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Have Rooms Reflect YOU

How much does your home say about you?

With just a little effort, you can add a personal touch to every nook and cranny, as The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen learned when she visited the flagship store in Manhattan of The Early Show partner Pottery Barn.

Design expert Susanna Salk showed Chen the basics of personalizing rooms, explaining that rooms shouldn't just be functional: You can easily add your personal style and memories in any space.

Salk explained that personalizing doesn't just mean hanging pictures of your family. You can reflect your style and showcase memories without a cluttered effect.

Some ways to do it:

"Landscape" console and shelving unit on a wall

Salk says you should feel free to step out of the box, and think about mixing and matching things reflecting various memories.

On a shelf, you could have pictures of your kids, art by your kids, and a shadowbox with memories of a family trip. Those don't necessarily "match," but they carry a theme of precious family memories.

On the console: You can take the rather ordinary and create a personal landscape that has more visual and emotional interest.

1. Add things to a standard, boring console. Add items of varying height.
2. Make things less symmetrical, so it starts to look spontaneous.
3. Add height and whimsy, perhaps a vase filled with feathers.
4. Add framed pictures that have meaning but aren't of people. For instance, a framed photo of a beach you visited. It blends in with the other items but is still personal.
5. Add a shell: Items from the natural world always make a space feel more alive and intimate.

Showcase collectibles

We all have something we love to collect, whether it's the spoons of states you've we've visited or ceramic French roosters! So why show them off in your usual way?

Salk personally loves costume jewelry — it's what she "collects." She likes to showcase it at home, and make them part of her bedroom décor, on a large dresser:

1. On trays featuring a variety of big costume jewelry, Salk uses a piece of coral to look like a tree — and hangs jewelry off it, as well.
2. Salk says you can also "frame" your jewelry and hang it on a wall, especially if you don't have a lot of counter space. She uses padded items you can buy and hang. These are functional, but also a great way to showcase everyday things.
3. Salk also says using everyday items such as cake stands is another great way to showcase your everyday collectibles.

Monogramming

This is hot, hot, hot. You probably see letters and initials on everything from shirts, to caps, to towels, to trivets. For younger children, it's a way to say, "Mine!" For a newly-married couple, it's a symbolic gesture of two lives becoming one.

It's now cool to monogram just about everything and anything. Salk suggested a wide variety of items you can monogram — everything from soaps (perfect for guests) to china!

Some general background on monogramming: Although there have been periods in history when single initial monograms and two-letter monograms were preferred, the three-letter monogram has come to symbolize the standard layout. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the rules for three-letter monograms were created, it would have been fairly easy to decide which letters represented which parts of an individual's name. In the modern world, things get a good deal more complicated, and it's the same with monogramming. The rules haven't really been revisited lately, and some confusion and disagreement have always accompanied these rules, anyway.

In a world increasingly overrun with the marketing of corporate images, it's important to remember that a monogram is a personal "logo" and deserves the same attention to good design. Creating a symbol for yourself, or for someone else if you are in the business of monogramming, can be a very rewarding process. Monogramming can make the plainest towel, pillow sham, or sheet a masterpiece, and it makes an otherwise practical gift unique and memorable.

Some traditional monogramming rules, which are simply suggestions:

1. The order: The last initial goes in the middle, and is larger than the other two.
2. For a bride and groom: Traditionally, the monogram consists only of the woman's initials, with her new last-name initial in the middle, larger. But, of course, you could use his and her first initials and their last initial in the middle.
3. To use a nickname or not? If you're doing a monogram, go with the legal name.
4. Break the rules: Don't feel you have to use initials. Put an address on a cocktail napkin, or add the last name to a tote bag; then, the whole family can use it!
5. A possible concept: name, initials, address, title, or other personal options based on the gift itself.

When choosing a monogram style, the sky's the limit. Intricate scripted letters, clean and simple block lettering, elaborate frames surrounding a monogram, all embellish a simple piece of linen, turning it into a work of art.

A few things to consider:

1. Style and decor of your home. Do you like florals, geometrics, or abstract design? Do you prefer the style of traditional Chinese and English design, heavily carved Italian furniture, contemporary, modern, or 1940s retro design?
2. Where are you using your monogram items? On bed linens, bath linens, guest towels, table linens, or for your trousseau? What is the style of your china and silver pattern? Do you have wallpaper in your bathroom?
3. Do you allow children and pets on your bed linen? These are all a few things to consider.
4. Think about how the letters will appear. Some letters may look just like you want them to, while some, such as F, S, and T, can all look a little different that you may expect.
5. If you truly love two completely different styles, think about blending them by using one style for the first name initials, and another style for the last name initial. This is a very chic and unique way to create your own personal monogram.

Personal Best provided some of the special monogrammed items on The Early Show set. The store telephone number is (860) 868-9966.