Shop Monroe Home & Style in Charlestown

July 6, 2022

An editor turned shop owner outfits brownstones with everything from champagne buckets to dust pans.

Text by Erika Ayn Finch    Photography by Joyelle West

When residents furnish their first abode in Charlestown—or any Boston neighborhood, for that matter—they quickly learn the importance of scale. Follow that mantra with a lesson on living with fewer but better-quality items, and you understand why Monroe Home & Style has become a neighborhood destination—with Greater Boston’s savvy designers vying for parking spots, too.

That’s not an easy thing to do when you open your first retail establishment in the middle of a pandemic. Donna Garlough, a former magazine editor and interiors stylist, spent a good part of 2020 gutting what was previously Bunker Hill Relics on Main Street. “I used to walk by this space and say, ‘That should be a home store,’ ” says Garlough, who has lived in Charlestown since 2009. Monroe Home & Style, named after Garlough’s grandfather, opened in December 2020.

As soon as you walk into the 957-square-foot space, Garlough’s SoCal roots become evident in the soft, neutral colors and natural textures. The space is organized like a brownstone, with an entryway leading to a living space featuring accent furniture, small rugs and runners from Turkey, throw pillows, and baskets from Morocco and Tanzania. Design books, including Garlough’s own, Your Home, Your Style: How to Find Your Look & Create Rooms You Love (Rizzoli, 2018), are everywhere.

Make your way past the self-care bar (be sure to poke your head into the luxe powder room) and into the kitchen and “home-keeping” space. That’s where you’ll find everything from the shop’s best-selling coupes to feather dusters, brooms, French beechwood kitchen brushes, and the prettiest fly swatter we’ve ever seen.

Garlough, who moved east to study creative writing at Cornell University, says she spent years in publishing and interiors, making notes on her favorite brands in the hope that one day she’d have her own storefront. Some of those brands—Evangeline linens, Made Goods, Tatine candles—stock Monroe’s étagères.

Nearly two years after opening, Garlough still has pinch-me moments every day. “When I was working in editorial, I was drawn to people who curate and tell stories through things,” says Garlough. “Now I get to be in a place where I’m making something, remerchandising, every day. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Monroe Home & Style, Charlestown, Mass., monroeboston.com