Home Design

Monroe Owner Donna Garlough Shares Some of Her Favorite Things

The Joss & Main style director turned entrepreneur realizes her dream of launching a home-goods boutique.


Photo by Joyelle West

For years, Donna Garlough strolled past an abandoned antique shop dreaming of opening her own boutique in that same space. “[Starting a business] was something I always had in the back of my mind,” she says. “I thought, Someday I’ll open a [home-goods] store. And I’ll do it my way.” So that’s exactly what she did. After movers finally hauled away the dusty relics, Garlough snagged the Charlestown property in 2020. The Cali native spent months curating chic décor that would fit in Boston’s narrow townhouses and opened Monroe—named after her grandfather—last December.

Inside, the Main Street newcomer looks like a home thanks to its beautifully designed vignettes. “It’s important to see and feel products in the context [of a house],” says the shopkeeper, who cut her teeth as a style director at Joss & Main. A sofa accented with patterned pillows sits near a salvaged mantelpiece while pour-over coffee stands and almost-too-pretty-to-use dish brushes await in the kitchenette. “Somebody said, ‘When I come here, my blood pressure goes down. I wish I lived here,’” Garlough says. “That’s what great retail is. It’s theater.”

Ahead, the business owner shares a few other things that bring her joy.

Courtesy photo

Schott Zwiesel Coupe Glasses 

When you live in the city, you don’t have space for a library of different glasses. I spent years searching for a coupe glass that could be used for champagne, martinis, and daiquiris and wouldn’t break easily. These Schott Zwiesel glasses are now a Monroe bestseller.

Photo by Ellen Sargent

“Atelier 60” Facial at Joy Skin Atelier 

Rosemary Ramos’s spa and “beauty bodega” in Charlestown is a total haven. She carries the best organic products, like “Golden Hour” brightening serum by Boston-based Mymiel. Rosie and her team have completely changed my skin.

Photo courtesy of Barrydowne Paint

Benjamin Moore “Scuff-X” Paint 

Having a family of four and a two-year-old dog can seriously wreck your walls. When we repaint our house, I’m using this new formula from Benjamin Moore because it’s designed for high-traffic spaces. I put it on the shop walls; I’m constantly banging into them with UPS boxes and furniture, but they continue to look perfect.

Courtesy photo

Tatine Candles 

I’m a sucker for luxury candles and complex fragrances. I will never stop buying Tatine’s “Stars Are Fire” collection. The smoky glass vessels are sexy, so once the candles are burned, I clean and reuse the jars as drinkware.

Photo courtesy of Claire Gerard; (Lightening Up, 2019)

Claire Gerard’s Original Artwork 

Claire is based in Boston but grew up in the Midwest. If you look closely at her work, you see elements of that flat landscape punctuated by the manmade. The experience for me is very dreamy and distant; my favorite pieces give me the feeling of being in the backseat of a car and looking through a smudged window at something raw and real.

ON FILE

What I’m Reading
As a writer and former English major, I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to read Joan Didion. I recently started with her essay “Many Mansions” from The White Album, and I’m going to work my way through her writing.

What I’m Watching
Period dramas make up most of my TV diet, but I just binged The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes. My husband and I bought land in Maine, and it’s fun to imagine the bizarre things we could (but probably won’t) do with it.

What I’m Drinking
I love variations on the Italian Negroni cocktail—the Boulevardier is my favorite—but spirits mess with my sleep, so I’ve been sticking to beer and wine lately. I have a subscription to Upper Glass, a company my husband started and sold, and I love always having great, affordable wine around the house.

What I’m Eating
I’m addicted to ham-and-cheese croissants. Tatte Bakery & Café puts a little Dijon mustard inside theirs, and the bite cuts the richness. It’s genius.

What I’m Listening to
French pop all day, every day in the shop. I often play Bon Entendeur and Camélia Jordana. I love a soundtrack that makes customers feel like they’re somewhere else entirely.