone else. I have a collection of my dad’s monogrammed handkerchiefs, though, and cherish them.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    I would definitely go with the first one on the red chairs. Simple elegance and not to heavy. Monogram is so overdone imo and isn’t out of the box. I’m sorry but this southern girl will never understand the monogram thing. I know my initials lol.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Gorgeous! This sounds like such a magnificent way to personalize everything in your home – even the chairs. Plus some of these designs are just breathtaking, like the black chair with white embroidery.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    There are some programs (software) that will “automatically” digitize (create the necessary stitches) whatever font or design you may come up with, and others that have to be done manually (and would therefore cost more). I would assume you already have the info from the company that is doing the monogram/design for you on what your options are. There are also MANY companies that create “digitized” designs that can be purchased, some create whole fonts, monograms, etc. Their prices can vary greatly.

    And just as an aside (and knowing YOU Kristi, you probably already know this) but there are thousands of fonts available, many of which are free from sites such as dafont.com which you can download and install (I’m talking Windows platform here – I know nil about Apple products). Once installed, they are available in Office’s Word (and elsewhere) where you can play around with them. I have a Silhouette Cameo, and they’re also available to it’s software. AAMOF, Silhouette’s basic software is ALSO a free download, and you DON’T need the “hardware” to use the software! (Am I crazy or did you once tell us you bought a Silhouette?) and you can do a LOT of designing with it – it has a little bit of a learning curve, but it’s fun! You of course DO need the “hardware” to actually be able to use any design you create.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 4, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Hi Kristy – I’ve never posted before but I’ve been a fan for years! I love where you’re going with your ideas – I think a monogram dining room chair will look fabulous! Despite having disappeared from blogging land, Anna from Black & Spiro, is very busy! She helped me with my home a couple of years ago, and she was a pleasure to work with. I do love her use of colour and how her style continues to evolve. Looking forward to seeing your final dining room reveal!